The 2013 Ashes best and fairest: The Dar is alight with Kerro

There’s nothing like playing a dead rubber on a flat track against an experimental bowling attack to permanently solve all of your batting woes.

That’s what we got in the fifth Test, and whaddya know?

Voila! Problem solved.

We Aussie stress-headed fingernail-chewers can now finally begin some chillin’.

After turning the corner in treacherous conditions at The Oval in a match where the horses had already bolted with the Urn, our mighty batsmen are on the cusp of returning to dishing out some dominance with the stick just like the good old days.

This rebirth was thanks mainly to Shane Watson, our very own hibernating Mr Reliable, who bought himself another condition-free Australian summer at the top table with his cracking 176, a knock powered by hard graft, steely concentration and Simon Kerrigan, and timed perfectly to see off the selection axeman.

Kerrigan and Dar. Obvious tension.

Kerrigan and Dar. Obvious tension.

However, it was the new spinner who caused a splash as big as England’s post-match pee party by making a play at The Dar naming rights with his memorable first innings display.

As the debutant prune-chucker displayed great versatility with an unpredictable buffet of long hops, straight-breakers and full tosses, it was The Kerro that began to seriously trend for best and fairest naming honours whilst The Dar found itself under serious review.

Considering his debutant status, it was a controversial claim by the scattered Kerrigan, and it raised tensions amongst the players which peaked with Michael Clarke and Kevin Pietersen’s fiery on-field discussion over which iconic handle should appear on the Microsoft Word document given to the winner.

However, we were left in no uncertainty by matches end, and the confirmation was delivered unequivocally in true Aleem style.

The Elvis-coiffed umpire emphatically confirmed his name was the one to be emblazoned on the prize on a thrilling final day, standing out from the sensational ebb and flow of a furious climax to have the final say by seeing the light and calling early beers just as a result loomed.

Right there, the challenger was slayed, and the prize engraved.

So with the series over, the champagne popped and the English bladders empty, we know that Ian Bell is now no longer mouse, but now man, certifying his graduation from cricket puberty by flowering the chest hairs of a bona fide world class strokemaker.

Watson killed a Kerro and was rewarded with Dar.

Watson killed a Kerro and was rewarded with Dar.

Congratulations Mr Bell, you are a thoroughly deserving winner of the inaugural Dar for the Ashes best and fairest of 2013. May the wine flow free in victory, and your celebratory party be entirely free of any traces of KP.

However, for the rest of the other losers, here’s the final votes from The Oval that shaped the lower placings:

5 – Shane Watson

Call the cops. The big man is back, and he’s been charged with first degree murder of a career on day one.

With this high five of Dar, I’m adamant it will catapult his form back to the unreasonably lofty standards we set for him, sewing up the number three position and healing all perceived rifts in the camp from Michael Clarke to James Sutherland, at least until his calf starts hurting again.

4 – Steve Smith

Time to start placing undue pressure on this young buck’s fledgling Test career.

Not even in the original touring party, he was selected at the last moment so there was an even amount of numbers for Uno games, and now he’s going to be one of the first picked for the return Ashes in Australia. His debut hundred was classic Smith; edgy yet composed and at times, somewhat offensive on the optic nerve.

3 – Kevin Pietersen

You know a bloke is disgracefully competitive when he starts an argument over a popularity contest.

In the English dressing rooms, Pietersen is as well-regarded as a Creed album, yet he is still comfortable in his own skin as a bit of a narcissistic arse. He knows that his teammates quiver every time he picks up his mobile phone, concerned that reams of inside intel could be on it’s way to the opposition captain, and he’s totally cool with that.

The reason for this is because he’s just bloody good at cricket, and he proved his net worth again by his near-miraculous burgling of victory in the shadows of the fifth day.

2 – Jonathon Trott

We’ve all been shaking our heads like disappointed dads towards the balding South African in this series.

Expecting more of his scintillating blandness after recent Ashes series littered with his long and excruciating stays at the crease, we’ve remained awake for longer than expected due to him enduring a run of good starts spoiled by a lack of capitalising.

59 and 40 in this match continued his agonising bout of premature embarkation, but a pair of Dar credits may be the proverbial nasal spray that helps him forget his shortcomings.

1 – James Faulkner

It wasn’t a dreamy debut from the dogged Tasmanian, but the sum of it’s parts- a couple of cameos with the wood, a decent haul of poles and some skillful tempo-control on the last day- was enough to get him 99.96% of a solitary unit of Dar. And being tightarses, we weren’t prepared to round that up.

That’s why we were stoked when he gave the Poms a nice verbal frying on day four for their snoozy approach to the game, a show of fire that easily accounted for the required 0.04% to get him over the line for the vote.

Finally! The final standings of The Dar for the 2013 Ashes:

12 – Ian Bell

7 – Kevin Pietersen

6 – Chris Rogers

5 – James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Michael Clarke, Joe Root, Steve Smith, Shane Watson

4 – Ryan Harris

3 – Brad Haddin, Peter Siddle, Graeme Swann

2 – Ashton Agar, Jonathon Trott

1 – Jonny Bairstow, James Faulkner, Nathan Lyon


For this kinda rubbish and much, much more, you can follow me on Twitter: @eld2_0

Contracts: Killing the rights of NRL footballers

In an exclusive, Stand, Spray and Deliver can reveal that the Rugby League Players Association has identified contractual agreements between clubs and their players as the biggest threat to footballer’s rights in the modern era.

Whilst acknowledging that player burnout, pharmacological experimentation and wet balls are all definitely on the association’s radar as pertinent issues, it is tackling the piece of paper stacked with confusing words and loads of zeroes that is of greatest concern for improving the welfare and liberties of professional footballers.

After tension grew among players in the wake of a number of incidents involving clubs enforcing agreed conditions on their employees, a snap summit was held at the RLPA offices to determine a watertight strategy for any future situations that require a footballer to weasel their way out of personal responsibility.

Just a couple of honest battlers trying to get by in this crazy world.

Just a couple of honest battlers trying to get by in this crazy world.

At the core of these disputes has been the humble written agreement, a commonplace arrangement in professional sports that distressed officials now cite as a “restriction on an honest working gentleman’s ability to make a rather large crust wherever and however they so please.”

It is also widely believed amongst players that the compelling power of the contract had caused clubs to truly feel they have become bigger than the game, with one unnamed five-eighth stating “I’m sick of being a silent serf to the oppressive dictatorship that the board has become.

“Besides, I can barely write. That’s why my signature just looks like a smiley face on a set of boobies. So why should that really mean anything at the bottom of a piece of paper?”

In light of these concerns, the RLPA will be tabling a submission for proposed reform using specific examples from the recent imbroglios involving Blake Ferguson, Anthony Milford and Ben Barba and their respective ongoing battles with their paymasters and their ruthlessly slick legal eagles.

Another factor that will drive this lobby is the growing belief that players are slave-driven in the modern game under the advent of relentless coaching methods, where working up to 20-25 hours per week for minimal recompense has become the norm.

RLPA representatives also believe there is no flexibility from club hierarchies for unforseen issues such as personal and family matters, untenable working relationships with teammates or a lack of adequate nightclubs in the districts surrounding the football club.

As one distressed official put it: “Football squads are being treated like a chain gang, where players are worked tirelessly in unfashionable training garb and under the duress of nonsensical facial hair, with no avenue for recourse if a request to the board for another sponsor’s convertible is knocked back.

“All while the CEOs just stand by laughing as their bottom lines grow fat.”

“Young and impressionable footballers are being taken advantage of by clued-up fat cats from the top of town. These kids commit to a club, end up flogging themselves on a training track for days on end, sticking their heads between the steaming bums of teammates, trying to make out what Wayne Bennett is actually saying as he mumbles a game plan. It’s not an easy life.”

“However, they do it for the love of the game and their paymasters because they are good and decent men. But when it comes to making important decisions like being near their children, supporting family or listening to Anthony Mundine, they are given no say whatsoever.”

Although there seems to be a high level of panic from the players, the RLPA is anxious for the wider community to know that it is not seeking major upheaval, just for an amendment to what they currently perceive as the “one way street” for the club’s interests to be “transferred in to a fair and workable two way street, with one side of the street blocked, that being their side.”

Unconfirmed reports say that the recommendations in the RLPA submission include a request to have legally-binding contracts be renamed as “that piece of paper that Khoder Nasser made me scribble on with crayon”, and that the contents held within are deemed void upon any unforseen or unplanned change in a player’s personal circumstances or tastes.

The report containing the recommendations will be handed over to David Smith in a ceremony hosted by Gorden Tallis and Benji Marshall, a gathering that will double as the opening of the new RLPA-funded playing arena named the Compassionate Ground.

The Sydney Swans and their big problem

It’s just like Mother used to always say.

“No matter who you are, everybody has got their own problems.”

And it isn’t any different in the wonderful world of footy.

In the AFL, there is a spectrum of the various issues experienced in the game, with clubs dotted across the range from the trivial to the crippling.

At one end, there’s doggone organisations such as Essendon, a club who are up to their eyeballs in the controversial poop that comes with being caught out systematically puncturing your playing group like a sewing machine, or the Demons, who are cemented in the zone when it comes to simply producing good laughs, and even the unfortunate Brisbane Lions, who have recently hemorrhaged cred because of a board enjoying the sort of popularity reserved for varicose veins.

These are the footy workplaces that have tent villages of unwashed scribes occupying their front driveways 11 months of the year. They are in dire need of a dollar and a hug, or in the case of the Bombers, a magical erasing of the stubborn personality traits of Andrew Demetriou and/or a legal miracle.

Then as you journey to the other end of the scale, you’ll pass through rainbows, fairy floss and unicorns on your way to the places with your more light and breezy kinda troubles, and there you will find a squeaky clean joint like the Sydney Swans.

Their bugbears aren’t to do with off-site jabbing or novice management units, but with more pleasant, legal and non-wearing problems such as finding room for their burgeoning forest of tall timber.

John Longmire’s stocks of elite pine are overflowing like a bogan’s radiator, and someone of lofty repute will eventually miss out when the cracking whips of September come around.

Had you foretold this problem in the pre-season, you would’ve been forgiven for pointing the finger of blame in the direction of the decision to purchase Kurt Tippett.

However, while Sydney’s clandestine negotiating and parting with top cap dollars for the Adelaide power-forward seemed like the spoilt kid wanting a third Nintendo, he may not be the target for blame.

The man who has scrambled the rotation of lankies could very well be Jesse White.

After being the unwanted carrot dangled to the Crows in the off-season, he’s morphed from an easily criticised backfiller in to a powerful and industrious tall option, and in the process kick-started a red and white version of top heavy musical chairs.

White’s materialisation in to a highly serviceable AFL big man was not expected by all and surely not factored in to Longmire’s blueprint for the 2013 premiership defence, especially after only playing three games in 2012.

White: no longer on-the-nose.

White: no longer on-the-nose.

In the past, the big guy was talked-up as a future target-man for the Swans but never really grasped his opportunities, something considered a rather large sin amongst the cutthroat mentality of AFL’s community of supporters and analysts, as well as being worthy of being Longmire’s worm on the hook when it came time to ‘talk Tippo.’

But now is he not only doing an admirable job as a Mr Fix-it, he’s making it impossible to be ignored at selection time due to some sterling returns.

So where does that leave the rest of the big men?

Mike Pyke’s exponential progress, as well as his regular serves of humble pie to the Melbourne media, mean he is closed to being the top-ranked choice each week. Shane Mumford is the heartbeat of the ruck and one of the best going around the AFL when he’s up and about. Tippett is still unfurling nine weeks of pent-up energy and frankly, he’s paid too much coin to be passed over.

And what about Sam Reid and Adam Goodes, both tracking to return just in time for finals?

Reid is the raw-boned project player who was finding form just before he was struck down with injury, and there is Goodes, who put simply, is just Goodes.

And imagine if Lewis Roberts-Thomson was to resurrect his 2013 with enough time to make a belated tilt for selection?

Even allowing for the unorthodox balance of four big men in the Swans 22, that means someone such as a club captain, a premiership player or a high-profile recruit will be left standing when the music stops, headed for the anti-climax of a post-season in the magoos.

Tippett: rich.

Tippett: rich.

It’s going to be an uncomfortable conversation for Longmire and his brains trust to endure, but compared to the predicament of clubs at the other end of the issues spectrum, I’m sure he won’t be complaining.

The 2013 Ashes best and fairest: Bell’s Darham

Besides recently mastering the art of being persistently irritating on a cricket field, what else do Ian Bell and Tony Hill have in common?

In this Ashes series, they have both shown the ability to clear an area of people like a supremely-brewed bowel explosion.

Firstly, there’s Old Man Hill, who showed off by flushing a playing arena clean of its participants with a cerebral infraction on an LBW shout that was fisting middle.

Seeing the players flee the scene of the crime upon the realisation they were under the watch of some alzheimer-ish umpiring was sad. Seeing the Kiwi umpire embarrassingly on his Pat Malone on the Durham track with one finger in the air like a lonely garlic-appreciating disco dancer was even worse.

Broad taking one of his million wickets, thankfully at 3am EST.

Broad taking one of his million wickets, thankfully at 3am EST.

In a sunnier example, there’s the much more useful Bell and his shame-free triggering of an evacuation.

The toast of the Pom middle order is the envy of all aspiring fire drills after emptying the captivated gallery of Ashes 2013 Dar tragics due to lack of interest. He’s already wrapped up the inaugural best and fairest award with one Test to play, breaking the previous record of N/A set by TBA.

Barring any sprung biochemical meetings with James Hird beforehand, Bell is the undisputed belle of the ball, meaning the remaining events of this scintillating series have been rendered totally academic. The people who have hung off every millisecond of meloDarma have now scarpered to look elsewhere for entertainment, most likely to more dreary activities such as nude snooker or time with family.

Nevertheless, the Brownlow of cricket will roll on unfettered to The Oval for the fifth Test, and the Dar administration and it’s associates are supercharged with excitement, both naturally and contractually. This dead rubber has been lined with silicone tape and is ready to determine some of the lower place glory in the vote count, as well as keep Tony Hill company.

Here’s Durham’s champions.

5 – Stuart Broad

The pouting prefect will be chuffed with his 11 wicket haul, not because it catapulted his team to outright Ashes victory, but because it will help dilute the memory of that splendid back-cut he played in the first Test that came so sweetly out of the middle that he didn’t feel it. Australia was totally comfortable with being fast asleep when his devastating wicket-burst occurred yesterday morning.

4 – Ian Bell

Get me a time machine so I can go back to the mid-noughties and remember the good old days when this bloke was about as much use as a stripper in the Vatican. Let his blossoming from snicking bullfrog-to-elegant prince be a reminder to all Australians of the demeaning power that Warney’s childish sledges harnessed back in his playing days.

3 – Chris Rogers

There’s so many similarities between the coming-of-ages of Australia’s opener and Bell. Both written off, disrespected, considered utterly unintimidating and an easy target for some yap in the field, and now both flexing their sun-spotted cannons as Test cricketers. Shame about the 14 year difference in age.

He only scored two votes, but gets a photo for challenging Siddle in the ticker stakes.

Harris only scored two votes, but gets a photo for challenging Siddle in the ticker stakes.

2 – Ryan Harris

What’s the first thing you think when you see a bloke who appears completely buggered after bowling two overs, yet is still steaming in with the same standards of ferocity at the end of a sweaty day’s play? In the current sporting climes, you would be forgiven for saying ‘AOD and a friend’s energy drink’, but luckily Harris debunks that angle by being regularly injured.

1 – Nathan Lyon

Beats out a pack of chasing half-century makers because I didn’t have a hat to draw their names out of, and also just because he’s a good bloke with no tatts. Knocking over Kevin Pietersen twice in a match by challenging him to a joust in flight and beating him must elevate the balding twirler to two rungs below Prime Minister. Is it too late to get his name on the ballot for the upcoming election?

After four Tests, six Australian batting implosions and countless umpiring gaffes, here’s the food chain for The Dar.

12 – Ian Bell

6 – Chris Rogers

5 – James Anderson
Stuart Broad
Michael Clarke
Joe Root

4 – Ryan Harris
Kevin Pietersen

3 – Brad Haddin
Peter Siddle
Graeme Swann

2 – Ashton Agar

1 – Jonny Bairstow
Nathan Lyon
Steve Smith

The 2013 Ashes best and fairest: Mancunian Dar

The Ashes roadshow- a convoy carrying the best of Pom and Aussie cricket with an additional trailer for Kevin Pietersen’s ego- has now rumbled through Old Trafford, on the way creating unprecedented interest that even had Wayne Rooney reconsidering his request to relocate.

As per expectations, the third Test had the good citizens of Manchester on an uncontrollable five day fizz.

They flocked in grand numbers, parting with considerable quid to spend their days booing David Warner and his evil moustakka, with the hope of catching a spot of cricket in between.

For the duration of the clash, the Pimms-drenched outer was abuzz with topical cricketing curiosities.

Could England retain the Urn quick-stix just three games in to the series? Could Australia occupy the crease for longer than the recommended microwaving time of a chicken hero? And of course, which particular ambitious participant would be making the steamiest bedroom eyes at The Dar?

The first award for outstanding achievement in the field of individual excellence in Ashes cricket, inspired by it’s Australian footballing cousins, obtusely inflated in importance by yours truly and unfortunately named, has charmed the public like a Gallagher brother on a bender.

And in a town known for its volatile footballers and violent family music acts, it seems apt that those wielding the bashing implements dominated the best and fairest charts over the five days in Manchester.

Clarke was back in his rightful place at Old Trafford: carrying the team.

Clarke was back in his rightful place at Old Trafford: carrying the team.

Alas, Australia’s reconciliation with their old friend willow, along with a series of moral victories, was unfortunately not enough to avoid yet another sad Urn sayonara, but it did buy them large scale Dar domination in the wash-up.

This is the pick of the bunch from the drawn third Test.

5 – Michael Clarke

Gritted the teeth and bare-knuckled his way through a scratchy start to post an eight-hour beauty, ultimately putting his team firmly in pole position while furthering the gap in popularity between him and his nemesis Shane Watson.

One tip for the skipper though; next time David Warner wants a review, pretend like you are speaking to Marais Erasmus.

4 – Kevin Pietersen

Was back to his destructive best in the first innings, balancing grit with glitz to save his team’s bacon.

In the aftermath of day three, the Old Dart was back to being all KP-cuddly again as evidenced in the glowing feedback from some of his biggest fans, one of the more notable being this email from a ‘Smitten Kev’ in Surrey:

“Wow, some of that strokeplay by me- sorry, him- was the greatest in the game’s history. And a very handsome and humble man to boot. Outstanding cricketer? Don’t stop there, he’s an outstanding human being. To be honest, he really deserves the captaincy.”

3 – Chris Rogers

Who was that flashy bloke who plundered an entertaining 84 in the first innings? The one who gave Jimmy Anderson some classy tap and made him look schoolboy grade? And went at nearly a run a ball?

If I didn't know better, I'd swear KP is trying to pash himself. And he is.

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear KP is trying to pash himself. And he is.

It couldn’t have been Rogers, as he is usually stodge personified, but we’ll give him the votes anyway because we couldn’t get hold of the gawky bloke wearing the 1993 armguard who claimed to be him on day one.

2 – Brad Haddin

Put himself on the provisional ballot for Dar-time in the early stages with a free-flowing 65 that added cream to the first innings, a vintage display that included six boundaries and a showcase of all of his dapper demolition man qualities.

The evergreen custodian then completed his demand for inclusion in the top five with seven dismissals behind the pegs including an acrobatic leg-sider to see off Alastair Cook.

1 – Steve Smith

It’s hard to believe, but this sulfur-crested dynamo is fast becoming one of the more sturdier pillars of the Aussie batting lineup after another encouraging return of 89.

Some starry-eyed followers are going out on a limb, stating this could be the embryonic stages of our next Test captain. To those people, I implore you to ease up. He needs to refuse a request for homework and threaten to quit before the selectors offer him that kind of regal role.

After three Tests, there’s a chasing pack nibbling on the heels of the leading hamster.

8 – Ian Bell

5 – James Anderson
Michael Clarke
Joe Root

4 – Kevin Pietersen

3 – Brad Haddin
Chris Rogers
Graeme Swann
Peter Siddle

2 – Ashton Agar
Ryan Harris

1 – Jonny Bairstow
Steve Smith

Here’s the first Test votes here, and the second Test votes here. And you can follow me on Twitter here. 


Phil Hughes in-Sinc with Mathew’s rhyme

Australian cricket has their own version of the Hokey Pokey. Sing it with me.

You put your Phil Hughes in, you take your Phil Hughes out. And repeat.

Let’s face it. It’s a ditty we all know too well. We don’t need the lyric sheet. It’s had more plays than The Eagles on tradie’s radio. It’s a torturous hook of Gaga proportions that we’ve had on loop in our heads for years.

At this point in time, the oscillating Hughes sits on the outside of the circle of Australia’s first XI, patiently waiting and praying for the first line of the song to come around again.

Hughes takes a relieving wizz after a gruelling 15-ball stay at the crease.

Hughes takes a relieving wizz after a gruelling 15-ball stay at the crease.

But is this position on the exterior now what it’s all about?

After the familiar story of a gallant fight back in to the team, clawing past the haters and wading through the piles of free advice, once again he’s touched the summit and immediately headed back south after failing to secure a foothold.

Naysaying of his ability to handle the wiles of international standard bowling have now reached a deafening and unpleasant crescendo.

This is the fifth occasion that Hughes has been given the ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ break-up from those conducting the tunes on the national selection panel. Two of these separations have been because he was seat-filling and the incumbent arse had returned, which happens, yet the other three times have been because he’s been embarrassingly exposed under international cricket’s merciless microscope.

The post-it note with his phone number on it must be perilously close to going ‘accidentally’ through the selection panel’s washing machine. Was his two innings at Lord’s the fade out of the Hokey Pokey for good?

For a couple of reasons, the answer most probably is no.

Hughes’ contact details should remain free from the wash cycle because of the lack of other attractive business cards in Australian cricket, and because lessons are slowly sinking in from a lint filter that is already chockers with failures anyway.

While ever Hughes continues to boot-fill on the short square boundaries of Adelaide Oval, and while ever the pack of state batsmen he leads remains lean and unthreatening, his experience and fighting qualities will keep him at the forefront of selector’s minds.

In saying this, repeated letdowns in the Baggy Green will come at a price.

Remaining defiantly in the region for choice know as ‘thereabouts’ is one thing, it’s the size of the pass mark for a return for the diminutive Macksvillian that has stretched further with each breach of trust at international level.

Longer bursts of run-making will be required to convince a bunch of selectors who cower whenever his name shows next to a big score on the news. Once/twice/three times/etc bitten, very shy.

Sinclair getting a frame sized for some rare memorabilia.

Sinclair getting a frame sized for some rare memorabilia.

Hughes’ journey is taking on parallels to another domestic god-to-international peasant from across the ditch.

Mathew Sinclair amassed 13717 first class runs at an average of 48.64 over an 18 year career of domestic bullying in New Zealand. Obviously, his talents were spotted early and he was shotgunned in to the national team where he scored two double-tons in his first twelve Tests, with one of those on debut.

Naturally, expectations were immediately inflated from the get-go. Unfortunately, his failure to live up to these became his legacy. Sound familiar?

Sinclair became legendary at knocking on the selectors door like a dosed-up drummer playing an extended solo, yet was never able to cement his chance when presented, give or take a pinch or two of politics. He was ingloriously discarded from the Black Caps four times in his career yet remained one of the Dons inside the Shaky Isles until he retired this year.

And in a cruel twist, the poor fella has had to put his hand out for the dole, a predicament where doorknocking is nowhere near as glamorous.

Is Hughes on track to become Australia’s version of Sinclair?

With a multitude of T20 competitions smiling with their golden grills across the globe, it’s hard to see the plucky leftie suffering the same fate of needing the fortnightly handout of Newstart Allowance. Paying the rent and getting a feed shouldn’t be an issue.

But in cricketing terms, will his international tale mirror Sinclair’s, a frightening figure to the bowlers within his own borders but a quivering mouse on the bigger stage?



2013 Ashes best and fairest: The Dar comes to Lords

It’s official. The series scoreline tells me that The Dar has now taken over as the most interesting aspect of the 2013 Ashes.

Even after our boys were pipped at the post by 347 runs in a Lords thriller, it was the adored medal with its footy parentage that was on everyone’s lips as it raced up global popularity charts like a bullet.

For the entirety of the match, the home of cricket buzzed with the sound of exquisite Darscussion, and even the fledgling award’s cut-through was recognised in hurriedly-established poll form.

In a wide ranging survey involving Steven Warner, where the opinions of himself and all his immediate brethren were represented, The Dar was ranked as more popular than Shane Watson, Mickey Arthur and all Australian batsmen, while fell just short of topping the likeability of Australian bowlers, Twitter and puppies.

As this series continues to degrade in to a one horse race, the new footy-centric yardstick for the best and fairest of kingdom vs convict is only going to continue on its Rudd-like rise, so get it on your raDar and make your late nights over the next four weeks worthwhile.

Plenty of Joes on offer after this memorable innings.

Plenty of Joes on offer after this memorable innings.

History was made at Lords when The Dar had its first multiple vote winner for BOG, and for those uninitiated, that’s ‘best on ground’ and not the efforts of the Australian top six.

5- Joe Root

Coming in to this Test, the babyfaced opener was identified by Clarke and his bowlers as the marshmallow halfback in a defensive line of hulking beasts. Root shafted this ideal with a maiden Test century coated in grit, thus showing he can effectively deal with a stream of bustling forwards being piloted in his direction, even though he looks like he belongs in the under-14s.

4- Ian Bell

A hairier and frecklier cricketing version of Gary Ablett Jr with his clutch contributions and leather poisoning. Once again, showed Australia how to correctly grip a cricket bat and expertly utilise it to score a lot of runs.

3- Graeme Swann

Business as usual recommenced for the wily veteran as he returned to opening up Australian resistance like they were the 1999 Western Suburbs Magpies. Ran amok in the first innings with five wickets before cashing in on a tired opposition defence in the second with another four cheap pies to add to the collection.

2- Ryan Harris

Not English, but nearly was, most probably due to coming off the bench in a booze-soaked lower grade match on a European Contiki tour in his teens. However, thanks to cricket’s pliable international eligibility rules being much like rugby league, he was able to make the wrong choice and commit to Australia, and showed his class for his homeland with a standout performance with the ball in the first innings.

1- Jonny Bairstow

Shared in an all-spotty-oranged first innings partnership of 141 with Bell that showered the hallowed Lords turf in Fanta and Skittles for the English. This contribution helped boost his team’s total to the elite air of 300+, a place many moons away from Australia’s reserve grade batting capabilities.

With two rounds gone, here’s the state of play in the race for The Dar.

8 – Ian Bell
5 – James Anderson
5 – Joe Root
3 – Graeme Swann
3 – Peter Siddle
2 – Ashton Agar
2 – Ryan Harris
1 – Jonny Bairstow
1 – Brad Haddin

For round one’s results, click here. 

Queensland kills Origin. Now please don’t kill your Daddy.

The autopsies have wrapped up. Wally Lewis has induced some sedatives. We’ve allowed enough time for a Mal Meninga piece about rodents and grime.

That means the emotional dust has officially settled on State of Origin 2013 and it’s time for the sensible wash-up from the straight-thinking public.

Canvassing y’all intelligent realists, I’m hearing the same thing.

All are in wistful agreement that the concept of Origin footy, so loved, so revered, so profitable, is now officially dead. And I decree said ‘y’all’ to be on the money.

Crime scene.

Crime scene.

Yep, it’s true. I don’t mean to make your kids cry, but the game’s lips have turned purple and the once-vibrant vascular organ of interstate rugby league in Australia has now stopped, never to pump midweek adrenaline through the veins of the eastern seaboard ever again.

After eight series of predictability, last Wednesday night will be remembered as when we started digging a hole in the plot, booking the church, calling up a priest and assembling a choir that could lip-sync Timomatic’s new single as well as sing ‘Amazing Grace’, because this thing was kaput.

‘Mate vs Mate’ is buried. Cremated. Pushing up sugar cane. Floating towards the floor of the Brisbane River with bricks tied to its feet. Pumped fulla’ fluff by an Ipswichian taxidermist and mounted on the wall inside the QRL offices like a prized antler.

Once again: Origin. DEAD. Gone and forgotten.

This ghastly judgment is a conclusive quantum leap much in the fashion of the wailing and downtrodden Queenslanders and their busted spirit of 2000, but it’s an accurate one.

The reason Origin is cactus is this.

The Blues, despite recently producing performances that came within autograph-requesting distance of their demigod opponents, will never win another series. And that’s a fact.

NSW’s fascist mayorship of Loserville was confirmed with stark certainty at ANZ Stadium that Wednesday night.

With the majority of possession and field position, the weight of the whistle and a naked and greased-up crowd firmly behind them, they still managed to regally muff their shot at breaking the chokehold.

A better opportunity to break the trend you shall never come across.

In the aftermath, amateur CPR from hopeful players and apologists wasn’t enough to mask the embarrassing writing on the wall.

The great state of New South Wales totally stinks at footy and Queensland are untouchably tops, and it doesn’t look like changing anytime soon.

In a concept that relies heavily on its only two partaking teams both having a decent shout at the winning champers, it’s a poisonous circumstance that has proved ultimately fatal.

So with the final breath sucked by a great servant of the game of rugby league, its time to do what a wealthy yet emotionally unfulfilled trophy wife-turned-widow would do, and that’s pick through the remaining assets.

International league is in the nursing home, so all that’s left that divides us is the all-powerful National Rugby League.

Now moreso than ever, this must be respected and cherished for what it is: an awesome competition thanks to the brilliance of NSW.

Let’s be honest. Us Southerners, with our greater business acumen, superior infrastructure and better stuff, started this excellent product over a hundred years ago and nurtured it to today’s giddy heights. To be honest, it really should be called the N(SW)RL.

Without the totally transparent and faction-free NSWRL, the original and the greatest league administration, there would be no sparkle-spewing NRL that we see today, and there certainly wouldn’t be anything interesting coming out of Queensland.

Who gave the Broncos a shot and saved your state capital from becoming a shanty town?

Who had the patience of mind and fatness of wallet to nurture the feeble Cowboys?

Who was gullible enough to believe the fiscal assurances of Michael Searle?

The N(SW)RL, that’s who.

So to the clubs, players, coaches and fans from across the Tweed, also now known as ‘murderers’, you should do yourselves a favour and remember this.

Before you go killing any more forms of the game with your barbaric greed for success, remember who your Daddy is.

All that’s left in the game was given to you by generosity of the original ‘rugby league headquarters’ in Phillip Street, Sydney.

Don’t try to kill the hand of the rat that feeds you.

The 2013 Ashes best and fairest award: “The Dar”

The gut-churning drama of Trent Bridge proved again that the Ashes concept rolls on unabated as the perpetual pressure-cooker of sporting rivalries. It is the contest that truly has it all.

However, for all of the grand old girl’s commonplace controversy, tension and hysteria, there is one thing lacking other than decent umpiring, and that’s a time-honoured footy-style best and fairest award for the most consistent individual of the series.

Test cricket still lives in the bad old days of disrespecting overkill for these types of things.

The contemporary Demetriou touch for ceremony has not been embraced, and exhausted players who have thoroughly streaked their opponents deserve better.

They want to be ranked by a ballot system. They also want a boozy ceremony with WAGS too, if it can be arranged.

How have those crusty highfalutin sods who sit high up in the Lords offices, sipping Earl Grey and cogitating over Tweed, managed to overlook this for so long? How can they tie their Windsor knots knowing the cream of cricket’s oldest contest isn’t being officially recognised in polling form? How have they let the opportunity slip to generate extra interest amongst the public as well as create another betting market for shady bookmakers?

It’s always had me perplexed, and especially moreso after the events of the first Test.

If there was ever a time that cricket showed robust parallels to contact sports, then it was in all of the rip-snorting glory of the events at Trent Bridge.

Two sets of blokes steadfastly locked in a bruising and exhilarating fracas gorged with gruelling tests of character, and without a shoulder charge in sight.

Recognising this opportunity to fill a gap in the Ashes canvas, plus the possibility of landing a bulging commercial deal, I’ve taken the initiative by striking an eye-catching winner’s medal to be presented at series end to the highest vote-getter.

The award shall simply be known as “The Dar” in honour of the notorious head-shaking Aleem.

With his ability to influence a game, yet struggling to operate at his best and fairest, the name chose itself based on suitability and irony.

Watch now as players consider resorting to cheating to lock up this piece of coveted hardware.

The voting system will be on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis and determined by a select one-man expert panel consisting of a specially convened DRS system. Scientists and robot enthusiasts ensure me that it is emotionally-devoid and bias-free provided it has no financial interest in the match it judges.

Gentleman Jim makes history as the first man to be awarded 5 votes in Dar history.

Gentleman Jim makes history as the first man to be awarded 5 votes in Dar history.

Then at series end, the votes will be tallied and “The Dar” will be presented to the winner in a glossy ceremony hopefully convened via Skype, pending the payment of my internet bill.

Will the highest individual honour in Ashes cricket take off?

The bottom line is, whether or not it does, I’ll still be drinkin’.

Here are the top five best on ground from the first Test.

5 – James Anderson

Kicked a bag of 10 and was a constant menace in and around the centre square. Demonstrated once again that he is peerless when it comes to the knack of check-siding a ball both ways with exquisite accuracy. Darren Lehmann may need to assign the entire top six to tagging roles to choke his impact at Lords.

4 – Ian Bell

The diminutive Pom wrestled control of the contact zone as it reached its greatest temperatures on day three. Blended his steely concentration with some well-timed displays of immaculate biff, and by the end of his stint had directed his team in to strong field position.

3- Peter Siddle

Let his footy background shine through with another ferocious performance on the ball in the first innings. Attacked and dominated the middle corridor of the England lineup and skittled some big names to prevent a blowout first innings total.

2 – Ashton Agar

After bypassing the sub’s vest with a direct upgrade from the rookie list to a baggy green, showed the senior statesmen how to effectively muster the hit-ups with an unforgettable knock high on freedom and style. Thankfully, averted an awkward selection discussion for the next Test by contributing in his chosen role with a couple of poles in the second innings.

1 – Brad Haddin

Put his head over the ball when the game seemed lost and nearly consigned England to North Melbourne status by almost pulling an outlandish win out of the fire. Wins the final point from the rest of the those who went inside 50 and beyond thanks to the high stakes stage of the match in which he performed.


The Ashes survival plan for Australia’s batsmen: part two

Losing sleep over how our maligned batting unit will be allowed back in the country after the Ashes?

Salivating for totally bogus inside knowledge on their set KPIs for a post-series tick of approval?

Not comfortable with the tried and tested approval method of runs and runs and more runs?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above three questions, then congratulations. You possess freakishly vigilant skills of concentration to have endured such a long-winded inquest.

Following on from yesterday, here is part two of Australia’s CPR procedures for its crew of afflicted Test batsmen as they approach a fierce examination from the best trundlers the Old Dart has to offer.

(Not to be used as a substitute for situations requiring genuine CPR.)

Cowan's tour diary: "Day 3. Need a shave and a wider bat."

Cowan’s tour diary: “Day 3. Need a shave and a wider bat.”

Ed Cowan

The prerequisites here are elementary. Get the hell out of the 30s. And do it more than once.

Cowan has overtaken Jennifer Aniston as the posterchild for misfortune in the middle ages, and unfortunately, its totally consumed him.

He cooks his meals in 30 minutes, regularly uses words containing more than 30 letters and loves rocking out to the objectionable bluster of Russell Crowe’s rock band while writing 30 word entries in his tour diary (available in all good book stores).

For him to live and breathe as an international cricketer beyond this tour, no measure is too extreme for Cowan to break his association with this haunting number. Changing the date on his birth certificate. Always training longer than half an hour. And if on the sauce, making sure it’s at an over-30s nightclub.

Phil Hughes

Perpetually oscillating between state and national pigeonholes, this Ashes series will see this battler on his 17th chance to succeed in the Baggy Green which is something like a reverse Khawaja. I can only put his frequent reselection down to a need to balance out the crooked levels of justice in the squad, or because ‘he’s been hitting them beautifully in the nets’ for five years.

In saying this, I am reliably assured by a talking Labrador on Twitter that after six retootlings of his technique, this is definitely Hughes’ last crack of the whip. So everybody chillax! It means we can all breathe easy for him, because the last throw of the dice always brings clarity of mind.

He doesn’t have to worry about washing Michael Clarke’s inners, doing extra throwdowns with Boof Lehmann or taking out his earring to find common blokey ground with Rod Marsh. He just needs to find a way to make Jimmy Anderson look pedestrian and pray that Graeme Swann contracts leprosy. That’s all.

Usman Khawaja

Let’s face it: it’s just not meant to be for this kid. He’s destined to remain dangling in the middle universe of being an everlasting specialist squad member, and really, shouldn’t he be used to it by now?

Khawaja should put himself first. It’s time to shelve ambition and realise his limitations.

Sure, busting your guts for Test caps is commendable, but if you can’t score one, then take the tip and go in to power save mode. You might as well pick up the lion’s share of the tour allowances and public sympathy by becoming a professional drinks steward in high-vis who nets on the side.

To keep his face around the place, he only has to concentrate on displaying blade-edge precision in two roles. Firstly, with an exact amount of scoring in tour matches that guarantees retention but not promotion, and secondly, by always ensuring his cordial mix is a delight to a modern cricketer’s tastebuds.


I’m on Twitter and it’s not real flash, but it least it’s never longer than 140 characters. Follow me here. 

The Ashes survival plan for Australia’s batsmen: part one

Forget your feelgood stories about Boof and Fawad.

And don’t try to sell me the cheap stock of cruisey County beatings.

Australia ain’t coming back from England with the urn. They’ll be returning with a red arse, and we all know it.

Upon the team’s homecoming, we of the discerning public will be looking to whip those already-tender cheeks ourselves, and predictions are the bulk of the cane’s workload will be saved for the supple behinds of the batsmen.

Nobody besides Michael Clarke is a fait accompli selection based on record and reputation.

This means one thing: to the grubby yet greater-skilled English carnies, the rest of our trembling stick-wielders are sitting ducks who are all within two bad knocks of tasting the axe.

So what can these dead men walking do to keep their positions?

Over a two-part series of unreasonable determinations, I attempt to find the minimum pass mark for our batsmen to ensure the extended Ashes oxygen of  the Australian summer’s return series.

Chris Rogers

He’s a Fanta-cap in goggles, old enough to remember Tab Cola and possessing stuff-all authority in the locker room. Amongst this superficial supporter base and a playing group in a state of flux, he’s starting from a long way back.

With no medicine to reverse the aging process, the only chance of Rogers surviving lies in the Mike Hussey blueprint.

He’s got the required bulk of first class runs behind him, so now it’s down to whether he can stake a claim for the vacant status of ‘respected and grey-flecked elder statesman’ amongst the daycare nursery that is the current team environment.

This rise to reliable old cheese could be achieved in various ways. He can quietly lead the way with crucial runs in the middle, he can display a strong example at training through good discipline or alternatively, he can set a pace in post-stumps boat races that even Boonie would find unassailable.

Shane Watson

Once an irreplaceable resource, this bloke has plummeted to being nothing more than a naughty boy who troubles team harmony more often than the scorer. He needs some serious magic this series or he could find himself banished to the billions of dollars of the T20 mercenary scrapheap, or worst still, punished with the Test captaincy.

Watson and Rogers discuss blonding techniques.

Watson and Rogers discuss blonding techniques.

However, in early tour doings it’s been all Wattotastic again, meaning he’s in the box seat to return to that cushy place contractually reserved for him in the cockles of the selector’s hearts.

With the courteous and rational managerial style of Mickey Arthur finally in the rear-view mirror and the opener’s position his again, I fully expect him to be in the right frame of mind to produce what’s required on this tour to hold his spot, and that’s six solid weeks of bootlicking Michael Clarke.

David Warner

The one-time platinum project player of Australian cricket has shed many a layer of gloss after a couple of imbecilic offshore incidents.

Were his cricketing bearings lingering way too long in Delhi-mode, where attending a private party to consume 25 samosas and a six-pack passes as a legitimate post-match warm down? Or was he deeply affected by the boredom of the Champions Trophy like the rest of us?

Regardless of what feeble excuse applies, Warner is starting to return to a good place after undergoing an intensive rehabilitation program that has reminded him to belt Dukes, not beards.

Should he manage to keep his thumbs and knuckles out of trouble- whether it be from a Messers Finn and Broad bouncer barrage, the chin of an underdeveloped man or an iPhone- there’s a chance he’ll be back in his undeserving role of potential future captain by series end.

Steve Smith

Before his shock selection on the last Test tour to India, this bloke was seen sitting on the Kurnell sand dunes doing his best impression of ‘The Thinker’ as he contemplated the crossroads that his choppy career had come to.

As he endlessly mulled over whether he was a batsman who bowled or a bowler who batted, our shrewd selectors at the time identified him as a man possessing the courageous conviction and single-minded self-belief that belongs in the Test arena. And that’s why they’re on the big bucks.

It’s fair to say that Smith won’t be filling the English creams with mud of terror, but he can make opposition complacency his best friend with an unlikely ambush.

There’s not an ounce of pressure on the young lad, so he should play his natural game provided it doesn’t involve snicking the rock to the ‘keeper before he’s reached double figures and/or Americanised glove-taps.

Has a great chance of saving his position provided the ball doesn’t swing for the duration of the series.

Tomorrow: Medication plans for Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja. 

South African cricket: Totally allergic to silverware

Another major international ICC tournament. Another consolatory competitor’s ribbon for South Africa.

This is a cricketing powerhouse with a serious allergy to trophies. Their superstar individuals continually prove that their collective DNA is spoiled by badly timed success repellent.

Barring a few catastrophic outings, their campaigns seem to always follow a similar pathway.

Start in the top bracket of favourites thanks to loads of pre-event consistency, belligerently cremate all-comers in the early rounds and build an unbeatable aura before cratering in grandiose fashion when the finish line is in sight.

Last night in London, like day turns to night, the trend continued.

"If we remain tight as a group and work hard, we can surely avoid the final."

“If we remain tight as a group and work hard, we can surely avoid the final.”

This time around the exit was at their preferred semi-final stage, a comfortable 7 wicket trouncing from the English being the door slapping their behinds as they departed the Champions Trophy.

In fairness to the Proteas, they were down a block of star power and their campaign will be remembered as a spluttering affair overall, but at the end of the day, it was another asphyxiation at a competition’s pointy-end.

Even coach Gary Kirsten admitted bluntly in the aftermath: “I think we did choke again today.”

South Africa’s record in shorter form tournaments makes them the pre-2011 All Blacks of limited overs cricket.

Besides snagging the 1998 Champions Trophy title in its early knockout format, they have gone silverware-hungry ever since, and sometimes in cruel and calamitous fashion.

How’s this for a bitter wrap sheet?

In the 16 major ICC tournaments since 1992 (6 World Cups, 6 Champions Trophies and 4 World T20s ), the Proteas have fallen short in the following ways:

– Only once made a final (winning the 98 CT)
– Lost at the semi final stage 7 times
– Topped their pool in the group stage 5 times before losing a knockout final
– Gone undefeated through the group stages 3 times before losing a knockout final
– Eliminated twice in the group stage at a home tournament

From this melange of implosion, there’s been some unforgettable dip-outs. The run-rate fleecing of 1992 and panicked freeze of 1999 in World Cup semi-finals are two of the more famous cold-blooded farewells, both of which have become folklore in their own rights.

However, to celebrate another campaign of heartbreak, I’ve chosen a couple of lesser lights in the Protea catalogue of stuff-ups, mainly to celebrate their unshakable consistency and to also make myself feel better about Australia’s current predicament.

1996 World Cup

On the back of Kirsten’s batting heroics, South Africa surged through the pool stage undefeated with 5 comfortable victories on the trot before losing to the West Indies in a quarter-finals boilover.

2003 World Cup

Under pressure at home, the Proteas endured a stop-start pool stage which saw them requiring a win against Sri Lanka in the final match to advance. In a rain-affected affair, the hosts managed to botch their chase with an unbelievable mathematical faux pas before the rain set in, leaving a tied result and another bizarre exit.

2009 World T20 Championship

Waltzed through the group stages with 5 consecutive wins of considerable size which was evidenced in their whopping +3.275 net run rate. Looked unbackable to complete the task until their first sighting of sudden-death, where they folded to Pakistan in the semi-final.

2011 World Cup

Finished the group stages with an imposing 5-1 record, placing them neck-and-neck with hosts India for title favouritism. Dreams of a drought-breaking victory were replaced by normal transmission in the quarter-finals when they sensationally collapsed to be all out for 172 chasing New Zealand’s 8/221.


Rebel Raiders: victims of a poisonous culture

After another episode of num-nutted naughtiness, the flavour of empathy tastes of nothing but lime splice. The majority of the rugby league community feel really sorry for the Canberra Raiders footy club.

After a period of being disrespectfully whipped by a couple of Gen Y bad eggs, the public has flooded forums and airwaves with half-arsed compassion for the club and their frustrated diehards.

Ferguson: moments after shotgunning some Verve.

Ferguson: moments after shotgunning some Verve.

“Poor Canberra. Sacking rebellious players who go and perform elsewhere. Showing them patience and they make a beeline for Northies. Totally unfair. Sad emoticon.”

Yep, despair for their battler brand is trending after being rag-dolled by the self-absorbed recklessness of youth and their love of a binge quaff, but what about flipping the issue and seeing it through the rooftop beer goggles of the rabble-rousers?

Hasn’t anybody considered that these young fellows could simply be the unwilling products of an evil working environment? That their developmental years have been polluted by the mismanagement of their paymasters?

Wake up, citizens of footy. This string of boneheaded incidents coming out of the ACT is the hideous side effects of being incarcerated inside one of rugby league’s most poisonous environments.

The Canberra Raiders footy program is clearly a hothouse of chaos that produces bad weeds by the tonne, and the operation is driven wholly and solely by the miscreants of a lackadaisical administration.

In their messy management style, the players are simply pawns. Marionettes. Victims.

Those on-field have been made to foot the blame for clownish governance for so long, but if you scratch deeper than the surface, and you will see that all of the vile back page headlines can be attributed to a sloppy front office.

Firstly, Todd Carney. A cannon where the chieftains were the flame to the wick.

Furner: clearly has no idea and this facial expression proves it.

Furner: clearly has no idea and this facial expression proves it.

Which overpaid suit forgot to brief him on the social rules of personal relief, most notably that a human being can’t double as a trough? Who forgot to stop him setting his mate’s arse on fire? Was he not sufficiently educated on the offensive smell of burning hair? Who didn’t teach him how to read a speed limit sign?

Then innocent lower-grader Steve Irwin was left high and dry by flimsy disciplinary guidelines.

Why was he not warned about the perils of Carney’s loose company? Should he not have been chaperoned at the very least?

Josh Dugan was a Raider legend in the making, until some administrative simpleton made the rookie error of forgetting to collect him for a rehab session.

Where was the initiative to offer the compromise of bringing the team to his rooftop for a good stretch of the calves?

Then the ball was dropped when it was time to control his opinion. Who didn’t have the foresight to make him aware that social media reaches an audience wider than his personal circle? Did someone tell him that cuss words are frowned upon? And who didn’t stop him hitting ‘send’ on his blue Instagram rant?

Then Blake Ferguson, who was left totally stranded by his superiors.

What irresponsible executive stood by and allowed him to stumble the mean streets of Cronulla while necking bubbly straight from the container? Who considers it good business acumen to allow him to play the role of a 1985 disco greaseball?

And where was the guiding hand of the bossdogs when he was subsequently taken under the wing of Anthony Mundine?

All of these career-staining situations of embarrassment occurred thanks to gross incompetence by the club hierarchy.

Throughout all the duration of this circus, they have stood to the side, recklessly idle while young footballers made minor life decisions on their own, totally at the mercy of their own decision-making processes.

It’s a disgrace.

Forget about plonking Ferguson in front on the NRL Integrity Unit. It’s time for the Furner axis and their band of lobotomised boardroom parrots to take their medicine, face the music and take it on the chin. Their careless approach to running a football club and the total disdain for the welfare of their employees deserves a triple hit of idioms inside one sentence.

They are the common thread amongst the vile series of misdemeanours that come from Raider Land.

Forget the brand; it’s time to spare a shoulder for the poor players at Canberra who operate under the duress of this madness.

They don’t know what they’re doing, and it’s not their fault.

EXCLUSIVE: Cooper Cronk’s Origin camp diary

Cooper Cronk is usually a padlocked clam when it comes to media exposure, but this week he gave us an insight in to how his finely-programmed computer brain operates when it comes to kicking critical field goals in the popular games of footy and life.

Now in a Stand Spray and Deliver exclusive, his cut-price firewall has given us exclusive backstage access to the days leading in to the first State of Origin match of 2013.

Here are the ramblings from the mind of a truly unique footballer who doesn’t follow his own shadow, or change the password on his online diary often enough.


Return to camp after a lazy weekend of Cooper time. I really unwound by putting my feet up. Right up.

Spent my time at a high altitude facility on Mt Kosciuszko subjecting myself to a voluntary training program of torturous intensity, and am now feeling recharged and totally ready to sink my teeth in to a week of preparation and answering questions about Ben Te’o.

After a light ball-work session in the afternoon, it’s time to unwind with the boys by heading to the hotel function room to watch a movie together.

Even 12 months after my wonderful 41-metre field goal, I am still completely free of my own expectation, and Sam

Cooper ponders. Where can I get some petula oil?

Cooper ponders. Where can I get some petula oil?

Thaiday’s for that matter. This is lucky for him as his choice of ‘Short Circuit 2’ for the evening’s viewing was an absolute disaster that deserved serious condemnation.

With each cheesy android gag, I felt my body extend in to it’s natural form- a clenched thumping fist and a lower leg twitching to roundhouse- but luckily my emotive mastery kicked in before his arse was.

Pooped after two hours of listening to Trevor Gillmeister talk about mechanical science, I retire to bed to rest my chakras, ready for a big day tomorrow of studying the opposition with our coach Michael Hagan.


Breakfast time, and this means one thing: a smorgasbord of the finest tropical fruit knocked up by Mal. He’s great at putting on a vitamin-laden spread, which is handy because I’m not actually sure what else he does in camp all week.

Unfortunately, in a desperate attempt to prove his self-worth, he’s also had a crack at knocking up a mixed grill and succeeded in producing nothing but a hotplate of smouldering char.

As a chef, Mal should really stick to…. whatever it is he does professionally. We might need to give him a different job next year, because the small fire he’s sparked in the village today proves his character on the Weber is made of hay.

After a session of opposition analysis where we decided on the best way to bait Greg Bird, it’s time for a gym session. Like most days, I’m feeling in good rhythm as I settle in to my routine. I’m throwing iron around like it’s going out of fashion, and my head is clear and totally devoid of noise. Until Darius Boyd wants to spot me.

Fair dinkum, for someone with a voicebox that ices over at the sight of a camera, he sure can bang on. Wayne this, Wayne that, he has a bottomless keg of fatherly anecdotes on tap.

He eventually shuts up after I give him a good belting over the head with my copy of ‘The Wisdom of Forgiveness’, and I get back to doing what I do best: nurturing my sinews.

Mal heads off to do a knock’n’run at Ricky Stuart’s house, so he gives us the afternoon to ourselves. While most of the other blokes spend the time swapping Tazos, I slip in to a saffron robe and read my book about transpersonal psychology. The guy who wrote it is wonderfully intelligent, insightful and inspiring, much like Craig Bellamy, except with the ability to repress violent outbursts of fury.

Although the book contains fairly complex and challenging subject matter, it’s not a patch on one of Coach Hagan’s detailed fifth tackle plays. Trying to get one of those chaotic formulas to synchronise is like trying to pronounce Matt Gillett’s name properly.

In one particular entanglement, Corey Parker hit a decoy line at good pace and ended up on his keister in the third row of the stands. I think Hages is getting ahead of himself; maybe he should give the failed grill-master a turn with the whistle?

With Mal still searching for enough dog poop to fill a bag for Ricky’s porch, he decides to give us the night off, so I head off to the casino with Billy Slater and David Shillington for a quiet night of coin burning. I managed to win $25k on blackjack, $10k on roulette and on the way out, score the lucky door prize that was a new Toyota and a holiday to Europe. I didn’t feel good or bad about myself afterwards, just in a state of grace.


After a session of stretching, I’m encouraged by the coaching staff to chat to the team about the daily routines that assist with the upkeep of my outstanding spiritual health. Naturally, in a habitat dominated by masculine beefcakery, I only gain cagey interest from a couple of fellow trippers in Justin Hodges and Brent Tate.

After we all woof down enough carbohydrates to feed a small continent, the three of us return to my room to meditate. Cameron Smith tries to join in, but as the process involves the burning of incense, he is banned entry to the room due to the highly dangerous levels of combustible man-shrubbery he carries on his torso.

All goes well with the enlightenment until Hodgo begins showing the side effects of excess carbs intake.

In an instant, the silence and purity in the room is pierced as evil spirits escape his body. It was a sequence I felt strangely like I had imagined in my head already, months if not years before.

Actually, I didn’t imagine it- Hodgo farts all the time.

After some sprints, it’s off to do some kicking training with that scallywag Daly Cherry-Evans. Working with the young fella is grouse. His bubbly persona is great company to be in.

I often wonder though, as the bloke is so bloody cheery all the time, perhaps ‘practising a kick on the same patch of grass’ might mean something totally different to him?

Either way, he smokes his first ten attempts at field goal, and we retire to listen to some Enya. It’s game day tomorrow and I can’t think of any better way to focus on the job at hand: than with a calming dose of synth and panpipes.

Why (insert your state) will win this year’s Origin series

Want your interstate ego stroked for Origin 2013?

Dane Eldridge and Paddy Effeney are two blokes from either side of the border, and they’ve decided to joust it out to determine which of their states is a stone cold moral certainty to varnish the shield in the sponsor’s product this year.

Eldridge’s case for Blue

My dear blogging cohort Paddy Effeney is a sterling bloke who plays the forums hard but fair. I have the utmost respect for him and his fine literature, except for at Origin time. Because he’s from Queensland.

Even though my beloved NSW Blues sit at a woeful 0-7 after their last 7 hitouts, you will never see me do the Ben Creagh back-pedal when my cross border compatriot asks me to dance with him as a Harragon to his Bella.

Regardless of the fact there is virtually nothing to cling to other than the unlikely occurrence that his team is decimated by ASADA findings, I’m going to fight back against his hypnotic pro-maroon prose with a view through one sky blue eye.

So besides delusion, why do I think NSW are going to win this year’s series?



It’s because I can see the writing on the wall from a country kilometre away. Cameron Smith and his smug bunch of yippee-yayers are ripe for a good old-fashioned ambushing, Queensland-style.

You see, the Maroons today are what NSW used to be. Flush with the finest personnel, facilities, fruit store mafia cash and theme parks that are the envy of the free world.

On the other hand, presently the Blues are what they used to be. A state with honest and serviceable talent stocks, just enough poker machine moolah for training kits and no Wonderland on the city’s outskirts.

The seven consecutive years of torment at the hands of a unit stacked like a 1992 NSW seconds side has consigned the southern state to being the have nots. The northerners, with their pretentious swag and ability to excel without a real coach, are the haves.

But in 2013, the humiliating comeuppance for the enemy is coming, and the blueprint for their demise has been lifted from one of their own.

It’s going to be a southern-style 1995 Fatty Vautin con job. Just replace your Wayne Bartrim with a Robbie Farah and your XXXX with Tooheys Blue.

Down here in the premier state, the collective rumble can be felt in the plums already.

For the first time in a while, those uncontrollable issues that exist on the periphery- sometimes non-tangible, often largely irrelevant and always most important to those lacking ability- seem to be playing out in NSW’s favour.

The big name Queensland cogs have been faltering in the lead-up, there’s panic over a picked pack that you need a magnifying glass to see, a couple of stars don’t know if they are coming or going, Johnathon Thurston’s kid is going to enter the world right on kick-off and all the while, Meninga is in Bundaberg cracking lame dad jokes about tropical fruit.

Compare this to Camp Blues, or ‘high performance paradise’ as it is currently known.

There’s a snarling forward pack full of athletes and leviathans, bustling backs high on confidence, an unscarred new coach who thinks nothing of horseback riding, and not a single bench spot being wasted on an expendable utility.

(We love you, Gids. There’s just no room for you.)

Compared to the tidy and well-kept palace of Laurie Daley’s digs, where Bach plays serenely on the gramophone while Greg Bird recites Dickens to a well-behaved squad, Mal Meninga’s dude ranch is in filthy frat-party disarray.

Right now, NSW are leading before kick-off, and all our boys have to do is just protect the buffer for 240 minutes.

With 99% of momentum in favour of Paul Gallen’s troops (I lopped off 1% for Shayne Hayne’s appointment), it’s apparent that the swarm of the underdog is upon you, Queensland. What was once your secret weapon spinach is now your kryptonite.

With these kinds of precursors and two games in Sydney’s rollicking colosseum, it’s all pointing to a famous triumph for the recently oppressed.

And if Maroons fans want to accentuate a positive, then just think about it this way. After the horrendous belting our boys inflict upon your fading outfit this year, all of the poor cousin traits so treasured by your state will be all yours again.

And really, isn’t that the way it should be?

With a rainmaking Blues win, the yearly interstate contest will finally return to its most popular format. An event that Queensland uses to repress their inferiority complex.

The Blues will return to their familiar role of affluent pantomime villain as everything goes against the downtrodden Maroons, just like old times.

And that, my friends, would mean we would be treated to two victories in this year’s series.

One for NSW, and one for rugby league.

Effeney’s case for Maroon

I was challenged to a debate earlier this week by a fellow sports blogger and all round good guy Dane Eldridge. Given the measure of the man who made the request, I accepted the challenge. But to be honest, the very fact that he asked me to argue on such a topic is laughable.

Nevertheless, let the mud flinging begin…

The fact that I’m even deigning to write this piece ‘debating’ who’s going to win this year’s State of Origin is a measure of the respect and friendship I hold for my opposite mental jouster.

Unfortunately, years of sustained, bumbling buffoonery has meant that my team, the Queensland Maroons, hold little, if any, of the same for that excuse for a football team dressed in Blue.

Because in reality this series has devolved, unfortunately but necessarily in my view, into something more akin to a Harlem Globetrotters v Transylvania No-Hopers game than a genuine, meaningful contest.



The Queenslanders don the famous colours, trot out onto the pitch, show everyone what they can do, score a few meat pies early, before dramatically letting the New South Welshmen back into the ‘contest’. The crowd feels good about it all as NSW show some fight and some heart, before the Queenslanders, through an outrageous piece of skill from one of their transcendent superstars, clinch the game and consign any false hope of a NSW victory to the dustbin.

Year after year, we hail this Queensland side as the best in history. So it goes, on and on.

Does it get tiresome being a perpetual winner? Yes is the short answer; no is the long one. But in either case, the question lacks meaning.

For you see, it’s no longer a question that’s in my hands; nor is it in the hands of any mortal. It hasn’t been since the start of Queensland’s historic seven-year run of victories.

It was long thought that NSW had the right to win State of Origin, and any Queensland victory had to be chalked up to either a blowing of a tire from the men in blue or a freak aligning of the football stars allowing the Maroons to sneak over the line.

NSW had it all. The money, the fame, the big players and pretty well all the professional teams worth their salt in the country.

It was from this neglect of the northernmost of Australians that the chip on the Queensland shoulder grew. Now that NSW don’t have their customary horde of superior players to choose from they are finding out that beating a superior side is tough when you don’t have an edge.

So don’t ask me who’s going to win this series in earnest. There’s only one side that’s going to show up with an edge, and it’ll be the blokes wearing maroon. They have the edge in character, in quality and in that bloody-minded determination to stick it up those who sneered down their cans of Tooheys New at them for so long.

What those folks holding cans of the strong stuff didn’t know was that the very fabric State of Origin was built upon was to be upturned.

There is a very basic principle State of Origin had to maintain to remain dynamic and interesting: the NSW team has to have better players. The opposite state would result in a decade of dominance, or so the prophecy foretold. And now, with the state of play as it is, we are seven years through.

That prophecy, reportedly inscribed on the inside of a XXXX can (note that it’s mid strength) that had been shotgunned by the King, Wally Lewis, told of a time when Queensland would show everyone just why passion in Origin is so valuable. It spoke of a team who would suffer 10 years in purgatory to teach them the ultimate Origin lesson: don’t take it for granted you smug bastards.

So while Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Justin Hodges are still running around, Dane, you won’t have me biting on matters Origin.

It’s not because I don’t like shooting the proverbial about it; au contraire. It’s just that it would simply be a waste of both our time.

It’s been written in the stars. The result is forgone. Queensland win. Have a nice day.

You can follow these charming clowns on Twitter: Dane @playup_roosters & Paddy @warmingthepine, and you can follow Paddy’s blog right here. 

Athlete’s owe us squat!

Today, voluntary media mute Darius Boyd walked past a channel 10 news crew, brushing past them with the arrogance of a year 12 student trudging through the infants playground. Unsurprisingly, people blew up at Boyd’s perceived rudeness, labelling him a “dickhead” and calling him “ungrateful”.

Let me start by saying that I’m no real Boyd fan. But neither am I a fan of the media or the way they operate.

Athletes are (in most cases) exceptional competitors in an area usually requiring an elite level of physical ability the rest of us (the ordinary folk) can only dream about, whether that be to run like a Bolt or Dazzle like a Warne, Leap like a Jordan or swing like a Woods.

It is the admiration and understanding of exceptional talent which drives “normal” folk to pay attention and watch a skill performed at a higher level to which they themselves could not do. It is human nature to admire and it is human nature to seek out the source of the admiration. Why? Because viewing coveted skills unfold before our eyes provides people with inspiration, drive and above all pleasure.

Athletes, are first and foremost, exceptional due to their talent. Personality, marketability and looks are secondary bye products which may one day become features in their own right, but are yet still grounded and underpinned by the athlete firstly qualifying as…. well…an athlete.

So since an athlete often gets to an elite level in his or her chosen competition by firstly: a) having the talent and drive to get there, and b) is often selected by higher authorities and is therefore a wanted commodity. Should the people (us) who seek out the viewing of skilled athleticism and high level competition demand that these athletes have an obligation to make free their time in order to satisfy the fiscal positions of a ravanous institution (the media) who feed the unquenchable cravings of sports hungry fans? Do the fans “own” athletes? Was it the fans who gave the athlete his or her gifts?
The answer to all these questions is a slam dunk in the ring for NO!

In no way should an athlete be obliged to answer questions or make time for journalists and their organisations. Is Joe Blow from the pub obliged to answer questions from a pack of 17 year olds dying to know what a beer tastes like? No, of course not. Yet both are examples of one group coveting the ability and activities of another and the yearning to understand something of which they are not a part of.

Now I know there will be some who will say “but without the fans athletes don’t have an income”. To this I would reply that competition would not exist without the desire to win and to out perform your rival. Elite Athleticism and physical excellence are reached due to this principle and are not reached as a result of awed onlookers. In other words, an athlete’s skills and competitive desires were not gifts given to him or her by the fans.

So to all the sports men and women who wish to decline the spotlight thrown on them, and who wish to remain silent while they compete in their chosen activity I say kudos. We are simply here to watch you play, marvel at your skill and admire your competitiveness. For what it’s worth, you owe us normal folk….squat.

Mick Potter: Reasonable coach. Excellent fellow!

Today the Wests Tigers faithful are rejoicing in the fact that their team has finally located a pulse. It may be waterlogged, but it’s beating.

The process wasn’t pretty, but last night at Leichhardt Oval they eventually emerged from the mud wrestle on top of the Cowboys in a sodden contest that involved some fortuitous video decisions.

It was a soggy win in front of a handful of the hardy that temporarily brought to a close a nightmare seven week period for the Tigers, and as one of those friendly clubs that is hard to dislike, I’m happy for the team to enjoy a win or two while ever it remains in a non-threatening position miles out of the top eight.

As a person with no emotional attachment to the club whatsoever, my opinion is in no way influenced by their recent stint of mediocrity, nor am I under any obligation to not turn a one-win molehill into a mountain. That’s why I’m going to revel in the heat of the moment and heap unlikely credit on coach Mick Potter.

This man with the softly spoken disposition of a cinder block has been downright dogged in the eye of a raging cloudburst of crap so far in 2013.

From the start, the double Dally M Medallist was always going to taste the whip by taking the job at Wests.

He was flick-passed a plundered playing group from Tim Sheens, and with the low exchange rate on credibility for Super League success in trade with the Australian game, public patience was always going to be thin.

Over the course of a so-far forgettable campaign where most things have gone south, not once has the new boss really lost his rag.

Not a mope, finger-point, buck-pass or media meltdown. At least in the public forum anyway.

It’s a super effort from the new guy, considering the assembly of projectiles flying in his direction that would’ve given him grace to catapult his toys from the cot, a la Des.

He’s had a team list violated by injury, a dysfunctional board hamstrung by factionalism above him and an inherited list that is low on depth and top heavy with some wealthy underperformers.

Add to that a procession of horrific beltings, and you can see why it’s amazing that he hasn’t walked in to Concord Oval for a Monday debrief and just gone postal.

Potter contemplates where to hide Braith Anasta. He held this pose for 18 hours.

Potter contemplates where to hide Braith Anasta. He held this pose for 18 hours.

As each record-setting pasting unfolded in front of his eyes, not once did Potter pick up the coaches manual and turn to Ricky Stuart’s foreword or the 560-page chapter on referee evaluation by Geoff Toovey.

No way. He just copped the chinning on the iron jaw of his stony-face and got on with the job of preparing his undermanned team to be lapped the following week.

Sure, he might have blotted his copybook once with the wee boo-boo of benching Benji Marshall. Apart from inspiring the fine ‘Benchy’ headline, it wasn’t an acutely shrewd move, but hey, who hasn’t pissed off the boss at work before themselves?

As the stupor of his folly set in, he never offered any sugar-coating of the situation, and when the move eventually combusted in his face, he owned up to his error and crumbled to Beau Ryan’s badgering by immediately reinstating the skipper to the starting line up.

Potter’s perpetual state of steely composure in 2013 is admirable and many others would’ve crumbled by now with a hole in the coaches box fibro.

His stoic nature is comparable to his playing days where he was an unflappable fullback who was repeatedly bashed under the high ball, a torturous exercise akin to the majority of his press conferences this year.

I admit he might not have shown himself to be one of rugby league’s great coaches yet. But you can’t deny, if there was a bonus point system for exemplary behaviour and commendable conduct, the Tigers would have a few more in the bank thanks to Potter’s gentlemanly coolness, and an extra half a point for Steve Humphreys’s decision to give himself the arse.

Well may he be given a sustained run at the head coaching role at Wests, free of board room assurances, impatient fans and maybe if he’s lucky, Adam Blair.

Walsh debunks the rigmarole of kicking for goal

Wowsers. What a collector’s item of sparkling goal kicking from Luke Walsh last night!

The Penrith halfback’s spotless 11 from 11 was a magnificent showcase of accuracy from sideline to sideline, not to mention a perfect accompaniment to the razzle dazzle being served up by the Panthers on the CUA turf against a porous Warriors defence.

But it wasn’t just the results of the metronomic slipper show that knocked my socks off. In my eyes, there was something else that stood out from Walsh’s marksman masterclass.

Walsh. Not a jig in sight.

Walsh. Not a jig in sight.

The whole thing packed minimal histrionics.

With every raise of the touchies’ flags, it affirmed the fact that there is still a place in the game for a dull dime-a-dozen kicking action.

In recent times, boring and undistinguished routines have been under attack by a wave of alternative converters and their intricately detailed approaches.

So why is the ‘Goalkicking for Dummies’ manual slowly becoming eroded as a reading choice by the sharp shooters across all codes?

Up until recently, capably kicking a dead ball used to be so simple.

Settle down, wipe away some sweat, secure your mouthguard in some disgusting pocket of your body, take some right-angled steps and slot the thing through to papa.

Too easy!

But somewhere along the timeline of kicking history, theatrics and contortions became de rigeur. Just punching the footy over and/or through a set of poles is no longer enough.

Nowadays, you need an abstract statue pose followed by an audition for the Bolshoi Ballet to be in the running for kicking tee duties.

Cast your mind back.

Remember the uproar when ‘around the corner’ kicking first came in to the codes? Traditionalists of the toe poke lost their shizen at the time at what was considered a totally ludicrous newfangled method!

Then fast forward to the emergence of Ian ‘Chook’ Herron.

This wacky winger was considered a rugby league outcast with his blend of neck twisting and hot-stepping. Nobody imagined that things were going to get any weirder than him.

But no!

Cue Jonny Wilkinson in the heavenly game with the first of the stone sculptured poses, and then the nutcase workings of Mark Riddell, who seemed to be placing some kind of mid-air blessing on the Steeden just before he gave it the boot.

This lead to the current golden era we find ourselves in.

There’s one of modern footy’s most bizarre and long-winded routines with Jamie Soward’s version of a sedated soldier whose compass is playing up, which is complimented by Quade Cooper’s regular reminder that his favourite comic hero is Superman.

James O’Connor jumped on board for a while with his own zany stylings before coming to his senses when he realised the robot dance went out of fashion for a reason.

Don’t forgot those who appear to be experiencing debilitating stomach cramps while they carefully hold a fragile baby chicken in cupped hands, that being Adam Reynolds, Berrick Barnes and Jarrod Croker.

And the insanity isn’t just confined to the rugby codes either.

What about in the AFL?

There are extra trimmings on the usual stale bread and butter provided by West Coast’s Josh Kennedy and St Kilda’s Ahmed Saad.

Kennedy’s attention-seeking feet take over the whole show and regale the crowd with their version of the stutter rap, while Saad somehow incorporates a lazy Sunday arvo stroll that seemingly stretches from Coogee to East Perth.

There’s no doubt about it. The modern kicking culture has evolved in to something weirder than that slouching windmill dance your uncle does at family functions.

Does anybody have an intelligent explanation to this?

I’m sure many would say that it’s another sign that the psychological aspect of professional sport is becoming further prevalent, and fair enough. But could it be more than this?

Are managers and marketers encouraging their charges to build a brand through individuality? Is it time wasting? Or loss of bets with long-term consequences?

Or are footy players convinced that pretending to pray in a state of semi-constipation is genuinely effective when piloting a leather pillow on a beeline?

Whatever the reason, long may it continue.

I acknowledge the successes of guys like Walsh and their staple routines. Good luck to them all.

But there’s no doubt there is something entertaining about watching athletes blindly devote to their boot-scooting security blankets.

For some kickers, it seems keeping it straight relies on being slightly twisted.



Exclusive: leaked email reveals pre-meditated send-off at Brookie

In an exclusive, Stand Spray and Deliver has obtained a copy of an email that proves the decision by Matt Cecchin to send-off Jared Waerea-Hargreaves against Manly on Monday night may have been the pre-conceived actions of a raving madman that were inspired by a directive from above.

The email, sent on Sunday from senior official Shayne Hayne to referee’s boss Daniel Anderson, contains explosive information about Cecchin’s bizarre behaviour and mental state in the lead up to the game, along with references to a reminder from Anderson to “use the old marching orders.”

It also contained a strong suggestion from Hayne to “just do anything” to replace Cecchin for the clash between the Roosters and Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval otherwise risk looking “stupider.”

Travolta says 'go.'

Travolta says ‘go.’

This discovery, along with last night’s curious decision, adds further fuel to the widespread belief that the referee’s department is a bunch of disturbed and confused nerderlingers that operate on knee-jerk reactions, especially after coming on the back of weeks of public pressure to begin utilising heavier penalties for those who resort to foul play.

It also proves that News Limited aren’t the only ones who can Assange the daylights out of an inbox, and that when it comes to the game’s worst firewall, the Sharks aren’t entirely on their own.



From:  Shayne Hayne 
Sent:  Sunday, 12 May 2013 9:17am
To:  Daniel Anderson
Subject:  Cecch yourself before you wreck yourself

Dear Ando,

I’ve been meaning to pass this info on to you for a while now, but I’ve been flat out in the tanning bed. I hope sending this to you by email, as well as referring to you as ‘Ando’ is cool by you.

I’m not sure how else to break this to you, so I’ll just give it to you straight up.

You know that us referees are kooky types at the best of times, but lately our friend Matty Cecchin has completely re-written the book on bonkers behaviour. I reckon he could be on the verge of doing something stupid real soon, and I’m not talking about growing comically large sideburns.

The way he’s been carrying on, it’s like he’s really itchy to put his disciplinary foot down and send someone off in a game. And for more than 10 minutes and/or to get a gash cleaned up!

Can you believe it? Yeah bro, I know. It’s totes bananas. He probably still thinks scrum penalties exist!

In all seriousness though, he’s all types of whack right now. Tell me if you think this following behaviour is crook:

– Spending time alone off-site reading a rulebook full of post-it notes on the foul play section whilst watching old videos of Gorden Tallis and Mark Geyer

– Playing the music of the Bee Gees in the sheds before games whilst practising disco dancing complete with an unhealthy amount of finger pointing. (He looks like John Travolta on the gear. Not pretty but still kind of a LOL.)

– Becoming very short with the rest of the boys over simple matters like restaurant choices and Gatorade flavours. Whenever he won’t get his way, he just interrupts the discussion before telling us to ‘Go. Just go.’

– Repeatedly requesting to cover any game involving Luke O’Donnell or Richie Fa’aoso

– Constantly referring to players as ‘Gough Whitlam’

Seriously Ando, I know you reminded us the other day about using the old marching orders, but I think Matty is a bear-trap ready to snap at the tiniest indiscretion.

We all know the almighty dismissal is there for the big stuff; disembowelments, squirrel grips, Steve Matai etc, but I think he’s ready to lower the threshold to something minor just to get his fix!

I’m talking about something as trivial as a little tap around the nose, a grapple, maybe even five spear tackles. Geoff Toovey and Ray Hadley will be all over us! And life is already bad enough with having to wear weekly salmon garb.

I know you want us to show some spuds when it comes to calling on the early shower, but I’m worried there’s not enough Rheems to install to keep Matty at bay. That’s why I reckon you’ve got to replace him for tonight’s game at Brookie.

Make up a story, call in a bomb threat, call in Sean Hampstead. Just do anything! Otherwise he’s going to make us look even more stupider. We’re counting on you, Ando.

Call me if you need any further intel. I’ll be in the spray tan booth.

Stay onside,
The Shayne-Plane

PS: Have you seen Tony Archer lately? He’s got my Gossip Girl DVD. Need it back.

Dane Eldridge Tries Hard

Contemporary rugby league surrealism and hot takes on Shane Warne