The 2018 Grantland Rice Cup

Greetings Tipsters


Twenty years ago I’d buy the Herald Sun every Friday and study the team selections. I could name the best 18 of every team. My girlfriend’s parents would post all the football clippings from Saturday thru Monday, I’d study them too. Got the internet at home in ’98, but kept at the papers for a while, like I now prefer books to this tab. There’s a beautiful tangibility about holding the printed word.


Rarely buy a newspaper these days. Sometimes The Australian, Gideon Haigh writes, it looks like a newspaper. I like to leaf thru, admire the layout, rarely read more than the headlines.


There’s a terrible paucity of decent journalism these days. Newspapers and magazines have lost advertising revenue, sales, consequently prestige, Fairfax being the best example in Australia. Until a few years ago the Age football website was essential reading, my March to September homepage for many a year. Then began the Long Decline. Last year there was a limit on articles per month, which never refreshed. I didn’t miss it much. This year the limit has disappeared but there’s little to read beyond match reports and columns by ex-players. All well and good, but I’d rather read something writ by an ex-coach.


The AFL website is handy for live score updates, but not much more. Takes an eternity to refresh and has a bad habit of jumping around, so you click on one link and end up at another. Not that either is much good. It specialises in headlines like ‘Young Pie forward signs contract’, a click will lead you to the name of the player and the contract duration, and that’s it. Must be some special Dantean hell for the poor bastard who has to wring 200 words out of that.


The Foxfooty website is mostly transcriptions of their experts’ match commentary. The Hun has a paywall so I never look at it. Rohan Connolly set up his own website but doesn’t do much with it. I cannot abide podcasts or online vids, too much of a Twentieth Century Boy. I listen to the radio in the van, I watch a bit of telly at home, mostly I read. Recently finished Trevor Bailey’s bio of Sir Gary Sobers and Michael Parkinson’s ‘On Cricket’, tales from a different era, I will return to them another time.


These days, most of my footy news is found on fan websites like the Footy Almanac. The Roar has some good stuff, other stuff is buried in incomprehensible Pythagorean algebra and I cant help but correct them every now and then. Homonyms, by the gods, I detest homonyms! Ah well, once a proofreader and sub-editor, always…


Forums like bigfooty contain some jewels. The trick is to scroll past anything less than a decent paragraph, because anyone capable of writing sentences oft has a decent point to make. I’ve been checking the posts on the crap teams lately (haven’t got to Essendon yet) and I’ve noticed some trends. Footscray and Carlton fans seem a more literate, measured bunch. Collingwood and St Kilda fans, far less so. There was a post on the Saints forum to the effect that ‘there used to be some good posters on here but that attitude caused them to leave,’ that attitude being the stupid and ignorant ‘u r f idiot bahaha’ type.


We all know who embarrassed themselves last weekend, how will they fare in Round Four? Carlton, Essendon and St Kilda lead that unfortunate rank. The Bumblers host Port at the Terrordome, a gallant loss is the best they can hope for. The Bluebaggers are likely to get ground down by North in Hobart, on such matches does Brad Scott’s coaching career hinge. Ben Brown to kick six. St Kilda get a trip to Geelong, the GOOMBAH Stadium or whatever the hell Kardinia Park is named this year. Maybe now that Gaz is injured, oh, whoda guessed, the Pivotonians might play like a team.


Frinite, Pies might make Adelaide work for the win. Wharfies probably will make Monaros work for it, no guarantees in Canberra. It’d be neat to see the Lions beat the Tigers but don’t bet the farm on it. I’m reading Steele Rudd’s ‘On Our Selection’ now, wonderful lines like “they sat in the shade of the wire fence.”


Footscray might give the Swans a bit of a fright, as Schoolies might do to Wiggles, but not enough of one. Sunday arvo, the battle of the flowers, we’ll find out how serious the Fuschias are. A gallant loss is nowhere near good enough, they have to beat the Mayblooms convincingly. Doesn’t have to be a big win, just a strong one.


Cheers Tipsters


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About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.


  1. Classic Earl. Not much to argue with your media views. A reminder to me to get more serious about books. I distract a lot with golf and European football TV and websites. I used to read 4 newspapers a day – politics and form guides. Given up both (thankfully). Now 10 minutes a day looking at headlines. Only buy the paper on Saturdays.
    Your match previews say a lot in a little. Would be interested in your views on your Monaros fragility. They look a donut team to me. Big leadership hole in the middle. Lots of petulant talent that sulks when it can’t get its way. With a Fyfe/Pendlebury/Cotchin “follow me” type leader they would be unbeatable.

  2. John Butler says

    GOOMBAH Stadium.

    I like it.

    Will probably steal it. :)

  3. I miss Grantland. And good, big newspapers.

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