The thrill of Will to boost the ailing West

The Western Force can look forward to surviving on more than basic rations in 2013 with the news that gun scrum half Will Genia will be crossing the Nullarbor to call the shots out west.

Firstly, credit must go to his slick management and their SAS-style management routines for somehow keeping the pencil vultures unbeknownst right up until the cat was released from the bag.

Secondly, homage to Genia for a bold and ballsy rugby decision. Obviously the sizeable boost in bread helps, but this is an adventurous move to an underachieving team from the comfort zone of a structure that fostered him into a star.

Genia will be firing his bullets far far away. Will it be to anyone decent in the backline?

And you can hear the rugby faithful in WA begin to breathe again.

A couple of weeks ago, the joint was long-faced and looking potentially threadbare with the departure of coach Richard Graham and the grapevine suggesting that club icon David Pocock was also musing over nicking off inland. 

The franchise and it’s believers were preparing for existence as a charitable organisation who would be running business from beneath the rugby poverty line.

But if you believe in the domino theory, then this prodigious coup should ensure they will be living on a lot more than $2 worth of talent a day in 2013.

The Sunday morning rumour mill is now saying that Pocock is on the verge of hanging around also, which will give the Force a heap of pull and profile in and around the ruck as well as off the paddock.

Dave is sure to appreciate the extra Willpower, provided he hangs around.

With Genia setting up digs in Perth and Pocock deciding to hang, there’s no doubting that the Force brand will go from being unattractive and far-flung to a pheromone-releasing plausible performer and a tangy carrot to the best available coaching talent to replace the departed Graham.

Ditto for any available high profile players who are considering a change of employer.

This is the defibrillation that the Western Force needs.

Their committed and hardy fan base, who turn up in good numbers every home game, deserve this type of signing to remind them that their club is seen as a professional and potentially successful place by the top-line players.

The club currently treads water in Super Rugby, which is laudable considering their budget playing list.

They need the habit of winning to shore up their profile on the West Australian sporting panorama, and expensive items with champion pedigree like Genia will go a long way to making that happen.

Calypso coffee and another workmanlike Aussie performance

Let us rejoice in the return of conventional snoozing arrangements now that our boys have wrapped up the series in the West Indies.

It’s that time on the ICC Test calendar where the cricketing fellowship stationed here in Australia plough through piles of Nescafe and No-Doz in the fight against midnight start times.

This series was an engrossing slog worth the rusted-on taste of dishwater-dull coffee and the twitchy leg muscles that come with it.

Issue: there is nowhere on the Frank Worrell Trophy that beer can be drunk from.

On the surface, a tidy 2-0 result to Michael Clarke’s men would appear like a garden-variety ‘takin’ care of business’ scoreline finalised behind the scenes with minimal hubbub. But there were mousetraps aplenty on the journey that required cool heads.

The wickets were super-drowsy at times, ensuring the fiercest examination of our batsmen’s technique and patience, a test that was often failed by a top order who seem to play tag on who’s turn it is to contribute each innings.

Then the bowling unit was stripped back to the bare and Starc essentials when powerhouses James Pattinson and Peter Siddle both crocked in the same match, and even a few claws were out for Nathan Lyon when he copped some tap early on.

There were crossroad positions in the first and third tests, when the West Indies were only half a session from becoming the pants-wearer, and the rain that scuppered a potentially tasty run chase by the hosts in the second match.

You can see why the Frank Worrell Trophy will be held fondly on the flight home by Clarke and his squad, especially in the overall scheme of their recent rejuvenation which can go from muscular to delicate based on the smallest trip-up.

Credit also has to go to Darren Sammy and his mob of capable labourers.

The air needs to be cleared regarding West Indian cricket, and I’m not talking about the sometime-spotted hazy scenes surrounding the relaxed punters in the bleachers.

Calypso Cricket is slowly cleansing itself of it’s squishy and bendable qualities.

They are still guilty of refusing to front-run in games, always somehow finding a way to unravel their hard work usually through spectacular batting cataclysm. But the difference these days compared with the rabble of previous years is that they are now regularly playing themselves into these positions that buy them a decent strike at the opposition.

Learning to place their hands on the other team’s throats and not their own could go a long way to seeing them on the right side of the ledger more often.

Now let’s put on our green and gold cork-hat. Our team has jumped above India on the ICC rankings into 3rd and there’s high-fiving happening around the water coolers. What’s on the horizon for the Baggy Green?

I said before this series that it’s just another stepping stone in the rebuilding of confidence. But now I have to admit, I’m getting a little bit charged about the possibility of making waves in the Old Dart in 2013.

Congratulating each other upon reaching double figures is something this pair will need to eradicate before South Africa arrive.

Clarke is captaining the side with a cool swagger and a fearless tactical nature, and our seam bowling unit is now running 6 options deep with blokes who can build pressure by sticking to a tried and tested blueprint of hitting areas and getting the ball to talk, a plan also known as ‘the opposite to whatever Mitchell Johnson used to do.’

Behind the sticks, Matthew Wade stepped up beautifully in place of Brad Haddin and cherried his tour cake with a gutsy ton in the last test. Whichever way the selectors go when Haddin returns is up to them; but once again it’s another bulge in depth.

Even Michael Beer, the forgotten man of the spin fraternity, took his chance and bowled capably when called upon.

As for the batting, it was a tough and torrid slog from the beginning that sliced a few egos.

Ed Cowan and Ricky Ponting would be thanking the time difference for the minimal exposure of their skinny numbers on this tour, but they should be there for the start of the Australian summer. However, I suggest a willow masterclass from the overachieving tail is in order to help them iron out the kinks.

Next stop? South Africa in our own backyard. A surefire way to either increase the excitement more, or brutally knock it on the head.

Now I’m off for some sleep.

The dive that was a Lowey shot to the foot

Fellas, tell me you saw that disgraceful end to the A-league final on Sunday between the Roar and Glory? If you didn’t, I’ll give you a quick rundown and then you should go U-Tube it. 

Berisha, the dog who made it possible.

At 1-1 with seconds to go in extra time, a Roar player by the name of Besart Berisha took a dive that Mathew Mitcham would have been proud of and which will be placed into consideration for the 2013 Academy Awards. From the side lines and from the lounge room, the Glory player which was closest to Berisha came no closer than a Clive Palmer width to him. Yet, on the back of that despicable display, the Roar got a penalty and a shot from in front.

 Suddenly, after 94 min and 30 secs of gruelling, hard fought grand final soccer, the result was about to come down to a shot at goal on the back of a pathetic unsport’s-man like performance. The result was now more certain than a splattered bowl in the morning after a Mahatma Sing’s curry in a hurry.

So punters, with the facts laid down and the Roar now downing the victory champagne, what are we to make of this result?

First and foremost, the way in which this game was won was completely unsporting like and un-Australian. Furthermore, it will act as another hook for the Soccer knockers of this country to hang their already numerous hats on. With Soccer always struggling to gain a foot hold in this country, a 50 thousand sell out crowd at Suncorp stadium and an exciting, memorable finish to a great game on the cards, Frank Lowey and Co could have been forgiven if they were thinking that Soccer’s forgettable year of financial turmoils, Clive Palmers, Nathan Tinklers and Harry Kewells was about to be forgotten in a sea of grand final ecstasy in the halls of A-League central. But not to be.

That half-wit Berisha not only halted the momentum that Footaball Australia could have swept up, but then single handledly pegged the game back a few decades in its desire to win over a very staunchly loyal public of the other, more “tougher”, footy codes. As a sporting code in Australia, Soccer has tried desperately to shed the perception that it’s a game full of wussy bum-licking prima-donnas who run about like ego stroking shirtless wankers. But, for as long as Soccer has been dribbling its round balls in this country, the “dive,” in Soccer has dogged it from etching its self a strong base in the Aussie sporting landscape. It has been used as the chief mallet for other codes’ fans to wack Soccer’s legitimacy and claim superiority in the manly soup bowl of Australian sporting culture.

A disgracful moment in Australia's sporting history.

 The incident also acted as a further reminder of the 2006 world cup campaign when Australia was robbed in a very similar fashion by some dickhead from the Italian team. To many an Australian sporting fan that moment still leaves a foul taste in the mouth. This current incident just adds further flavour to an already dreadful reputation that soccer has and struggled to overcome before and since the 2006 debacle.

For League, Union and GayFL administrators, the A-League result was beautiful. For Football Australia and its supporters, it was just another bullet shot straight into an already lead filled foot.    

Gallop: "GOAL!" An own goal for the A-League.

 

  

   

Ricky Seinfeld’s routine down to a T

When did Ricky Stuart begin his career as a comedian?

It seems to have slipped under the radar here in NSW, but apparently his work is highly popular in Queensland.

This gag he keeps telling about Tony Williams being under serious consideration for Game 1 of Origin is the pinnacle of his comic stylings.

Bags not telling Tony he's been omitted.

Seriously, can somebody assure me that I’m not cuckoo? Is this so completely bonkers that it’s hilarious?

There’s no doubt that Williams is a devastating force that our state side needs. But it comes with the teeny weeny stipulation that requires he be match fit.

Before he flipped Isaac de Gois like a navigator vigorously steering a ship, he was an extremely attractive selection contender. A hardened premiership player with international experience who was bending defensive lines with raw aggression would’ve definitely been on track to be in the 17 for the opener at Melbourne.

But the repeated mention of his name now this close to selection time should be nothing more than Sticky giving him a reassuring consolation hug to remind him that he’s a valuable part of the blueprint for later in the campaign.

However, the whispers are growing louder that it isn’t a token coaching embrace to galvanise his confidence. The word is the T-Rex may be pushed to the head of the queue with no miles in his legs and called upon to play.

If Stuart follows through and completes this dinosaur-sized gamble by handing Williams a jumper then I hope there’s some tapes of canned laughter to be on hand for the press conference where the squad becomes known.

I’ll also be expecting the theme music to Seinfeld to be playing as the team is read out.

Throwing a debutant to Maroon lions for his first hit-out in 10 weeks will have our detested neighbours up north giggling into their horrible tasting mid-strength beer like a satisfied mass at an open mic night.

Ricky doing his act at the International Comedy Festival.

Are Stuart and the side-splitting panel contractually obligated to pull at least one headline-busting selection story every year?

Hasn’t the novelty of the NSW left-field call lost it’s gloss amongst the last 6 excruciating years of bugger-all success?

What makes this even more puzzling is the fact that the back row stocks are one of our deeper reserves with a burgeoning number of candidates coming out of the sky blue proverbial. If there was a shortage, then by all means break the emergency glass. But the fact is that there’s a surplus of good cattle in Williams’ category.

Surely one of the other available options who have been bruising and busting in the top grade right up until selection time are better equipped to deal with the unique demands of the state contest.

What do we think if Williams is found desperately sucking oxygen out on the wing after 10 minutes because he can’t hack the pace?

Laughter will definitely not ensue, unless of course you bend bananas.

And there may be an immense chorus of booing for Ricky Seinfeld’s routine.

Out of work Peter de man for fruity Australian rugby

I read today that former South African rugby coach Peter de Villiers is feeling “a bit useless at the moment” due to the world of union’s lack of interest in his services.

In recent times, the decorated gag-cracking rugby tutor is a dejected individual who spends his days flicking through the classifieds looking for a gig.

How could you say no?

Ever since he’s left his post as Springboks head coach, he’s been aimlessly moping around his house, wasting his bottomless catalogue of entertaining and controversial one-liners on nobody but himself.

To the game of rugby union as a whole, I say shame on you for standing by and allowing this to materialise.

PDV is the man who memorably slashes through the swathe of coaching rugby speak with customary fare such as:

“I am going to pull a rat out of a hat”,

“We are very organised at the moment. We do not want to become a fruit salad” and

“There is little difference between winning and losing except you feel better after winning.”

He’s the kind of dialogue artist that splashes fluorescent paint across the often plain and nondescript press conference.

Someone throw this man a rescue rope and drag him back into union. I know a perfect gloomy and weary audience for him to illuminate with his famed and celebrated rhetoric.

There’s nowhere in more need than our own backyard where local rugby performances have been weekend sleeping tablets of late, and there’s 2 particular organisations I’ve identified as perfect fits for PDV’s wisdom.

So to the backroom boffins at the Melbourne Rebels and the Western Force, this is your cue to get on the phone to the Republic and flash some stacks of Rand.

These 2 Australian outfits typify the doldrum state of provincial rugby in our proud nation at the moment.

The exact fundamental approach Australian provinces need right now.

The application and endeavour from both is evident; but let’s be frank. They’re not particularly exciting and they’re losing games.

What better stage for PDV to reunite with the game, and more importantly the microphone that misses the consistent injection of his unrestrained verbal gems, than at either Perth or Melbourne?

We all know Richard Graham is heading east, so the hot seat is vacant at the Force.

And even the most dyed-in-the-wool Damien Hill fan at the Rebels would have to recognise that PDV would bring a more appealing and spicy angle to the organisation which needs to be regularly firing flares in the engulfing ocean of AFL.

Both of these clubs and their fans need some international flavour, some success and some chuckles to go with the victory champers afterwards.

Perth and Melbourne, take my free advice. Give Peter a call and prevent the risk of becoming a fruit salad.

A tale of two Halves

There are some interesting halves combinations on display over the Rugby League representative weekend that are worth briefly casting an eye over for their potential impact on the results and the ‘bigger’ picture significance of these pairings…

The Anzac Test:

Usually a game for the Kiwis to demonstrate the fighting strength of a flightless little bird, I suspect New Zealand league fans are in for more disappointment as ‘the bros’ come together for a far too brief hui and get massacred by the juggernaut that is the Australian Rugby League team. The Kiwis struggle in these one-off games and are far more suited to the longer in-camp build up of tournaments where the brotherhood and mana flow, not the catch up over a latte let’s play a game of footy scenario of this type of fixture. While much of the attention has been focused on Tamou and the welcoming committee that will greet the Maori boy turning his back on NZ to play for Australia (yes, he can fondly reflect on Karmichael Hunt’s warm welcome that saw him stretched off the park in the opening minutes), the New Zealand halves combination is shaping up as an exciting prospect. The Kiwis have had a handful of useful halves in the day, Gary Freeman, Clayton Friend and more recently Stacey Jones, but with Benji Marshall getting joined by a Benji-like protegé in Shaun Johnson, they have arguably the best halves combination they have ever fielded (of course also acknowledging that Kieran Foran would be there barring injury and is certainly no slouch….he’ll probably be a Kiwi centre in the future). Whether they are or will be the best ever is tricky to ascertain but in terms of flair, skill, speed, passing and unpredictability, they must be considered a dynamic combination capable of tearing the Kangaroos to ribbons with off-loads, broken play, set plays and simply freakish plays (as Marshall has conjured up numerous times before for both his club and country). However, before anyone nips off to the bookies to wager their weeks’ earnings, let me make it clear that New Zealand will need the forwards to muscle up, contest, tackle, go forward and generally compete well against the Kangaroos for the halves to shine. That is, if the big boys can avoid getting drawn into a literal slug fest where they try to ‘smash’ their opposition and play the man rather the ball, then such a platform should allow the kiwi halves to exploit the rare gaps, tired legs or weaknesses should they present themselves. But exciting as it may be to see what these two can conjure and unleash, it is going to be a big ask for them alone to provide the difference.  So exciting, entertaining and potentially razzle dazzle from these hot stepping halves, but probably a bridge too far for the forwards to curb and control their aggression up front…let alone to actually defeat the Goliath’s of Rugby League.

Really not much needs to be said about the Australian pairing. While, no doubt, the retirement of Darren Lockyer is a massive void to full in terms of experience and big match temperament, in step the groomed Maroons/Kangaroos halves pairings who have the combination of flair and experience in Johnathan Thurston, and the consistency and composure in Cooper Cronk. Simply swapping the colour of their jerseys come representative time, and on the back of a similar set of  robust, skilful and mobile forward packs (the majority of which also switch green and gold for maroon jerseys when needed), these two should be able to contain most of what the Kiwis can throw at them with a little help from their big friends. However, Benji has managed to get one over Thurston on occasions, and JT is prone to losing his rag with referees, so getting him down on confidence or incensed over a bad call or play that goes wrong most likely will be a deliberate ploy for the Kiwis, either by hammering him in every tackle or by baiting the wild man within. Still, a classy and polished halves pairing that should reign supreme at international and state level.

City v Country

The competition for the NSW state of origin team halves spots will also be an intriguing second game to watch this weekend. By all accounts Mitchell Pearce has the number 7 sewn up, but the halves pairings of Pearce and Jarryd Hayne vs Jarrod Mullen and Todd Carney will be interesting.  Hayne is or should be a certainly for a sky blue jumper somewhere in the backline, but Carney’s resurgence has been spectacular. For a man prone to life with the bottle, and numerous benders, misdemeanours and failed attempts to stay clean despite ‘final warnings’ and resultant terminated contracts, his efforts in 2012 have been phenomenal and a major factor in the Sharks unexpected on field successes. Carney needs to restrict his celebrations to the field but at this stage is firming as Pearce’s partner for Origin, on the back of  this form and his previous combination with Pierce at the Roosters. Mullen is the dark horse and certainly not a poor player, but arguably would need the game of his life to re claim an Origin jumper. Other notable omissions – Peter Wallace (worth considering?) and Jamie Soward (you are the weakest link, good bye). If this is really a ‘trial’ for selection, then the battle between Carney and Hayne, two players who are fundamental to sparking their clubs into life and making things happen when they apply themselves, should be a salivating showdown.   Unfortunately, to the victor the spoils….or more realistically a poisoned chalice, as Thurston and Cronk await and potentially so too another Blues’ Origin debacle.

Down and Out

Two other players entrusted with the responsibility of sparking their clubs into life are currently needing resuscitation. Poor Terry Campese is out for another season due to injury and probably extinguishes the Canberra flame unless a very blunt attack can find some teeth …Josh Dugan will be over worked in this capacity.

While life is not so good for Chris Sandow. Leaving Souths with a swagger, some seemingly impressive attacking skills and enticed with a fat pay cheque, Sandow’s hardly been value for money and demoted to reserve grade on the back of his poor 2012 form with Parramatta. Sandow seems to have skipped training for pies, forgotten that defence is required on the field and is ‘General Disarray’ on attack. No wonder Coach Kearney thought enough was enough….at least Sandow still has the chance to redeem his and Parramatta’s fortunes, unlike the hapless Campese.

5 Stupid Overtime Schemes

(Also posted on RoskillSB)

Why do so many people hate tied games? It’s a simple explanation really; fans want closure, they want to be able to say “my team was the better team on the day” and would like to have a score-line to justify their claim. In accordance with popular demand, most sports leagues around the world try their best to ensure that someone ends up winning the game. The leagues come up with some form of tie breaker, something to keep the fans excited and on the edge of their seats. Not every league manages to pull it off too though, they often seem to miss out something that removes the fairness factor from the game. Here are some overtime schemes that I don’t particularly find user-friendly.

DISCLAIMER: The schemes and implications mentioned here are based on my interpretation of the rules and fact checking done via the leagues’ official websites; please let me know if I have gotten anything wrong.

1. NBA regular season

Description: if scores are tied at the end of regulation, we have ourselves 5 minutes of overtime… If scores are tied after that, then we have another 5 minutes… This keeps going on until one team ends up winning.

Why I find it stupid: this will end up being a recurring theme, but in a lot of sports leagues; regular season game statistics are quite important. When it comes to the NBA, everyone is looking for “who has the most points per game” or “did anyone get a triple double”? Overtime gives players an unfair advantage to accomplish feats that they might not have been able to in regulation time. Imagine if someone breaks Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game record after having played a game that went to 7 overtimes.

Recommended changes: stop adding to player statistics at the end of regulation! Keep the statistics board a level playing field where everyone has the same amount of minutes to get the job done. Just have overtime as a special category where the only thing that gets decided is who wins and who loses and leave all other statistics out of the picture!

2. Cricket: the bowl-off

Description: if a limited overs cricket game is tied, 5 bowlers from each side deliver one or two balls at an unguarded wicket. If they hit the stumps and the bails fall, they score a wicket. This works as a shootout with the team having the most wickets winning the game.

Why I find it stupid: firstly I would like to thank most of world cricket for removing the bowl-off and replacing it with a super over which, despite still being quite unfair, is a LOT better than a bowl-off. I think that a bowl off is absurd because it’s just target practice. When a player bowls, there’s nothing stopping him/her from hitting the wickets apart from his/her own accuracy. The scheme has no real ties with a standard game of cricket and it doesn’t really give an indication of which team was better on the day. All it tells us is which team has the more accurate bowlers.

Recommended changes: scrap it! It’s garbage. I am glad to see that the system has been made redundant for the most part and replaced by better things, but I really hope that the few pockets of cricket that still endorse this system get rid of it and fast. I never want to see another bowl-off again!

3. NHL regular season

Description: if a game finishes in a tie, we have ourselves a 5 minute sudden death overtime period. If scores are still tied after this, we have ourselves a best of 3 shootout followed by sudden death until one team ends up winning.

Why I find it stupid: well in general it’s a pretty good scheme; it keeps the fans glued to their sets and proves to be a reasonably quick and exciting way to conclude a game of ice hockey. What I hate about it though (apart from the skew in player stats), is the fact that the NHL has 3 possible team results; a win (2 points), a loss (0 points), and an overtime loss (1 point). Why give the team one point for losing in overtime? Why not penalize the winning team for not being able to finish the game off in regulation? The overtime loss statistic is one of the most annoying things to keep track of; it gives a real strange advantage to a team just for having gone to overtime.

Recommended changes: this one occurred to me a couple of years back during the Vancouver winter Olympics. They had a well planned group stage here where you could either score a win (3 points), an overtime win (2 points), an overtime loss (1 point), or a loss (0 points). I suggest that the NHL employ this system, it’s easier on the eyes and adds more value to a regulation win.

4. NFL (all season long)

Description: if teams are tied at the end of regulation, the game goes into a modified sudden death overtime (the NFL has adopted this for its regular season games as well now). Each overtime period is 15 minutes long and the game ends when the scores are no longer tied after each team has had at least one possession of the ball, unless the team that had first possession scores a touchdown on its opening drive.

Why I find it stupid: just read the description!!! What the hell are they trying to prove? Why does scoring a touchdown on the opening drive nullify the need for both teams to have possession of the ball? This system came into place after the 2010 playoffs because people didn’t find the initial “sudden death” system to be very fair. What I fail to see is how the hell this is fair. The Broncos made it to the divisional playoffs ahead of the Steelers this year thanks to Tebow passing to Thomas on the first drive of overtime. Who’s to say Roethlisberger wouldn’t have responded with something similar? The Steelers weren’t even given a chance! You might as well flip a coin for a tie-breaker instead of making everyone go out and play again.

Recommended changes: give each team possession of the football at least once REGARDLESS of what happens on the first drive of the game, that way both teams have been given a fair opportunity to show what they can do on offense. And stop counting stats after regulation finishes! I don’t want the record for the most season passing yards to be broken thanks to overtime performances! Keep statistics standardized and within the bounds of regulation timing!

5. US Open Tennis 5th set

Description: if the 5th set of a (men’s) US open match ends 6-6, we go to a tiebreaker (first to 7 points) to see who wins the match. This is different from every other tennis grand slam where the 5th set does not have a tiebreaker, but rather keeps going on until someone manages to win by a margin of two games.

Why I find it stupid: before the tiebreaker was introduced into tennis, every single set needed to be decided by two games. This was definitely quite excessive, there having been some marathon matches where every one of the 5 sets went beyond 12 games (6 each) and so having a tiebreaker in the modern game is justified; it hurries the game along a little. When a match goes into the 5th set however, it is a true testament to how closely fought the contest has been. Both players have worked quite hard to reach this 5th set and a tiebreaker here seems like too much of a luck/chance scenario. Sure, without having a tiebreaker in there the likes of Isner will just keep playing incredibly defensively until their opponent gets worn out. Ultimately though, removing the tiebreaker from the 5th set makes it a battle of mental strength rather than just having the match settled on a couple of lucky shots.

Recommended changes: remove the tiebreaker; let the players fight it out until one of them has clearly dominated the other. Otherwise, modify the tie breaker to make it fairer; don’t just leave it at “first to 7”, make it “first to 10 and leading by 4 points”. This allows us to quite clearly differentiate who the better player is.

A call to all lunatics!

Only 7 weeks into the league season and Melbourne are looking to have already planted one finger on the trophy. Early days I know, but their form is indisputable. Possessing the defensive resolve of the Dragons 2010 and the flair of the Tigers 2005, the Storm are on track to seep all before them.

Currently, Smith, Cronk and Slater are playing like demigods, running an absolute muck on the field. Demonstrating skill sets from the Divine, and executing set plays like circus performers, the 3 amigos are finding holes in opposition defensive lines like 007 agents armed with GPS trackers and radio wrist watches. At present, the big 3 are sending all opposing teams into submission and are proving a constant source of despare for enemy fans.

Who's going to stop these guys?

So before we all start screwing up our early season TAB tickets for our other premiership winners, let’s see if anyone in the competition can stand up and take one for the average punter.

What do I mean by taking one for the average punter you ask?

I mean I’m asking for the Tommy Raudonikis’s, the Noel Kellys and the Adrien Morelys of the game to stand up and save rugby league from another Storm grand final appearance.

We need a lunatic on the field willing to take matters into his own hands on behalf of all rugby league supporters and effectively end the Storm’s run to an inevitable date with the GF. An experienced campaigner in the dark arts of the swinging arm, cocked elbow or spear-tackle could be just the tonic to stop one of the big 3 and place a halt on the silverware heading to Mexico.

I know it’s not in the game’s spirit, but you could say neither was putting these 3 wunder-kids in the same frickin team. And much to the dismay of average Joe rugby league supporter, these 3 have a few more years together still to come.

No way am I advocating season ending or career threatening bust ups. But a well-timed blow towards the pointer end of the season resulting in a few weeks on the sidelines is just what all punters would like and need to see happen. Otherwise, we may as well charge up the engraver and pack the confetti cannons with purple and white streamers.   

So who in the competion would be the likely foot soldiers to carry out such a role?

Here are 4 troops I have nominated who have proven ability to implement such a call.  

Frank's guns need to be called into action.

Frank Pritchard. Frank the tank needs to unleash one of his famous shoulders into the jaws of one these blokes. A Slater kick return straight into an awaiting left shoulder bone could be just enough to flattern Billy the kid and the Storm’s hopes of another GF appearence.

Tony Williams. Having near perfected the spear-tackle, Williams needs to put Smithy’s head somewhere between the top layer of soil and the drainage system under ANZ stadium to stop the trophy getting on a bus to Melbourne in September.

Michael Crocker. A former Storm player himself, Crocker surely feels a little jealous that he’s not playing with that mob. Crocker needs to direct those envious feelings fair into the melon of an unsuspecting Cronk. A late hit after a mid field bomb will do nicely.

Bryce Gibbs. Although Gibbsy has a relatively clean record, he is known for brain-snaps and general boof-headness. A well picked fight from another Sharks player to one of the three stooges should have Gibbs running to join like a buzzard to a pig pen. Once there, Gibbs, will be able to unleash the mental case inside and duly put one of the Storm’s stars into the coma ward for a few rounds.

Ashton Sims. This unit is another player who hasn’t seen the walls of the judiciary too often, but last week’s effort on Jack Bosden proved that if Simo doesn’t like you then expect some special treatment. If Simo can get a hold of Smithy, a huge swinging arm and a driving elbow to Smithy’s moscow will require a visit to the plastic surgeon to correct the nose that was once on Smithy’s face.

So boys, there you have it, a call to arms for the thug inside our rugby league players. Stop the trophy heading south and make the finals a fair contest. Your code needs you!

Tommy: "Your Game needs you!"

Cricket is Corrupt – part 1

Harbhajan Singh - Ind Vs Eng,Mumbai, March 29,...

Racism? Don't worry about it mate, that's fine.

I know as soon as I say corruption you immediately think to the various betting scandals that have taken place over the last few years. But no, I’m talking about how the subcontinent countries (India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) have held the game at ransom and controlled the world of cricket to their liking. Just typing this fills me with rage. It’s actually ridiculous how much they get away with. Let me take you back to the 2008 India vs Australia Test series. It had been proven that Harbhajan Singh had racially abused Andrew Symonds (not for the first time either) and the ICC match referee was ready to slap him with a solid fine and long suspension. BUT NO, GOD FORBID WE HAVE JUSTICE WHEN INDIA ARE PLAYING. The Indian cricket board or whatever the hell those pricks call themselves decided they would threaten to fly the Indian team home unless Harbhajan’s sentence was delayed. The tool ended up only missing a few one dayers instead of a whole test series which is what he should have got.

My blood is boiling just thinking of it. If that was Australia, South Africa or even England there would have been a huge blow-up about it. But with India the problem seemed to just fade away very quickly. Funny how that works isn’t it? I’ll explain how this ‘system’ works and how other countries have corrupted the game in part 2 which you can read on my blog  Cricket and all its Wonders. If you’ll excuse me I have to go punch a wall to release this rage.

cheers for listening.

Get the pill to the…. loosehead?

Disconnect yourself from Google. Here’s a quick pop quiz without notice.

Who is the leading try-scorer in Super Rugby so far this season?

Big Tony enters the exclusive club.

For those unaware, I’m banking that the initial candidates that spring to mind are the orthodox try-line dominators. The men who in recent times seem to have commonly nestled in the habitat of the opposition in-goal. The men with double digits on their backs.

Is it Stormer speedster Bryan Habana, the man who has always dotted down like it’s shelling peas? What about Hurricanes retainee Cory Jane or the rejected Ma’a Nonu? Surely his anger at being shown the door at Wellington has been translated into some 5-pointers for the Blues in 2012?

One-eyed Aussie rugby fans would probably have the dynamic Digby Ioane or his fellow Red Dom Shipperley in their thought bubbles, or for the bigger dreamers, would you toss up new Waratah whippet Tom Kingston or baby Brumby Joseph Tomane?

Are any of these contenders at the crest of the try tree?

Arizona celebrating one of his half dozen.

If you guessed one of the predictable from above, then you have hooked your kick wide. You need to move your sights from the outer thirds of the paddock and start looking further infield.

Leading the list so far in 2012 is the Chiefs hulking loosehead prop Arizona Taumalolo with 6 eye-pleasing touchdowns.

You better believe it; a barrel-legged scrum brute with a low centre of gravity and a chest the size of a small utility is leading a chasing horde of whippy speedsters and line-running centres to the land beyond the posts.

I know it’s only round 6; but pack monsters around the globe are dedicating their 7th helping of mash at dinner tonight to their newest poster boy.

Taumalolo is the latest introduction to the front row brotherhood’s try-scoring hall of fame.

It’s rather bare inside, so it was easy to find him a place on the mantle right next to legendary prop scoreboard-cookers like Kiwi World Cup final hero Tony Woodcock, prolific ACT Brumbies ball-planting merchant Ben Alexander and one-time runaway Wallaby Greg Holmes.

And he’s got priors for harassing the scoring attendants; he scored Tonga’s only try in their 41-10 loss to the All Blacks at last year’s world championships.

And what’s the big unit’s key to success when it comes to burning a vapour trail across the stripe?

The answer is simple: he’s impossible to stop from half a yard out.

Greg Holmes burning green on his way to the brotherhood.

Forget Sonny Bill Williams, Richard Kahui and Lelia Masaga. The Chiefs want the greasy seed in the hands of the prop at the back of a stationery pile of oversized humans 80 centimetres from the promise land.

We may see a revolution in rugby backline play thanks to this fleeting statistical abnormality.

Picture this: the ball being spun through the hands out wide to a charging winger who snubs the tryline in order to hit the turf and create a ruck so the pointscoring whiz from the front row can finalise the pick, drive and plant for points.

Not quite. But at least for this week, the scrum pigs are finally getting their names up in the lights.

Swiss Super League not so super after all

Recent events suggest that the Swiss Super League, the country’s highest division, is struggling to live up to its name. The league’s 2011-12 season has been plagued by financial crises as well as protests from both fans and clubs.

The biggest disaster, though, has been the bankruptcy of Neuchâtel Xamax, two-time Super League winners. As a result of the club’s consistent financial difficulties, the Swiss Football Association has expelled Xamax from the Super League mid-season, and demoted it to the 2. Liga – the Swiss fourth tier – for the 2012-13 season.

In the first half of the season, Xamax had amassed 26 points in 18 games and were in a comfortable fourth place in the ten-team league. However, Xamax had their license revoked on 18 January 2012 after failing to provide the necessary financial documents and guarantees. Just eight days later the club officially announced their bankruptcy amid claims from ESPN that Neuchâtel were “suspected of falsifying a bank document produced as a financial guarantee last year” – the apparently forged document was said to contain basic spelling and grammar mistakes as the club desparately tried to cover up their problems.

Bungling Bulat has reason to worry after being arrested for financial mismanagement

Xamax’s chairman, Russian businessman Bulat Chagaev, must be cursing his decision to take over the club in May. What followed has been the most turbulent 12 months in the club’s history, and Chagaev’s public humiliation doesn’t end there – shortly after Xamax’s bankruptcy was announced, he was arrested for “financial mismanagement” and is suspected to be responsible for a large part of the club’s debts of at least $8.7 million. Guilty or not, the Russian was clearly not cut out for football – he had already sacked four coaches in just nine months.

While Chagaev attempts to clear his name and avoid prosecution, the rest of the club has battled bravely on. A poll on Xamax’s official website asks “How are you willing to help rebuild Xamax?” – unfortunately for the willing volunteers, 10% of supporters say they don’t want to help at all. They have seen their club lurch from one disaster to the next, and even dedicated, loyal fans will eventually decide enough is enough.

It is a sad fall from grace for the Stade de la Maladière side, whose former players include the Senegalese pair of current West Ham midfielder Papa Bouba Diop and ex-Wigan striker Henri Camara, as well as Swiss defender Stephane Henchoz, who enjoyed a six-year spell at Liverpool between 1999 and 2005.

As if Xamax’s troubles weren’t enough, the Swiss FA has also had to deal with troublesome side FC Sion. The club have ignored a FIFA-sanctioned transfer embargo to sign six players this season, and have made no attempt to hide this, fielding ineligible players in no fewer than 12 matches this season.  The Swiss FA have responded with a huge 36 point deduction, leaving Sion bottom of the table with little hope of staying up. The scale of the points deduction is best highlighted by the fact that without the 36-point penalty, Sion would be second in the table, challenging for the title.

Even fans of teams at the top of the league still have reason to be unhappy. Second-placed Luzern have been troubled by fan protest over the club’s banning of flags in its Swissporarena ground. Luzern fans responded by remaining silent during home matches, creating an eerie atmosphere that forced the club to back-track on its decision and re-allow fans to wield flags during games. This isn’t the first time Luzern supporters have made their feelings felt – after a 2010 clash with Basel was rescheduled to avoid a clash with a Roger Federer match, both sets of fans threw thousands of tennis balls on to the pitch to delay the game and make sure the events overlapped anyway.

Xamax's gates will remain closed for the unforeseeable future

Although this season has been particularly turbulent for the Swiss FA, the Super League has a history of issues, especially financial ones. Lausanne-Sport were relegated to the fourth division in 2003 after going bankrupt, and like Xamax, Servette dropped out of the Super League mid-season in 2005.

Despite returning to the top flight this season, Servette’s financial worries have reappeared: December 2011 reports suggested that the club was unable to pay players’ wages, and in February 2012 Servette filed for bankruptcy once more.

The Swiss FA’s punishments may look severe, but with FIFA threatening to expel the country’s clubs from European competitions unless action was taken, the Swiss governing body had little choice. As Sion said in a club statement following their points deduction: “This decision is an intolerable attack on fairness in sport but comes as no surprise to the club which did not expect any courage on the part of the ASF in the face of FIFA”.

For a league that has slipped down the FIFA coefficient rankings in recent years, resulting in the loss of its second Champions League place, the Super League could really have done without these problems. Until something changes, Swiss clubs will continue to break the rules and enter bankruptcy with alarming regularity. It is not a sustainable situation.

Watch the infamous tennis ball protest below:

 

For the latest international soccer news, please visit http://drawley.wordpress.com/

 

Shark warning: history hates you

Isn’t dreadful knowing that it’s all going to end in tears out at Cronulla this year?

We know how things pan out at their site. It’s just a matter of when.

Will Paul and the Sharks reign? Probably not.

It might not be until round 15, round 26 or even the 77th minute of the decider. It might not happen until Paul Gallen’s internal computer bugs out or until Todd Carney breaches the 8 schooner mark. Whatever the means, there will be bawling in the Shire before season’s close.

Does making this statement mean I’m a Northies-hating negative nelly?

The answer to this is nay. I’m a compassionate human being with a heart; a man who would appreciate seeing the cruelty finish with them finally scaling rugby league’s apex. That way, a chunk of people in Sydney’s deep south can get on with living their lives sans the large greying baboon on their backs.  

But flicking through the pages of league history and studying the patterns she produces, you’ll know that cruelty lurks in Sutherland.

So far this year, Cronulla really look the business. Gallen is leading his band of no-frills merry men beautifully and Shark Park is bulging again. They’ve secured themselves a longed-for jersey sponsorship deal and there’s a public groundswell to get their games on Channel Nine.

Blue, black and white is the new black.

Old Sharks jerseys can be seen again walking the streets and even ET is back in the spotlight. Just like a number of impressive seasons from yesteryear, you can feel the expectation and excitement growing. This makes me shudder for their devoted and frequently tormented supporters.

So here’s the cut-out ball: 2012 is probably going to end up in the Cronulla-Sutherland sands of time snugly as another premature cork-popping.

Their inflate-and-deflate wrap sheet is sadistic, colourful and legendary.

Gavin Miller defied a permanently splattered nose to lead the Sharks with distinction.

For the wrinkly and finned amongst us, there was 1988 when the broad shoulders of Gavin Miller carted the club to number 1 on the charts with high hopes to go deep into the finals for a duck-breaker. They were bundled out in straight sets with nothing more than the JJ Giltinan Shield to comfort them.

And there’s the Johnny Lang regime from 1994-2001, a period of consistent week-to-week success where they only missed the finals twice, but still came up with nothing more than fresh ocean air.

This era included arguably the most raw and indecent psychological scar of them all being campaign 1999. Mentioning this year, or even singing the Prince song about partying at this juncture, is against council by-laws in the Shire.

The club monstered all-comers and secured the minor premiership in a canter, then lead the Dragons 8-0 in the Grand Final qualifier before being tumbled out by a somersaulting Anthony Mundine in a second half ambush.

Then to cement the legend further, another 2 preliminary finals were made and blown in 2001 and 2002.

No wonder they stuffed up in 2008. Look at the size of their pack!

Finding some cash to survive became a priority after this up until 2008 when brutality and inhumanity returned to kill a small part of the Sharks soul again. They finished top of the pile at the end of regulation and then exited without barely a whimper to the Storm again in a preliminary final.

See a sequence forming here?

It’s a cruel place for a footballer to ply his trade or for a supporter to commit to.

Gallen and company have done the hard yards against the on-field opposition so far this year, but they still have their biggest opponent to overcome before the VB can flow at Sharkies and Carmens at years end.

They’ve got to roll history.

Footy on Channel 9

OK punters I have been a silent participant up till now but I have a few things to get off my chest about Channel 9 and it’s coverage of Rugby League.

Let me start with the commentary team.  We have Rabs, Gus, Joey, Freddy, Lockyer, Hadley, Sterlo, Vossy and Vautin to name a few.  What the fuck are they thinking! If these are the best they can come up with there is something seriously wrong.

Rabs, the voice of the game, is still in a league of his own when it comes to this bunch of dribblers, is unfortunately starting to show his age, going off in his own little world occasionally, usually due to a stupid comment from Gus mind you.  Rabs is the man but might only have a few more seasons in him. Long live a legend

Hadley, why the hell they got him back has me beat.  The words opinionated, dull and old come to mind.  Well done Channel 9, you just helped the game go back a few steps.  Back to radio Ray, or better still retire. 

Gus, well we all know he is the biggest knob to grace the television since its beginning.  Why on earth Channel 9 boss David Gingell would give this self indulgent wanker, who only cares about his own agenda so much air time, god only knows.  I’m sure you’ve all heard him say the same thing on 3 different shows over the corse of a weekend.  Dig a hole Gus.

Freddy, Joey and Lockyer are three of the modern-day greats and when they talk footy us punters should listen, they know their shit.  The lighter moments of commentary, usually supplied by Freddy and Joey is good for a laugh 60% of the time every time, and is a breath of life in amongst the dull boring wrinkly balled old codgers up in the box with their cup of tea.

Sterlo, one of the best brains in the game still and a dead set legend, chimes in with his expert comments on the flow of the game, if only he could get more air time inbetween Gus’ agenda and the pathetic ads for other shit, yanky tv shows they have to advertise during the game, (as if there isn’t enough ads anyway) we would all be a lot better off.

Vautin has had his day, let’s be fair and say he shouldn’t have lasted the 1st season of the footy show, let alone 15 fucking years.

Vossy would be a good game show host I reckon.  He is the Andrew O’Keefe of the Rugby league world, no one like him but he just keeps popping up everywhere.  Next he will have his own morning show.  No Deal Vossy, beat it mate.

Do us all a favor Channel 9 and get in some new blood or don’t even bid for the new rights deal.  Give the game back to the people, at the moment you are turning them away cause they can’t handle the shit these bunch of muppets put up week in week out.

Messi and Ronaldo are killing football

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have cheapened the value of the stupefying ball-warping goal and improbable individual data I used to sporadically see in the world game.

Save the interest in fair football. Ban Ron.

My arsenal of superlatives has been bled dry and my eyes have the consistency of sandpaper from continually rubbing them in disbelief.

How am I expected to remain gobsmacked time and time again when these blokes make the ludicrously sublime seem like a bland weekly procedure?

In Australia where the local codes rule, these gold nuggets from the world game are the basic fuel that drive my interest in the sport and keep it’s hands waving for attention amongst the crowded sporting horizon.

But these grandiose specialists have bizarrely numbed the small glimmer of hope that football has in competition for time and air-space with my colossal love of Aussie footy.

My appreciation of round-ball has come a long way from the days before internet and pay-tv when soccer was an hour of abbreviated highlights meshed in with some smooth articulation from Les Murray.

Cosmopolitan clubs, prima donna players, extravagant pay cheques and mind-blowing scenes of drama from the paddock has now put the game firmly on my radar.

However, these majestic masters are making me blasé again. 

Don't watch any game this man takes part in. You will be bored.

Messi just topped 60 goals in all competitions in Europe for this season, the first time this has been achieved in nearly 40 years. And he accelerated to this mark on a recent run of 23 goals in his last 12 games.

And as for Ronaldo, I observed him reaching his own Spanish League record of 40 goals for the season this week after smacking in not one, but two of the finest long range collector’s specials you’ll see.

God forbid that for once he just knock one in off his shin, or jag one from a grubby deflection?

And can Lionel appear even slightly human by not gold-stamping just one match?

It’s like watching a David Copperfield DVD on repeat.  

Give me a reality check. I need a drip of 0-0 draws stat.

An apology to Tigers fans from Pinocchio

Wests Tigers fans who love to snuggle-up for a good Disney flick wouldn’t have seen this much perjury and deception since the release of the original Pinocchio.

And I’m not referring to the agonisingly lame schlock that has been bestowed upon them by their misfiring legion over the last month.

I’m talking about the foolish and unwise disgorging of brain onto keyboard from the very clod who is penning this piece you are currently paying the time of day.

My incompetent forecasts, although not malicious in intent, have been glaringly astray and I have now realised that what I thought was balanced analysis is actually a fallacy that in some countries could see me locked up for crimes against the deprived.

This is an apology to the black and gold mass for the misguided ego props I’ve dispensed since the season began.

To my homies out in Campbelltown, back through Ashfield and right into Rozelle, and everywhere else you may be howling, I concede that you are the unfortunate Geppetto to my fake faith fabricating Pinocchio in your hithero bleak and desperate Disney picture show tragedy of 2012.

Getting cosy behind the sticks... again.

You’ve all been humbly cobbling in your work sheds, questioning the supposed season of high fancy and seeking answers to the despair on blogs and social media.

I’ve come to life from a stilted plaything existence and inexplicably instilled optimism with repeated narrative like ‘she’ll be right, mate’ and ‘Matt Utai will eventually wake up’ positively uttered from my slender lips of lumber.

I’ve realised that these dim-witted declarations were nothing more than a bicycle pump swelling the size of my pine schnozz based on the bogus data and judgment my drunk Jiminy Cricket conscience was giving to me.

So it’s time for me to mute the misrepresentation and call this thing a spade.

By their own expectations, the Tigers are in deep doodoo.

It’s a cavernous waste pit they could find themselves rescued from with a redeeming thread of wins; but based on their current effectiveness, can they hustle enough credits to get into the craved top 4 and ask enough questions to go deep into September?

And by deep, I mean all the way to the bank.

Please don't hurt me.

The chips of 2005 have been cashed and the fan class of this culture-defining generation for the organisation is no longer displaying the patience allowed after an unexpected fairytale. They need the big dance with the hottest chorus girl and they need it before this Christmas.

Currently, their defence is like wet balsa when under pressure, their attack is flailing like the helicopter arms of a defective marionette and most crucially, confidence is as sound as the termite-infested stands at Leichhardt Oval.

Not even the return of Robbie Farah- which I pinned the majority of my energetic assurance on- was able to stem the bleeding on Friday.

Tim Moltzen’s concentration is compromised by his fixation on the stands for a red and white gunman, Matt Groat sleeps on the job, and the injury list is growing in unison with my augmenting beak.

And to confirm that Walt loves a cold-blooded joke, their journey will next see them embarking on a run of 3 consecutive anxiety-inducing matches on the road at a time when a win is just downright critical.

Is there a  puppet-master in the Tim Sheens show that is going to step up and turn my dribble into legitimacy?

Until the tide turns, I beg of all Tigers fans; forgiveness please.

Tinkler, Stinker, Rotten Pie.

Well folks, it’s finally happened. That thick Bogan with a fat sack of cash has fallen on his overweight sword.  Yes, Nathan Tinkler and his company Hunter Sports Group (HSG) have decided to no longer field their A league team the Newcastle Jets. They cite an unworkable business model and a large investment with no return as the reason for their departure from the FFA. 

"Christ". "I can't believe I poured my money into this"

 Surprise, surprise!

Surely, it should come as no shock to anyone that this has happened. Since when did a BRW rich list magazine contain an individual who made their coin from owning sporting teams? I can think of only one, and I suppose he doesn’t really count, the one and only Kerry Packer. The great man went into sports’ ownership big, setting up World Series Cricket. But the big fella didn’t limit himself to black money holes like an individual sporting team, Packer, owned the whole bloody lot. But his genius in the matter was to primarily use his sports’ ownership of cricket as a vehicle to drive his more profitable media business. To my mind, Tink, has thrown his dough into the wrong bread maker.     

I’m not sure whom the Tink is getting his advice from, hopefully they’re more credible than just some fellow sports’ nuts, but if they think that sports’ ownership is some untapped well of money waiting to be drilled then they’re thicker than the coal seam from which the Tink made his bullion; just ask Russel Crowe. His group’s rapid acquisition of sporting teams and horses has all the hallmarks of a big rich kid finding his niche inside a sporting culture to satisfy some lost childhood itch.

 

Sir Frank would have never let kerry act like such a half-wit

 I reckon if Sir Frank packer had have caught wind of Kerry galloping about acquiring the same crap Tinker has, you could have bet your next hot meal that Sir Frank would have swiftly beaten it out of him to the tune of “Dreams don’t pay the bills dickhead!”

But seriously, what’s Tink thinking? A quick glance over HSG’s portfolio might make for some good and enviable reading, but only a Greek or a Melbourne Storm accountant could honestly say that a river of wealth exists from this lot of horses and sports’ franchises. I mean the clown even owns a V8 super car team! ….. A V8 Super car team! Honestly! That’s just a sink hole!

Benny and the boys at the Knights would have definitely started collecting sweat beads by now after seeing the Jets go down. So much of Tinkler’s investment in the Knights depends on the side doing well. If St Benny fails to have much of an impact on the teams on-field results, then we can safely assume that the flow on effect will impact on tickets sales and the overall revenue generated by the Knights. This will mean one of two things. One, the Tink will pull out and find some other form of entertainment to chuck his money at. Or two, he will pour more money into the sinking venture in the hope of rescuing it, but he’ll be forced to part with some of his toys in the process, such as his private Jet and his million dollar Ferrari to help fund the process. Either way, it will be his first step towards etching his name alongside other great Australian entrepreneurs like Alan Bond, Christopher Skase and Rene Rivkin.

 It’s often been said that it’s the toys and lifestyle which bring down the rich. However, in Tinkler’s case, it will be the boyish pursuits of unprofitable junk combined with the love of fast trains, planes and automobiles which will be the rot in his pie.

"it's all right, we got more money don't we?"

 

The Augusta yips…. again!

Surprise, surprise! We, the Australian golfing public, are going to go home empty-handed again from the Masters this year. As a nation, our collective sporting focus narrows at around the same time each year to a golf tournament in the south of the USA. A tournament which time after time has left us clasping to the faint hope that this could be the year when we can finally shake the monkey, now turned gorilla, off the national back. Yet, year after year, after being dangled like a carrot in front of public starved of golfing silverware, the coveted and elusive green jacket is kept from us like  presents on Christmas Eve.

Sorry, not for you.

The Masters Jacket is one of the more glaring holes missing in our sporting wardrobe. We can understand that we are not going to possess a Soccer World Cup, and we can safely say that a national Ice Hockey trophy will remain on foreign soils. But a Masters’ win is a something which I’m sure every Australian should expect to be on our score sheet. Pencilled next to a tennis grand slam or Rugby world cup, a master’s golf victory is something that should surely be demanded by the masses.

Why, oh why Greenth Jacket, Why have you foresaken me?

As a nation who has some rich golfing history you would expect a green jacket to be just….well… there. In fact, if you consider the players we have produced over the years, our contributions to the sport and the countless missed opportunities at the Augusta course we deserve one! It’s our God Damn sporting right! It’s a travesty and a sporting wrong that we do not possess this win on our national score card. I mean, for God sakes we have a Tour d` France Jersy and a gold medal in an Ice skating sprint, two of the more unlikely notches on the belt, yet we can’t seem to hole a few fricken putts to claim what should be ours? To top it off, and what really puts the cheese in my sauce, is the fact that a country like South Africa, whom we regularly beat at almost anything, have produced no less than 3 Masters’ winners for 5 Masters’ wins.

The greedy pricks! In pure sporting terms, I would definitely put our nation’s sporting prowess ahead of that mob, but with a scorecard reading 5 to blot at golf’s most prestigious major, another failure is another ego bruising experience for the Aussie sports punter. I just can’t understand how we’ve managed to stay scoreless for so many years.

Not possessing a green jacket is becoming downright embarrassing, especially when you consider our national standing in the sport, we currently sit 5th in terms of major wins as a country, and it’s not like we haven’t had the stock over the years to do it. From Thomson, Graham and Norman to Ogilvy, Scott and Day a win at Augusta now stands as the biggest priority for Aussie sport. Forget the Olympics, forget the Rugby League World Cup, forget the fricken GFC; this has become a national emergency! We must mobilize our recourses and beat the Augusta yips, chalk one up in a box which has been frustratingly empty for far too long and kick that gorilla fair in the arse over the ditch.

"That's right you filthy Aussie pricks, this makes number 5 for South Africa"

Pom brain bruising and Caribbean rehabilitation

Skipper Sammy will play second Fidel to Edwards in the attack.

Let’s get it out there. There are still pesky side effects lingering from the mental mutilation inflicted by the English pitch-slapping we received in the last Ashes series.

As a cricketing nation, we’ve been racking up visits to the big red psychiatrist’s couch in an attempt to silence the voices in our head questioning our cricket elitism, which for some reason now speak with an accent like Geoffrey Boycott’s.

Last summer’s triumphant and ego-reviving Indian poleaxing was a big dose of endorphins which somewhat suppressed these horrendous memories. Then when England was flushed to nil against Pakistan, we were tracking to eventually re-enter society as fully functional human beings.

Dear Ricky's elbow. I'm back. From Kemar.

This week, I was chuffed to read of the possibility of another significant step in our convalescence thanks to the indefinable workings of the ICC points system.

With some fine tinkering and friendly results, we could clear the psyche further of English torment, with even the possibility of sending the brain doctor back to the pavilion for good and living a life independent of medical support in time for the next Ashes series.  

If Sri Lanka can oblige and knock off England in their current series, it sets up the possibility of Australia overtaking them on the order of merit provided that our lads can produce a spotless 3-0 outcome against the Windies in the Caribbean.

The return of the Urn it ain’t; but every little replaced brick in the wall of the nation’s dismantled quintessence is gladly received post the summer of 2010/11.

So provided that England continues it’s recent spin flummox and rolls over against Sri Lanka, who stands in the way of boosting ourselves up the table on the shoulders of our vanquished mental health practitioner?

The West Indian squad list definitely requires you to have Cricinfo handy these days. You can invariably count on a few household names, but these have become further engulfed amongst the undistinguished and anonymous on the Caribbean cricketing peripheral.

There’s crease-cement in the street-smart Shiv Chanderpaul and the youthful batting fire of Adrian Barath and Darren Bravo to complement. As for the trundlers division, we know of the honest dealings of skipper Darren Sammy, the guileful turn of Devendra Bishoo and the all-too-familiar fire of Kemar Roach and Fidel Edwards.

Shiv will cut you. With a steady strike rate.

 

Outside of these blokes, the squad is a plain jane in need of the eye-catching mascara and blush of names like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels, who are all unbelievably making the dollars elsewhere while Test cricket in the Caribbean is being played.

Despite the no-frills nature of their make-up, recent results indicate that the marshmallow Windies underbelly may be starting to dissipate and that this series could require some real elbow grease.

The recent ODI and T20 series were split down the middle after some thrilling games, so our boys are going to have to steer clear of the free-pour rum’n’cokes and ensure the examination of the young hosts continues for 5 steadfast days at a time, every time.

Luckily if things go wonky, we can enjoy the fact that tours to the West Indies are essentially invisible with their utterly stark time difference.

However, mutation of sleeping patterns combined with the mental nag of an underwhelming tour could see us back on that big red couch before we know it.

Fiscal funnies shield Cartwright and Prince

Give me my ‘low human’ ribbon forthwith. I’m laying the slipper into the Gold Coast Titans for the second time inside a week.

But what is a man to do when the juiciest fruit remains suspended so tantalisingly low?

I identified Sunday’s game against the Bulldogs as a luminous opportunity to produce their own version of a footy ‘page-turner’.

I crystal-balled a rousing performance manufactured from a galvanised inner sanctum; a response to the heat from the haters that would be the first step in their redemption of 2012.

My notion was further fuelled by the upset-hampered tipster’s battlefield that preceded the match in this round.

By 2pm, the feelgood factors were stacking up to the point where I was apologising to Dogs fans in advance.

Southeast Queensland came to the party by turning on a cracking day of sunshine, making positive footy at it’s most achieveable, and Titan top brass Scott Prince was a massive late inclusion to boost the look of the host’s lineup.

Michael Ennis trying to eat Scott Prince's head.

Add to this the fact that Des Hasler’s men were coming off a bruising loss and were without chief playmaker Trent Hodgkinson, and it looked like moons were aligning over the golden sand at Surfers Paradise.

And after an early 10-0 lead, I thought my predictions were on target to materialise.

But what do you know? The Titan rebirth caramelised under the Queensland sun and they were eventually sautéed, like many other attempts made this season.

Don’t get me wrong; they were brave. But it was a familiar ‘normal business resumed’ vibe, albeit on the back of some Ben Barba brilliance for the Dogs, and the much-needed plug to temporarily stem the stream of negativity was not forthcoming for the Gold Coast.

They were gallant, plucky, tenacious and all of those other words you see on a participant’s medal; but as we all know, courageous endeavour alone is rarely transferable for competition points.

So despite the painstaking and perseverant application of their men, one suspect query continues to rack my skull; if Michael Searle wasn’t hogging the spotlight by telling smelly fiscal funnies from his messy books, would more questions be asked of John Cartwright and Scott Prince by now? 

Asking for Cartwright to sit in the dock is like putting the crosshairs on Bambi. But even a cute Disney animal would be triggered if they weren’t able to direct a team like his to at least break even in the W/L column.

Cartwright: sweatin' like Bambi.

As for Prince, he’s peaked in 2005 and 2010 but hasn’t been able to fish his side out of troubled waters when times have been murky. Does that mean Titans fans with a penchant for a maths pattern can be urged to show patience in sight of another vintage return in 2015?

Perhaps he needs to play with the urgency of a man who needs to make his next mortgage repayment, which might not be far off if the joint implodes and he has to give his free house back to Searle.

1 win from 5 with one of the competition’s more star-spangled playing lists should have the wolves at least politely knocking on the door and asking to speak with the boss by now.

Perhaps in a macabre way, Cartwright and Prince secretly enjoy the acute scrutiny that Michael Searle and his BAS statements are currently under.

It’s providing a pleasant diversion from the bedridden performances the team has been producing this season.

What’s more, a prudent approach to cash management by Searle brought on by the club’s circumstances means that a contract payout should be nowhere on the horizon for either of his head hombres.

At least his misfiring calculator is helping someone out in some way.

Warming the Pine

Sport for those with comfortable couches.