Are the Armani Bunnies becoming the new Manly?

One would think most rugby league fans would be celebrating South Sydney being on top of the ARL ladder this year.  However there is a pervading sense that most would like to see South Sydney knocked off their perch.

How could this be so?  Aren’t South Sydney the battlers?  Aren’t they everyone’s third team?

Forty odd years ago everyone had three teams.  Your own, often acquired through geographical circumstances or family influence. Then there was your second team – they were the team playing Manly that week and then there were the Rabbitohs – the battlers’ team.  Everyone loved the Rabbits.  Bobby McCarthy, Clive Churchill, John Sattler, Eric Simms, Percy Williams – the list goes on.  It didn’t matter that Souths hadn’t won the big one since 1971.  We wanted them to win.  Or did we?  Or was it just a sense of wanting a team that was struggling to do well, but not too well.

There is an interesting phenomenon of a silver sliver of middle class men who have never had a golden throat charmer of Reschs in their lives or been to Redfern Oval but who gather under the Bunnies banner. These cooler club fans simply seem to be over-compensating for the guilt of their class crimes or feel as if by supporting something ‘working class” they are adding another button to their character coat.

I mention this because I think we can chart the demise of general support for Souths from the time of intervention of two from the silver sliver.   When the cranky old curmudgeon Georgie Piggins – the saviour of Souths was replaced by two well-heeled chaps, Rusty Cowe & Peter Holmes a Court something changed forever.  Now it’s not as if Georgie was scratching for pennies because when a lot of players were buying Tooheys George was buying trucks – lots of trucks.  However there was a strong argument that suggested that Souths were in financial trouble and that the only way forward was to ‘corporatise it’ with Rusty and Pete in charge.

This reinvention of the ‘Rusties’ saw Crowe dress the boys in Armani suits (which really only proved you cannot bronze turds) and bore them witless with his endless readings from his rewrite of the Book of Feuds.  Some say Rusty fancies himself as the new Banjo Patterson and anyone who has heard his band, ‘Thirty Seconds Too Long’ would soundly agree. However membership and sponsorship are both up so it has, on the balance sheet at least, been a most successful coup.  On the field after having got rid of successive coaches they are now leading the competition and are favourites to win the Grand Final.  So two ticks.

But there is something different about the Armani Bunnies.  They play a different style of football to the old Rabbitohs. There is a cheap nastiness about the way South’s play these days.  The niggle and a pack brutality mark their game.  It is best characterised by the Bovver Beagle Boys – Sam and George Burgess.  A game doesn’t go by without Sam Beagle using his forearm like a sculptor, in a creative manner or a night out doesn’t end with George Beagle having a bit of a ‘laff’ by throwing a street sign through a car window.  Have a look at Roy Asotasi’s ‘cannonball’ tackle on the young St George forward, Jack De Belin on Monday night if you are in doubt about their new style of play.

Bunnie John Sutton at one stage credited the Bra Boys for changing his life.  In 2013 I am sure that Crowe Maximus thinks he is the Bra Man who solely uplifted the drooping fortunes of the Rusties.

So when we look back into Rusty’s Book of Feuds I wonder whether we will find reference to the 1909 Grand Final?  This bit of deception was recently brought to my attention by Tiger fan, ‘Toby the Truncheon’. It was when the Rabbitohs ‘stole’ the premiership from Balmain after agreeing to jointly boycott the final and then turning up solo to take it on forfeit.

That was a century go.  Times were different then but it now seems that the Armani Bunnies may have rediscovered their original ruthless roots under the leadership of Crowe Maximus.  If that is the case then they will truly be the new Manly.

Birds of a feather flock together until self-interest flies into the nest

I am shattered.

Yesterday Randwick became more boil than royal as my dear, dear treasured racecourse icons indulged in petty squabbling in the enclosure, betting ring and stewards room of headquarters over the poor performance in the All-Aged Stakes of the More than Ready sired six-year old mare, More Joyous. The four who donned gloves were the Eastern Waterhorses ( Gaitor, Robbie and Little Tommy as some sort of equine tag team) up against the battler’s friend and conflicted multi John ‘Blue Tongue’ Singleton.

What was profoundly disappointing about this whole affair was the way our ‘treasures’ let the side down. Instead of heading to some ten-hatted restaurant to work out a minor tiff over a bucket of Bolly and gingered quail eggs they stood toe to toe flipping the bird at one and other. This was on the last day of the Spring Carnival before horses head north to Newmanville. This was to be a time of celebration of the winning horses and their connections but they were upstaged by this tawdry display of pique by Blue T. To many this seemed yet another self-centred act by a man who is so used to getting his own way under the guise of the good natured rogue, a knock about bloke taking on the establishment.

I think that from the television coverage of the fracas I saw Gaitor Waterhorse shift ground slightly to put a shoulder charge on Blue T as she huffed from the enclosure. Now this is a girl who was educated at Kincoppel-Rose Bay and has a Bachelor of Arts. She has such worthy screen credits as The Young Doctors and Doctor Who. This is not your usual Eastern Suburbs Sally who drinks a floatfull of giggle juice and lets her fascinator slip. Although can someone refresh my memory. Did Young Gaitor when she was cutting her training teeth diddle her stablehands by not paying award wages? Surely not. She is a lady.

But as Keato, the emerald city’s architectural taste tout once said, “in a two horse race always back self-interest because you know it’s trying”. Well what was going on here? Whose interest was being served? Not the owners of All Too Hard, the eventual winner of the All Aged Stakes yesterday, as they were relegated to middle pages as Blue T and Gaitor Waterhorse got front and back pages of the Daily Dreads.

Blue T is claiming that there was a potential conflict of interest between the trainer and the bookmaker when the bookmaker knows more than the owner or in fact the general public. The nub of Blue T’s argument as outlined in his statement to stewards is as reported in Chris Roots’ Sun Herald article:

“(He) was told this morning by a friend of mine, a close friend, who is (an ex) Group 1 jockey that he was with Tom Waterhouse, Gai’s son and bookmaker, last night with close friends of mine that are internationally known figures. Tom Waterhouse advised them last night that the horse had no chance. She had problems and that surprised him because I intended to have a six-figure sum bet on the horse because my advisers said it was a certainty.”

Well Blue T may have a case but what a wally wanker! Not only does Blue T has to tell us that he has a close friend who is an ex-Group 1 jockey, he now wants us to all know he now has close friends who are “internationally known”. Well I wonder what they are “internationally known” for? It now appears that one of them, ‘Robbo’, could only be internationally known as a clown. And he also wants us to know that he has buckets of cash too. He was going to have a six-figured sum on his horse. He is not your average John, Blue T is a classic big noter.

In the press the big noting Blue T is referred to as the “flamboyant Singleton”. One of manifestations of Blue T’s flamboyance is that at times of winning he likes to show his good bloke credentials by scattering sheckels on the bar and shouting the public shit awful drops such as Tooheys New when Belle du Jour won the 2000 Golden Slipper and in 2008 patrons in nineteen Central Coast and Newcastle taverns were given the dubious honour of having free Blue Tongue beer when Tuesday Joy won the BMW. In fact one of the joints that dished out the Blue Tongue beer, well dished out is a bit strong as each patron only got one beer, was Iguana Joe’s at Gosford – yes the same stamping ground, so to speak, of Mrs Della. Perhaps it was the Blue Tongue that made her do it. But I digress as usual.

The chorus for this equine opera was provided by Little Tommy and Robbie Waterhorse. Look they say bookmakers are a dying breed and in the case of these two one can only hope. You’ll remember that Robbie had a spell in the paddock after the Fine Cotton sting. I personally think he was the fall guy. I have no problem with any person who gets told that there is a dead cert cashing in on it. It’s a mere technicality that some clowns from Newmanville decided to henna wash and spray paint the substituted commodity while drinking cans on the morning of the race. Big deal. Move on I say. But with little Tommy there is something about him that everybody seems to hate. Do people dislike little Tommy because of his pervasive advertising presence or is there a touch of the unlikable spiv about him? I’m not sure. I’m keeping an open mind about the lad – for a time.

So in the coming weeks we will all have to endure these vain creatures as they sing and slug it out in the media and the stewards room initially and then possibly the courts as Little T rightly preps his lawyers to protect himself and mummy’s reputation. But then my interest will wane because ultimately I don’t care about any of these people. In fact I don’t like any of them. Because I’m a little weird. I don’t like these briliantined bar flies, celebrity trainers and faux larrikins that air kiss themselves before bed. I like the hard doers, the breadline trainers, the battling bush bookies – I like the real racing people.