Monday, October 09, 2006

Notes and Observations

Round 7 is finished and it's time for this tragic to take pause and just make a few discursive notes.

Sunday afternoon has become a minefield of decisions. It all starts at 2pm when The World Game starts on SBS. Now Mike Salter over at The Football Tragic doesn't review it highly, but for someone like myself who doesn't get Fox it's the best football analysis, with a genuinely international purview, available on TV. And needless to say I'm hungry for it.

But then at 3pm the Roar were playing Sydney. Especially after missing Carbone's debut last week I simply could not miss this clash between my home team and the side which I've previously (albeit before Carbone and with other important players out as well) thought were notably second rate. Everything appeared to be on the line for Queensland's initial flush of success, so in my triage process of activities, this was priority.

After that of course was Newcastle vs Melbourne at 5pm, and while I hate to miss any of these games, there was something else again in the way which has drawn me to a tough decision.

At 4pm every Sunday (yeah, this is an advert for any Brisbane folk), at Davies Park, West End, on the rugby league pitch (the football field has bugger all grass) there is an all-in kick-about.
All welcome: young, old and in-between, beginners and old hands, women, men, girls & boys—no need to be a club member or anything either, so tell friends, family, etc., if you think they'd like to play. Now I've missed this twice now through wanting to watch football, and I'm not really happy about that. However hopeless I am, to pull some boots on and go out and feel football is far too important a part of this religion for me. The other bonus of this experience is touching base with and talking football to other real humans who are into it and usually have a much greater knowledge than me. We have a couple of drinks afterward etc - it's the community aspect of the game. I feel I should be a well rounded tragic.

So the afternoon was the first hour of The World Game, catching at least the rave and replays of the Australia vs Paraguay game, then to the Story Bridge Hotel for Roar vs Sydney, before finally arriving late to the kick-about.

The decision I made in the process is that I simply can no longer commit myself to watching all of the A-League. I'll stick to following the Roar games only, unless opportunity to watch others is too serendipitous to deny.

Now as usual I'm not going to say much about the actual game I watched, leaving that to others who are qualified and able to do a far better job of that. It was certainly pleasing to see the Roar, after the catastrophe vs Melbourne last week, at least give Sydney pause. Carbone in particular was apparently successfully taken off his pedestal. Given that it was an away game, a good result I reckon for the boys in roadwork-orange.

An observation, in relation to my developing relationship with the quality of football on the pitch... Both Sydney and Brisbane seemed a bit scrappy to me, and there seems to be a direct relationship between a team's confidence and how smoothly they play. I reckon in this case both teams were nervous of the other team, and it showed. I've noticed before how at the end of a game, when the team down gets desperate, all sense of quality just falls to bits in the hope that luck will intervene in the box. Obvious I suppose. It's a similar idea to when a single bloke is trying to get laid he is a bumbling idiot, whereas a bloke who's already getting plenty is smooth and charming. Well both Brisbane and Sydney looked a bit too desperate to score to me.

Final observation... I don't think soccerphiles can take our game's popularity in Australia for granted yet. I hear Les Murray talk about how great it is that the game has finally 'got there', and read about the same in FourFourTwo (yeah, I bought my first issue on Saturday). And going to a game, or watching football at home, it often feels this way. But when, as I have been every weekend, I go to the local to watch football it feels like the most obscure thing in the world, regardless of whether Queensland is playing or not.

Yesterday, the day after the big match played in Brisbane between Oz and Paraguay, when I went in to watch Brisbane play Sydney (traditional rivals in every sporting code), I first asked the bargirl if she could put a screen on Fox 3 for me.

"Sorry, we don't have Fox 3."

"You did on Friday night. I watched it here for nearly three hours."

"Oh... um, what did you want to watch?"

"The A-League."

"What's the A-League?"

Here is where I discover the practical limitation of our newfound belief in the word 'football'. It just wouldn't have worked in this practical situation, so I had to compromise my religious beliefs terribly.

"The soccer."

Blank face. "I'll ask someone."

Fifteen minutes later I gave up waiting for her and adjusted the channel myself. I was just in time for the replay of the Roar's goal. The rest of the pub remained decidedly uninterested, in preference to the car racing. Like cricket, I can see the romance in car racing, and the interest in who wins and the replays of crashes and passes, but just can't see how people can watch it hour after hour. Never mind.

The point is this is a very consistent response from the world of the local pubs - and I have tried many now - in the suburbs and in the City. It's still the case that apart from specifically hyped up games, like the Socceroo ones, most people don't seem to have football on their radar. Interest is still skin deep at best.

On a more positive note, football does appear to have infected kids at a much deeper level. Again I only have anecdotes and impressions, but seeing kids in parks and after schools practicing their juggling or taking turns shooting at goal is so much more common now, and that is where the future is I suppose. But my point is we can't take anything for granted.

Well that was a rave. To anyone who actually got to the end, apologies. Cheers, and have a good week.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mate I've had similar experiences in pubs trying to get them to put on the football - it really breaks my heart sometimes.

I guess once you find a football friendly pub you stick to it like glue.

As for the Sydney game - I was there and it was extremely windy, making the game really difficult to flow nicely.

From what I can remember before the beers kicked in, Queensland were utterly dominant and Sydney created 2/3rds of f**k all and the goal from Ceccoli came from nothing.

Miron's tactics on Carbone were spot on unfortunately.

October 11, 2006 10:41 pm  

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