The Cloning


by Dave Warner


I am proud to be the first to be able to break the news of the wonderful breakthrough made here by our scientists at  S.A.B.L.E. (Smart Asses for Better Living and Entertainment), but equally, saddened to report on the legalistic shenanigans that threaten to prevent the implementation of the greatest step in the history of footy. Some of you may recall that a while ago a bunch of Scots boffins managed to clone a sheep they named Dolly. As CEO of S.A.B.L.E. I immediately recognised that it was of the utmost importance to divert these kilt-wearers from mundane applications of their breakthrough – such as eradication of communicable diseases, creation of the perfect short-loin lamb chop and so on – and instead get it diverted to where it really counts, ie: footy. Offering the sort of moolah generally associated with an Australian Cricketer’s salary package, we wooed the haggis-chompers south, and set them to work.

This work came to fruition during the week when two completely cloned teams of footballers played a marvellous game of Aussie Rules in the S.A.B.L.E refectory.

Obviously we are a commercial entity, but that should not lead you to think we would implement something that would in any way lessen the great game of footy. Indeed, we have taken it to new heights. Using some DNA structures from both living and dead footballers we have created clones of  such champions as Bob Skilton, Tony Lockett, Bruce Doull, Haydn Bunton Senior and Jody Arnol. Our strategy was simple, we would sell our clones to clubs at the next draft, thereby raising the standard of the entire competition. One club, and very established we can say without going into names, has already signed an order for four players. With these players in their side, they could no doubt become serious finals contenders. Cloning will be beneficial not just to struggling clubs though, but to the fans. Just think of the excitement when Gary Ablett Jnr lines up on his father’s clone, settling once and for all the question of who is the better Ablett.  Sure there will be spectacular thrills, for example when Tony Lockett and his clone play alongside one another in the same team (we tried having two Lockett clones on one another, but unfortunately the result was more like the Tyson-Holyfield bout than a footy match), but there is also a scientific boon.  For example when Jobe Watson lines up against his clone who has not been injected with a diet drug we’ll be able to see if there has been any benefit.

I can tell you that our impromptu game in the Ref was marked by outstanding skills by all the clones – with the exception of one player who shall remain nameless. Apparently in his case, the DNA sample was taken from a piece of skin that had lodged in an old handkerchief, during a bout of influenza. That clone was lethargic and has since been disposed of. We learn from our mistakes. Overall though, we were looking at the best era of footy of all time.

But then, in came the spoilers, the forces of darkness if you like. These are the clubs to whom the real players are, or were, signed. I hasten to add, the players themselves who have been cloned are in favour of the whole idea, especially as they will receive a royalty from any match payments made to any clones of them PLUS 50% of the original signing on fee of their clone to the new club. The luddites in charge of the clubs though are whingeing that it’s not fair that they have a clone of their player lining up against them. Somebody said it wouldn’t be right to have Tony Shaw’s clone playing for Richmond, or Bob Skilton’s clone playing for Collingwood.  These protests very clearly resemble the same sort of negative sentiment that we heard when it was first announced players were to be allowed to transfer under the 10 year rule.

Besides, we put up some compromises and safety-checks for the AFL to consider.

1. The club of the Original, shall have first right of refusal on buying the clone.

2. In the case of a disputed mark between clone and original, the mark shall be awarded to the original, regardless of whether he held the front or back position in the contest.

3. All clone votes in the Brownlow medal will be added to the votes of the original player. Thus, if say an Adam Goodes clone played for the Dockers, his Brownlow votes would be added to Goodes of Sydney’s votes. (This does not apply to goal-kicking.)

4. A disqualification of a clone would not necessarily disqualify the original from the Brownlow medal.

5. There would be a limit to the number of clones each club could have on their list. We suggest 15 maximum.

6. No player may be cloned more than 30 times.

7. No team may be able to play more than 2 clones of the one player. (Meaning, that including the original one could have a maximum of 3 of any one player)

Given all the above safeguards, we think there would be huge benefits in the introduction of clones. A club that had taken the precaution of buying one of our clones would not have to worry about their star player getting a cruciate knee injury. They could wheel out the clone to take over!  Of course, this means the game would become even more tactical than it is at the moment – and surely that’s not a bad thing. Coaches would have to agonize over whether to keep their clone in cotton wool (literally, we have found that cotton wool is by far the best method of clone storage) or to go for broke early in the season. Furthermore, it would allow champions of bygone eras to come back and strut their stuff under the sort of intensive training and physiotherapy conditions denied during their original times. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t switch on the set to see Captain Blood up against Ron Barassi.

As I say, at the moment we are embroiled in legal battles, but I urge all of you to write to your clubs and to the AFL and encourage them to make cloning legal. For if they do not, it is quite possible that a parallel cloned competition could be set up, and that may not be in anybody’s best interests.

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