The View From Down Here #10

I didn’t get to watch as much sport as I would have liked as my own training had to kick up a notch this past week. But you can never avoid sport in Australia, and so here are the best bits of another full-on week.

Australian Rules Football
AFL
Alan Didak – alleged drunk, alleged friend of mobsters, alleged moron – made a heart-felt plea via the media and an entertainment programme to his football club not to fire him. Interesting way to do it, on a TV show known for its buffoonery, but, hey, if I called him smart, I’d have to use the word ‘alleged’ there as well.
Finals
Geelong 12.11 (83) def Western Bulldogs 7.12 (54)
Good match, and it was there for the Bulldogs to take, but Geelong stepped up and overtook them, showing their class all the way.
Hawthorn 18.10 (118) embarrassed St Kilda 9.10 (64)
Dull match, and a sad way for Robert Harvey, St Kilda champion, to leave the game.
Grand Final preview
Well… Hawthorn v Geelong next weekend for the Cup. This is what everyone thought would happen ten weeks ago, and here it is. Hawthorn, led by Buddy Franklin, against a team that works as a team. It’s going to be good, harking back to the memorable clashes between the two in the 1989 Grand Final. This should be the match of the year.
SANFL
Sturt’s Luke Crane won the SANFL’s Magery Medal for best and fairest player of 2008, with South Adelaide’s James Boyd a pleasantly surprising second and Glenelg’s Ty Allen in third. A thoroughly deserved prize for a young man who is bound to be snatched up in the AFL draft by a club that will misuse him so that he’ll be back at Sturt a shattered man in five years’ time. Or is that a little too cynical? I for one hope he stays in SA and plays real football, not the sterile version of the so-called national league.
Second Semi-Final
Central Districts 16.0 (105) def Glenelg 11.9 (75)
Despite the five goal margin, an entertaining and quote tight game. So Glenelg now go on to face Sturt, while Central Districts is straight into the Grand Final. However, by my reckoning, this semi-final has just been a preview of the Grand Final… and I wouldn’t be betting on the result being the same…
First Semi-Final
Sturt 19.19 (133) destroyed Norwood 9.8 (62)
And so Sturt progress, and Norwood are eliminated.

Rugby League
The Brisbane Broncos, hot on the heels of three (possibly four) players facing a sexual assault investigation, now has a new scandal – Darren Lockyer has been allegedly videoed tackling a bar-manager. His excuse is that it is not him on the CCTV footage. Oh, hang on, new CCTV footage has emerged, and suddenly he remembers doing it, but says it was ‘a joke’. Add to this the rumours / allegations of a Bronco player ‘rampage’ and life’s not looking too good in Queensland. But, with a do-or-die final this weekend, the question really has to be asked: What in the hell were players doing going out drinking and carousing at this time of the year? When faced with this question, Broncos’ CEO Bruno Cullen said that the media was out to get them, because the Queensland netball captain was caught drink-driving and she was not pilloried. So the Broncos believe drink-driving (not good) is as bad as sexual assault (putrid)? Another example of footballers being the thickest, most obnoxious people on earth. But all is not lost because the Queensland police minister has said that Queenslanders should support them anyway. Guess who’s going to get away with it?
Finals:
Melbourne 16 def Brisbane 14
A last second try stole the victory for Melbourne, but, let’s face it, after the results this year and Brisbane’s disgraceful week, unless you’re a Queenslander, it was the right result.
Warriors 30 hammered Sydney Roosters 13
A dull game, but sets the Warriors up well for next week.

Basketball
The season has started with quite the whimper: no free-to-air TV rights, little real publicity, and confusing reports as to the league’s stability. A report has just been released recommending that the NBL, which has been around for many, many years in one form or another, be scrapped to make way for a new elite men’s and women’s competition, possibly involving a lot more of Asia. But which clubs will go and which will stay, if any? Everything is up in the air, casting a long shadow of doom across everyone and everything this season. In Adelaide we have the additional problem of the basketball reporter in our only daily newspaper being a guy who uses lingo to be down with the kids but sounds like the sad uncle who tries to be cool at your twenty-first, and uses so many inside terms and inside jokes that reading his columns is a strange exercise in alternate reality. And then there is the problem of Melbourne blatantly rorting the salary cap and the NBL refusing to police their own rules in this regard. Wow. Looks like it’s gonna be a good year on the boards in Australia!!
NBL Results – Round 1
South Dragons 97 def. Perth 81
New Zealand 114 def. Wollongong 93
Adelaide 36ers 109 def. Townsville Crocodiles 82
Cairns Taipans 85 def. Gold Coast Blaze 75
Melbourne Tigers 92 def. Gold Coast Blaze 76
Wollongong Hawks111 def. Sydney Spirit 99
Perth Wildcats 87 lost to South Dragons 91

Soccer
Adelaide United held the Kashima Antlers to a 1-1 draw in the away leg of their Asian Champions League quarterfinal. Our goal-keeper was the difference. And a 0-0 draw or win at home will see Adelaide U through to the semi-final stage. A very good result for a team those on the eastern seaboard complained was allowed into the elite competition in the first place. But in Australia, if you’re not from Sydney or Melbourne, you don’t matter. A classic example of this was a profile on the Australian men’s gymnastics team where the sole South Australian representative was barely mentioned, and did not appear in the team photos, despite a really good showing. Ah-hem. Sorry.
            On a similar note, some Melbourne moron spat at an Adelaide player in the A-League and his defence was that the TV coverage which showed the incident was actually wrong. He got nine weeks, and they’re appealing the decision. But he’s from Melbourne, so he’ll probably get away with it; if he was from Adelaide he would have been rubbed out for life.
Results Round 5
Queensland Roar FC 0 lost to Newcastle Jets FC 1
Sydney FC 3 def Adelaide United FC 0
Again, the national league not giving consideration to Adelaide, who had just flown back from their Asia Cup commitments only to be sent interstate for another clash. If Sydney had been in the Asia Cup at this time, then they would have had a week off. Just saying…
Central Coast Mariners FC 2 drew Melbourne Victory FC 2
Perth Glory FC 1 beat Wellington Phoenix FC 0

Cycling
It appears that Lance Armstrong is going to be starting his Pro Tour comeback next year with South Australia’s own Tour Down Under, which is quite a coup for the state if it is true. In our first year as a member of the Pro Tour, this sort of competitor will really help give the event the profile it needs. Enough for the Eastern states to try and poach it like they do most other events that succeed in SA (see the Formula One Grand Prix and 3-Day International Horse Trial). But for now it goes through some of the more picturesque parts of SA, and with Mr. Armstrong along to give it not only some much-needed international exposure, but also to give the other athletes a real challenge and riding goal, this could be the best Tour so far.

Baseball
This is serious. We got some US baseball news this week in Australia. What was it? Multiple choice time!! Was it:
(a) The Cubs making the playoff in back-to-back seasons for the first time in a hundred years?
(b) MLB’s Hurricane Ike relief fund?
(c) Alex Rodriguez and his wife reach a humungous divorce settlement?
If you guessed (c), you know all you need to about Australian sporting media; if you guessed (a) or (b) then you have seriously over-estimated how much baseball is followed outside of the USA.

And that’s still the view from down here.

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