Origin Wasn’t Great Last Night, Was It?

The opening match for State of Origin 2015 is over, with Queensland pipping NSW 11-10 in what was a pretty terrible match of football. Here to dissect the whole experience is TPA’s core editorial group: Dave Edwards, Sam Perry, Ben Shine and Al McClintock.

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Dave Edwards: I found last night’s State of Origin opener to be an insipid, limp wristed version of a great sport I once knew to be ‘rugby league’.

Sam Perry: That the opening soliloquy was delivered by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson only served to underline how much of a parody Origin is.

DE: The pre-game stuff – usually the best part of Origin – was really shit this time around. It seems like they’ve cut the budget for it. Low production quality. Gorden Tallis’ piece to camera seemed forced. Of course, it did contain the now-mandatory footage of Tallis rag-dolling Brett Hodgson over the sideline, so at least they delivered on that front.

Ben Shine: Ray Warren at one point last night said “I believe the stadium holds around 70-80,000 people,” which shows he obviously didn’t care to research or Google anything.

SP: Ray Warren did not care, therefore I did not. I was stunned with how disinterested he seemed.

DE: Ray Warren’s apathy was palpable. His emotion is a good barometer for the health of rugby league – and if last night’s anything to go by, rugby league is on life support. Somebody bring Dr Phillip Nitschke in here and end it.

Anyway, why can’t NSW win these close games? Why are we still “soft” and they are “tough”? Their forward pack is old and ours is young, virile. We were at home – they were away. It’s fucking perception becoming reality. The opposite of Flaubert’s contention.

SP: Your question about softness is so true. It was all so depressingly predictable, and the two respective shots at field goal were a microcosm of the difference between both teams.

BS: NSW is disorganised, no pattern, yet ‘talented’ (note: Dugan stepped a bloke then kicked the ball 60 metres – seriously it was a huge drop kick), yet ultimately unfruitful. Queensland, in contrast, were cool, controlled, organised, clinical. And winning.

Alasdair McClintock: NSW players are clearly more interested in updating their Instagram accounts than getting down to the nitty gritty required to win Origin. Their fancy haircuts and tattoos are clearly evidence of this. Ultimately, their unwillingness to get their tight, white-collared shirts dirty is preventing them from truly competing with a bunch of tradesmen just there to “get the job done.”

SP: Queensland were far superior to NSW and on another night would have won that match by three or four tries. NSW also have an appalling team not helped by missing their two best players: Gallen (injured) and Hayne (gridiron).

DE: I wonder how much of this comes down to the colour scheme? I just don’t find the colour ‘sky blue’ intimidating. NSW needs a darker, more menacing shade of blue if we are going to scare Queensland at home. The crowd was decked out in NSW colours last night, but these colours aren’t scary. There’s nothing scary about a pale blue afro wig.

Of course, when we go to Queensland, the whole stadium will be filled with dark red. These maroon afro wigs will take on sinister undertones, 50,000 evil clowns baying murderously for NSW blood. It’s a more frightening colour.

AM: The fact that New Zealand have beaten us (Australia) in the past three test matches has also contributed to an air of “should we really be beating the shit out of each other while this is going on?”

DE: I like it. Stop your in-fighting lads – and let’s come together for Australia. Greater good etc.

SP: Does anything provide a greater symbol of NSW’s malaise then James Tamou’s haircut?

DE: He looks like a Disney character. Scar from The Lion King, or maybe some evil Persian dude from Aladdin. It’s not good.

SP: To be fair Billy Slater has the same haircut, but then again he’s not a State of Origin front-rower. Oh, and he’s an absolute gun who can do what he wants.

AM: I have to admit thinking mid-game: “James Tamou is a dashing young man.”

DE: Does anyone else have any more thoughts on Origin? Otherwise I will publish something out of this.

AM: I have no further thoughts about Origin.

BS: [no reply]

SP: [no reply]

Seriously, Why Do People Boo Adam Goodes?

I went to the Swans v Hawks game last Saturday night at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It was a wholly entertaining game and I walked away a winner.

But I don’t want to talk about any of that. I want to know why we – and by we, I mean the general AFL populace, with the exception of Sydney Swans fans – continue to boo Adam Goodes.

Seriously, why is he booed? I’m sure this subject has been written about before by more accomplished sports writers than myself, but I think it warrants a discussion.

At first blush, it seems like the purest form of tall poppy syndrome that there is. A guy, one who is very good at football, attracts the ire of his opponents’ supporters simply because he is true to his name. He’s good.

Really, there is no real reason to boo ‘good’ players. I know that sport evokes a visceral response and all that jazz, but there’s something really infantile about booing someone just because they’re good. If anything, the correct human response should be to hold your breath silently as you wait and see what they do with their possession, shouldn’t it?

Adam Goodes is booed, many AFL fans will tell you, because he is a “protected species.” This is a reference to the long-held perception that Adam Goodes gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to umpiring decisions. They think he milks free kicks and that he’s a bit soft.

But Adam Goodes is held to the same letter of the law as everyone else. If you do think otherwise, I dare you to go Nate Silver on this shit and give me some hard data and pie charts to back up your stance. This is just a convenient ‘truth’ to justify the real reason that people boo Adam Goodes. More on that later.

To the casual fan, Adam Goodes is recognisable. His running style is unique and, dare I say it, a little bit lairy. When he gets in the clear, Goodes arches his back like a stow-away who’s just snuck on to a train as the doors were closing, a perfectly timed manoeuvre that leaves the station guards shaking their fist in the distance. He’s exciting and enigmatic. It’s good.

He’s also an Indigenous man. Indigenous men always attract a ‘reaction’ whenever they get their hands on the ball – regardless of the code. When teammate Lewis Jetta gets the ball, the crowd comes to life. “GO JEDDA,” they cry, an unwitting reference to Charles Chauvel’s 1955 film about a young Aboriginal girl raised by white folk, who simply cannot control her innate tribal urges to go ‘Walkabout’ when she reaches womanhood. I studied this film at university. It was fucking racist, albeit critically acclaimed.

Adam Goodes has won multiple Brownlow medals. He’s also a former Australian of the Year. Unfortunately, he has been on the receiving end of countless racial jibes throughout his career, including one particularly foul on-air gaffe by one well-paid media personality who holds a high-level position at Collingwood FC.

I have been to games where Adam Goodes has been racially abused by members of the crowd. I wonder if it happens every single game, in some way or another? There are people out there – normal, middle-class people with jobs and shit – who simply cannot resist the urge to connect his race with their tall-poppy contempt for him as a successful footballer.

I cannot remember Goodes doing anything particularly violent or uncalled for against an opposition player, either on or off the field. I cannot recall him being anything other than an exemplary ambassador for the game.

I do not – and I never will – understand why people boo Adam Goodes. Regardless, I will speculate that it’s a sordid combination of tall-poppy syndrome and perhaps a dash of unconscious racism that makes them do so.

What else could it be?

By Dave Edwards

‘Please Love Me’: The Inherent Sadness of a Legends T20 Competition

There’s a new T20 competition in the works, if reports are to be believed. Only this time, it’s going to involve all the players you grew up with.

Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar have been contacting a raft of recently retired international cricketers to take part in their Cricket All Stars League.

The plan is to hold a series of matches around the world over a three-and-a-half-year period, with the USA to host the first series in September. Warne and Tendulkar are the key promoters, using their star power to haul in other recent retirees for this exhibition tournament at the tasty offer of US$25,000 per match.

While it will be “nice” to see these players come together for a hit and giggle, there’s something inherently sad about it all.

The tournament is being marketed as an attempt to make in-roads into the US market. But these players surely don’t care about convincing little Tyler or Madison to take up cricket instead of baseball.

So let’s call this what it is: a junket.

You can picture it now: a bunch of bloated middle-aged men jogging around the field at 50% effort, all smug in-jokes and elbows. One-liners delivered into the stump mic. Knowing glances to the cameras. Pocketing pay-checks. All designed to preserve their relevance in the eyes of you, the faithful fan. Remember us? You loved us. And now we’re back!

This Legends competition will be a study of relevance deprivation syndrome and the milking of ever-diminishing returns on fame.

Of course Warne is interested in launching such a league. Firstly, it represents another dodgy commercial vehicle to make money off his image.

But more importantly, it allows him to travel the globe, wandering from port to port, hocking his sexual wares to whoever deigns to swipe right on his Tinder profile. This is his chance to finally break the American market. Also, America is choc-full of great casinos, so there will be plenty to do between games.

If there’s anything sadder than a bunch of retired internationals playing meaningless games of cricket in front of bemused American audiences in half-filled stadiums, I’m yet to see it.

What’s even sadder is that I’ll probably watch the shit out of this if they happen to land a broadcasting deal.

By Dave Edwards