Where the shiny-faced meet the shiny-arsed

This latest Warnie muppet stuff is just brilliant.

It is totally and completely 2013 in so many different ways, and yet it’s not. It’s about professional sport, mass entertainment, popular culture, mass media, celebrity, social media and the rotation policy.

I haven’t seen the Tweets but it’s being reported (and in popular culture that matters) that Shane Keith Warne (whom some blokes would like to have been, be, and always be) has called Pat Howard (who is the head of team performance at Cricket Australia) a muppet and, I assume, Cricket Australia has, by inference, become a house of muppets. So that would suggest that James Sutherland has muppet tendencies as well.

Muppet is a very Melbourne word. It’s part of the language of Warnie’s tribe. It is the preferred word of talkback callers to Melbourne sports radio station SEN1116 and is trotted out like a right hook in a pub. Rather than dissembling the argument of those who happen to have a different view, callers will label their antagonists a ‘Muppet’, which in Melbourne seems to mean they have no idea what they’re talking about and they should de-sock and piss off. Interestingly, this seems to work in some cases.

Shane Warne is not a ‘muppet’ in the eyes of talkback callers. He is an ‘anti-muppet’. Indeed he is the anti-muppet. He has taken a squillion wickets and almost made a Test century, licked melted Kraft singles from the hollow between the shoulder blades of thousands of women, dobbed goals from the pocket in celebrity footy matches, played golf on the great tracks of the world, driven fast cars around Carlisle and places even more attractive (and has done his bit for motorists who are bullied by cyclists) and played poker hands for more money than I’ll earn in a life-time.

Warnie is an international playboy. James Sutherland is a cricket administrator. This is a meeting of the shiny-faced and the shiny-arsed.

When Warnie chose Twitter to launch his attack on Cricket Australia he was acting as that international playboy. He wasn’t thinking about Brand Warne and Strategy and Policy and Process. Warnie is a see-ball-get-ball sort of bloke. He was pissed off with the rotation policy and, given the state of mind he has been in since the vinegar strokes of the BBL, he just let fly.

He can. He’s Warnie. He is big. Big. Big. His opinions carry a lot of authority. James Sutherland trots his out next to a KFC banner, Warnie trots his out next to Liz Hurley.

He couldn’t accept James Sutherland’s invitation to have a private chat because he was busy with his poker commitments.

Warnie is his own man. He wouldn’t be moved to tears by the approval of some bullying celebrity chef who said his Marmite mullet with pelican-poop jus was OK. He wouldn’t need to ask.

Warnie is also big, big, big in terms of reach. He has a million Twitter-followers and his tweets, as we are seeing, are considered newsworthy.

Warnie is definitely not a ‘Muppet’ in the traditional sense of the SEN word either. When it comes to cricket he is as intuitive as the first Greek who put two and two together from a bath-tub. He knows the game. He understands the game. He is connected to the game.

And surely, in Warnie’s mind, this is ultimately what this issue is about: cricket.

Warnie will find a lot of support for his argument against the rotation policy. It already exists in the community – there are some thinkers out here as well. Whatever happened to winning your spot, fighting for your spot, establishing your spot, and leading. D.K. Lillee was great mates with Thommo but don’t tell me he didn’t go to bed thinking that he was Atlas to Thommo’s Dionysus.

The rotation policy stinks. And Warnie told us so, in his own way.

To suggest that Warnie has gone over the top, that he is ahead of himself, that he’s so big internationally that he’s living in his own reality is an intriguing part of this. But it’s not the main part in this case. He may have done all of that.

He may be living in his own reality. But that puts him one up on me: I live in my own illusion.






About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. JTH – brilliant analysis. I love the word muppet. I’m reading as many Warnie tweets as I can because once Nicola Roxon gets her way, words like muppet will probably be banned. Indeed, Warnie will probably be banned.

    And there is a line in here that I can’t wait to use. Next time I get a “where are you?” phone call, my reply will be “Busy with my poker commitments.”

  2. Warnie playing Waldorf and Statler to CA’s Miss Piggy?

    Ease up on the Muppets, Warnie. What have they ever done to you?

    Question is, cricket will learn to live without SKW. Could he ever learn to live without cricket?

  3. John, brilliant and it made me laugh. I kinda like” muppet”, the whole thing has a sense of humour as well as a criticism. And it suits our Warnie to the tee, using that word. I would listen to him or any of his cohorts from his era because they knew how to win, party and perform.

    Perhaps the team selectors need to be rotated and rested? Let the boys get in there and fight for their game and their country or teams, like they want to.


  4. Harms off the long run

  5. Warnie the Muppet Master! Love it.

  6. Fair call John

    Warne is a straight shooter, and if his comments are about policy, his voice cuts through. Using the word ‘muppet’ made his comments look like a sledge, but it was just an employement of jargon. The rotation policy suclks, no matter how well the ACB sell it. Would you rotate a player in a world cup final or a crucuial ashes test? Rotating players says this game isn’t that important … that it’s an ideal time to experiment. Don’t they realise that that then says to the public, the fixture is of no prestige? Every international should be a big deal, not a lab test. Warne in his way was trying to say that, the way I read it. And good on him. It certainly made a nice change to tweeting about toasted cheese sandwiches and misplaced socks. At least I think so

  7. Mike, another question: can Cricket Australia live without cricket?

  8. Warnie’s like a huge Afro-American doctor giving the ACB a digital examination – with multiple digits.

  9. DBalassone says

    There’s nothing wrong with a rotation policy that uses 14-15 players for 11 positions, perhaps rotating 1-2 players at a time;

    but when you are rotating 25-30 players, sometimes 5-6 players at a time, how can we the public take these games seriously.

    Warnie’s right, the CA has become a bunch of corporate muppets who are busy protecting their salaries.

  10. Ben Footner says

    Licking melted Kraft singles from the hollow between a woman’s shoulder blades – I haven’t heard of that one before! Wow. I wonder if I could get the missus to go for that one…..

  11. Pete,


  12. Ben F,
    Let me know how you go and I then might ask the same question

  13. Jeff Dowsing says

    “Warnie’s right, the CA has become a bunch of corporate muppets who are busy protecting their salaries.”

    Sadly, the same road as what TA went down Damian.

  14. I reckon the jury will be out of the melted cheese thing ( and it will stay out.) Call it a gut feeling, coz i’ve never tried it, but cheese and erogenous zones don’t sound like a good mix. I think it’s a shelf life thing or there being a situation where someone’s hygiene might be brought into question … not sure … ?? Just don’t think Warnies peccadillo will go mainstream, is all.

  15. Yet another area I part with Warne – I’m lactose intolerant in the bedroom.

  16. Jeff Dowsing says

    Agree T Bone. Warnie’s favourite baked beans might work as a more sensuous between the shoulder blades delicacy. Although it would play havoc with Liz’ silk sheets.

  17. Litza … Jeff …


  18. “Muppett is a very Melbourne word,” I agree how the word is as SEN as the exchange “How ya going mate? Very well. That’s the way,” However it reached its zenith in London football circles in the late 80s and 90s. Such linguistic luminaries such Tony Adams used it with great clout, both on and off the pitch. It was on every third ad, then in one of those Guy Ritchie movies, then in every second ad. Mockney types – Jamie Oliver and the like – followed

    Then, for reasons which have never really been explained, it started popping up in Melbourne. Around 2005 or so I reckon.

  19. I have spoken to SKW. Or at least we twittererered (I think thats the right gramma).
    He says its all a Harms beat up.
    He’s never wasted a melted cheese single on anywhere near the shoulder blades.
    And he says he’ll never put his twits (right gramma??) through the spell checker again. It keeps getting ‘poke’ wrong.
    As for Melbourne and muppet slang, I thought that all of South Yarra was faux gangster/moll when I visited last Spring. Everyone’s hoping for a role in the next Underbelly, so they have all have voice coaches on dropping h’s.
    I can remember when “Racing Ready” meant a Sportsman and a stake. Now its a Brazilian and a Versace.
    I reckon Warney should run for Melbourne’s Lord Mayor – Muppet Mania.

  20. Andrew Starkie says

    Did I hear right on the tv before? Warney is meeting with CA to discuss selection policy?! Is he? Someone answer me, please. If yes, CA is amateur comedy night.

    Now let’s move on from retired superstars who can’t leave the limelight and turn attention to D Geale, who tonight (hopefully) will stamp himself as the future and present of boxing in Australia and possibly the world.

  21. Great read, JTH.

    But I’m tipping DK Lillee did NOT take Atlas and Dionysus to bed with him. And if he had called Thommo Dionysus, he would have got a smack in the head (although Thommo would not have been entirely clear why the punishment was deserved – it would have just been the vibe of the thing).

  22. Cookie, imagine how the “first bloke” felt after his comment on female asian doctor…

  23. A lot of what SKW says about CA and the rotation policy rings true to me. If we can just let him talk about this issue, and this issue alone, and have some cheese slices ready to shove in his mouth as soon as he starts banging on about something else, we might all be better off.

  24. Peter Schumacher says

    Right on Gigs!

  25. T Bone

    I’d love to read what Viv Tufnell’s Manifesto on the current state of Australian cricket would be and what changes he’d propose to positions and rotation policy.

    Do you think he could fit it into his busy schedule? Only took SKW a day.


  26. One day, AND working around his poker commitments!

    Actually, he probably banged it out between the flop and the river.

  27. Hey Sean

    Viv Tufnell’s days are choc o block full with Machiavellian activities at the moment, but if he could find some time in between nicking runs to third man and hatching diabolical schemes, he would advise SKW to shut his big fat trap and let his flippers do the talking

  28. Pamela Sherpa says

    I suggest shoving the cheese slices in Warnie’s mouth before he has another fading star/ look at me tantrum.

  29. JTH, the reference of Kraft Singles was a slice (pun intended) of genius.

    When the product first appeared, “natural” cheesemakers lobbied to have the product formally distinguished from real cheese. The government acquiesced and established guidelines for labeling Kraft Singles a concoction of natural cheese bits mixed with emulsifying agents to make, in the language of the law, “a homogeneous plastic mass.”

  30. ‘homogeneous plastic mass” – not to be confused with a Catholic ceremony featuring guitar and the tambourine support of the liturgy

  31. I’ve been to a few of those – the tambourine player (tambourinist?) usually looked like the sort of person who’d have lampshades made of human skin in their home.

  32. One thing I should have mentioned yesterday (but in my haste…):

    I love that Warnie is the reactionary in all of this!

    I look forward to reading his treatise when I get time tonight.

  33. “The tambourine player (tambourinist?) usually looked like the sort of person who’d have lampshades made of human skin in their home.” Praise the lord. From the dickheadness of Warnie to Silence of the Lambs in the blink of an eye. Love it.

    I, likewise, attended Church in the days of the Rock Mass. Usually held on a Saturday or Sunday evening. You know, when the young folk are out of bed. I marveled how unlike a band any Rock Mass band could look like. There was a place in Perth called the Potter’s Wheel where young lost souls would head to be born again. Even they had a band that looked more like a Rock Band than the Catholics. I can’t speak to the character of their tambourinist though.


  34. Andrew Starkie says

    Craig, I think I recall you being the tambourinist on occasion back in the day.

  35. Was an alter boy and a choir boy in my time (and if Warrnambool had theater awards I’d have cleaned up after my performance as Paharoah in ‘Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’), but well and truly drew a line through church rock band, and a double line through tambourine.

  36. I too attended the odd homogeneous plastic Mass as a kid. Rock Masses we called them. Was also an altar boy, and JTH, get this – the altar boy “coach” started up a “B&F” award where the altar boys got awarded the 3-2-1 each week. It petered out before long. A shame because my last two Masses were 3-vote performances and I was red-hot fave to take it out.

  37. Barkly St End says

    I had big laughs reading this – big, Big…BIG!!

  38. Malcolm Ashwood says

    V Amusing Harmsy and Warner is not the 1st Past or Present Player to call Pat Howard a Muppet

  39. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Shane Keith Warne not David Warner sorry didn’t check spelling before Posting

Leave a Comment