Swings and soft touches and an all-rounded education

I was in a cafe at the pointy end of the suburb where I occasionally sleep last Sunday morning.  It’s Balmain – the suburb where ‘boys’ allegedly never cried.

After ordering a cup of get-up from the flash bloke behind the percolator I spotted a prosperous family of five.  They were happy.  Led by a chinless Charlie and a pouting consort they filled their sensible upper middle class mouths with flash food while the kiddies dined on exotic juices and dealer marshmallow infused caffeine.  There were no arguments.  No one spoke.  They were all glued to their various devices from iPhones to iPads.  No need.  Why bother? Time was up and running and the favourite was indifference.

I’m not saying the good old days of Balmain were all beer and skittles either. There was a time when a round or two for a pound or two was de rigueur for a relaxing Friday night. People talked, shouted and shoved. Granted the subjects discussed may not have been put options or periodontitis but they talked.  Like most inner-city suburbs you are now more likely to be hit by a SUV or a pram than one of Blood Roddy’s indiscreet haymakers.

And so next morning at the cafe while I watched the daily dull flow of blazered Herberts and Harriets heading to their private fun factories, I found myself in a bit of a funk.  This was not my time and some may say that it actually was never my time.   But then in a flash I had my mojo back.  I was swinging on the cherry chandelier. The inside back page of the Daily Dread’s sporting pages was all that it took.  A glimpse of the good old days.  A story of a weekend of ill-tempered stinks, slurs and a sex scandal –  all involving rugby league players.  What a joy!  The old values.  A bloke, a rugby league player having a good old Ronnie Coote in a car with an actress old enough to be his Mum.  Lordy it’s almost enough to make you believe in Amway.

But of course when a few lads go off the path some clown has to come out and say that this sort of behaviour is stopping parents from letting their kids play rugby league.  I beg your pardon.  This is exactly what these soft croissant-fed poor wretches need if they are to grow up Renaissance men and women.  They do not need an exclusive daily dose of ballet, oboe and tai chi.  That does not cut the mustard in educating the whole child.   Sure buy them a subscription to the New Yorker and let them play an instrument other than the pink piccolo by all means.  But at the same time let them get a bloody nose on the field of dreams and screams, walk to their local school and then reward them with a TAB account on their ninth birthday.

You see some may say that there is little evidence to support this idea of exposing our youngsters to the common man’s arts to help the holistic development of a kiddie.  Evidence you say?  Well I’ll give you a couple of examples of people who have sadly not had a rounded education  – ‘Peanuts’ Packer and ‘Gilligan’ Gyngell.

Now here are two men who attended the elite Cranbrook School and have lived a sheltered and incredibly privileged life.  Now in their middling years they wield great power and influence.  Fortunate lives some may say.  And like our rugby league bad boys who may be considered to have unfortunate lives, they have also not had the breadth of opportunities, for other reasons, of mixing parlays with Puccini but they still end up the same way. On a Bondi sidewalk fighting, frothing and frotaging like two large rutting stags.

The upside of course is that now very few mothers will ever want their sons and daughters to grow up the same way and become sad, narrowly educated persons of influence.




The simple game played by some even simpler people needs a special solution

So playing in the State of Origin is on top of Tweets Dugan’s bucket list is it? Well, knock me over with a six-pack of stupidity.  Was that the same bucket Tweets and Blake the Shake Ferguson were chilling the champagne bottles in at the 2230 Bar while the Shake was seeking love in all the wrong places.  And look call me old school, but slugging down directly from bottle, a couple of gallons of Merde de la Vigne in a public place, when you have been given the honour of representing your state is a bloody disgrace. 

According to the Illawarra Mercury Blake Ferguson was congratulating Josh Dugan on his return to State of Origin via twitter nine minutes after Dr George Peponis announced the team.  Ferguson channeling twin influences of Shakespeare and Snoop Dog, tweeted; “Congrats to big joshy Dugan very happy for you bra 🙂 @Josh_Dugan #wereback,” By 6.30pm the former teammates were at Northies, the popular nightspot in Sydney’s south, and were happily posing for photographs. Shortly after 10pm, they had made their way to 2230 Restaurant and Bar, where they were seen drinking champagne straight from the bottle. What then happened will be for the courts to decide and despite Blake’s obviously excited mood he deserves not to be judged until all the facts are in.  

What can be judged is the level of stupidity these two serial clowns have demonstrated over the last six months.  Is it simply a case of young, dumb and full of rum or is it more?  Is it a case of ingrained arrogance in certain players that is fed by sycophantic player managers and clubs and recruiters who don’t want to lose the chance of snaring a fallen player or alienating a talented one?

Apart from Shake and Tweets wine tasting adventures in the last two weeks we have had Cowboy and Blues player, James Toot-Toot-Tamou, without a licence and gut full of grog driving pissed in Townsville followed by George Beagle Burgess tossing the caber in public. The 21-year-old George Beagle, one of four Beagle brothers has been charged with two counts of wilful damage after he allegedly threw a street sign through the rear window of a vehicle following post-match celebrations in the Cairns suburb of Redlynch early on Monday morning. A contrite Beagle barked; “I acknowledge that I am a role model for kids and I will do everything I can to restore my reputation through working harder in the community.” One has to ask – what community would want any of these dumb, useless clumps contaminating their space and what could they actually add to the community? Perhaps they could be melted down to make speed humps?

The sport was in crisis. It was obvious then that the movers and shakers in the NRL had to come up with a solution. Wait. Wheels are spinning, cogs are engaging, there is movement as the mighty intellect of the NRL dices and slices. Yes and the winner is! BODYGUARDS. Well I’ll be slowly poked in the eye with a corner post. Why didn’t we think of it? The way to stop this bad bevaviour is to give players their own bodyguard. But where do we stop and don’t security guys have a rather poor record in the restraint stakes?

Manly chief David Smarts Perry was not at the club the last time the Sea Eagles hired a bodyguard to protect the players in public but believes security measures should be considered. ”I think the NRL should look at all options,” he said. Well Smarts, I think in the light of the Manly fans alleged racial abuse of Bulldog’s players and one family member last week I think it is reasonable that you look at bodyguards for everyone attending Fortress Brookvale.

Bulldogs boss and future NRL head of football Todd Lettuce Greenberg was a voice of reason, as usual, when he said bodyguards were not the answer. ”No, I don’t think that really addresses the issue, to be honest,” he said. ”I think it’s personal accountability. I’ve done that with the Bulldogs over a number of years, and it’s about holding our players to a certain standard.” Sadly there appears to be no standards.

Phil Gus Gould believes that errant players are far too easily able to sign up to another club in the same year after lapses of madness. I agree with Gus. Ditch them. There are plenty of other players willing to play the game rather than playing up.

So I have a solution that allows for redemption but imposes standards. It’s called the Urine Solution and it sets clear standards of expected behaviour. When an NRL player gets on the piss and gets pissed or pisses in public, drives pissed, treats people piss poor, they themselves will be pissed off. They will be pissed off to far flung places on the planet where local rugby league teams will welcome them with open arms. They will play a season for teams like the Tumubarumba Greens, the Bidgee Bulls, the Moree Porkchoppers, the Guyra Supa Spuds or the Berry Magpies. They’ll be paid match payments only and will have to have a full-time job locally for a year. And then – only then if they can actually behave like a decent human being they will be accorded the privilege of returning to play in the NRL.

It’s a simple solution. It has to be.

Rugby league – a simple game played by (some) even simpler twits

It was great news for St George rugby league fans when Josh ‘Tweets’ Dugan signed for the injury scarred NRL team. Well that’s how it should read. But in most people’s minds, those who have an IQ above their age, there would be a lingering doubt about Tweets.

There is a sense that he actually still doesn’t understand the implications of responsible use of social media let alone know how to spell it. Some may remember that Tweets Dugan was put under immense pressure for not getting the accolades he so richly deserves and then by telling a fellow tweeter to “end it”. Dugan got involved in tweets at twenty paces after he posted a photo of himself and a friend with their shirts off on photo-sharing app Instagram. The conversation went badly like this;

“I’d hate to be ya nuffie, At least my dog doesn’t speak up like you ya loud mouth … who are ya by the way? I could never play another game of NRL and I’ve still accomplished more than you. Haha righto Marky Mark: go get another Raiders Tattoo then end yourself. Your mrs is hot too by the way haha you obviously don’t read the news more the fool you haha your a joke. All my tats put together are better than your one rubbish one plus your bad head. Should call you don bradman ya batting well above average with her. Send her my way ill show her the time of her life.”

When exposed by mainstream media and ending the possibility of a $2M deal with the Brisbane Broncos, Tweets blamed pressure.

“I know I coulda handled myself better but things have built up!”

It’s not so much that Tweets doesn’t appear sincere to resurrect his flagging career. He just doesn’t seems that bright. But compared to one of his fellow tweeter twits, Tariq Sims he is pure Genome Project. Tariq plays for the North Queensland Cowboys and his parents gave him an Arabic birth name that apparently means “evening caller” or “striker”. But that is not apparent from his Twitter account where his profile proclaims that he is;

“part time rapper. heapppsssss into fishing Chuck Norris wannabe tha vill”.

Now I’m not sure what Tariq is fishing for or what bait he is using but he has captured the imagination of 7,359 followers. But I don’t think he is employing even a tincture of imagination here as he seems pure polyester. Now I know the conventions of Twitter allow most to spell as if they were shortchanged by being given only a 12 letter alphabet but this character has single-handedly reconstructed the English language.

Tweets Duggan has told the media that during his suspension he spent time on a building site and found that actually having to work for a living made him realise what he had given up. What he had given up were those sunny afternoons sipping cruisers with Blake ‘Fergo’ Ferguson and becoming involved in inane tweetathons with inked lumpoonies who love to act like faux gangstas from LA but who actually come from small breadbins like Cooma or Gerringong.

St George hierarchy see no reason to stop Tweets from using social media responsibly. Their CEO, Peter Doust says “There will not be a ban at the club for Josh however, he will be required to adhere to the Club’s comprehensive social media and communications policies and be involved in ongoing education in this area, in particular. We recognise that social media is a contemporary method of communication that can be extremely positive for communication when used responsibly, particularly for athletes in communicating with their fans.”

Well it is or indeed it could be a great communications tool for the Striker Sims, Fergs, Tweets and the wonderfully named Sandor Earl. Sadly the only tools here are the athletes. A sample of recent tweets from these great communicators;

Blake Ferguson ‏@fergyferg2 9 Mar
@tariqsims @chicko9 @josh_dugan @sandorearl @williams_297 thanks my bra! Miss ya head lad even tho I see it on insta modeling up 24/7

Sandor Earl ‏@sandorearl 10 May
Me and the man himself getting our supplement fix at elitesuppscanberra elitesuppscanberra… http://instagram.com/p/ZIX6LTJkNr/

chicko segeyaro ‏@chicko9 20h
“The wolf on top the hill is never as hungry as the wolf climbing the hill..true but wen the wolf on top the hill is hungry the food there”

Tariq sims ‏@tariqsims 9 May
View from my windo!! Notttt baddddd pic.twitter.com/AlbbXlEcoB

What a rich field of thought and language these chaps traverse. Apart from assisting Australian school kids to slip further down the OECD educational rankings these clowns do not want to use social media to communicate with fans in a thoughtful way. All they seem to want to do is spell badly, show off their tats on Instagram and indulge in banal fart-like social squirts.

The majority of NRL players are good solid young blokes who bash and barge each weekend and end up with bad knees. We don’t really want them to communicate. We just want them to play league well. They shouldn’t use social media to continually prove that they are a few sandwiches short of a picnic. We need to stop them bringing the game into disrepute. My social media policy for these and other NRL lumps would be quite simple. It’s titled “Social Media for Clowns” and is deliberately quite simple.

“Every rugby league player has to pass a primary school ethics and a Year 6 spelling exam before they are allowed to have a Twitter account.”

Now that should sort the wheat from the chaff even though I know the resultant yield would make a very, very small loaf of bread.

Why I don’t particularly like Cam Smith

Look this is not a strong dislike compared to the ones I have for blokes who hang their jeans off their freckles or people who only indicate they are turning right after the lights change or pimply suited knobs who talk on their mobiles as if every one within a kilometre wants to know that they had a “massif blow out…eh man”.  No it’s not that strong.  It’s really just like a mild form of skin irritation that you scratch but it never quite goes away – that’s the relationship I have with Cameron Smith.  It’s also annoying because he is a very good player but he just doesn’t sit right with me. So that you can understand my reluctance to embrace this former Logan Brothers boy I’ll list just a few of the reasons why I don’t like the cut of Cam’s jaunty jib.

Reason No 1 : He captains a team that cheated

Way back when the Storm were found to be rorting the salary cap the Telegraph reported that allegedly “Melbourne Storm officials secretly paid skipper Cameron Smith $60,000 to renovate his home as part of a deal outside of his NRL contract.”  Possibly it went like this, if in fact it was true, one Monday morning early a truck load of bricks and sand were dumped in his front yard, then a bunch of blokes arrived in overalls.  Smith questioned them and said, “Hey what are you fellas doing here?”. They replied “We are here to do your extension Cam”. Smith replied, “Oh, all right that’s cool.”

Despite some players getting boats, cars and Harvey Norman vouchers some just simply didn’t realise it was illegal and why would they?  They are simply just football players who just want to get out on the park fuelled on bit of calves blood and have fun.

Reason No 2 : Some say Smith doesn’t play fair

In an article after State of Origin III in 2012, Dean Ritchie titled, Queensland captain Cameron Smith reveals his darker side during Origin III.  Ritchie details some of Smith’s alleged indiscretions.

“A star who stands for everything good in the game. But here is the proof Queensland skipper Cam Smith has a dark side that NSW discovered on Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium. The Daily Telegraph has unearthed eight separate incidents during State of Origin III that could have resulted in Smith being penalised, sin-binned or even being placed on report. He avoided detection. There was a grapple, headlock, knee, arm twist and neck grab.”

Let’s not beat around the bush here.  He captains a team that would have golded in wrestling at the first Olympics.  In fact some Storm players are so intense in their tackling technique that some Storm wives have sought counselling citing that their husbands spend more time lying on top of opposition players than them.

Reason 3 : It’s all about Cam and his petty parochialism

It appears Cam is not aware or concerned that Australia is made up of a number of states and territories, only one of which happens to be Queensland.

After the Kangaroo Test late last year the Telegraph wrote that “The Kangaroos skipper had been forced to interrupt his end-of-season to clear the air with Paul Gallen over the controversy surrounding the chanting of the Queensland victory song after Australia’s recent Test win.”  The article went onto say that “even cricket great Steve Waugh and former Wallaby hardman Simon Poidevin called for the Queenslanders to make a public apology but it appears there is little chance of that ever happening.”

Reason 4 : It’s all about Cam and the elite players not the game

In recent times Cameron Smith has come out and said that there are too many games and that elite players are getting jaded and burnt out.  He is not enamoured with a second NZ team either.  Cam thinks he has the fans’ interests at heart and perhaps he has. He is quoted in the SMH as saying:

”What the fans want, they want to see the elite players in the game for as long as they can. Do you want Greg Inglis to play five or six years and be burnt out?  Or do we want to give him an opportunity to be in our game for 10 years?”

Well Cam, I really do not care how long you and Cordial Inglis stay in the game because surprise, surprise there are always talented young players to replace you who are rearing to have a house let alone have their houses renovated for them. You played 30 games last year, you poor overtaxed bugger – give us a break.  Big Mal Meninga played 37 in 1990 on one leg and a crook arm you big sook!

Reason 5 : I suspect he wanted to be called “Cam”

I’m not sure whether this is part urban myth or part old-timers disease on my part but I thought there was a time when Cameron Smith, the rugby league player, had his manager inform media outlets that his player wanted to be known as “Cam”.  Surely not – but perhaps someone else knows the story.  If it is true that like the attention span of a teenager Cam wanted it short and ‘tweet to contemporise his image then I don’t need all the other reasons I have listed above.

Bone heads overdose in an orgy of self pity

While I have some sympathy for the public outing by the NRL of six clubs for allegedly having some link to some shady bods in white coats I just think some of these coach characters could be pinged for laying the cream on a bit too thickly.  Coach of the Cowboys, Neil Henry claims the naming of the club is a “slight on the integrity of the club”.  Do I hear the name Ryan Tandy echoing down the hall of mirrors?

And as the Cowboy’s football manager, Peter “Putter” Parr negotiates with player manager, Sam “the Sham” Ayoub over the wonderful JT‘s contract, I wonder, post the indignation if Henry asks the question, in the quieter moments, is “irony” just another player supplement?

I have a sliver more sympathy for Journeyman John Fahey, whose thankless task is to the roam the world, business class, wagging his finger at a sporting bodies who have to be dragged screaming to the table to begin to get their anti-dping strategies up to scratch.  I also feel sorry for John because he was once a New Zealander as well as allegedly being a bit of a pro-lifer in the past.  Fahey is right in wondering why sports like rugby league have failed to have a regime of athlete biological passports in place for at least the past decade even if they struggled to spell it.

The reason is that most sports go softly softly until the dope hits the fan.  So what the ACC Report has achieved for rugby league is the establishment, under the artful eye of beak  Antony “Gough” Whitlam QC, of an Integrity Unit.

How long it would have taken Archie and the Jugheads at the ARLC to set up such a Unit? The percentage of budget the NRL spent on systematic prevention of doping and corruption over the last ten years gives an idea of how seriously all administrations took these issues until the ACC Report.  Until now a bit of Black Angus claret injected into the bumholes of boofheads was just an old fashioned way of having fun and perhaps getting a bit of an edge on the day.

But now if they get it right we can avoid going back to the black days of the lightly framed bulking up mysteriously in the “off” season under the instructions of chemists and charlatans who have as their only consideration a fat fee. Now we can hopefully see clubs think less about untried chemistry and more about the welfare of young blokes who just want to get onto the paddock and “go hard and straight”.