The Vincent Van Gogh Cup – Round Eleven

Greetings Tipsters


How often can you write a football column and make it interesting? Note here, dear reader, I am not thinking of you, I am thinking of my tortured artistic soul. I make notes and talk and think of concepts and subjects but the act of sitting down and typing…  Let’s just say I ain’t Somerset Maugham.


Once upon a moon, I wrote two columns a week. So until I regain the zip, zang and zowie, let’s get nostalgic, here’s the Round Eleven Review from 2002.


Fuck, I was good then!



The 2002 ‘Mopsy’ Fraser Cup – Round Eleven Review


Greetings Tipsters


It’s one heck of a spot to be in, winning a match by ten goals in the middle of a form slump. That’s Brisbane’s fate at the moment, not actually good enough to bury a struggling gang of misfits like St Kilda but good enough to run over them when they start to get a bit worn out. What better time to have a mid-season slump, eh? The Lions machine is not running as smoothly as we know it can, but they’ve got plenty of time to get it in top tune for the business end of the year, and in the meantime, they’re still good enough to be on top of the ladder halfway through the season.


Port have the best form of any team at the moment, but for how long can they keep it up?  History suggests there may be a lapse, if not a slump, hibernation or catatonia but you wouldn’t want to bet on it affecting their fortunes significantly. They’re getting that aura of maturity and harmony that characterises Real Contenders, which can’t be said for Essendon at the moment.  Sure, they’ve got injuries, but they still had fourteen or so premiership players in their team on Saturday and could manage only seven goals.  Whatever the problem, there’s more to it than a few broken bones and tendons.


The Crows are the biggest surprise at the classy end of the ladder. No-one gave them much of a chance at the beginning of the season, figuring them to make up the numbers in the finals, at best. Now they’ve booted the stuffing out of Hawthorn’s mental talismanic cache along with most chances the Mayblooms had of repeating last season’s performance. All of this after kicking three goals twelve in the first half.


The news is less impressive for the rest of the heathen interstaters. Sydney nearly broke the Fortress Subiaco hoodoo until half the midfield cramped in the final quarter and the rest kinda went to sleep. It had been an interesting contest until then, although a messy game and marred by some of the worst camerawork and direction seen this year.  The TV crew got stuck into some rare Jamaican bootleg rum laced with the darkest sinsemilla and stolen from the Fremantle docks. By the final quarter they were falling all over the control desk; inconsequential replays were favoured ahead of live action, players having a drink ahead of players having a kick, possibly ‘arty’ shots of feet and the backs of heads were spattered across the screen with impressionistic rhythm as camerangles leapt from one side to another, from the grass to the top of the stand and onto an airship, if they’d only had one.  It was frustrating at the time, but, in reflection, there is much to commend this uniquely stylised approach to telecasts. In a tight game such as this one, it made it difficult to figure which direction the ball was going, thus increasing the excitement for the viewer.  It could be used to liven up dull games, especially when combined with sound effects.  Channel Nine would get the guy that used to make the fart noises on Hey Hey It’s Saturday while Ten will get something more funky and 25-39 year old, perhaps a DJ to spin some smokin’ beats. If they played it over the ground PA the players could dance to it while they were waiting for the fullback to kick in.


The Funky Purps certainly would, fashionable young men about Freo that they are and kitted out like N’Sync. They played footy like N’Sync, too, but they’ve planned for it, claimed newbie coach Chris Connolly, and aren’t completely put out by a ten goal thrashing. The Dogs’ form at the moment is far better than their spot on the ladder would normally warrant, but this week they’re only one big win off fifth spot. Right now, they look like they’re coming around the pack on the back straight but will they have the puff to stretch it out on the home stretch and mix it with the pacesetters?  There some wise heads there, but a few kids, too, who might be flagging by Round Eighteen. The same might be said of Collingwood, but they’re playing a great game of footy this June and chopping up Melbourne gives them another badge of credibility. The telecast of this match was smooth and efficient and uninteresting.


Down in the nether reaches, The Gloomy Old Dark And Scary Navy Blues, ooh them blues rain down like thunder, scratch around for petty consolation, claiming Riccardi’s winning goal after the siren was touched off the boot.  Losing so many games starts to do terrible things to a man’s soul. He lashes out in bitterness, seeks excuses and ponders macabre, the paths not travelled. Rejoice, oh Once-Proud Carlton, for to the distressed and the destitute go priority draft picks!  Richmond, Sydney and St Kilda are also still in the running for one of the prized priority draft picks, though Rocket reckons the Swans can still make the finals. Mathematically, yes. Danny Frawley is proud of the blokes after they lost again, kicking something like one goal ten from late in the third term to the final siren, so the draft must figure in their plans somewhere.


Approaching the split round, and the ladder has a very pleasing symmetry, appropriate to the halfway mark of the season.  Four teams on the eight wins and four teams on six.  Four teams on five wins and four mostly hopeless buggers trailing along behind like wild dogs scavenging food scraps from a wagon train.


Cheers, tipsters



W Somerset Maugham spent a lot of time in the Far East, he met a young fellow in Singapore who declared his intention to become a great writer.  A few weeks later they met at a tennis match, Somerset asked the young fellow how the writing was going.


“I just can’t seem to find inpiration. What do you do for inspiration?”


“I put a blank sheet of paper in the typewriter.”



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. Some things never change Earl. Crises of confidence abound – for writers and their footy teams. Who published your stuff twice a week in 2002? Paid? On paper? The internet was just starting to eat its own back then.
    My first paid writing gig was as a speechwriter for a Federal pollie in the early 80’s. The guy was a Rhodes Scholar so I was totally intimidated by his knowledge and intellect. He gave me a pile of paper a foot high – all his speeches for the past couple of years. It was my policy education, and I couldn’t imagine how to say things better than he did. I photocopied all his speeches (one sheet at a time) and used to cut and paste them (literally not technologically – word processing software was still a decade away) into a new order – with bits from different speeches and me only writing the linking paras.
    His speeches were very well received and I felt proud of my ingenuity. After a month of this he walked off stage and handed me the speech with “I can’t go on plagiarising myself like this – write something original”.
    Then the Somerset Maugham pain began for me. Nowadays I just write to share experiences and thoughts. I view it as “just yarning” in cyberspace. Keeping it fresh is a challenge – but we writers are more precious and self conscious than readers.
    In cyberspace we can’t even dignify it as toilet paper or fish and chip wrapper. Still a few positive comments are always appreciated. If a megabyte falls in the forest…………………………….?
    Cheers Earl – keep ’em coming – new or retreads.

  2. Earl O'Neill says

    Thanx Peter. 02, it was email and newsgroups. Remember newsgroups? I used to send some to the likes of Rohan C, no-one replied. Not that I expected the Age or Hun to run my lunacy.
    I’ve oft thought of doing as you did, just changing names and details. Some of my old columns surprise me, the one above is nothing special but I do like the wild dogs line in the last para. There’s a sense of history about them, many pre-dating the birth of our younger Almanackers, so I may post some as a form of ‘Remember When.’
    Appropriate, given my love of history.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I really thought that you had made that up this week Earl.

    I’m not sure whether I’m more impressed or less, to find out that it was actually done back then.

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