Punters – put a cross on the door – we are a dying breed

I picked up today’s Herald in hope of a good read.  Fool you say.  You are a simpleton. But you see I’m a dewy-eyed optimist despite the fact I know pessimists never get disappointed.  But after reading endless splodge in the early general news about Bad Habbits and Kev Clean with a brief cameo from the annoying Jane Caro (who looks increasingly more and more like the third Banana in Pyjamas) – I was thirsting for some real news.  It was not forthcoming.  On page three there was some borrowed tosh from AFP quoting a study by some Yank psychologist that found that 64% of blokes wanted their dates to cough up a bit of harry nash for the bill.  Really? They interviewed 17,000 people to find that out?  No wonder R&D is being scaled back in this country.

So I went in search of some real news. That’s racing news. News from the Equine Empire.  But it’s not an easy search.  No way.  You need the skill of a Burke or a Wills.  To get to it you have to use your plough to cut a swathe through pages of bleeding obvious.  Through the glamour sports of thugby, ‘stacks-on-the-mill, tip and run, aerial ping-pong and any other minority sport ranging from handball to long distance dating.  And there hiding at the bum-end of the Herald was the good oil from Chris ‘Logie’ Roots, Maxy ‘Lead-Weight’ Presnell and a few other pork-hatted Harrys.

To be fair on Friday the Herald gives us a treat – a weekly dose.  It’s called The Form – our special paper – separated from the rest of the paper like a leper.  But it’s such a relief. It’s an oasis for old timers with sepia memories of Rail Lover, Summer Promise and Gatum and Gatum.  But there appears to be very few people like us who want to read about horse racing or look at the fields as the Herald generally doesn’t give much of a run to the thoroughbreds these days let alone publish the fields during the week. That is unless they are tainted with touch of celebrity like the Waterhorses or the jughead ‘Blue-Tongue’ Singleton and then the Herald indulges in an orgy of he said that and she said this.

No it’s a wasteland if you want to get decent racing stories these days in the mainstream press.  But it is not only the press that ignores us and turns our sport into entertainment. We, the punters are an endangered species, a curiosity to be poked and pitied. I do not include in this category those who bung on a fascinator or slide into a cheap shiny suit once a year and drink gallons of giggle juice then clog up tote lines when we, the Punters are trying to place a decent bet.  Nor am I talking about the poor silly buggers who play one-armed bandits.

By punters I mean people who do the form and back their judgement – week in – week out on horseflesh.  I’m talking about people with faces rubbed red by the sun and looks like dropped pies.  These are my people.  These are the good guys and you sanctimonious others are our enemy.  So a bloke loses his house, his wife and his car – not necessarily in that order and you say “shame”.  I say learn from your mistakes cobber.  Saddle up again next Saturday – you are closer to a win after a loss.  As Pittsburgh Phil, the very successful American gambler said many years ago, “Lose your money, you lose nothing.  Lose your confidence, you lose everything.”

But very few understands us.  We are herded into corners at functions where in conversation we are the subject of superior looks and pitying eyes and ridicule from those who have investment properties, straight teeth and kiddies at Knox or St Brians of the Bruised.  They trot out “you know you can never win” and “it’s a mug’s game you know” as if they have just invented wisdom.

Please. Gives us a break.  Back off.  Go and do some ironing or catalogue your stamps you bunch of wide-eyed bodeens.  We know we can’t win.  What do you think we are totally stupid?  Do you think on Monday’s when we have to eat mince instead a steak we don’t know that we have not won first prize in the four-legged lottery?

You, the enemy will never understand that chancing your arm against the odds is such a liberating force nor do we expect you to do.  Just leave us alone.  Don’t talk to us.  Go off and watch another episode of Master Chef in your fluffy slippers and leave us to imagine the 100-1 winner and all other matters pertaining to the impossible dream.

Pessimists never get disappointed – a sporting wish list for 2013

I’m really struggling to put down a sporting wish list for this year.

I want to approach the task with all the fervour of a young tagged kid with too much Red Bull coursing through his unclogged arteries. But it is hard to do this because with as many years on the clock as my IQ the arteries are clogged, the brain is “doonered”and to be honest I have been incredibly disappointed in recent years with not one wish getting up or even going close. My gut instinct is to settle for less.

Seneca the Younger, the Roman philosopher had a good grip on disappointment – he basically put it all on the plate when he asked us to consider why we continue to get disappointed by the expected bad behaviour of all the low dicks around us? Seneca Jnr was saying that pessimists never get disappointed. But bugger the Romans they are rubbish at most sports except those that involve hair dye and high heels.  So here it is.

My overarching wish is to see fashion eradicated from all sport

Appearance over performance is on the rise not only on the paddock but in the press.  Fairfax Media had two stories about rugby league players suits in a month.  This twaddle took the column inches from serious analysis of the game.

So where do we start?  Well I’d start like this.  If a character turns up with some fancy shear work on their dome expecting to run on for their country they’d be yanked.  If they want to get their ends tinted then that can be done in the privacy of their own home but it has no place on the paddock of pride.  The offender would be given two options – a sensible haircut done by a barber seconded to the national team or simply told to bugger off.

If a sportsperson gets a tat and wants to play for or represent their country that’s fine as long as we don’t have to see their stupidity on display.  I’m talking long sleeve shirts and pants here if necessary and if they have one of those neck tats with stupid, scribbly writing with words like “Forever” or “Bethany” – I’m thinking a very tight-fitting cravat.  Now the extra gear could be a problem for swimmers but kiddies would only have to see someone sinking to the bottom of the pool in the 1500m freestyle at the Rings to get the message loud and clear.

Wallabies clean sweep against New Zealand in the 2013 Bledisloe Cup

In Rugby Union – the game my old claret partner Tom calls,”stacks on the mill”, I just want to see the Wallabies win the bloody Bledisloe Cup.

That cannot be such a big ask given we spend more money indirectly propping up this game via our tax dollars to the rugby breeding grounds of places like St Kevins of the Bleeding Noses than we do on aircraft carriers. For this sort of investment I don’t want to see further second half capitulation that has become the signature tune of some of the haircuts and inked billboards that run around these days in the gold.

I want to return to the days of hard slightly unfit characters desperately grunting hanging on with blood, mud and spittle on their chins.  I know the milk industry has been rubbished by deregulation and Woolworths and the bush is being ripped up by Big Gina so pickings are slim but we need more dairy farmers and cockies on the park. We need blokes who know what drought is rather than these show ponies who sook it if a trainer doesn’t run on to give them a drink and well-done on the arse.

We need blokes with big ears and bad haircuts that only think about one thing.  In October this year, after winning the first two they live or die for the pleasure of grinding those mongrels in black jerseys so far into the mud of the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Duneedin that a fleet of back-hoe drivers are required after the match.

An Australian bred horse that cost peanuts wins the 2013 Melbourne Cup

I don’t want it trained by Gai Waterhouse but by a trainer who cut their teeth at places like Northam, Seymour, Mudgee or Scone.  That someone would have to be a person who pays their staff and strappers a fair wage and who works around the stables not sits on their freckle at three-hatted restaurant tables.

I don’t want it to be owned by Blue Tongue Singleton or the Parrot. It should be owned by many including a butcher, a baker and the chap who broke it in.  I don’t want a Sheik Yo Money, I want a Sheik from Scrubby Creek with teeth like tomb stones, a ruddy face and story to tell.  I also want it ridden by a smiling young woman who looks silly in a frock and a hunger to do the right thing by the owners not a fist-pumping rock jock who has deep pockets and shallow thoughts.

I want certain player managers to attend ethics classes

This is a big ask.  The NRL Code of Ethics for player agents is a simple one page, eight point addendum to the Accredited Player Agent Scheme Rules document.  I can understand why one would want to keep the document simple.  A lot of these people trail off half-way through 160 character tweet.

The player agents in all sports are often the mentors, business managers and social conductors for these young players – some who are a long way from home and family influence.  In recent times some of these player agents have been missing in action in most regards of their duty of care.  Some are simply incapable of assisting their charges in navigating the complex social/work maze that young sportspeople have to traverse daily.

Some of the ethics course workshops could include;

  • What’s yours is mine : Business Ethics
  • You buy one – I get one for free : Financial Planning
  • Tats, tequila and trifectas : Social Skills and Responsibility

I want the Swans “No dickhead rule” to be mandatory for all sporting clubs

Now this will have a devastating impact on most codes and clubs.  For awhile there will be more sporting positions vacant notices than fatties at a fry-off.

There will be pain.  No Friday night games, there will be forfeits, coachless clubs, boards without directors, two-man front rows, foot-long grass and chubby blokes coming from fourth grade to bat for Australia.  But take solace – there will be no dickheads.  That is no blowhards, no big heads, no loons, no lard farmers or flash moles.  There will just be good sports.