October, it’s Hell on earth for sports lovers
APRIL is the cruelest month, old T.S Eliot used to say, but where does that leave October?
No league, no AFL, nothing really to live for. Hell, not even club rugby on the ABC on a Saturday. There’s something called the A-League, but as far as I can make out it’s largely populated by volatile blokes with blonde highlights, either too old or mentally unstable to cut it in Europe.
As the weather warms up and the sport winds down, you begin to rediscover weekends. This is by no means a good thing. Your better half declares Friday and Saturday nights the time for “catching up with people,” time you would happily have spent watching NRL games back-to-back in the winter months.
“So how’s work? How’s the paper?” asks old Bob from across the road. “Good thanks. Just excuse me while I go and dig my knee cartilage out with a teaspoon.”
That’s what I’d like to say, because life without a footy game or replay waiting for you at home is one of emptiness and isolation. Had a look at the sports pages this week? The only consolation was the sight of Hindy in a Kangaroos jumper with a bloody big VB logo on the front.
I actually spent time counting each of his tackles in the GF on video this week, convinced that he had made 64 and not the meager 59 that stands in the NRL record book. The pedants were technically right, but the five in dispute were all Hindy. NRL headquarters, incidentally, is now refusing to take my calls on this.
October really is the cruelest month. In newspapers at this time of year, sooner or later we run out of pictures to run of half-dead grand finalists in sunglasses and the horrible reality sets in: We’re going to have to start covering sports like cricket and racing.
Take a look at what we’re left with this week. Australia has won the Champions Trophy from New Zealand in Johannesberg. Thank Christchurch for that. Here I was thinking Ponting and his men lost the Australian public when they laid down and gave the Ashes to a bunch of county cricketers who put their fitness down to Newcastle Brown and potted shrimp. Still, wear those Peter Allen-inspired blazers with pride boys. They really suit you.
The AFL draft’s another ball-tearer for sports fans everywhere in the off-season. Even so, Barry Hall’s shift to the Western Bulldogs seems kind of overblown given he has less marks against his name than a remedial student. Can you teach old dogs new tricks? Apparently not.
When asked if he could make an effort to, you know, not king-hit blokes at his new club, Baz replied: “I can’t promise anything … but I think I can get on top of it. Because it can end very badly if I don’t.” Given veterans like Hall don’t usually become more cheerful with the injury and loss of pace inevitably brought by age, coach Rodney Eade certainly has a sense of humour.
Can you believe we’re even talking about this? I mean, where’s the sport? The World Masters Games kicks off in Sydney on Sunday and my mate Rick, who’s trained on schooners and complimentary party pies all year, is turning out for the over-35s rugby tournament. He can’t believe Fox Sports won’t be showing it live, but life is full of injustice. I remind him a 101-year-old man is lining up for the lawn bowls squad, hoping for a violent reaction, but his confidence is harder to dent than a fire hydrant.
Which brings me to motor racing. It’s certainly caught on in parts of Middle America, Canberra, Queanbeyan and surrounds but I’m sorry, it’s not a sport. The closer we get to the Bathurst 1000, the more drivel starts appearing about drivers’ lightning-fast reflexes and the physical toll that sitting in a Commodore for hours on end takes on the body.
Well, I drove to Broken Hill and back with the family last year and if Jamie Whincup reckons what he does for a living is sport, I’d urge him to try it holding the wheel with one hand while reaching back with the other and feeling under the seat for a sippee cup. Wait, here it is. No, that’s a rock-solid four-week-old strawberry jam sandwich the Difficult One screwed up into a ball because she wanted raspberry.
It’s going to take a Nathan Hindmarsh resolve for many of us to get through this difficult time. Some might take on DIY projects or clear out the shed, only to place the same stuff back in there in a neater fashion. Good luck to you. I figure I can soak up three Saturday nights with The Godfather trilogy. Rocky I through to V, screened at the same intervals, gets me even closer to the pre-season trials.
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