Liam Jurrah Snares March Guildford Award

With so many outstanding performers this month, the much-lauded Guildford Award could have gone to anyone.

We’ve had anus stuffing drug trafficking, public arguments over the price of hookers in the West (completely unreasonable I’m assured), vomiting on teammates and lunching with the opposition after being sent home, and TPA favourite Mario Balotelli once again in fine form crashing press conferences, arguing with fellow players and liaising with known home-wrecking Rooney-bonking escorts.

Stupendous stuff!

But given the TPA team (or, more specifically, our Chief Editor) loves nothing more than justified violence, tribal warfare, and one’s actions inadvertently bringing a whole football club to their knees, the March Guildford Award goes to…

Liam Jurrah!

Balotelli’s late charge not enough to land second Guildford

Melbourne Demons forward Jurrah, also known as ‘Jungarrayi’ – an initiated member of the Warlpiri people – or the “Warlpiri Wizard”, was arrested earlier this month for allegedly assaulting a 35-year-old with a machete in the Northern Territory. It is understood Jurrah was caught up in a family dispute that has split the small Yuendumu community ever since a childhood friend of The Wizard was stabbed to death in 2010.

Fair dues, if someone stabbed one of your mates, you’d probably want to hack at their family members with a machete too – perfectly reasonable reaction.

The attack and subsequent charges laid initially reignited the debate on what right “Whitey” has to meddle with Indigenous justice, and why our system of law – now some 200 years old – is more applicable to an area where tribal law has reigned for thousands of years.

That was to be expected.

What was not expected was the subsequent fallout within the club itself, with rumours circulated (by their own staff no less) that Coach Mark Neeld treated indigenous players differently to their teammates and racism was rife throughout the AFL. These allegations have since been proven false (well the Neeld one anyway), but the Demons cause has been given no favours by major sponsor and all-round douchebag Ben Polis being caught out posting several racist and defamatory rants on the bane of the not-quite-famous-enough-for-anyone-to-care-about-me-until-I-screw-up crowd, Facebook.

Polis, “a fucking cockhead”

Some of Polis’ gems include:

My Chinese cleaners must think I’m a bad man. 3pm lying naked on my bed, still asleep. “Ben we clean” yes fucking clean unless your (sic) here to bring me Chinese takeaway!

And:

Asian girls add no value to society apart from insurance premiums because they can’t drive. And after you go back to their house, you can take their bike and ride home!!!!!! Anyone for rice, I said eggs ding dong wong!

Bad grammar aside, what the fuck does the last one even mean? Jurrah grew up speaking four different dialects, as well as English, and this bloke can’t even peg down one!

To this point The Wizard has remained quiet during the turmoil, but when contacted by TPA he assured us he was “honoured” to receive the prestigious award and looked forward to drinking a quiet beer out of the golden schooner trophy.

“Cheers”

It is unknown when he will return to the football field, but we can only hope it is soon enough to fully enjoy watching Ben Polis’ life crash down around him.

To The Wizard, the spoils! And long live the Warlpiri people!

By Al McClintock

Wooing Western Sydney: the great arms race

It appears that Western Sydney is growing too fast for its own good, with yet another sporting team announced for the burgeoning, sports-mad region. But as hungry chief executives expand into Sydney’s most lucrative market, they agree to enter an arms race from which there can only be one winner.

The densely populated region has already proven a magnet for new sporting franchises, with AFL and cricket executives planting their seeds in the area with the Greater Western Sydney and Sydney Thunder Big Bash outfits, respectively. And this morning, Football Federation Australia has revealed its decision to include a new Sydney team in next year’s competition – at the likely expense of Gold Coast United.

While the FFA will directly fund the club, the federal government is very complicit in this drive to cash in on Western Sydney. It is understood that Prime Minister Julia Gillard will chip in some A$3 million of taxpayers money to redevelop the Football NSW headquarters at Parklea, and a further $5m to grow soccer in the western suburbs, funding infrastructure and training programs for children. Fox Sports has reported that $1m will specifically go towards growing the women’s game and backing a potential W-League team for the new club.

Western Sydney kids to receive more grassroots programs

Now much like China’s economy and a certain former Big Brother contestant’s mammaries, Sydney’s west is growing at a frightening yet impressive rate. New housing estates are rolled out on a near-daily basis, while teenagers continue to indulge in unprotected sex with alarming nonchalance. And with the population surging like Rick Santorium in an Alabama primary, it stands to reason that execs from all of Australia’s major sporting codes see the region as an answer to all their revenue woes. Demetriou, Buckley, Sutherland, et al, are all lining up to take turns sucking on the proverbial teets of this cash cow. And why wouldn’t they? Nothing is more alluring right now than the dirt brown, needle-ridden pastures west of the Harbour.

Of course,  success is not assured for any of these codes. Like standing next to an attractive woman at a nightclub, location is only half the battle. Despite the glitz and glamour of the Warwick Capper days, the AFL was forced to bail out the Sydney Swans in the early 90s as the team struggled to attract 10,000 fans to a game. The Gold Coast may be beautiful one day and perfect the next, but the Gold Coast United A-League side will get the axe next year and their NRL counterparts are not far behind them, a product of lousy administration and embarassingly low attendance rates.

Capper's exit left the Swans in murky (but less gay) waters

And that’s why each code is attempting to win the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s generation. The grassroots programs that the AFL has – and the FFA will – put in place directly target the youths of Liverpool, Fairfield and Blacktown. But those aforementioned suburbs represent, on paper at least, soccer’s true heartland. Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton and Tim Cahill all hail from Sydney’s west. Thousands of juniors head out each weekend to compete in soccer competitions. AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou’s audacious bid for soccer – and rugby league – heartland is exactly that: fucking audacious. But it is this audacity that has made the AFL what it is today: the fastest growing sport in Australia, in terms of fan base.

But does the A-League announcement represent a true fastigium, a tipping point, in terms of how much sport Western Sydney can handle? Are there enough pages in the Daily Telegraph, for example, to cover all these sports in equal measure; enough nightclubs for these newly relocated athletes to go out and party at without putting the public at risk? The answer to both questions is, probably, no. Children, as a rule, commit to one sport early in life – and see it through to the grave. As the late notorious paedophile Robert ‘Dolly’ Dunn once said to a fellow inmate in jail, “getting them early is the key.” At the risk of establishing a paedophilic motif (surely the first time one has used that phrase?), the next decade or so will see a lot of men in suits visiting Western Sydney, thrusting new – and often oddly shaped – balls in the hands of children, telling them to play around and “see how it feels.” But which balls they will gravitate towards is still anyone’s guess.

Beware of men in suits bearing balls

As for adults? Sure, you’ll get a few opportunistic coverts who want to be there from the start, to be “part of history,” to say they were there in a team’s foundation year. But most fully grown men are reluctant to jump on a bandwagon at the best of times, for switching sporting allegiance is like making a snap decision to “turn gay” or vice versa – not usually a decision taken lightly.

At least one code will utterly fail in their bid to expand outside metropolitan Sydney. And by fail, I mean over a certain number of years; clearly Buckley and Demetriou will herald their respective inaugural season as an adulterated success. But which sport will still be flourishing a decade from now, as each code clamours for a greater slice of the pie?

The AFL has the money, the nationwide reach and the will; be assured it will attempt to indoctrinate Western Sydney with the single-minded fervour of even the fiercest Christian missionary.  The A-League has the base to make it happen, but the competition lacks legitimacy following a truly horrible year off the field. Meanwhile, the NRL, as the incumbent, is nervously hanging onto its existing market share, watching the new entrants tussle like Britain and Argentina over the Falklands.

One thing’s for sure: like Hugh Hefner, Andrew Demetriou will die trying to penetrate [Western Sydney].

By Dave Edwards

Hindmarsh Retires As Gallop Mulls NRL Superannuation Reform

Parramatta legend Nathan Hindmarsh – the only man with more crack in his anus than Ben Cousins – will retire at the end of the season after a long and distinguished NRL career.

And the Parramatta legend’s retirement has forced the NRL to rejig its own policies regarding recently retired players, with CEO David Gallop set to enforce a mandatory retirement age and consider allowing unemployable ex-players early access to their superannuation funds on “compassionate grounds.”

OPINION/ANALYSIS: Hindmarsh’s decision reportedly came after he met with club officials, who had intended to strip the veteran of his captaincy – but not even the Parramatta board could bring themselves to demote the only player who looked like he even cared over their first four rounds. Instead they pushed him into early retirement and most probably an early grave (given his desperate love for playing rugby league) in a desperate attempt to get their season back on track.

A club that has had all the consistency of an alcoholic’s stools over the past few years continues to defy logic by pushing out the door the one consistency they’ve had. The antithesis of what is wrong with the club, Parramatta has cut off Hindmarsh’s head in a desperate attempt to motivate the bunch of overpaid showboating wannabes that make up the rest of the playing roster. Not including Luke Burt, of course – but given he is also on the outer and spending much of his time in reserve grade this year, it may be that he will also be forced to retire should the club experience another mid-season slump.

A sound analogy for the embattled NRL club

And a future slump is inevitable, no doubt, because while the ruse seemed to work on the weekend against the struggling premiers, it’s unlikely to last long given the rate of concussion amongst NRL players and the no doubt incredibly limited emotions and attention spans of Parramatta’s narcissistic stars. Indeed, Stephen Kearney may have to take the extraordinary step of reminding his players week in week out that Hindmarsh is retiring.

Other struggling clubs are expected to follow suit, but given the lack of one-club men these days it will be hard to get much emotional response from players and the public if someone like Timana Tahu retires – in fact they may be happy to see the back of him.

NRL MULLS NEW ‘RETIREMENT’ POLICIES: In the wake of several high-profile players retiring from the game, the NRL is making a new push to reimburse players who hang up their boots after a long and painful career. CEO David Gallop told The Public Apology that he is in talks with the Department of Human Services to allow recently retired players early access to their superannuation funds on “compassionate grounds.” In addition, the NRL boss is mulling the idea of enforcing a mandatory retirement age of 30 in an effort to reduce the rate of arthritis and brain injury among footballers.

Should his form lapse, Buderus wll be urged to go and enjoy his retirement

“I think that for too long we’ve neglected the need to look after NRL players once they retire. We’re considering lobbying the government to allow players access to their super once they finish playing in the NRL. God knows these blokes are unemployable once they step out into the real world,” Gallop said.

“Assuming they’re all on 9% superannuation for the entirety of their careers, each player would therefore have enough cash to indulge in casual gambling and RSL beers for the next 50 years of their life – and not have to worry about re-entering the workforce.”

Gallop said that the NRL had found players struggled to find ‘real jobs’ after they finished playing rugby league, which was leading to high rates of depression and in some cases – specifically John Elias – firearm possession charges, involvement in drugs trading and illegal betting rings.

“So that’s one of the reasons we’re looking at opening up super on compassionate grounds. But also, if you compare the NRL to every other industry in Australia where the mandatory retirement age is set at 65, we’re actually setting these guys up for an early grave! Rugby league is a physically demanding sport and we’ve got to take care of the boys.”

Elias, early super payouts may have saved him from a life of crime

“Shit, if I could lower the retirement age to 23 I would, but there’d be a fucking enormous outcry from the fans. If we cap it at 30 then at least the guys will be able to kick the footy around with their kids for a couple of years, that is, before their arthritis kicks in around 40,” Gallop added.

BUDERUS ‘RETIREMENT CLAUSE’: Meanwhile, The Public Apology can exclusively report that the Newcastle Knights inserted an unusual stipulation to Danny Buderus’ contract this season, known internally as  “the retirement clause.” The provision allows club officials to force the hooker to announce his retirement should the entire Knights season suddenly turn to shit.

The Knights’ innovative contract clause is set to spread across the NRL as clubs look to phase ageing players out of their rosters. TPA understands that the Brisbane Broncos have  conducted talks with Darren Lockyer in a bid to bring the legendary five-eighth back – just so he can retire again, following the success of last year’s charge to the finals. With Gerard Beale leaving the club and not likely to see much game-time (at least at fullback), it may just be safe for the stalwart to take a football field again.

Lockyer has so far refuted the claims, adding he is more than happy to be getting paid for doing next to nothing by Channel 9 – although Phil Gould’s noxious body odour in the commentary box “can be overwhelming.”

By Al McClintock with Dave Edwards