The Earth is flat

Is Malthouse footy’s punting philosopher at large or is he just a bloke from the outer who happens to have a mike? With his throwaway epigrams and his thunderously silent stares he has carved a place in footy lore as the man who knows stuff that we couldn’t possibly be able to comprehend.

You may know of his most famous uttering, “The ox is slow but the earth is patient”. Sorry Mick, I don’t have time to work out what you’re saying. He has also stated: Only he who does not fear death by a thousand cuts dares to unseat the emperor. Something that Buckley obviously scribbled down, in case there was going to be a test. A personal favorite (and, as luck would have it, a pretty cool segue) is the deferential acknowledgement that ““nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”

And so I find myself still puzzled, almost a week after the Cats trumped the Blues, by Malthouse’s take on the game and result. The game could have gone either way but the Cats got up because they are better at playing under pressure. They’re really good at it. Even when they have played poorly, as they did on Friday night, they still find a way, most of the time. It’s their thing. They have got out of jail more times than a cat has lives. I know. I’ve seen the Cats, jewel thief like, snatch victory in the dead of the contest. It’s as cruel as it is brazen.

Malthouse didn’t see it that way. He was livid. That’s like furiously angry you know. It’s from Latin, l?vidus, to be black and blue. Which is almost the ‘Old Dark Navy Blue’ isn’t it? Why was he so upset? Was it the missed opportunities? Poor kicking? The turnovers? No, it was the umpiring.

He was particularly upset about two actions, in the dying stages of the match, that he believed warranted closer umpiring scrutiny. Two actions that, had the umpires called differently, just may have given the Blues victory. At the very least, if the umpires had called them out then the Blues would have been in a position to score (and potentially win the game). Oh, there was another umpiring decision he couldn’t understand, from the second quarter. You guessed right, it resulted in a Geelong goal.

He’s not saying the game should be replayed. Oh no, nothing like that. He just wants clarification. It’s about consistency and respect. Come on Mick, we know what it’s about. You reckon you were robbed. Here’s a newsflash. If you expect the several umpiring decisions that you highlighted to be investigated, then ipso facto, every decision should be subject to the same forensic examination. Is that what you want?

Logic lesson number two. Let’s take the second quarter umpiring decision. Should the umpire have re-bounced the ball? I think so. Guess what? If that happened then everything following that action would be different from what did actually occur. You know, like ‘Sliding Doors’ or ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’. The goal the Cats scored cannot be used (or implied you sly Ox) to demonstrate that a 5 point loss would have been a 1 point win.

To argue that several umpiring decisions was the specific reason for the result is like arguing that the earth is flat (or that climate change is crap). I agree with your frustration Mick. As a fan, that’s how we live our life in the Outer. That’s why pubs were invented. To rant and rave over a brew and spew.

Deep down however, we know that footy is a ridiculously subjective game and the rules barely disguise a free for all kickathon. It’s enough that umpires can control such a motley exercise of a sport. But that’s what’s great about the game and why it is so loved. Yes, get emotional. But if you’re going to get scientific or philosophical or rational make sure you’re standing on the shoulders of giants not thin ice.

And remember what you had to say, after the Pies thrashed the Roos to the tune of 117 points back in 2011: “In this case, bad bounces seemed to go our way. I’m not detracting anything from our play. We had the rub of the green and they didn’t”.


  1. aussie80s says

    I am sure Norman Einstein could prove the world is flat…or make a very good half back flanker, and a clever one too if he was anything like Uncle Albert. Didn’t Paul McCartney sing a song about Uncle Albert, or maybe that was Brenden McCartney, Brenden coaches the Dogs. Mick used to coach the Dogs once as well. Six Degrees Of Separation, Sliding Doors. Mick has a very large portrait of his head hanging on a wall at home. I think I am now channeling Mick for his post game conference.

    My ox has died so the earth has won.

    It’s Friday the 13th so I am tipping the Hawks to win on a dubious free from Freddie Krueger.

  2. To be fair, Rick, you’re not his demographic.

    At the pressers, Mick’s audience is primarily Carlton supporters and members – most of who were happy for him to whack the umpires on our behalf – regardless of how legitimate its bearing of the game.

    Hell, I’m considering starting a Kickstarter campaign to fund Mick’s press conferences from here on in, so he can get stuck in at will, knowing the tab for the AFL fines is covered.

  3. Neil Belford says

    Litza I think you are on to something there. Just as we all inherently know that ump’s make mistakes, I also think they should be exposed to normal and fair criticism for making them. There were some stupendously stupid decisions in that game, but the two calls Malthouse was after were far from the worst of them.

    If a player misses from 20 metres out we all accept it is a mistake, but that doesn’t stop anyone in the continuum of live commentator, post match press conference, media for subsequent days from character assassinating the player in gory detail. Ballantyne was still copping it in March fro his miss in the grand final, and fair enough.

    Nothing is gained by making it a against AFL Law in banning the coach from criticising umpiring. Malthouse coached Carlton teams will lose forever if we let that happen anyway because Carlton players can go home happy in the knowledge that it was not their own fault they lost. Let people say what they think. Promote the discussion. Make coaches show some maturity or let them be the ‘bloke in the pub’ if that is what they want to be. Ad hominum attacks by me aside, it is useful for coaches to be able to say what they think about umpiring – some of it is very very useful, correct, and needs to be heard.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Rick as you said the cats consistently some how find a way to win the emphasis should have been how in the hell a player wasn’t on the goal side of Selwood and how ironic that the player in McLean who was meant to be standing him comes from a losing culture hell I thought , Deledio had put on a blues jumper
    Malthouse is on radio every week here in , Adelaide and is outstanding the complete opposite of his press conferences he is enlightening and engaging with , 5aa sports show presenters , Stephen Rowe and , Chris McDermott thanks , Rick

  5. Thanks gents, one and all, I love the way you have expanded on my two word summation of the post match conference. Whingeing prick.

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