Belmore Revisited

Filed in Other by on December 6, 2010

“Behind closed doors he finally lifted his hand
Quickly he spelled out his last sentences
They were written in red ink
Hear them calling”
– The Last Gent, The Ladybug Transistor

Bastardizing a pithy Waugh phrase is not a regular habit of your keen author but in this instance, it seems warranted. Brace yourself for the odd recipe of sentimentality, severe anger and The Truth. We will be traversing the dusty paths of yesterday, revisiting what we in the business call the glory days. Great men and greater success will be remembered, the truths of the future extracted from the past. In the sands of time are written the means of triumph. Amongst the sentimentality and the wistful winds of yore, lie wells of knowledge and burrows of truth.

Many involved in the vicious power struggle for Canterbury would do well to remember that. For those who don’t, the response will be swift and redemption nothing but a hollow word.

The current situation at Belmore can only be described as a clusterfuck. No other term does the sordidness, the skullduggery, the smearing and the self-interest justice. This is a clusterfuck of the highest order and only a grub or a fool would disagree. This type of low-rent behaviour displayed is more common in Italian politics or student elections. Candidates have been slandered; mud has been slung with voracious intent; false associations have been peddled as truth; gutter tactics that would have embarrassed Nixon have been commonplace.

This grubbery, played out in full public view, would never have occurred under Peter Moore.

The Bullfrog had, as they say, a grip on things. Moore was a benevolent dictator, Machiavelli with a heart. Adorable right-wing columnist Miranda Devine called it his “Catholic fiefdom” and it is wise counsel to pay homage to the words of a cute girl with the right priorities. Moore rose to power and he kept it, not through the cheap tactics of a gutter snipe or the violence of a fascist but though achieving success and keeping true to his principles. From the late sixties through to Super League, Moore provided success on the field and an untouchable reputation off it. Moore played politics but only in the smoky backrooms and only when he was assured of victory. He kept the bloodletting to a minimum and the bodies well hidden. Throughout his reign, Moore remained the unchallenged patriarch of Canterbury-Bankstown.

The reasons for his infallibility were simple. He made the Bulldogs successful and he kept them successful. The times were golden under the Bullfrog. Moral rectitude, grand triumphs and total order. The Bullfrog had a great eye for talent and a keen sense of the machinations of power and ensured the trains, for the most part, ran on time. The Moore era is remembered, quite rightly, with great fondness and utter reverence. The house was always in order, the trophy cabinet was in a constant state of growth, trouble was quickly squashed and those who respected authority were usually rewarded with loyalty.

Malcolm Noad would have been well served taking a few lessons from Moore. The Bullfrog, a gentleman and a pragmatist, had written how it should be in red ink.

Instead, Noad has found it necessary to disparage the Bullfrog, taking veiled swipes at the man who made the Bulldogs a perennial dominant force. Noad has taken to differentiating the contexts of their reigns, going to great lengths to point out that Moore operated in a much simpler time, implying Moore would have been less successful in the climate of the modern game.

And that is why Noad has to go. Well, one of the reasons, at any rate. The man clearly does not understand the history and the culture of the Canterbury-Bankstown Football Club. Only a retardate worm would dare disparage Peter Moore and his achievements. Noad also seems to be lacking in his understanding of rugby league and in the end, this has been his fundamental flaw. Peter Moore certainly would not have allowed the Bulldogs to lose the likes of Steven Price and Jonathan Thurston in order to retain fools and whores like Braith Anasta, Willie Tonga and Willie Mason. Peter Moore would not have tolerated the insolence that has overrun the playing group for the better part of the last half-decade. Peter Moore would not have allowed a multitude of club legends to be ostracized from the club due to reasons of self-interest and power building. Peter Moore would never have allowed the internal politics of the club to be played out in the newspapers. Peter Moore would never have allowed the reputation of the club to sink to its current depths.

Malcolm Noad, it must be said, has contributed very little of a positive nature to the Bulldogs. He is a reactionary who lacks the eye for talent and the ear for public sentiment. While he cannot be blamed for seeing so many players depart, he can be blamed for who has left and who has stayed. Allowing Steven Price to leave is one of the great tragedies in the history of the Bulldogs, only heightened by the fact that money was saved to keep Mason and O’Meley. The loss of Roy Asotasi was nearly as shocking.

Noad must also bear the cross of allowing the Bulldogs to descend in terms of culture from the successful family club to one generally considered somewhat erratic, where petulance and mental fragility have been defining characteristics. Noad has not been the disciplinarian required, nor has he been the friend of the player. He has attempted to walk both sides of the fence and the result has been impalement.

Simply, he has to go. The so-called rebel ticket, led by Graeme Hughes, agrees. The current board, under the direction of chairman George Peponis, does not.

With the ticket of Hughes, Paul Dunn, Andrew Farrar and Barry Ward likely to be successful, Noad has taken to the gutter in an attempt to save his job. In preparation for his probable dismissal, Noad has attempted to move the League’s Club elections forward to ensure that no matter the Football Club board outcome, Noad will still have his fingers on the till. He has gone public and laid the attack down on great men who bleed blue and white and have for a long time and probably longer. And most contemptibly, he has attempted to smear the Hughes ticket by linking them to disgraced former powerbroker Gary McIntyre.

McIntyre will forever be remembered as a Gordon Liddy type character around Belmore, a strange creature with bad instincts who heaped a prairie full of shame on the club. He orchestrated the salary cap breaches in 2002 and should have been stoned at dawn for it. He claims he has paid the price but he has a very poor understanding of the science of valuation. There have been people condemned to a life in Siberia for less. His name is a cur and always will be. So Noad and his cohorts have used it to gain political leverage. Throughout a letter, now widely circulated, Noad refers to the rival slate as the McIntyre ticket, a gutlessly cheap and transparent ploy to cover the opposition in a foul and malodorous stench.

That kind of low-brow chicanery is not welcome at any level at Belmore. Those who engage in such embarrassing smear should suffer the same fate as Karen Chijoff.

As a result, Making The Nut has no choice but to offer a full and unqualified endorsement of the Graeme Hughes led ticket. They provide the opportunity for a fresh start and a return to better times. The four former players know what the glory days were all about. They understand success starts in the front-office and that internal division is a cancer that cannot be allowed to survive. The current board claims that the club is united but even a deaf dirt farmer knows that there is a significant divide within the Bulldogs. Hughes and his crew have a plan for the future. They are not rolling in the muck and the mire and they are not fighting an ugly rearguard action. The Hughes ticket has learned at the knee of the Bullfrog and will take the lessons of yesterday and apply them for tomorrow.

A further example that the current board is out-of-touch and flying with the fairies is the endorsement of candidate Greg Hartley. All those unfortunate enough to have listened to his verbal vomit with equally abhorrent co-host Peter Peters is more than aware that Hartley is simplistic and stubborn in his views and is prone to wild bout of unreasoned populism. This simplicity is compounded by his failure to accept any form of criticism. The board’s preparedness to support such a candidate proves further how incapable they are of running a rugby league club with success.

But we drift.

As noted last week, the Hughes ticket is also believed to support hiring Wayne Bennett as coach. Bennett would have an immeasurably positive impact on the Bulldogs in terms of culture, attitude and recruitment. There will be no second chances under Bennett. There will also be no stupidity when it comes to recruitment and retention. No longer will slow outside backs be the focus. Rather, the Dogs will chase a decent half. Players will see Canterbury as a club of hope rather than a ticket to ill-will.

This, of course, will see the end of the Steve Folkes era. Folkes has been a tremendous servant of the club and will always be remembered fondly. His time, however, has come. It is unfortunate that such a fine clubman has been caught up in the power struggle but war always has victims and he will be one.

The Bulldogs, quite simply, cannot continue down the road chosen by Noad and Peponis. It is a road lined with bones and well filled with potholes. In order to achieve redemption, we need to start afresh while building on the teachings of those who have achieved greatness. The Hughes ticket offers a return to the halcyon days of Peter Moore, the last gentleman. Viva la revolution. The hour is now.

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