“You have ruined Christmas” my brother Matt yelled down the phone in total despair, tears most likely filling his eyes.
“There will be no Midnight Mass this year and I can think of nobody to blame but you.”
He was clutching at straws but I would just have to wear it. That is what brotherhood is all about. Roll with the punches; don’t strike back unless it is absolutely necessary. We had mixed it up any number of times, after controversial backyard cricket decisions and games of Monopoly gone wrong. There was never any malice. Just some hefty testosterone, the spirit of competitiveness and some old fashioned winding up.
It was Saturday morning and I was sitting at the bar of the Richmond Hill Larder sipping my fourth breakfast martini- a fine beverage of vodka, blood orange and Baghdad marmalade that would anger the martini purists but is, nevertheless, a sunny drink and a perfect way to get your buzz back on in the early hours before lunch- and indulging in a game of Mornington Crescent with a regular named Oscar, originally of Hammersmith, while the barman looked on with interest behind his copy of The Weekend Australian.
Australian sport has just endured one of its most shameful weekends, a low point in the grand sporting history of this nation. It has been a weekend marked by hypocrisy, grubbiness, favouritism, stupidity and ethical failure. It was the great trough of sportsmanship, the protruding pimple on the pig’s arse, an abject moral crash that should be remembered for time immemorial as the day the train went hurtling from the tracks at high speed off the sheer cliff face and into the abyss.
“History never repeats
I tell myself before I go to sleep”
The bad news for Cronulla fans is that history does, in fact, repeat itself. There is no point in suggesting otherwise be you a fan of Split Enz or the Cronulla Sharks. It repeats itself constantly, particularly when it comes to failure and ineptitude and an inability to succeed. History has a way of reinforcing the worst with each failure piling on top of itself, mauling its victim like a bear fucking a lamb until the pressure becomes so great on the shoulders of the perennial loser that they are actually defeated before the starting gun has even fired. Losers are suffocated by history. The scars of yesterday never heal and when you have accumulated enough of them you become nothing more than a cheap freak show with a self-image complex. Freaks are not renowned for high levels of personal confidence or an ability to accomplish great deeds.
For good or ill, and probably good, the whole sordid drama has reached its conclusion. The curtain has been drawn on a modern day sporting tragedy, a sad parable of unquenchable greed and the indifference of the modern athlete to notions of history, loyalty, decency and gratitude. All that is left to do now is to write the epilogue. This wordsmith shall pen the final words and that will be that. The protagonist, now dead to all those involved in rugby league, will never again (for the foreseeable future, at any rate) be mentioned by this author once these final words have dried.
Sonny Bill Williams was once the toast of rugby league, a bright star traveling on a trajectory so steep that greatness seemed assured and the possibilities of achievement limitless. A prodigious talent with a hulking physique and seemingly inexhaustible skill, he was seen as an asset that would not only win matches but sell tickets. He was a rare commodity, a pink diamond that only needed the deft touch of a cutter, a raw talent that only required the shaving of the rough edges. Williams had speed and strength and an ability to create moments of eye-rubbing magic. His own personal failings- his penchant for injury, his simpleton nature, his struggle for consistency, his poor decision making, his failure to work hard- were all attributed to the immaturity of youth. Time was his friend. Maturity would see potential materialise into achievement.
Those in rugby league will never forget the name Sonny Bill Williams. He will be remembered by history as an ungrateful greedhead who’s only God is the almighty dollar, a money hungry whore who will throw his friends, family, reputation and soul on the flames to earn an extra buck or two. $100 for a blowjob, $200 for anal, extras negotiable, will do anything for a dollar. The winners write history and always have. This time will be no different. And hypocritical whores who flee in the night like a conman sensing the net closing are rarely regarded with any great fondness. Williams will come to personify the incurable greed and unflinching selfishness of the modern athlete. History will brand Williams a cowardly traitor and his name will sit alongside those of Judas and Cain and Brutus and Benedict Arnold. It is an obituary that will be deserved.
The current NRL television deal is good. This new covenant was such a marked improvement on previous deals that it is preposterous to be overly critical of it, considering the weak negotiating base the code started from. The current deal is, however, far from great and relative to other football codes in this country, the game has undersold itself.
When the time comes to negotiate a new deal in 2012, it is imperative that the NRL improves upon the current deal to ensure that the code remains one of the two relevant winter games in this country. The NRL must take the opportunity to reap its just rewards and ensure that the full value of the sport, or at the very least something in the vicinity of its proper value, is realised in the terms of the next deal. Rugby league needs a strong television deal to continue its ascendancy. Television is the number one revenue stream for rugby league.
It was an inglorious way for such a legend of the game to depart the arena he had come to dominate. Danny Buderus, an Origin icon, was sent out a loser, the captain of a team who lost three consecutive series to the Old Enemy. It was an unfortunate farewell for a man who deserved better.
Buderus himself can’t be blamed. He turned in another fine display, another performance for which he has become renowned.
We live in a strange and hypocritical world where personal indignation has replaced principle and a social disconnect has seemingly bestowed the right of intellectual sterilization on antisocial minorities. That previous statement probably offended many: Intellectuals, anti-intellectuals, hypocrites, strange people, the antisocial and perhaps anybody who considers themselves members of the world. And this is just how these philistines in their colourless pants like it. It tends to justify their being, providing a delusional reality where they are cast as the prophet of good and the vast majority play the great unwashed, impure and in need of re-reading the book of public decency. Those who deal in words not constrained by orthodoxy are deemed bigots, misogynists, racists and religiously intolerant.