The Pre-Wrap: Backhanders still fly after all these years

What a week it’s been in Footy Eddie.  And let’s nail this tanking issue once and for all.  We’ve had the archival staff going through the Rules & Amendments as far back as 1857 and can find nothing that says you’re not allowed to cheat.  Get caught and you’re in trouble.  Ask them around at Royal Parade.  But then you’ve got be a bit slow to get caught.

Let’s look at recruitment, and that’s what we’re talking about isn’t it?  Our Great Game was an amateur competition from 1877 to 1911.  That’s at both VFL and VFA level.  And guess what?  That’s right, the backhanders flew thick and fast.  And we’re not talking about the ones on the field.
They gave up the hypocrisy in 1915 and brought in free agency and Metropolitan zones.  The cat was amongst the pigeons at last and the chequebooks were on the table.  The Senior Competition raided and looted with impunity.  VFA clubs, country clubs, interstate clubs, nothing was sacred.  If you could kick a bag of wheat over a grain silo you could expect a visit from the men wearing the gabardine coats and fedoras carrying the Gladstone bag.  And who do you think had the heaviest Gladstone bag in those days?  Spot on Young McGuire: you know your club history.  With the onset of The Great Depression, the VFL put a ceiling on player payments and sign-on incentives.  Are you kidding?  Supporters slipped rewards for good games right left and centre.  Star players were given jobs they never attended.  Jobs like polishing the brass nameplate at Raheen.  That’s right Juddy; you’re not the first to hold that position.  However, the occupant in those days was a left footer in those days.  A very much younger Wrap can plead guilty to slipping the Late Great Living Legend Captain Blood a packet of ‘Craven A’ cork tipped his dad put in his chubby little mitt in the rooms at PUNT ROAD.  Fags were still under the counter in those days.

By 1967 the country, interstate and VFA clubs had had enough and 1968 saw the introduction of zoning, probably one of the greatest eras in footy. The Hawks got the Mornington Peninsular and West Gippsland and didn’t they get some absolute legends from their zone.  Try Tuck, Knights, Brereton, Matthews, Moncreif, Moore & Mew just to name a few.  Ablett joined his cousin at Glenferrie but he wasn’t one for family values and he cleared out after one season and half a dozen games.  Clubs were allowed two interstate recruits per year.  And didn’t the interstate clubs play it for what it was worth.  The Victorian zoned clubs were green with envy at the size of the transfer payments floating around.  (The players were still treated as chattels and only playing at a successful club meant you could give up your day job)  Of course this wasn’t going to last and the rorting was so bad that by 1985 the salary cap and a national player draft were introduced.

Where did the players sit in all this?  In the absence of the Players Association they were screwed.  Collingwood had the shortest arms and the deepest pockets of anyone.  It was felt that the players should pay to play at Victoria Park.  Tuddy & Thommo led a player revolt and were stripped of the captaincy & vice-captaincy.  There were side issues cropping up everywhere.  Silvio Foschini challenged his denial of a transfer under the restraint of trade legislation and won.  This time the cat was not only out of the pigeon coop but out of the bag altogether and we moved to full professionalism.

The point of all this?  Let’s drop this self righteous nonsense about tanking.  It’s part of the game for goodness sake.  What’s it matter if Melbourne gets an extra draft pick?  And what if we see Hawthorn give up on the title defence and send players off for surgery so they can be ready for the 2010 pre-season?  Will they be accused of tanking?  And Essendon?  Surely their dreadful run can only be due to tanking?  And who lost money backing them against West Coast because they were sure The Coasters would be tanking?  For once, and hopefully just this once, we are in tune with the Ayatollah.  There is no tanking.

(For further insights into Player Recruitment google Coulter Law VFL au and read Ross Booth’s essay on the matter.   That’s where we got so much of our info for the above)

And what’s this we hear, Lovett Murray is being hung out to dry for one tablet found at the place where he lives.  Do us all a favor.  Get on with the game.

Over in the Land of The Great Unwashed, The Saggy Greens get set to play through the English rain to retain The Ashes.  Tipped to gamble with a five pronged attack they will need to bat all the way down to 9, 10 jack, and blast the Pohms off the pitch cheaply.  Go you Aussie Good things – put a gap in ‘em.

And are those Chinese crowds a classy mob?  Don’t do it their way and they stone you.  Could our Pauline have been ahead of her time?

But enough of my gabbin’. Let’s see who’s going to be still around after the XIXth Round.

Les Misérables v The Handbags at The G tonight.  Geelong OTR.  Are you kidding?  Take the as much of the $1.20 on offer as the old girl will let you.  They mightn’t be TTTBFTF but The Pradas will clean up this mob quick smart.  Geelong, and no 2nd prizes, they’re The Wrap Safe as Houses Investment Opportunity of The Round.

The Tricolours v The Coasters under cover at the Traditional Time.  The Weagles just aren’t doing it away from home yet.  This one’s a gimmee for The Dogs.  And also one for the Mums & Dads.  Pile the rent money on it.  The Doggies.

The Mayblooms v The Sinners down in Lonny at 2.10 on the Saturday.  Channel Rove have chosen wisely here.  This will be a bottler.  There’s been some advice from the Pundits, voiced on Monday Night’s Caroline Wilson Show no less, that The Hawks should shut up shop.  We thought you could go to jail for encouraging terrorism & tanking, but apparently not.  Ward Rooney at the Bureau has predicted a top of 14oC with showers developing.  The Sage Pundits have split it evenly and The Bagmen have The Mustard Pots in to $1.70.  If you had an early night last night and didn’t read the team sheets in the butcher shop window on the way home from the pub you could be excused for thinking either Global Warming is more advanced than we thought or you’ve woken up on another planet when you saw The Sainters out in the black at $2.05.  Sure it will be a test for The Seagulls with their three best players out – all walk ups for All Australian blazers.  Lenny Hayes and Steven Baker too.  But they regain Luke Ball, the Iconic Zac Dawson and Big Gardiner.  The Hawks have some outs too remember.  Their most dependable defender and toughman Guerra and the playmakers Ellis & Stokes.  Look, to be perfectly honest, we think The Sainters are tougher at the ball and will be surer ball handlers under the predicted conditions.  And they’ll be keen to show that they aren’t a one man band.  Of course The Hawks would love to claim the scalp and this will – hopefully – be the best opportunity anyone will have this year to knock over the Undefeated St Kilda.  Win & still miss September and The Hawks can claim to be the  ‘Best Side Out of The Eight’ for 2009.  They have to win and keep winning to have any hope of defending their title so they’ll be all out.  For The Saints, win this and they’ve only got Essendon, North & Melbourne to finish the season with a clean sheet.  Win it grossly undermanned and they’ll send a shiver down the collective spine of what’s left of The Competition.  There are winners and losers wherever you look at the line ups.  It all comes down to can Buddy kick straight.  He had a Richo of a day in Adelaide last weekend and we’re tipping that he’s had some hypnotherapy during the week.  This is a real toughie. Family Values mean a lot to us all around here at The Wrap, but then we also hold St Kilda Bandwagon tickets and believe unshakably the shibboleth that GTWTCO.  The clincher was the coin.  Heads Saint Kilda, tails Hawthorn.  It came down tails.  Sorry Sainters; The Hawks to keep their slender September Aspirations alive.

The Dons v The Maroons at THOF on Saturday night.  The Dive Bombers have crashed badly over the last few weeks and one fears for the safety of the squadron against some crack opposition.  The Gorillas won’t enjoy the move from the sub tropical comfort of the Gabba, but that won’t stop them shooting down what’s left of The Mosquito Fleet.  Bradshaw, Notting & Harding are back for the Boys From Old Fitzroy.  The Bombers have brought in a host of fringe players to replace Lovett, Lucas, Welsh, Skipworth & Hooker.  Get your money out of McBank – they’re going nowhere – and slip down to the nearest Lucky Shop.  Norm Notsosmart and the Boys have The Roys out at $1.60.  This is not without some risk but the earner is worth it.  The Roy Boys.  And you’ve probably guessed by now, they’re The Wrap Investment Opportunity of the Round.

The Pride of South Australia v The Mighty Melbourne Magpies for the Cannel Rove broadcast on Saturday night.  The Crows snuck home against The Maggies in the Opening Round of Season 2009.  And over here to  boot.  The Pies have only had one slip since The Silvertails took them apart in Round VIII.  The Chardonnays have been equally impressive, only going down to the 2007 Premiers at Cat Central by a couple of roast joints last week.  The Bureau has conditions ideal for Footy with clear skies and a top during the day of 16oC.  Dangerfeild will be missed by The Homeside and The Pies have taken the will of the wisp Dick across to create some magic up forward.  Collingwood closed The Bears out of the match last weekend when they shut down Brown.  It won’t be that easy over in the Shadows of Mt Lofty.  The Homeside has multiple avenues to goal.  And they’re disciplined.  You watch them keep the Woodsmen frittering around along the chalk.  The Porpoise was quiet last week, he must be due.  Look, we’ve got nothing against Collingwood around here at The Wrap – some of our best friends and many of our relatives are Collingwood supporters – but we just feel that Adelaide might have their measure for this one.  We know Carringbush perform well on the road.  And we’re taking that into account when we tip The Mighty Adelaide Crows to come out on top in a season defining contest.

The Shinboners v The Redlegs under cover on Sunday.  Melbourne, with the help of some inspired positional changes, gave THE TIGERS a run for their money last week.  North ran The Overrated Bluebaggers to a couple of kicks.  The Dees are blooding a couple of new chums in Tom McNamara and Rohan Bail and we wish them well.  With a caretaker coach with his hat in the ring for the job around at Arden Street we’re going for The Homeside.  North Melbourne to win this one convincingly.

THE TIGERS v The Swans on the Hallowed Turf.  A. Goodes & M. O’Loughlin will test the Homeside’s defence, but THE TIGERS aren’t without scoring options and, even without the tear away Foley, look too good at the clearances.  Deledio should counter the influence of Captain Kirk and this year’s hot tip for the Captain Blood Medal around at PUNT ROAD should be just that much too accomplished for anything Sydney can throw at him.  RICHMOND.

The Barry Crockers v The Chokers on the balmy shores of the Indian Ocean for the late one on Sunday.  The Anchormen have botched every chance they’ve been offered this year.  Why change now?  But with a Priority Draft Pick on the line, they just have to get it right.  The Tealers should win this one but last season these two were the most unpredictable teams going around, nothing much has changed.  But as it stands at the moment Port look like joining Adelaide, if ever so briefly, for the September play offs.  Port Power.

Good tipping and even better punting.

And remember, if you read it in The Wrap you’ll know it’s not crap.


About John Mosig

I'm an Aussie Rules tragic who can remember, as a four year old, shaking the hand of Captain Blood in the rooms just before he ran out onto the ground after half time, as my Old Man slipped him a packet of under-the-counter Craven A cork tipped. Now it's my turn to take my grandson Ben through the ritual of character building that is the journey through PUNT ROAD to the outside world.

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