The Punch @ the SCG, Day 2: Among the Barmy Army
Leaving aside the air-conditioned comfort and excellent lamingtons of the media centre, your intrepid Punch correspondent journeys to the other side of the SCG to mingle with the Barmy Army.
So here we are, at ground level on the far side of the ground, on what used to be the hill but is now a mass of concrete called the Victor Trumper Stand. How very quaint.
It’s little England down here. Barmy Army HQ. Wet your whistles everybody. It’s singin’ time. Let’s begin with a Barmy Army standard, to the tune of Yellow Submarine.
“You all live in a convict colony, a convict colony, a convict colony.”
Yeah, guess we do. But at least there are decent beaches.
No. Best not to get into a slanging match with the Army. As Punch editor-in-chief David Penberthy pointed out recently in this piece, they are too organised and too clever. Comebacks we have none to their witticisms.
The question is why? Why are the English so bloody good at cheering en masse compared to us?
To answer this question, I approach two men in red Queen’s Guards jackets. They are Laurence Blainey, 50, a broker from Leigh-on-Sea, 90 minutes from London. His mate “Sesh”, 49, is a Pom now based in Australia.
The duo are “fringe members” of the Barmy Army and are cricket nuts. In fact, it’s reasonably safe to say they’re just nuts, with their straggly Monty Python hair, authentic pre-loved red coats, plastic bobby’s helmets and thongs.
We’re about to discuss, life, the universe and England’s chanting superiority when evidence of same is provided by the Army chanting “Are You Johnson in Disguise?” to a disgruntled Ben Hilfenhaus fielding on the fence.
The Barmy Army loves taunting Johnson, directly or indirectly. And when the big paceman bowls some of his customary legside longhops early (before recovering brilliantly with two wickets) they sing:
“He dives to the left, he dives to the right… Mitchell Johnson’s bowling is shite”.
But back to Sesh and Laurie. I want them to tell me why we Australians are so hopelessly inferior in both cricket and cheering. Especially cheering.
My theory (about the cheering), which I put to them, is that as a nation of staunch individualists carving our niches in wide open spaces, we don’t have, or need, the mob mentality of English football or cricket crowds.
There’s also the fact that our preferred football codes (AFL and rugby league) have action that flows fast and furiously. There’s literally not enough time to sit back and cheer in an organised way, as there is in soccer and cricket.
Laurie listens, but he reckons I’m overthinking it.
“I think it’s as basic as the fact that wherever we play in the world, there are always English fans,” he says
“I think there’s a lot of envy for the Barmy Army in Australia. I think you guys would like to have something like this to latch onto.”
He’s right. And the Army chants “four more, to the Eng-er-land” to the tune of “Go West”, as though to ram home the point.
We’d love nothing better than some decent chants. The odd boundary to chant about would be nice too.
LATE BREAKING NEWS: Michael Beer was robbed. Yes, his “wicket” came from a no-ball. But if you’re going to go to the third ump on a possible no-ball call when there’s a wicket, you should check for no-balls every single ball. Apples and apples, and all that.
Speaking of apples, that Apple Islander Ben Hilfenhaus is a genius. I predict he rips England apart tomorrow.
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