Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Run Ben Barba Run!

Yeah Nah The Boys..
Making a really negative blog post is great. It relieves me of my many stresses. Kicking someone repeatedly in the head while wearing a pair of jack boots probably has the same effect. Or so I imagine. I don't know. I'm a pacifist. The Von Trapp to your Nazi. And if the Von Trapps taught us anything it is that Nazis can be thwarted by girls in pinafores. The End.  

With this in my more relaxed and at ease mind I can now turn my attention to several highlights of round 16.  
The second greatest thing this week was Ben Barba’s man of the match performance in Mackay.
The best thing was that there was a game in Mackay, between the top two teams. I have spent a lot of time in Mackay and the surrounding hinterlands. It’s one of those sensational places that manages to be both offensive and charming, albeit charming in an abrasive, amphetamine-edged way. It’s rude and rough and full of mean looking men who work in the mines and their mean looking dogs and women.
Once I spent a night in a rainforest shack getting wasted on rotgut wine with Scott Prince’s mother. CD’s of Guido Hatzis’ greatest radio moments boomed on continuous loop all night, at her insistence. Not my thing, but Guido Hatzis is a lifestyle choice.  

Anyway, Mackay is Ben Barba’s hometown, and the place he referenced in 2011 when he said that as a youth he developed his step by running from cops. He is now, according to every section of the media, an official “excitement machine”. I think the last person to be labeled an excitement machine was Josh Dugan. He's busted a lot nowadays. He still makes me coo like a dove though, which is nice.
Ben Barba has excitement up the wazoo. He was awesome in Mackay against the Storm, he whipped the crowd into frenzy, and he blew kisses and waggled his finger like G.I. used to do and afterwards he said the whole experience was “the best thing besides my kids being born.”

Elsewhere, in a game preceded by Mad Dog McDougal waving a wooden spoon around obnoxiously on the sideline (Matty Johns, later – “What’s happened to McDougal, has he got stuck in a dryer or something – he’s Benjamin Button – he’s shrinking!”) Nathan Hindmarsh pretty much single-handedly steered the Eels to a victory. Now there’s a sentence I’ve written never. Hindy was Paul Gallen-esque. AND it went down to golden point and we have all seen far too many heartbreaking scenes of a heartbroken Hindy after far too many golden point losses, I really didn’t know how many more he could take before he went on a shooting spree or something. The situation at Parramatta these last few years have pummeled a once robust and irreverent Hindy into an apologetic, barely identifiable corpse. On the weekend he rose up from the ashes of his faded glory and fucking flew. Here’s what he said about his man of the match performance: “I just thought bugger it I’m just gonna enjoy meself”. He’s a true treasure.

Another standout event was the courts stripping Josh Dugan of his driving license. We’ve been through this before. We will probably go through this again.  He is in the middle of a vivid and impressionable youth, after all – surely he is entitled to scatter witches hats at roadwork sites and speed through school zones extravagantly? (I’m not saying he did this. What I am saying though is that I would do this (below) if he were to pass me in the street.)

After his court appearance he said that he is much smarter for it. Footballers say the stupidest things. Where do they learn these phrases? At what point in their careers are they taught not to make unconstructive remarks? Around the same time they are taught to preface every remark – particularly if they are responding to a compliment relating to their existence as an individual – with “the boys”,  and preferably with “yeah nah the boys…”
Here’s how it works: (Picture a post-match sideline interview, and prepare to gain no insight whatsoever into the interviewed footballer’s mind.)
“Ben Barba that was an outstanding length of the field run you pulled off there in the 76th minute, you slipped past at least five Storm tacklers and chasers, some would say you’re slippery as a greased pig and twice as fast..”
“Yeh nah the boys put in a real solid effort we trained well all week and we’re just happy to come away with the win.”

There are three components to this sentence that basically constitute everything a footballer has to say in interviews, ever, no matter how hard the interviewer tries to get the player to say something interesting or expansive about themselves. And because the interviewers are invariably box headed ex-player buffoons - Gasnier, Tallis, Fitler, KIMMORLEY - who spent their playing careers making the same evasive comments they never try particularly hard anyways. Also, they are all invariably dim-witted. Michael Parkinson, your job is safe.
Let’s break it down.

1.       “Yeh nah the boys”. This negates any suggestion of individual effort, excellence or indeed existence. It just shuts it right the fuck down. Next! 

2.      “We trained well all week”. This is like me saying “I looked at Facebook well all week”. Of course they train well. They’re professionals. It’s what they do. In the same way, of course I look at Facebook well. I’m between jobs. What else would I do?

3.      “We’re just happy to come away with the win”. This one is readily interchanged with “We’re just happy to get the two points”, or “We’ll take the two”. Usage usually depends on the nature of the win. If it was an ugly, hardscrabble, or offensive match or one that the victors had no business winning but somehow did, they’ll go the “We’ll take the two” route – see: Paramatta Eels. “We’re just happy to come away with the win” is used after a confident, decisive or spectacular victory, such as Manly’s 38 point thrashing of the Roosters on Sunday. “We’re just happy to get the two points” lies somewhere in the middle of these two. Usage is suggestive of inconsistent, erratic, thrilling or outlandish passages of play and a score that seesaws extravagantly and unpredictably over the eighty minutes - see: Wests Tigers, South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Anyways, moving on from the assertion that footballers are robotic, witless and mentally slow on most fronts, let’s now return to Josh Dugan, who is obviously none of these things (coochie-coo!!)

Here is an actual visual image of what went down when I was there to watch him walk out of the courthouse in Canberra after he lost his license in 2010, bearing in mind, of course, that I am the Hoda to his Beyonce.

He is becoming as thickset as a steer now. This is sad, but inevitable. The NRL: Turning fawns to fat necked steers since 1909.

Now, turning from steers to snakes: 
Obviously I still think Brett Snake Stewart needs to pull his head in and get a hold of himself before further mental disintegration and hair loss occurs. But that article in Good Weekend about his accuser’s father and family background had the unwelcome effect of making me feel great sympathy for him.
Which is annoying.
In my experience sympathy leads to empathy and from there it’s a slippery slope that usually leads to eventual feelings of warmth good will and camaraderie.
When it comes to Brett Stewart, none of these are feelings that I need to feel.   
This one time I found out all this stuff that this girl I had not been able to handle for years had been going through with her wayward miscreant of a boyfriend and baby daddy. The sort of galling, how DARE he stuff that would make you want to throw things against walls. (As it happened, she did throw things against a wall – and by ‘things’ I mean ‘him’. I know. How awesome. Go girl.) Anyway, all this had the strange effect of making me feel great sympathy and a good deal of tenderness and good will toward her. It was a strange sensation. Unfamiliar. I waited for it to pass but it didn’t.
Is this now what I have to look forward to with Brett Stewart? Fuck. Football is supposed to be simple. Love the Raiders, hate the Rabbitohs, respect the Storm. END OF FUCKING STORY.  

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