It appears that Channel Nine has “bowed to public pressure” and has decided to bring back Phil Gould’s “iconic final word” for the State of Origin decider.
There’s something inherently hilarious about a man – who’s certainly nudging, if not well exceeding, the age of 50 – standing alone under the goalposts pouring his heart out over “the true meaning of State of Origin”, in a completely un-ironic way, in front of a national TV audience and capacity crowd.
I once hated Gould, but as my appreciation for rugby league and State of Origin has waned over the years to the point where zero fucks are now given, I can now see the value in this old bastard. Because I don’t want any surprises this Wednesday night.
State of Origin – and rugby league in general – thrives on predictability. In a State of Origin match, we, the public, expect to see a mean of 1.5 fights per match (usually occurring around the 35 minute mark and providing an excellent half-time talking point for Peter Sterling etc), three Greg Inglis line-breaks, and at least one Ray Warren reference to Mark Coyne’s “try of the century/miracle try” in the 1994 Origin series.
We are a conservative nation. We embrace nostalgia like a long-lost cousin and constantly pine for the “good old days,” despite the fact that “things have never been so good.” Look at the frighteningly effective influence that Tony Abbott’s dual campaign of fear and nostalgia for 1950s values is having in several marginal Labor seats, for example.
And Channel Nine, the
crafty old fucker astute broadcaster, knows this. Whether it’s the Underbelly franchise, the Howzat/Paper Giants/upcoming Packer v Murdoch mini-series or the fact that it has maintained THE EXACT SAME CRICKET COMMENTARY TEAM FOR 35 YEARS, Channel Nine understands the value of tradition, and comfort in the past.
And so it is, despite there only being 55 members of the Facebook Group ‘Bring Back Phil Gould’s Pre-Origin Speech’, Gus will stand beneath the uprights this Wednesday night, his voice quavering with emotion as he delivers his patented Origin rant to millions of TV viewers.
And he’ll look like a fucking idiot doing it, as usual. But we asked for it, apparently.
By Dave Edwards