The View From Down Here #54

A weekend of sport. Training resumes for me next week so I’ll actually have an excuse to peel my fat arse off the couch and do something physical (beyond being tortured by a personal trainer) instead of just watching others…

Cricket
English Tour
Australia 8(dec)/308 & 3(dec)/270; Northamptonshire 7(dec)/226 & 217 – Australia won by 135 runs
            Australia had a reasonable hit-out here before the next Ashes Test, but nothing in this game really indicated any hopes that Australia can reverse the result from the last test match.
            Okay, yes, Australia won this three-day game, thanks to a lot of sporting declarations. Mind you, though the win means absolutely nothing in this Ashes campaign apart from giving a few so-called second-string players a chance to play, it is rather interesting to note that Michael Hussey was acting captain – no Ricky Ponting in sight – and so the win may mean something after all…

Australian Rules Football
AFL Round Seventeen
            This the so-called ‘Rivalry Round’. Now, some of these matches – the local derbies between the two Western Australian teams or South Australian teams, Melbourne v Sydney, Carlton v Collingwood – I have no issues with being called rivalries. The ideas behind them go beyond sport to class, culture and other things. But others are simply contrived to fit a round of football. And the Rivalry Round logo is dominated by a large letter V. For those not from Australia, this is actually quite a slap in the face to the non-Victorian clubs, as it accentuates the old VFL (which is really all the so-called AFL is) and ignores the fact that football is played across Australia. But Melbourne and its football-obsessed inhabitants tend to forget that, thinking that before the advent of the AFL in the 1990s football was not played anywhere else. And so they treat interstate (non-Victorian) clubs like crap and give money after money to the Victorian clubs in an over-saturated market. That’s the real rivalry – AFL versus real football.
            In my opinion Rivalry Round should also include something the NRL has – a State of Origin match between Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Allied Australian States. Pair them off. The next year, the two winners play, and the two losing teams. Keep doing that. You’re not going to get the same match-ups two years in a row and it might actually be interesting. But they won’t do it because Victoria knows that the Victorian team will be the perennial loser in all of this…
            Onto the results of VFL round:
Carlton 4.16 (4) def by Collingwood 14.10 (94)
            One-sided when it should have been so much closer. Carlton were exposed as pretenders this year by this result, and Collingwood scored an impressive win. This should seal their top four spot.
Geelong 15.9 (99) def Hawthorn 14.14 (98)
            Wow! I mean, wow! This was an edge of your seat sort of game. I could not stop watching. It was brilliant and if you can get a chance to watch a replay, do so. The only downside was Hawthorn’s shocking inaccuracy in front of goal, but a lot of that was due to Geelong’s defensive pressure. But Geelong showed its class, coming from behind at the third quarter break to win by one point.
Fremantle 10.11 (71) def West Coast 8.18 (66)
            More shocking goal kicking. Fremantle can’t win… except against West Coast. They seem to have the wood over their Western Australian rivals, but really this means very little for either team this year.
Brisbane 17.14 (116) def North Melbourne 11.9 (75)
            A good win for the Lions, and North Melbourne were shown to have a lot of cracks in their armour. They will need some wholesale changes if they hope to be a genuine finals contender next year.
St Kilda 16.10 (106) def Western Bulldogs 9.7 (61)
            Every week St Kilda look more and more unbeatable. Just like Geelong last year. And then they lost the grand final…
Melbourne 6.14 (50) def by Sydney 10.8 (68)
            Not a good game. Melbourne are not a good team at the moment and Sydney did enough to win.
Essendon 14.12 (96) def by Richmond 15.11 (101)
            Richmond’s latter half of the year resurgence continues, and this gives some good indication that they could well be a finalist come 2010.
Adelaide 19.18 (132) hammered Port Adelaide 9.8 (62)
            An absolute rout by Adelaide. They have bounced back well from last week’s loss to St Kilda, while Port Adelaide were shown to be the pretenders so many have thought they are this year. Adelaide look certain to make the finals, while Port must now rely not only on its own winning but also on other teams losing in order to be there come September. And it was a really disappointing game. Living in Adelaide, this match (called the ‘Showdown’, thanks to a beer company) gets the same sort of hype that grand finals get elsewhere. I actually know a player from the Crows who was involved in one of their grand final wins of the late 1990s, and he told me that the grand final was a little sour because they had lost to Port in a Showdown. Serious; it means that much to these people. I know, no perspective, but they only live for their sport so what can you expect? This game was the front of our local newspaper all week. Something may have happened somewhere else in the world, but we here in South Australia would not know about it because there was a football game on.
            And that brings me to one of the worst things about this whole overhype. There was an Adelaide team that was in the grand final of a truly national (international?) sporting competition, a sport played by more people in the world than Australian rules football, and with enough countries playing to not only have a World Cup but to be included in the Commonwealth Games. Yes, the Thunderbirds were in the netball grand final. But you would not have really known it because an overblown sport played really in one insignificant country in the world got more publicity for a regular season game. I’m not saying they got NO publicity; even Adelaide’s media is not that stupid. But the amount of publicity they received was really pitiful considering the level of competition involved.
            Now, to be fair, I don’t support either team (I follow Sydney and have for nigh on thirty years) but the hype this one simple game gets goes beyond mere fandom. It is as though our entire state lives its life vicariously through the fortunes of its two AFL football teams and when one defeats the other half the state goes into mental meltdown. I like sport (obviously) but even I cannot see the point of putting your entire life into this one game just so you can brag about it to your fellow work-mates for six months. But South Australia has an immature ego and a small-persons (small-states?) complex and so this has become the norm here. We have to do things bigger and better otherwise we… something. Pathetic, isn’t it?
SANFL Round Seventeen
Woodville-West Torrens 13.6 (84) def North Adelaide 9.13 (67)
            Not a good game, but it kept the Eagles up there while showing that North Adelaide still has a long way to go and really will be making up the numbers if they make it to the finals. And I’ll say it again – dumping Andrew Jarman as coach was the worst move North ever made.
Glenelg 11.15 (81) drew with Central Districts 12.9 (81)
            Another draw! A good game from arguably the two top teams this year. This indicates that any finals match between these two is going to go down to the wire, and means we should have an awesome finals serries in 2009.
Sturt 19.15 (129 hammered Port Adelaide 5.7 (37)
            Port just couldn’t take a trick in either competition, could they? Sturt showed once more why it is one of the top three sides, and I repeat – this year’s finals series is going to be one of the best for years. Throw the Eagles into the mix as well and you have four teams, literally any of which could conceivably win. I am looking forward to this year!
Norwood 14.10 (94) def South Adelaide 7.9 (51)
            South come close to the top teams, meet another lower ranked team and are soundly beaten? I don’t understand it. This, alas, was another not very good game.
Bye: West Adelaide

Netball
Finals – Grand Final
Melbourne Vixens 54 def Adelaide Thunderbirds 46
            While the Vixens did dominate the game, the Thunderbirds were far from disgraced. It was also not the best game these teams have played this year, and a lot of that I think was due to the nerves being felt by all the players. And maybe that was why some of the umpiring decisions were not the best, either, especially where Adelaide was concerned. But that is by the by – Melbourne deserved the victory after what has been a really outstanding year. Both these teams should feature prominently again in next year’s Trans-Tasman Netball Competition and it’s going to be a shame not being able to spend my Sunday afternoons watching the ladies play their fast-paced, tactical, awesome sport.
            Next we have a few test matches around Australia, and I hope to be getting to the one in Adelaide. And for those in the United States, get this game. It moves much faster than basketball and I think is a much better spectacle.

Rugby League
NRL Round 20
Manly 44 hammered Newcastle 20
Gold Coast 34 hammered Brisbane 18
Bulldogs 8 hammered by Parramatta 27
North Queensland 20 def by (not hammered) Penrith 28
Melbourne 30 hammered (yep!) Cronulla 10
Canberra 4 hammered by Wests Tigers 25
Warriors 4 hammered by St George Illawarra 29
South Sydney 40 hammered Sydney Roosters 20
            Two good wins in a row means you know Souths are going to collapse in a screaming heap next week.
Yes, a lot of lop-sided scores this round. And the three games I watched were not good ones…

Swimming
All swimmers at the FINA World Championships are cheats.
            Rule 10 of the FINA code states that swimmers are not to wear anything that aids buoyancy.
            But these suits clearly do, I’ve seen ad hoc demonstrations of their abilities to do so, sand so these swimmers are cheats.
            And FINA is gutless for letting them all get away with it. Or maybe just greedy because of the money these swimsuit companies ‘donate’ to the sport.
            Before you get all high and mighty about new technologies, that misses the point. Swimming is not a sport about technology. It is one person against another to see who is the fastest in the water. It is pure human competition. Well, it used to be. Now it’s who has the best suit. Swimming is not Formula One car racing; technology is not what the sport is about.
            Swimming used to be a sport.
            Now it’s bullshit.

Auto-Racing
Formula One
Hungarian Grand Prix

1st Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2nd Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
3rd Mark Webber (Red Bull)
            Yes, another podium finish for Webber, meaning his is now just 18.5 points behind leader Jenson Button of Brawn. He is definitely racing like everyone said he would five years ago.

Rugby Union
Tri-Nations
Next Tri-Nations match does not involve Australia.
South Africa 28 def New Zealand 19
            I have to say that this result does not bode well for Australia in this year’s Tri-Nations series. I can see South Africa and New Zealand exchanging home wins and Australia struggling to keep up. Of course, I could be wrong as rugby union never seems to go the way you expect it to…

Sporting Morons
Okay, last week we had none, unfortunately this week…
            And I won’t be making smart-arse comments this week either…
Shane Martin (cricket): This former cricketing legend (a winner of the prestigious Bradman medal) faced court this week after stealing in order to feed his gambling problem.
Kane Allen (football): Kane plays for a regional team in South Australia, but he is regarded as one of the best in his area. However, he has now been charged with the murder of his ex-wife.
            There is another (a few?) pending, as it seemed that before the third State of origin game in the rugby league, several Queensland players were taking cocktails of drugs, alcohol and high energy drinks. Yet more to come… maybe…
Tally: 34

(Brief) CD Review
It’s been a while, but here is a great album from an under-rated Australian artist. I bought it two months ago, and have decided to share my joy:
Mixtape by Kram
            Kram is the drummer/singer with one of my favourite Australian bands Spiderbait. Their song Shazam is one of my preferred workout songs (along with You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC and Eruption by Van Halen), while their cover of Black Betty ranks amongst the best remakes this decade. However, this is his first solo album and it is as eclectic as his old band’s releases. This is not to say it is just a rebranded Spiderbait album. It is different in many regards. Not better, not worse, but different.
            Only one or two tracks did not sit well with me, but those that did were fantastic. The styles vary from ballads to rockers to a bit of country to everything in between. My personal favourite track – ‘Thankyou Mr Ludwig’ – is an instrumental drumming track that really rocks. But there are so many other great songs here: Good Love; Turn A Light On; Silk Suits; Live A Long Time; Satellite; Get To It; Down The Line… All great stuff. I hope it’s available on Amazon because you really need to hear this guy.

 And that’s the view and the accompanying audio!

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