Mark Bresciano is to the Socceroos as George Harrison was to the Beatles

When folks debate who is the Best Beatle Of All Time (BBOAT), it’s generally a battle between John and Paul.

Typically, the argument hinges on which one was the better songwriter (Lennon’s lyrics vs McCartney’s melodies) or who had the more impressive character (Lennon’s rebellious activism vs McCartney’s clownish whimsy). The contest takes on further intensity when you consider the well-publicised animosity between the pair.

But if you ask the real connoisseurs, there is no argument: the best and coolest Beatle was George.

Languid, conscientious and cool as fuck, George Harrison was not only integral to the Beatles, but he easily made the greatest music post-Fab Four (see: Wilburys, Travelling; All Things Must Pass etc).

George was The Man. He was a pioneer in many ways, embracing eastern spiritualism, forming a Super Group (with Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison) that was genuinely good, and bedding Madonna in the 80s (among other rumoured sexual daliances).

George single-handedly popularised the selfie stick AND eastern spiritualism in western culture.
George also single-handedly popularised the selfie.

But historical revisionism from Martin Scorsese and music hipsters aside, it is likely Harrison will continue to remain under-appreciated by mainstream Beatles fans – forever the second banana to Lennon and McCartney.

Equally, it seems Socceroo Mark Bresciano, who announced his retirement from international football yesterday, is destined for a similar fate. A great, yet somehow underrated component of a superb group.

There is no doubt “Bresh” is a great Socceroo. As a member of Australia’s Golden Generation, he has been an ever-present fixture in a Socceroos side that qualified for three consecutive World Cups and recently won its first piece of major silverware, the Asian Cup.

All up he represented his country 84 times, scoring 13 goals in the process.

But just as the order of the songwriting credits on Beatles songs aren’t what truly matters, neither are Bresciano’s statistics. What is important was his style. And he had it in bucket-loads.

Mark Bresciano: Overflowing with style
Mark Bresciano: Overflowing with style

Football is about many things, but at its essence it is about space and time. A footballer who can control those precious commodities the best will have the most success.

No Australian footballer has ever mastered the temporal and spatial confines of the pitch like Bresh did. A drop of the shoulder here, a feint there, a flick of the outside of the boot there, and the man could conjure room amidst a previously-crowded pitch. Enough room to turn, make a pass, and change a game.

In doing so, Bresh made the national side tick. And while his playing time diminished by the time the 2015 Asian Cup came around, his mere presence in the side no doubt inspired the younger players (including his heir apparent, Massimo Luongo) to their greatest glory to date.

But like an underappreciated Beatle, it seems likely that Bresciano won’t be regarded by the mainstream as the Best Socceroo Of All Time (BSOAT).

The media are one more headed goal away from bestowing that title on Tim Cahill (John Lennon), having only recently lost their infatuation with Harry Kewell (Paul McCartney).

Australia's McCartney and Lennon had a much friendlier relationship than the original pair.
Australia’s McCartney and Lennon had a much friendlier relationship than the original pair.

While these two are great footballers, they have both intentionally sought the lime-light (as is their right). Their goals, and the fact they played in the English Premier League, only further heighten their public appeal – and claims to being the BSOAT.

In contrast, Bresciano has seemed content to avoid fame and focus on his football. While he has never been shy of scoring goals, his decision to, until recently, ply his trade in the Italian Serie A (when the competition was genuinely one of the best in the world) has had the effect of hiding his accomplishments at the club level from Australian TV audiences.

Despite his talent, success and contribution to the national team, it appears Mark Bresciano will be remembered like George: a cool-as-fuck connoisseurs’ choice, chronically under-appreciated by the mainstream.

While his goal against Uruguay in the World Cup qualifier in 2005 may not be ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ or ‘Penny Lane’, it’s still ‘Something’.

By Ben Shine

A Trio Of Metaphors To Describe The Gold Coast Titans

The NRL has today announced it will take ownership of the embattled Gold Coast Titans, in the the wake of the drug scandal engulfing the club.

Hot on the back of this news, The Public Apology’s Dave Edwards, Sam Perry and Ben Shine have each proposed their unique take on the crisis – in our favourite form, the metaphor.

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Dave Edwards: The Gold Coast rugby league franchise is street corner real estate in the CBD…

It seems like a great idea. There will be heaps of foot traffic due to the prime location. Busy office workers have been crying out for a quality lunch-time option.

It starts its life as a popular cafe, but quickly loses traction due to poor customer service, and before you know it, it’s been replaced with a sushi shop.

The sushi shop is initially well-received, with health-conscious corporates flocking in droves to sample their brown rice rolls with salmon and avocado. However, the gentle Japanese immigrant owners fail to handle the fast-paced, cut-throat nature of CBD food service and soon enough, a Pie Face takes over.

Misjudged the market.
Misjudged the market.

In the first six months, the new Pie Face seems to be thriving, but initial enthusiasm eventually wanes, as it customarily does with Pie Face franchises. Soon the shop front is boarded up, and there’s a ‘For Lease’ sign out the front of the store.

It seems strategically important to have a rugby league team up on the Gold Coast, especially given the recent success of AFL side the Gold Coast Suns. But we’ve seen the Giants, the Seagulls and the Chargers all come and go over the years.

Maybe it’s time to knock the place down and turn it into a serviced apartment complex? Retail just isn’t working here.

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Sam Perry: The the NRL is a teacher that plays ‘favourites’…

The Gold Coast Titans have been taking the piss for a decade. Yet despite their history of poor behaviour, they remain the teacher’s pet.

The teacher simply can’t get enough of the Gold Coast – turning a blind eye, defending them in front of class and getting others in trouble when they complain.

Mr Smith appreciated his daily apple, a gift from his Golden pupil.
Mr Smith appreciated his daily apple, a gift from his Golden pupil.

In contrast, kids behaving similarly, like Norths, Wests and Balmain, keep getting busted. And when they do, the punishment is harsh.

After a bit of mucking around (financially), Norths were unceremoniously kicked out of class (rugby league) altogether. Meanwhile, Wests and Balmain, two students constantly at war with one another, were forced to share a desk for the rest of the term.

With a teacher prone to harsh and inconsistent punishments, nobody in the class can understand why the Gold Coast continues to skate through trouble without getting so much as a detention.

It’s not fair, Miss.

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Ben Shine: The Gold Coast Titans are the US auto industry in 2008…

The Gold Coast Titans are Too Big To Fail.

Like banks, secondary mortgage lenders and US car manufacturers following the Global Financial Crisis, the NRL has decided rugby league on the Gold Coast is too important to lose. So it’s bailing them out.

In 2008, the US Government spent $50 billion to bail-out General Motors (as well as Chrysler). In doing so, they helped save fundamental components of the American Dream: blue collar jobs and American-made cars.

Auto workers: a national icon that had to be saved
Auto workers: a national icon that had to be saved

In bailing on the Titans on the Gold Coast, Dave Smith is helping save fundamental components of the NRL dream: a national code with large TV audiences in major cities.

But at what cost? The US Government lost $11.2 billion on its bailout of GM alone, and a lot of political support in the process.

How much is the NRL willing to spend to save their dream?

Time To Stop The War On Karmichael

And so the villagers descend. Burn the witch! Burn the witch! Riled up by a bunch of holier than thou journalists who are probably still coming down from last weekend’s bender. Motivated by a great sense of injustice that those privileged enough to play sport for a living should ever do anything to ever jeopardise it – “pay me $500k and I’d be the perfect little citizen!”

Well I call bullshit. On all of it. The hypocrisy. The lynch mob. The whole fucking thing.

Yes, I’m talking about the Karmichael Hunt thing that has surely now got to be more of a Gold Coast Titans thing and could go on to become something even more.

Robert Craddock’s suggestion last week that it was the blackest day in Queensland sport – and he said this before the Titans were even mentioned – was as naïve as it was sensationalised for ‘clicks’. This mad notion that drugs are the worst thing in society is just plain ridiculous. You know what’s worse? Systemic cheating. Beating your fucking pregnant girlfriend – twice. Yet that bloke is still running around playing in Queensland and people are calling for Hunt to never play again? I think we need to recheck our priorities.

The comments from Rugby League fans when only Hunt was named are in hindsight hilarious. “Not our problem.” “Glad he went to the AFL.” Etc, etc. Well where are those commentators now? No doubt adding to the gems such as “Send them to Bali!” “Ban them for life!”

Assertions that the players did it out of greed are also just plain ridiculous. I am not sure of the official definition of ‘drug dealer’, but to label them as such, as some media outlets have done (precluded of course by the obligatory ‘alleged’ before they go on to write an article that does anything but presume innocence), is both inflammatory and irresponsible.

stock-photo-drug-dealer-102995144
Our views on this issue are clearly as outdated as this man’s hoodie (SNAP!)

Four charges of ‘supply’ suggests to me that he was merely the middle man for a few of his mates. Chances are he footed the bill! In a world where our sportsmen are meant to be these perfect Clark Kent type characters, he probably just craved a bit of darkness, something a bit dirty to get the rush, or, he was just helping some mates out.

Will Swanton’s notion that “There was a time when a sporting scandal amounted to a larrikin swimmer pinching an Olympic flag,” is wild delusion. Given the way Rugby League players used to behave on the pitch, where borderline criminal acts were part and parcel of the game, I can not imagine they were much better after a couple of beers, can you? The Will Swantons of the time just didn’t spend so much of their energy deliberating on the morality of footballers, expecting them to be above the flaws of the common man.

Drugs are a part of our society. Always have been. Always will be. Governments are clearly losing the War on Drugs. Demand is too high and greed is too great. Thousands of people in Mexico are being killed as a result and who knows what is going on elsewhere that the media has yet to take a hold of.

I have an idea, which is in no way uniquely my own, legalise it. Improve the quality and stop shifty blokes cutting it up with poison and killing people for getting in their way. Tax it, take it off the streets and decrease the budget deficit. People clearly want it. People are willing to risk their careers for it. Still charge a premium price and it won’t become the pandemic in schools that people seem to fear it will.

Legalize it, mon.
Legalize it, mon.

In this day and age, if your kids want drugs, they are going to get them. You may as well make sure what they’re getting is relatively safe and not laced with fucking rat poison. It’s on you to educate them as to why taking drugs may not be a good idea. And if your kid can afford a bag of coke, you’re giving them way too much pocket money.

What happens now if all charges against Hunt are dismissed? Will these vultures in the media write an emphatic piece apologising? I highly doubt it.

As far as we know he never failed a drug test. With the AFL’s three strike policy it is possible he did, but I doubt it. Given the very chummy nature of sports administrators and the media in this country the rumours would have been flying thick and thin, and I think we were all blindsided when we read the news on Friday morning.*

Maybe if everybody stopped worrying so much about their brand, whether sporting or political, being held up to 1950s standards that have no relevance in modern society, we could go back to enjoying our sportspeople for what they are, entertainers and nothing more.

By Alasdair McClintock

* A tip of my hat to the police investigators for this. How much better if ASADA had been so professional?