Stand Up and Be a Man Princess

Filed in Other by on December 5, 2010

Deep in the throes of a wild night of drink and good times and attractive women, I felt the need for relief. So off to the bathroom of the crowded Hilton bar it was, as one does. The bathroom was surprisingly deserted but as is etiquette in these situations, I moved along to the far side of the urinal- the far right- to get the business done. A rumble at the door and who is it but none other than an old political adversary, a man I have tangled with on many a time back in the day. He dually took his spot on far left. Entirely appropriate. There was plenty of history there, plenty of student politics stoushes that were nothing more than sport in all reality. Your troublemaking author ran a ticket called The Right Way, a vain yet amusing attempt to stomp the lefty in the head and get their hand off the till. We played it hard and tough in a none-too-welcoming environment, highlighting the failures of others and hammering some tough-to-sell policies. He would get his boys in power to threaten action and would yell at high volume of the plight of refugees and the criminality of voluntary student unionism and the dark evil that resided in the soul of those on the right, yours truly included. He’d put up posters and Old Punt would rip them down. We’d debate, we’d argue, we’d stand toe-to-toe. Hell, we even threw hands.  And there we stood, many years later, two aging men with heavy testicles, him on the left and me on the right, politics and six metres of stainless steel urinal between us.

At the natural conclusion of proceedings, I looked him squarely in the eye and he responded with a knowing nod. There would always be a gaping divide but we could not help but hold a grudging respect for each other. In the end, we were warriors who had been through the battle and for all the hatred and condescension that existed; there was an acknowledgement that we both at least had the balls for the fight. Politics is a game for men.

And so, I thought, was rugby league.

Charles Bukowski lost his virginity to a 300 pound whore somewhere in the ganglands of Los Angeles. Marilu Henner lost hers in the shower the day that mankind hit the moon. And I lost mine in the lounge room of my first home watching Joe Cool and Paul Langmack and Terry Lamb grind it out on a muddy North Sydney Oval in 1987. Women would be a way off yet but even so, I cannot help but believe my love of rugby league is more pure and true than it has been for any woman. At any rate, I’d have to become a modern day Wilt Chamberlain just to make it a contest. There is a special place in your heart reserved for your first love…

Hence, my disgust at the actions of Ray Cashmere last Saturday evening, and previous to that, the soft-cock play of Paul Gallen.

Rugby league is a game built on a foundation of toughness. There are sound arguments for other sports being more skillful and more graceful and more speedy than rugby l

eague but there is no doubting that rugby league is the toughest sport of all. Those who dispute this are fools who should be treated warily. It the physical exertion and controlled brutality and the heavy collision nature of the game that rugby league hangs its hat on.

That is why softness should be seen as an attack on the foundations of the game itself and those hammering at the nuts should be punished accordingly.

Bruce Stadium on Saturday night could have been Siberia at Christmas the joint was that cold. The winds howled over and under and through the faithful who came to see the next sentence in the story of rugby league written out. Fingers were numbed, breathing was iced, heavy woolen lumberjack jackets were worn with a sense of urgency, smoking-hot pies were downed like the nourishment of life. Rugby league conditions at their most grand…

That feeling of goodwill soon dissipated like a smack-head who can’t kick the needle. The appalling refereeing of Tony De La Heras, the criminal decisions made by video referee Phil Cooley and the ineptitude of the Raider left-side defence saw to that. I was stewing sweet and I did not need to be provoked. But North Queensland reserve prop Ray Cashmere chose to grab a pointy stick and engage in a perverted, sado-masochistic poking of the wasp’s nest.

With the game in the balance and time ticking away, Ray Cashmere hits the ball up and is tackled by Canberra albino Glen Turner. Turner’s shot hits on the shoulder and bounces up around the neck. The referee yells to play-on, not awarding a penalty but Cashmere stays down, stumbling around like a ginned-up bear who has just copped a tranquilizer in the ass. Cashmere, despite not being hurt and feeling no ill effects, stayed down to win his side a penalty. The video referees, in all their swinish stupidity, usually oblige and this case was no exception. It was later reported by Raiders coach Neil Henry that Cashmere admitted he had stayed down at the behest of the Cowboys trainer when Glen Turner sought him out to apologise.

The act was a disgrace of the highest order from a two-bit hack player who will be hurled to the rugby league scrapheap in the not-too-distant future. He is a big lumbering forward who adds no real value to the team and the few things he has going are, one would hope, irreparably tarnished in rugby league circles. Pretending to be hurt is the antithesis of what rugby league is about and Cashmere and the Cowboys should have been severely punished, just like Paul Gallen and the Sharks should have been a number of weeks back. The punishment should have been swift, sturdy and medieval in style.

And, of course, the NRL should take away all in-run contact between the referee and the video referee. There is no need for it and nothing but discombobulated madness comes from it. When a try is scored the referee can signal what he wants checked and on 40/20’s the touch judge’s can do their job. This would solve some of the problems ripping at the heart of rugby league.

The one positive to come from the whole sordid affair was that Cashmere took his dive directly in front of your angered author. As he stumbled on the shiny Bruce turf like a dying trout, I rose with the anger and purpose of a major-general about to hammer home The Message. What followed was a tirade of abuse and decency, directed not only at Cashmere but at all his kind who belittle the game and the history and the players who have bled before by staying down for a cheap penalty. As he wandered off, his remarkable recovery capabilities kicking in, he looked up and then bowed his head, hopefully aware that his actions were despicable. For a brief moment, his eyes hit mine and I could see the shame. But it was too late by then.

The damage had been done. Buy the ticket, take the ride. Those with softness in their hearts will be castrated and that should be the decree of David Gallop. If he doesn’t, Lord help us.

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