Every summer, the sun burning my Jew nose and time ticking over slower than if I was forced to watch the Melbourne Victory take on the Perth Glory, I usually reach the conclusion that boredom is eating away at me like ringworms on the skin of a cat-wife. No matter how I may try to dress it up or dress it down, when I get to the naked truth there is only one reason for the kind of social boredom that allows you to sleep fourteen hours a day, drink wine relentlessly without consideration for time or day and meander from watermelon to mango and back again with all the enthusiasm of a college kid just finished with the bucket bong: no football.
There are few things as cringeworthy as watching Kevin Rudd in a Brisbane Broncos jersey or Brisbane Lions scarf, jumping up and down from the good seats at the big games with the accountant’s haircut, pretending to comprehend what is playing out before him. Perhaps yet another pathetic skit from those dopey attention molesters at The Chaser. Maybe paying witness to the cheap gold digging whores who marry men three times their age yet still lack the class to find either discretion or a decent dress. Possibly sitting front row as a middle aged stripper with cellulite dangling from her thighs like sausages in a Hungarian deli abuses various forms of fruit, beverage containers and children’s toys in a manner that was never intended by either the producers of said products or God himself. Watching Paul Carige play rugby league goes close.
After the rousing success of last year’s list, where Kurt Gidley led the rankings of the top fifty players in the NRL, that saw a steady stream of hate mail arrive in my letter box until Christmas, it has been decided high in the Punting Ace offices that the NRL Top 50 will become an annual tradition at Punting Ace. “It is good for business” said Kirley. “And at any rate, it is always good fun seeing you wage a war on so many fronts”. Indeed.
And it will be war as this is the definitive list. In my mind, there is no debate. This is it. It would seem wishful thinking, however, to believe that every reader will provide the same deference to the list. At any rate, here is the list.
It was with great amusement and a significant degree of sniggering that I found out this week a whole industry exists in predicting food trends. Apparently there are foods that the cool kids eat and foods that they wouldn’t touch even if it was served on a sterling tray from Tiffany’s. This is not a fixed construct, however, and has very little to do with taste. The Belgian beer and roasted quail that was so extravagantly delightful in 2008 is now frowned upon by those who consider themselves on the cutting edge of the food scene as unnecessarily luxurious and exorbitant. The one time doivent avoir of the hip, bottled water, has this year been cast as the “the environmentally incorrect Humvee of beverages” and is now not only distinctly not chic but a sure tale sign of your mutual contempt for both humanity and yourself as no decent person with any desire to be accepted into the world of the self-ascribed fashionable could consume such a heinous product. Crêpes, I am told, are no longer in vogue and haven’t been for a long while. So even if you are a cool kid with a taste for crepes, there is not much chance you have indulged recently. But because they have been on the downlow for so long they are on the verge of a comeback. Retro, they call it, a kind of nostalgia kick that will last until the fashionable are told what to like next.
King Gustav V of Sweden was an odd chap, an apparent Nazi sympathiser who fought against the democratic movement and threatened to abdicate when the government of the day would not assist Hitler in the movement of troops through Scandinavia. He was, however, right on the money when he said to Jim Thorpe as he presented him with the gold medal for the decathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games: “You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world”.
Last Sunday, I played the role of the prophet. I converted a girl whose sensibilities are more food and fashion and taxidermied foxes to the world of football. Louise, a lady friend in the biblical sense, attended her first game of Australian Rules football, her first professional match of any sport as a matter of fact, spending a grand Sunday afternoon at the MCG watching the Richmond Football Club take on Essendon.
By the by, rugby league fans shouldn’t fear: AFL is merely the appetiser and it will be only a matter of time before Louise is given the hearty main of Rugby League la Canterbury.
One of the most amusing scenes one can pay witness to is to see someone with masklophobia grabbed from behind by a mascot on a calm and pleasant Sunday afternoon. I was fortunate enough to see this one day at Canberra Stadium a number of winters ago and laughed myself to tears as the grown woman went medieval, elbowing Victor the Viking in the chops before running from her seat on the fence, not to be sighted for the second half. Victor rocked back, stunned by the elbow, while the woman with the apparent fear of mascots shrieked a glass shattering shriek before fleeing with a great urgency. She may have, Forrest Gump style, just kept running or she may have found a mascot safe-house to retire too. Many masklophobes do indeed become agoraphobes so perhaps she just went home and decided to never leave again. At any rate, not many who witnessed the hilarity could offer much of an explanation as most were keeled over in laughter while the rest were quickly attempting to catch the action on their mobile phones. But it was too late. The whole incident lasted no longer than ten seconds and there are only an elite few who are composed enough to operate a recording device in the throes of such an obtuse scene.
The hammer is coming down, dear reader, the deadline draws near. After a four day consumption binge following Origin I where old favourites and new associates flew in from across the country to partake in the festivities of a rugby league carnival, time has been against your author. So we will get straight into it….part two of the NRL midseason review.
Melbourne is in the throes of rugby league fever. It is a condition that will last no longer than 24 hours but it is an illness I have been trying to unleash into a pandemic unsuccessfully for nearly a year. It has taken one of rugby league’s showcase events to cripple people with interest in the greatest game of all.
Sitting on the 75 tram from Vermont South to the backend of Spencer Street, questions are being asked about bombs and the obstruction rule by two old girls sporting blue rinses.
Down at the All Nations on Lennox Street, the bartender wants to know if you are cheering for Queensland or New South Wales rather than Richmond or Collingwood.
Australians have always prized loyalty far more in their sports than those in other areas of the world. It is equal part values, history, the role of sports in relation to community and the perception of the athlete that has led to loyalty being treated as the most noble of personal characteristics. Even winning, at times, has taken a back seat to loyalty.