The FFA Cup is the Best Thing That Has Ever Happened in Australian Football

Forget John Aloisi’s penalty. Forget making the second round of the World Cup in Germany. Forget just about everything Tim Cahill has ever done.

The FFA Cup is the best thing that has ever happened in Australian football (see headline – not hyperbole) and I will tell you why: South Springvale SC.

A self proclaimed ‘pub team’, South Springvale went on a giant killing run just to qualify for the bloody thing and have just slain another giant, South Cardiff (maybe not a giant in the grand scheme of things, but it’s all relative isn’t it?), to progress to the round of 16.

To sum this team up, their captain didn’t realise the competition they won in order to qualify – the Dockerty Cup – even provided a pathway to doing so. I imagine that must have been a delightful little surprise. Like discovering with a bit of yoga and a sturdy laundry basket, one can actually fellate oneself!

The possibilities...
The possibilities…

The reason this is all so fantastic for the future of Australian football is not just because it provides the romantic theatre of an underdog performing on the big stage, but because these blokes are genuine part-timers. There isn’t a player amongst them who is living off his craft and finally the weekends, supposedly wasted chasing a ball around a bumpy suburban park, have paid off in some tangible sense.

The girlfriends lost; the Friday night booze sessions abandoned early; the absolute lack of sympathy when you come limping into work on a Monday – they have now all been worth it for this one shot at the big show.

I am someone who has never played a competitive fixture of the round-ball game in his life, but am now seriously considering signing on to a club next year. How hard can it be? I’m a tall guy, I can just stand in the box and head-butt anything that comes my way. Sure I might get a red card or two, but fuck it, score enough goals and all is forgiven.

My slightly delusional attitude will no doubt be indicative of every 25-35 year old male in this country who is finally coming to terms with the fact he will never be a professional sportsman. We all have our reasons why we didn’t make it and I assure you very few will admit they just weren’t good enough.

It’s either injuries, bad luck, or a European drug trafficking charge that stand in your way, and in a very real sense this is often the case. How many talented guys do you know who didn’t ‘make it’ because they didn’t really try? And how many less than talented guys are running around in first grade because they had little else to do?

"He could have made it all the way"
“He could have made it all the way”

The FFA creates a whole new opportunity for a generation of frustrated wannabes who didn’t quite cut the mustard. Suddenly there is a chance, however slim, of playing in a game that actually means something once again.

The great tragedy is that football/soccer is the only game in which the concept will actually work. Let’s face it, there are too many grubs running about in the lower levels of rugby union, rugby league and Aussie Rules to let those teams wrangle with upper echelon. They would adopt a I can’t be them, so I’m going to fuck them up mentality that could potentially end careers and I have no doubt is responsible for 90% of (non-sexual) nightclub incidents involving footballers.

So I am wholeheartedly getting behind South Springvale SC. Even thought I have absolutely no idea where in Victoria Springvale is. I will bleed for this club. I will arc up for this club. I will even buy the jersey of this club, because in three years when no one remembers who they are, just think of how fucking niche and hip that will be.

By Alasdair McClintock

2 Guys Redux: The Ian Higgins Show featuring TPA’s Dave J. Edwards

Every week, The Public Apology founder Dave J. Edwards appears in a guest slot on a popular Sydney FM radio program: The Ian Higgins Show. It is hosted, unsurprisingly, by Ian Higgins.

Some readers may remember that Higgins and Edwards co-helmed the critically acclaimed 2 Guys Podcast.  Sadly, the 2 Guys show ended when Edwards moved to Melbourne earlier this year.

But the 2 Guys legacy lives on. Despite the tyranny of distance, the team still reunites every week on the radio to talk absolute unmitigated rubbish at length – and with conviction – on topics they are completely unqualified to discuss.

In this week’s conversation, Higgins and Edwards discuss the Commonwealth Games and the Super 15 Final, with tangents ranging from the Gaza bombings to whether VVS Laxman should be awarded a Commonwealth Gold medal for wristy flicks off off-stump.

We will attempt to bring you these absurd, oft-litigious conversations every week, where possible, as an accessory to The Public Apology’s own dedicated podcast, TPA Live.

The Swans Are A Successful European Immigrant

Australia didn’t take too kindly to outsiders back in the day.

Various wartime atrocities over the past 100 years have seen millions of outsiders flock to Australia in search of a new life, new beginnings, new possibilities.

These immigrants have all contributed towards the rich, diverse, globalised society that we now live in. However, in many cases, at least at first blush, these outsiders were viewed as a threat, both economically and on a social/cultural level.

Of course, this is not an Australia-specific problem; indeed, it is probably Europe itself that has harboured the most antipathy towards migrants.

Whether its France’s racist Front National leader Jean Marie Le Pen or the concerning new wave of Neo-Nazis in Germany, Europe still retains its cultural and economic Edward Said-esque fear of the ‘other’.

Edward Said reference in a Swans article
An Edward Said reference in a Swans article? I’d like to see that.

Back to sport, though. As we all remember, the bullish, circa-2005 Sydney Swans presented a significant social and cultural threat to the AFL heartland. The Swans, with their ‘dour’, ‘lock-down’ stoppage tactics, changed the way the game was played.

These accusations went on for some time. However, the Swans’ unique style of play undoubtedly changed the face of the game.

Premierships followed – and today, this anti-‘Sydney’* sentiment suddenly seems outdated and borderline racist, like an Alabama redneck’s unshakeable conviction that Barack Obama is a African-born Muslim.

*  *  *  *  *  *

It is worth noting that – not even that long ago – the San Antonio Spurs faced criticism for being ‘boring’. Americans were used to LeBron’s style basketball; all primal muscularity, alley oops and posterisations. The Spurs were anything but muscular and dynamic. Tellingly, they consist predominantly of overseas imports, each bringing a different style of play to the NBA. 

Now the Spurs’ simple, ‘pass first’ mentality is being celebrated league-wide; their style of play is seen as pure, team-oriented, and anything but boring. Tim Duncan’s post-play is a masterclass in body work; Tony Parker’s paint penetration and shot selection is clinical; Manu Ginobli’s ‘Eurostep’ is sublime.

Amen
Amen

Personally, I believe the Spurs are the most watchable team in the NBA – even if they lack an ESPN highlights machine like LeBron (although Kawhi Leonard serves as an excellent lite version of the King).

The efficient use of spacing that the Spurs employ is, in many respects, similar to how the Swans revolutionised the game of AFL through their focus on stoppages.

Initially, this disruption caused many to fear the change that would sweep through the AFL. But, as LinkedIn will tell you, a business that fails to embrace change and disruption is one destined to fail.

This style of play genuinely posed a social/cultural threat to AFL in the eyes of your average Melbournian.

*  *  *  *  *  *

The cultural threat was very real. But an economic fear was magnified earlier this year, when chief Southern hick Eddie McGuire whinged about Sydney’s “cost of living” exemption.

Now, the latest uproar is to do with the Swans’ Academy, which gives Sydney “first dibs” on potential draft picks. As such, the AFL is now considering changing the bidding system for draft picks.

In response, the Swans this week threatened to scale down their ‘investment’ in developing the game in NSW, should the AFL change the system and force the club to pay a higher fee for “prize recruits,” according to no less than The Age journo Caroline Wilson.

Hilariously, The Age recently called for calm, publishing the following headline in order to allay fears among Victorians: Why The Swans Academy is Nothing to be Scared Of

Bloated, red-faced, and scared.
Bloated, red-faced, and scared.

But it’s true: Victorians really are scared. Because the Swans are a European immigrant doing their bit; making good in this New World, only to be subjected to various discrimination and hate crime on the sheer basis that they are foreign, different, and, most importantly, successful.

By challenging the status quo, the Swans are now fighting the possibility of rules specifically invented to stop them from succeeding. It’s classic US-style protectionism; it’s bullshit.

As we all know, the Swans were transplanted to Sydney in the 1980s. It was the only way the club could survive. Penniless and in a new foreign land, the Swans struggled for decades, finally reaching their lofty premiership-winning heights in the mid-2000s.

The Swans, while an old European immigrant, are nonetheless incredibly modern and forward thinking. They’ve adapted to the modern climate, challenging as it were, yet have come up trumps. In a few short years, they’ve learned English, opened up a profitable small business, and sent their kids to an elite private school.

The AFL should understand and embrace the fact that the modern-day Swans are different. That they are the definition of the son of a European immigrant come good, like a George Calombaris, Mark Bouris, or ‘Crazy’ Ron Bakir.

The Sydney Swans have succeeded – and the AFL, as football’s chief custodian, should be proud of that. But they should not cut them off at the knees just because that little cornershop is now turning a profit.

By Dave Edwards 

* Sydney is a social construct. What is ‘Sydney’ anyway? Is it a glamorous, superficial vixen, or is it hardnosed, clamp-down midfield pressure resulting in AFL premierships? We will discuss what ‘Sydney’ means in future articles, don’t you worry.