ABC in Fremantle

ABC Radio 720 is broadcasting in Fremantle tomorrow afternoon,Friday, between the Fremantle Markets and the Sail and Anchor Hotel.

Former Mayor of Fremantle, Barrister, raconteur and political analyst Richard Utting will be a guest.

Should be entertaining, he is on from 3.00pm.

Black Armband

This is from an article in The Spectator Australia by Rowan Dean.

Adam Goodes does not deserve to be Australian of the Year. The appointment was questionable in the first place, but has since become a joke. Last week, in the Fairfax media, Goodes maintained: ‘I now find it hard to say I am proud to be Australian.’

Australian of the Year is the most important symbolic annual appointment in Australia, an accolade that receives substantial sponsorship from private companies, extraordinary recognition and — with it — responsibility.

‘Nothing comes with this office except an inscribed chunk of green glass’, wrote David Marr about 2012 winner Geoffrey Rush. ‘There’s no title; no stipend; no uniform; no official residence; nothing to pin in the lapel; and only the haziest of duties.’ Pointing out that brains tended to outweigh brawn among recipients, that black leaders were more likely to be honoured than white, and that businessmen required a philanthropic bent in order to be selected, Marr also commented that there are ‘no footballers’.

As often happens, events conspired to prove Marr wrong, and Goodes was appointed our first ever footy-playing Aussie of the Year on 26 January — an occasion Goodes couldn’t resist, er, marring with his musings over ‘the sadness and mourning and sorrow’ of indigenous Australia. As Marr correctly observed: ‘What the winners are given is a voice.’

Last May Goodes had to rely on publicly shaming a 13-year-old girl in the full glare of the TV cameras, demanding she be escorted out of the football stadium and marched into a two-hour interrogation and a lifetime of humiliation, in order to get his message about racism across. No more. Now his every utterance is heard across the land.

So how has Adam Goodes employed this wonderful gift?

In the same week his fellow Australians did so well at the Oscars, Goodes also chose to spruik a film. Sounding like he was auditioning for a job on the ABC’s At the Movies, the AFL star described a certain piece of commercial celluloid as ‘must-see’. ‘This extraordinary film… should be required viewing for every Australian’, he proclaimed. Every Australian? Wow! That’d put it ahead of Crocodile Dundee and The Great Gatsby combined in terms of box office success. Must be some flick!

Putting aside the delicate question of whether or not the Australian of the Year should be advertising a commercial piece of work, the reason for Goodes wishing to inflict this particular cinematic event upon his fellow countrymen is not to unite us in some amazing celebration of Aussie pride, patriotism, goodwill or communal fellowship, but rather, Goodes wishes to shame certain racial groups within the community whilst encouraging other racial groups to wallow in self-pity and ancient grievances.

Put bluntly, our Australian of the Year wishes to divide us all into either the Oppressed or the Oppressor.

Personally, I have no interest in either promoting the film or discussing its artistic, historic or cinematic merits. It’s a film, and like any other relies on the director’s talent to manipulate the viewer’s emotions via dramatic camerawork, skilful editing, emotive music, concise story-telling and powerful performances. Indeed, Goodes himself admits ‘I was moved to tears. Three times.’ Terrific. So was I during Philomena, and I have no doubt I’d be weeping into my Maltesers over this one too.

The film — it calls itself a film, rather than a documentary — is the work of long-time hard Left activist John Pilger, and it concerns itself with the shocking way indigenous Australians have been treated since colonisation. Goodes admits that the ‘buzz’ around the film is largely among Aboriginal communities. Personally, I have no beef with the film, with its accuracy or with its subject matter. Undoubtedly, the stories told are horrendous and the suffering exposed unimaginable. I’m sure it’s a deeply distressing film.

Where Goodes steps not only over the mark but into loony tunes territory is that he imagines some ‘disturbing’ media conspiracy to ‘silence’ the film, before launching into a creepy guilt-through-ancestory diatribe against those descended from the perpetrators of Aboriginal maltreatment.

Goodes asks the rest of us (non-indigenous, presumably) Aussies to put ourselves in his shoes and imagine what it’s like to watch ‘a film that tells the truth about the terrible injustices committed over 225 years against [my] people, a film that reveals how Europeans, and the governments that have run our country, have raped, killed and stolen from [my] people for their own benefit.’

He goes on: ‘Now imagine how it feels when the people who benefited most from those rapes, those killings and that theft — the people in whose name the oppression was done — turn away in disgust when someone seeks to expose it.’

Huh? ‘The people who benefited most from those rapes’? What’s that mean? And why should I bother imagining what it felt like for Goodes or anyone else to watch such-and-such a film? He’s a famous footballer. I’m not. He’s descended from the first Australians. I’m descended from Scottish peasants. Do I expect him to imagine what it felt like for me to sit through Braveheart? These are the frothy-mouthed rantings of some student union political activist circa 1970, not the considered comments of 2014’s most honoured citizen.

It’s vile stuff. And I don’t just mean the past mistreatments of Aborigines, Irish single mothers, Scottish peasants or anyone else. I mean it’s vile that the Australian of the Year should seek to whip up hatred of a group of people (whom he loosely labels as Europeans, whatever that means) and lay at their feet responsibility for ongoing disadvantage within indigenous Australia. Worse, Goodes’s outrage is not based on protesting specific government legislation, policies or deeds, but rather, on the broad narrative of a film.

One of the requirements of being Australian of the Year is to act as ‘role model for us all’. So what role would Goodes have the rest of us play from now on? Must all Aborigines, in Goodes’s Australia, see themselves as the perpetual victims of unimaginable horrors, rather than individuals in their own right? Must all ‘Europeans’ see themselves as collectively guilty of inflicting endless pain and suffering on indigenous Australia?

When John Lennon felt disgusted by specific policies of the British government towards Northern Ireland, he protested by returning his MBE. The public, the media and the government duly sat up and took notice.

If Adam Goodes feels so aggrieved, he can do us all a favour and hand his chunk of green glass to somebody else; preferably someone who doesn’t struggle to be proud to be Australian.

 

Moneyball

With the AFL season upon us it is interesting to look at matchday ticket prices in the UK Premier League:

Arsenal      £126

Chelsea      £87

Spurs          £81

Fulham      £75

Newcastle  £70

Prices for premium seats at Patersons Stadium are yet to be published but last year were $62.80, about £33.80.

The Turf

From The Spectator Australia, Robin Oakley, an Englishman:

At Christmas a friend from CNN sent me the story of a US officer on a European train. Searching for a seat, he found one occupied by a miniature poodle and asked its French female owner if she would put the dog on her lap. She not only refused but also remarked loudly as he moved on, ‘God spare us from these bloody Americans who think they own the whole world.’

Ten minutes later, the visibly weary American returned to say that there was no seat vacant on the entire train. Again he requested politely that madame move her dog. Again she refused, this time snarling, ‘Won’t somebody protect me from this boorish foreigner?’ At this point, with the train slowing, the American seized the dog and hurled it through the window on to a grassy bank. As its owner shrieked her fury, an Englishman sitting opposite spoke for the first time. ‘Oh dear, oh dear,’ he said. ‘You Americans never get it quite right, do you? You hold your fork in the wrong hand, you drive on the wrong side of the road and now you have thrown the wrong bitch out of the window.’

England’s drubbing in the Ashes series already had me thinking about national characteristics: the Australians not only played much better cricket than our boys, they also seem to be altogether more proficient at the art of ‘sledging’, verbally destroying their opponents’ morale even before they have faced their first ball. Friends have asked if the same happens in racing.

Not in quite the same way. There is not too much time for verbals when you are driving half a ton of horse across two dozen obstacles, although occasionally, when a jockey’s call for racing room is ignored by a rival, it can lead to choice words afterwards, occasionally to changing-room fisticuffs. Jump jockey Timmy Murphy has just returned from a nine-day suspension after he and Dominic Elsworth scrapped in the Newbury weighing room. In Murphy’s case, injury was added to the perceived insult: throwing a punch at Elsworth, he dislocated his
shoulder.

Jockeys do talk to each other during races. The day after he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on The Dikler and celebrated into the early hours, a badly hungover Ron Barry only won a race at Uttoxeter thanks to two fellow jockeys shouting a warning to him and his mount every time they approached a hurdle. There is kidology too. When David ‘The Duke’ Nicholson was riding Mill House in the Whitbread Gold Cup at Sandown, his less experienced fellow jockey John Buckingham loomed up beside him around the final bend on San Angelo. ‘Steady Buck,’ called Nicholson, ‘you’re trotting up.’ Buckingham eased his mount and at that moment The Duke went hell for leather for the line on Mill House. Had Buckingham not been influenced into taking a pull, Nicholson admitted later, his own horse might not have been in the first four.

The leading Flat jockey Greville Starkey used to do a marvellous imitation of a barking dog and occasionally went into his routine during a finish to put off an opponent’s mount. It happened as he fought head-to-head with Pat Eddery as Pat won the Japan Cup on the Dowager Duchess of Bedford’s Jupiter Island. She still has the photo to confirm it.

I have been trying to recall, too, which jump jockey it was who accidentally spat out his false teeth as he shouted at an opponent for taking his room during a race. The jumping boys being what they are, linked always by the camaraderie of facing injury or even death every time they go out, the offending jockey, who didn’t have a ride in the next race, went back along the track to search for them.

Perhaps it is a little less friendly on the Flat, although even there most of the tensions are worked out in weighing-room antics, like the time Philip Robinson and George Duffield tried to get the South African champion Michal ‘Muis’ Roberts superglued to the floor in his riding boots. They just couldn’t get him to stand in one place for long enough.

The one man not to make an enemy of in the old days, however, was Lester Piggott. In Piggott’s later years as a jockey, the cocky young Italian Frankie Dettori used to enjoy teasing the icon of the Turf. Lester eventually had had enough of it and one day at Goodwood Frankie was leading him around a bend when suddenly Piggott struck like a cobra. A hand snaked out and seized the crouching Dettori firmly by the testicles. The grip then tightened like a vice, bringing tears to the Italian’s eyes, while the leading jockey’s voice muttered in his ear, ‘That will teach you to be so cheeky, you little sod.’ Dettori and some fellow jockeys afterwards examined the video of the race but no evidence was visible. ‘The cunning old fox had caught me on the blind spot where the camera angle changes.’

At least England’s batsmen haven’t had to face that from the Australian slips.

Fremantle Football Club

News that Fremantle Football Club is relocating its training facilities to Cockburn does not surprise me, and commentators who have denigrated the Board over the past few months are wide of the mark. Anyone with any knowledge of AFL football knows that for Fremantle FC to be successful they need training and administration facilities that are state of the art or risk falling behind Victorian clubs that are spending millions on new facilities.

Just look at Collingwood and Essendon.

Only last week, Captain Matthew Pavlich stated that Fremantle’s facilities were the second worst in the AFL.

The City of Cockburn is pitching in $65 million, but Fremantle FC still want an ongoing presence at Fremantle Oval.

Now the City of Fremantle should be talking to East Fremantle Football Club and luring them from their dilapidated premise that is owned by the Town of East Fremantle. Having both South Fremantle and East Fremantle based at Fremantle Oval would be great for both clubs and ensure that a WAFL game would be played in Fremantle each week.

A win/win.

Cricket – Why bother?

Australia is playing South Africa at the Gabba in Brisbane in the first Test in a 3 Test series which will determine the No. 1 world test ranking.

But who cares?

There is so much cricket played now that it is hard to keep up, and I suspect TV audiences have also turned off.

South Africa are also playing Australia in Adelaide and Perth but not in the populous cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and certainly not on Boxing Day. The famous Boxing Day Test will feature Sri Lanka because South Africa host their own Test on Boxing Day, this time against New Zealand. The Sri Lankans will play 3 Tests against Australia, in Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney.

25,000 people attended the Gabba on Day 1, but then today there was no play at all due to rain. As a contast the crowd at Flemington races today was 74,000.

The emphasis on Twenty20 cricket, although entertaining if you can find a live match, has led to too much cricket that is played at all times of the year.

I do not think that it can recover.

AFL

Sydney Swans won the Grand Final in an entertaining tussle with Hawthorn in front of a big crowd of 99,683 at the MCG.

The final score was 14.7 (91) to 11.15 (81) with the tight game played in very blustery conditions but the forcasted rain did not eventuate.

Sydney stalwart, Ryan O’Keefe won the Norm Smith Medal for the best player afield.

Interestingly 3 of the Sydney players started playing Rugby when they were at school. Kieran Jack and Lewis Roberts-Thomson both played rugby and switched to Australian Rules.

The big story though is that of Mike Pyke who was born in British Columbia, Canada and played Rugby Union for Canada’s national side where he earned 17 caps before deciding to switch to Australian Rules in 2008,playing his first game in 2009.

Pyke achieved fame in 2007 for running the length of the field and scoring a try for Canada against the New Zealand All Blacks off an intercepted pass. He took a DVD of this with him to Sydney, and with his 200 cm and 105 kg body they signed him and he played his first game in 2009. He has now played 46 games over 4 seasons and has a Premiership medallion. His mother was at the MCG watching him play a great game as a ruckman.

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