Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Communications Minister Helen Coonan sells out Socceroos

I just read this on the World Game site, but it is from AAP:

Claims football fans ignored

Labor says Australian football fans have been ignored by the government, despite the fact the sport is now attracting massive television audiences.

Labor communications spokesman Stephen Conroy questioned why Socceroos World Cup qualifiers had not been placed on the government's anti-siphoning list - the schedule of major sporting events that must be offered for sale to free-to-air television before pay television.

Senator Conroy's call came as Communications Minister Helen Coonan said the debate over Australia's football World Cup qualifying matches being placed on the anti-siphoning list was sterile, since the rights to show them had been sold already.

She would be reviewing the anti-siphoning list in 2009, Senator Coonan told the estimates committee.

Senator Conroy said almost nine million Australians had watched the Socceroos World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay last year.

But with rights for all Socceroos World Cup qualifiers now sold to pay television for the next seven years, football fans would have to pay as much as $600 a year to watch Australia's next cup tilt.

The next World Cup will be held in 2010 in South Africa.
Frankly, I think this is completely insulting to Australian Football. The Socceroos have gotten bigger audiences than any other games. They are a national treasure and moreso than any other sporting entity in the country are on the international stage. There is no doubt in my mind that one of the important factors of the Socceroos growing success to date has been the mass support and interest they have received. Every Socceroo game should be on the anti-siphoning list, so that it is available for all Australians, especially the kids (who often aren't welcome in pubs) to watch.

There was no debate. This heinous act of selling rights to Socceroo games to pay TV - with no precedent - was done behind closed doors, as part of the Government's ugly media-monopolisation act. I have managed to avoid politics, including this particular sordid affair, for quite some time, but taking the Socceroos away has pushed me too far. This should bring down the government. It really should.

Write to the bitch; call her, hassle her, harangue her:

Communications Minister Helen Coonan
Parliamentary Office:
Tel: 02 6277 7480
Fax: 02 6273 4154
Email: minister@dcita.gov.au

Sydney office:
Tel: 02 9223 4388
Fax: 02 9223 4399

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

For Want of a Round 10 Review

Before I even start, congratulations to the Matildas. Does this competition have a webpage like the AFC Youth Championship (thanks James for this link)? If so I'd appreciate it if someone let me know, as it is appears all but impossible to follow the Matildas as yet. I knew the game against the Netherlands was on today but could not even establish what time it was on. Anyway, well done girls! It would be bloody brilliant if someone televised the next Matilda game against the USA. Please note that this has nothing to do with 'supporting women's football' or something. I just think that the football will be bloody brilliant to watch.

Given the heading, this is already turning out to be a scatty post. More of the same is to come.

My deepest apologies to my massive regular readership for failing to post a 'Round 10 Predictions' post, which I did intend to do as a minimum, and still intend to continue despite this lapse. For my own part, I did make predictions over at Oz Tips, so I'm on record as prophesying that Melbourne would beat the Knights (der), wrongly believing that the Jets would draw with United (I thought that was an ambitious vote of confidence in the Jets at the time, but clearly was not ambitious enough!), wrongly believing that the Roar would beat the Mariners (though a perusal of the statistics suggests they bloody well should have), and finally predicting correctly that Sydney and Glory would draw.

I'm not counting any points for this toward the Down Under Football competition of course. I will note here that Drsimmo gets one of his bonus points for Round 9, because almost all of his 'extra predictions' were correct. He only fell down in the prediction that in Roar vs Newcastle, Newcastle would score first but Queensland would dominate. Unfortunately the latter part of that failed to be true. But well done Drsimmo for your general success. I'll do the proper wrapup and update when I post Jacob's and my Round 11 Predictions.

Now getting to the very important matter of reviewing Round 10. For the real thing, as usual I'd recommend that people keep an eye on the Round Ball Analyst, the single best A-League analyst in the country (I may be unaware of one out there, but I am not being facetious). If Tony is regular his wrap up and 'Team of the Week' will be there in a couple of days. But my inadequacies in this area - not to mention that I don't even watch all the games - never stopped me before.

Re: the Melbourne vs Knights walloping, I didn't watch the game, but there are no surprises. It is tempting to say something very clever and cutting about the Knight's form, and how they're the easy points of the competition, but I have to be careful of the hubris factor because Roar, who are clearly not out of their shaky patch, have to face the bastards next week. So let's just say, "well done Victory."

As for the rest, the Roar are bloody lucky.

Jacob and I did watch the first half of Adelaide vs Newcastle at the Muddy Farmer (we get kicked out at 9pm because they're only licenced to have kids around until then). We were going for Newcastle for the expedient reason that if Adelaide won it would put 2nd place on the ladder out of the Roar's reach this round. Meanwhile it was really entertaining stuff. Both of these teams have come into form, and it was the sort of game that gives me hope in the A-League. Newcastle is not going to stop surprising us I reckon, and I still think the ex-coach Theo had a lot to do with it. This game is rich with ironies. I simply know sweet-jack about the new interem coach of Newcastle, but I reckon the key for him, which he seems to be on to, is to continue to follow Theo's game-plan. If he tries some new way of playing, Newcastle will fall, in all likelihood.

Saturday night we went to Suncorp Stadium (Roar vs Central Coast) for some beautiful football. Another very entertaining game though with 59% possession, 27 (vs 9) attemps on goal, 11 (vs 20) fouls and 12 (vs 1) corners it was, as Jacob pointed out, a bit of a shadow of the home game against Adelaide where we drew 0:0, but dominated like hell. Frustrating stuff.

We were there, for the record, with Jacob's good mate Stavros, also a West End Terrorist, and Misha, a girl fresh from Germany who was staying a few nights at my place. The irony for the latter, who I talked into going, was that this was the biggest football game, and even the biggest stadium, that she had ever gone to. For a German to come to Australia to watch a professional football game is a little odd. At least we don't have rioting here. Please, to all of the saints of football and Australia, please let us avoid that crap in Australia. For that we must promote good sportsmanship, at every level, from the top. Anyway, I digress.

Should have left Zhang on. That's my only comment to Miron. He had a goal in him. I find this, "Give Zhang a few more games and he will be a hit" stuff from Miron a bit incongrous with reality meanwhile. Zhang is a hit. He has already shown his class. If he's fit, like Miron is saying, let the man play. I love him. Reinaldo was in form as well, and his goal was text-book. Zhang and Reinaldo were bouncing off each other well in the first half and, all respect to Simon Lynch, I wouldn't mind seeing this forward combination given a bit of a chance to develop. Hell, even if it doesn't work, it's bloody entertaining. And it just might work.

Anyway, even with a draw that was a fun night. Afterward, unlike the week before, the throngs were in good spirits.

And finally, Sydney failed to beat Perth, keeping them from equaling Adelaide and Queensland in points. The argument about whether Sydney coach Butcher should be sacked goes on all over the place. I'm personally not for him, but it's not because of results. It's because he's very arrogant and seems to respond to failure by flailing and yelling at his team, rather than being introspective and constructive. Although he showed a distinct change of pace after this match by actually philosophically praising his players, when they really clearly should have won on their home turf, I don't know what he means by once again saying they need to be, "more ruthless." Don't they need to play better? With a better formation? This need from Butcher for Sydney to be "more ruthless" is becoming tired as well as ugly. Sure Sydney has some brilliant players. But this is not like a careful, plodding strategy that needs time to come into fruition (read: Theo's Newcastle). This seems to be just a drive to be harder, meaner and uglier. Anyway, enough said there from me.

And enough said all round. I have rambled, and all I really have to say is that although I have become far too busy to regularly blog, I still love this football stuff. Cheers to our great game.

Good night.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Movie Review: Goal!

Early this year my son Jacob insisted I go to see this movie with him (he'd already seen it with his Mum or auntie or something). We used to go to movies a lot more; now we are more likely to go watch football games. His story now is that I didn't really want to see Goal; that I thought it would be a bit lame and kiddie, but I can't remember that. I do know that after we did see it together I wanted to see it again, and did, several times. Now Jacob owns the video, and I have watched it many times. There's a few things that propelled me into full-blown football tragedy, and I'd have to count this movie as one of them.

It's about football and the lead character begins in poverty. In terms of plot that's all I need to say because anyone familiar with the idea of plot can pretty much write the script from there. The plot has existed for over two thousand years. Yeah, he makes it, yeah, he works it out with his hard-nosed but loving father, and yeah he gets the girl. Of course there are temporary disappointments along the way to punctuate the drama. La la la.

I know the world of cinema is full of experimentation, post-modern crap, 'realism' etcetera. But the thing is this traditional plot structure still works better than anything our post 60s geniuses have managed to come up with.

And within the age-old formula, this movie just works. I've showed it to a few people, and those who will never watch a football game again love it as much as those who love our game.

The lead man (Santiago Munez, played by Kuno Becker) is not all that brilliant, but is a spunk and somehow perfectly adequate - he is supposed to be a nobody who makes it after all. When it comes to performance it is everyone around the lead that make this movie a real treat, from the leading lady (Nurse Emmerson, played by Anna Friel - also a complete hottie) to the smallest bit parts, like the old guy on the bench of an amateur match back in Los Angeles, or the kids kicking a ball around in Newcastle. The detail of casting and direction is beautiful, and makes the movie look like something produced by Brits or Ozzies rather than Yanks.

The secondary blokes all stand out. The ex-scout, Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane) probably deserves the greatest accolades, for a pure, believeable performance with great subtlety and naturalism, but frankly the same can be said of the Newcastle coach and the playboy star player of Newcastle (sorry, don't know the actors' names and they're not on the back of the DVD case). All of the bit parts are exquisite, and I love this sort of detail.

Cameo performances by Zidane, Beckham, Raul and the entire Newcastle team are fun too, but don't dominate the proceedings.

The movie reflects, quite consciously I think, the drama and virtue, as well as some of the irony, of our game. The Spanish is subtitled, while the bulk of the action in England is peppered with accents from all over the world, as is appropriate enough. Meanwhile the main setting represents well (I think - I've never been there) the highly idiosyncratic texture of the 'Toon', 'where the Jordies live'. All this background stuff is just lovely and warm and fun.

Goal also has a brilliant sound track, which I'm sure is one of the reasons it is so re-watchable, beautifully spliced in among the scenes. I have to say this because it's true, but do it now with an uncomfortable knot in my keyboard after discovering that Noal Gallagher, the lead singer of Oasis, who provides most of the music, is a complete twat.

If you haven't seen Goal, whether you are a tragic or not, just go and get it from the video shop. It has a pretty much rock-solid guarantee of entertaining. Brilliant for kids, and for kids into football it contains some pretty good advice for young players as well as just straight inspiration. Nine out of ten.


Monday, October 23, 2006

The Spluttering Roar

Had a good night out last night at Suncorp Stadium with Jacob, his mates and fellow Terrorists Max and Callum, and their Mum Fiona. No complaints about the company, and despite an ominous period, the weather held out too. Pitty about the game, but you can't have everything.

Newcastle deserved its win. Congratulations to the boys in camel yellow.

The Queensland midfield actually wasn't too bad. In the first half I thought they dominated the Jets' midfield, but the front line might as well have gone off for cocktails. Reinaldo in particular is starting to look like a showy dud. I truly hope he lifts his act, as I love his backflips.

Newcastle's Rodrigues was clearly their star. I assume he's ok, because my quick peruse of the media this morning has not revealed anything about his injury, but when he was stretchered off I was one of the few Brisbanites clapping him, for sheer performance.

Booing the player who has just beaten the pants off you is worse than bad sportsmanship. It reveals a deep inadequacy. I don't think this is just a Queensland thing; it seems to be a feature of the football audience, and it's crap. Football above all else is a spiritual journey, and if you fail spiritually, in the end you fail on the pitch. Ok, I'm quite mad.

Meanwhile, go the Roar. There's clearly some thinking to do, and some rejigging. Best of luck figuring it Miron and the team.

And to all who love our glorious game, have a great week.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Two Games, Fast and Furious

G'day. This is going to be quick because I really should be in bed.

Sydney vs Melbourne was not brilliant football, but I loved it. It was for once absolutely appropriate that I was distracted by the rugby league (at the Muddy Farmer, I was the only one watching the football), because this was a rough game. The sheer passion between these traditional rivals is entertaining in itself.

Football, but not as you know it? Um... yeah sure. Like a cross between AFL, rugby and basketball, and a good old fashioned rumble, SE Hinton style. Loved it for some reason. Maybe it was my mood. Maybe it was the rugby on the other screens. Anyway the best team won. Melbourne and Sydney can both be brutal, but Melbourne has class as well.

There was a much, much more important game this morning. I've mentioned that I've taken on the management of Jacob's 12 and under indoor soccer team. Their first game was last week, where they lost 5:1. Well it is a furiously fast game, brilliant to watch. Last week I mentioned the rule that they can't kick the ball over head height. The mechanism of the goalie semi-circle wherein nobody but the goalie may go is also a clever innovation, avoiding the horrible physical clashes like that between Perth and Central Coast last night, and keeping the game about skill and tact.

Anyway, excuse the whiskey-induced stream-of-consciousness going on here, but this clash, between Jacob's team, the West End Terrorists, and the Mongooses (Mongeese?) was one of the most important games I've ever witnessed, for a simple reason.

It wasn't because the Terrorists won 7:zip, though that was great.

It was because Jacob scored his first goal in a competition match. He was so cool. He didn't jump and whoop and have sex with his nearest team mate. He just turned, straight-faced, and ran back to his position for kick off. But I could feel his pride from 50 feet. And I did a bit of whooping for him. I was a proud Dad, and for that matter a proud manager.

Go the Terrorists. I hope I don't get incarcerated for saying that.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Round Nine Tipping

Righto, at a bare minimum I'll keep up my tipping, which as well as being indulgent fun will provide a thread for people to comment on the games upon if they wish.

Firstly I shall congratulate myself for roaring into the lead, now two points ahead of my son Jacob. We both picked three results, but I picked the score of the Queensland vs Perth game. Newcomer to the competition Drsimmo didn't make the scoreboard. Hope you have another go mate. The system is 1 point for a correct result and 3 points for a correct score. So so far it's me on 12, Jacob on 10 and Drsimmo on 7.

My tips for this week:
Central Coast vs Perth Glory
Draw 1:1

Sydney FC vs Melbourne Victory
Melbourne 0:3

Queensland Roar vs Newcastle Jets
Queensland 3:1

Adelaide United vs New Zealand
Adelaide 4:1

Jacob's tips:
Central Coast vs Perth Glory
Perth 0:2

Sydney FC vs Melbourne Victory
Melbourne 0:2

Queensland Roar vs Newcastle Jets
Queensland 2:0

Adelaide United vs New Zealand
Adelaide 2:0

I must say it's a bit disapointing that we won't be seeing Zhang run on at Suncorp on Sunday. As well as being a classy striker, he's hugely entertaining to watch.

The greater concern to the Roar's momentum is the loss of Murdocca to injury. The engine room of Roar's success has been him and Matty in the midfield, and Miron is going to be sweating when he makes the necessary changes. Still I trust Miron - I think he's a clever bugger, and he certainly has no shortage of troops to choose and mix. The engine room metaphor is sort of Miron's by the way: "I believe that the midfield is the most important part of the team as there is no point having flashy tyres and upholstery if the engine is no good."

Anyway, I will be writing some sort of existential report of the game at Suncorp, where I'll be with Jacob and a few of his mates.

For all the games, a prayer to Johnny, the patron saint of Australian football: may all the players play their best, fairest football, and none be injured.

By the way, as a post-script, thanks to the commentors who wished me well in my new job. Jacob is very pleased that I won't be joining the army or something (I was considering that a while ago), but also insists that I at least have to blog about the games we attend. To Wes, I think we are all still very spoiled, especially by the ongoing bloggery of Tony and Mike. Without these blogs the available analysis of football from an Aussie perspective would be rather weak in my opinion. James, also an excellent source, has been quiet for a while. Hey mate, we need ya... have you got a girl friend or something?

Postscript 2: I'm half way through Pele's autobiography, my train and lunch hour reading. I'll review it more elaborately if I get time, but it's a really beautiful read, about a special bloke and about football yeah, but also about life and goodness.


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Monday, October 16, 2006

At least I might be able to afford Fox

Ok, I'm going to crap on a bit here. To my regular readership (actual regulars are apparently about ten) I must apologise because I began a new job today, and I really like it. Being unemployed was brilliant for being a full-time football tragic, and I should realistically declare from the outset that I just won't be able to post as regularly as I have been. But I'll have a blurt occasionally.

What a bloody weekend! Frankly it couldn't have gone better from my point of view. Firstly, Central Coast giving Sydney a flogging was not so much a deserved win for Gosford but a deserved defeat for Sydney. All Butcher seems capable of is racking up hubris. Hubris plays a big role in football, which is part of its spiritual attraction. You gotta stay humble, stay grounded, stay real, which is increasingly impossible the better you do, so fortune turns. But Butcher blows it whether his team are brilliant or not.

I was hoping Newcastle would beat the Knights too, not just because they are the underdogs but because I like their football. Unlike the Knights, I reckon the Jets have been unlucky not to get a win or two already. Personally, depending on whether their new coaching regime works out and maintains some continuity (as my view is that Theo-whatsisname was essentially on track), I reckon the fourth spot in the top four is between Perth and Newcastle (after Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide).

Then Adelaide put Melbourne in its place, on Victory's home turf. Nothing could be sweeter, and here I am just getting selfish for my side, because the distance between the Roar and Victory was just getting a bit too insurmountable. No longer. Adelaide, in this humble, uneducated purview, is only getting scarier. When the Roar play them in Adelaide in a few weeks I will be very nervous.

And I was scared of Perth as well. Well done boys for whipping their arses way over on the Indian Ocean. It was convincing, but no walk-over that's for sure. A lovely, lovely game to watch, until the last half hour, when the Roar got uncharacteristically defensive. Never mind. They came away with three beautiful points and closed the gap a bit to the first slot.

In Football Down Under's private tipping comp, where I am frankly guilty of flagrant wishfull thinking all round, I got a record five points. Saint Johnny is clearly smiling upon me this week.

Cheers to the greatest game in the World, and all who love it.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Jets vs Knights

Ok, I couldn't resist and had to go down to the Muddy Farmer and watch the game. They still haven't got Fox Sport 3 incidentally, but fortunately this weekend most of the games (except last night's) are on Fox 1.

Just a couple of observations. I really like watching Newcastle play and have done before, even when they weren't so victorious. And frankly their win tonight can't be seen as any vindication of getting rid of Nick Theodorakopoulos, because this sort of play must take a lot of work to build up in a team, and he did it. There's something tragic about his demise as coach. The timing was precisely tragic, in my view, and precisely wrong.

New Zealand really are bad, and I'm not even in a cruel mood. The different styles of play were summed up when Michael Turnbull booted a goal kick all the way down to his opposite number Ben Kennedy, who quickly and professionally fed the ball to his defenders. With Newcastle's capacity to maintain possession down the field, the Knights' goalie may as well have just given it to the closest Jet.

At the beginning of the game I really didn't mind who won, but by half way through the first half, such was the stark difference in style and quality, when the Knights did get the opportunities (generally from a lottery lob) I cringed at the thought they might get lucky, so undeserved were they.

How many times did Rodriguez have a shot at goal? Turnbull will be having nightmares about him tonight. I did wonder if Rodriguez was overrated at one point, given that he was so often off target. It will take watching many more games to get a feel for whether the sheer unrelenting pressure of such constant attempts are worth it. I did cheer for Rod when he finally delivered, in the final minute - the poor bugger must have been very frustrated.

Stuart Musialik's goal was sublime. The first goal from Jade North, a text-book head from a corner kick, was merely a relief, as up until then I was fearing a much undeserved nil all draw. But Musialik's goal was sheer joy. I don't know how he had the audacity to shoot at all from where he was, let alone how the ball managed to miss all those defenders.

Loved it. I'll sleep well tonight - well, for a bit. Gotta get up at 2am. Don't ask; it has nothing to do with football.


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A Football Day

G'day. I wasn't going to write anything today, because I missed the game last night anyway and probably won't be watching tonight's either (even though it's on Fox Sport 1, so at least the pubs will have it).

Congratulations to Central Coast though! From the media I've read, it looks like they're back in the Comp. And without wanting to sound unsympathetic to Carbone, we have at least observed the vanity of putting too much hope in a super-striker. Mike Salter over at The Football Tragic is in denial of course, and has chosen to review the fans rather than the game. Forgive me Mike - my ribbing is in good spirit.

But aside from all that A-League nonsense I had a great football day today. I've taken on the mangement of a boys under 12 indoor soccer team, called... um... The West End Terrorists.
They made the name ok, and over some mild protests from the parents, including me, they have had their way. I'm assuming those men in dark suits and sunglasses with funny hearing aids were just interested onlookers.

Anyway, we're a week behind, and some of the kids have never been on an indoor soccer pitch before or kicked one of the oversized tennis balls they use, so they lost 5:1, but they had a hoot. It is really fast and, because they're not allowed to hit it over head height and there's only five to a side on a small court, the ball work and short passing is intense. I was completely impressed, and on a first viewing can only recommend it as an off season game to keep the kids' skills up.

It is at the Brisbane Indoor Sports Centre.

That was this morning, and this evening I went for a run by myself. Look, I'm 38 and haven't tried to keep in shape for about forty years , until becoming addicted to football about a month ago, so when I say 'a run', I mean a bit of running and a bit of walking, down to the river and back.

The route I take takes me through the El Salvador Football Club, and there was a five-a-side game going on. My mate Keitch, who coached Jacob's team the last two seasons, was playing, so I stopped and watched for a bit. Reflecting as I sat, catching my breath and watching these young skilled blokes dance around one another, it occurred to me that football isn't complete without days like today. Kids and locals, kicking about, breathing the air together, with volunteer refs and more pigeons than fans. Call me sentimental. Following the Socceroos and the A-League only enhances this experience for me, just as the local experience brings the quality and professionalism of the former into proper, sharper relief.

I love football. It might have saved my life. In the words of Tim Parks, it has given me "...a new and fiercely ironic way of forming community and engaging with the sacred." (Thanks to commentor Guido for that link.)

Best of luck tonight to the two underdogs New Zealand and Newcastle. Whoever wins, I pray to Saint Johnny Warren that they all play their best football and that there are no injuries.


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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Round 8 Predictions

It's that time of the week when my son Jacob and I boldly predict what's going to happen in the coming games. Since last week I've been noting my tips at Oztips as well, for a bit of fun, but they are not as rigorous as this private competition between Jacob and I because they don't ask for the score; only the result.

In this comp (and yes, others may join if they wish by leaving a comment), it is 3 points for a correct score and result and only 1 point for a correct result only. Last week we once again gained 3 points a piece, giving us both the running total of seven.

Central Coast vs Sydney
Draw 1:1

Newcastle vs New Zealand
Newcastle 1:0

Melbourne vs Adelaide
Adelaide 1:2

Perth vs Queensland
Queensland 1:2

Central Coast vs Sydney
Sydney 0:1

Newcastle vs New Zealand
Newcastle 1:0 (We agree again, though last time we did we were both wrong!)

Melbourne vs Adelaide
Melbourne 2:1

Perth vs Queensland
Queensland 0:2

Go the Roar! The Glory ain't gonna be easy on their home turf, especially given their recent form, but I know the roadwork-orange boys can do it. These weeks with the Roar away, tediously looking for pubs where I can watch my team play, have seemed long. It will be bloody good to have the boys back at Suncorp Stadium next week!

I'm sure I'm not the only one finding the four-way competition for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th spots on the ladder quite intriguing. In only a couple of games any of these teams could fall away or break out.

Go the Roar!

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Australia vs Bahrain Experience

Tonight I invited myself to some friends' house, Kietch, the Japanese coach of my son Jacob's team, and Tony, the Vietnamese father of a team-mate of Jacob's.

Tony, who owns the local fruit and vege shop, cooked some beautiful food, lamb with lemon grass rice. I brought a bottle of Jamesons Whiskey (my preferred drop), and we settled into watching a most enjoyable game of football indeed.

I've noted before how it seems that teams don't play as beautifully when they're panicked. Well I'm now making the further note that perhaps teams fall apart a bit when they're too cock-sure of themselves. Now it might be a difficult point to make, because there's no doubt Australia dominated, and... well... they won, very convincingly. But from where I sit it should have been 4:nil rather than 2:nil. Am I being too picky? Maybe, but I'll go on.

It's maybe a strange thing that it is when Australia is so unambiguously dominant against a clearly inferior opposition that their key, abiding weakness becomes most clear. There is nobody who can dribble up front for one thing. But at the same time there appears to be a great difficulty in bringing the crosses from the wings to fruition in goal. The opportunities were falling from the sky, apparently every few minutes, but to little avail.

In short, our forward action seems to be wanting. In saying so, I now duck for cover.

The two goals were both just wonderful stuff. No question. Bresciano's in particular was world class. I could watch it again and again and each time my heart leaps. So don't get me wrong. My hat is firmly off for our boys tonight. But the Bahrainies were a bunch of unblooded kids. We knew they were easy meat, and frankly my hat is off to them as well, for their bravery and for their spirited effort to the end. Is it forgivable to suggest the Socceroos really should have done even better?

My Asian mates and I have agreed to get together to watch the Asia Cup games together, with the important exception of the case if Japan and Australia end up in the finals. In that case we shall watch the game in seperate circumstances.

Good night.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

John Cleese's View

DVD Review: John Cleese on The Art of Football From A to Z, Directed by Hermann Vaske, Studio Hamburg, 2006.

I've naively enquired before about books and videos about football. My regular bookshop, Avid Reader (an excellent shop incidentally) had two books about football (Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters, and Les Murray's By the Balls), both of which I bought (nearly finished the second). But yesterday I checked out the sports section in Borders, and discovered how expensive this obsession could actually be. It's got a great selection of books and videos, and I purchased The Art of Football as well as a book, Bill Murray's The World's Game - A History of Soccer. Next Monday I'm starting work in Archives Fine Books around the corner, so I hope I don't get into trouble for linking these others. Mind you, Archives is a massive and truly glorious second hand bookstore and is barely in competition with these others. It also has a good football section, which I will no doubt get around to browsing fully. Moving along...

I watched The Art of Football last night. It's not a must-see ok? But it is a lot of fun all the same, and the brilliant and snappy snippets of football footage throughout are worth the experience on their own.

John Cleese is not at his funniest, but I'm certain he didn't write the script. Probably the funniest section is 'M for Monte Python', where they replay a game from Monte Python's Flying Circus. But there was certainly a few other belly laughs.

There's something about this film that doesn't quite work for any particular audience. It would be a perfect introduction to football for kids, with the slapstick comedy and simple structure, yet would fail them with all the subtitled interviews. For a more sophisticated audience, the device of multiple, wide-ranging voices is challenging and interesting but the A to Z structure is a bit too forced and some of the humour is just... um... laughable.

There's my honest overall impression, but I need to get to the positives because they are many, and frankly if you're as tragic as me you'll want to see this movie anyway.

The interviews, with Platini, Henry, Ballack, Kaka, Pele, many other players, various artists, musicians and directors as well as politicians Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Henry Kissinger are beautifully spliced together for each section, to give not a viewpoint of the game, but a snapshot of the full controversy, about referees for example (T for trainer) or (O for) the Off-side rule. I have no complaints about the content itself - it's really exciting.

Two outstanding sections are 'W for Women' and 'X for Xenophobia'. The footage of women's games (and interviews with various female internationals - embarassingly I can't remember their names) is inspiring and appears to confirm my suspicions about the future of the woman's game. The xenophobia section is self-consciously a statement, powerful and unambiguous, with Thierry Henry featuring in particular.

There is some light hearted jibing at America. "The wonderful thing about football is how creative it is and this is why it's never caught on in America..." The reason I mention this is that apart from where Cleese specifically refers to some of the idiosyncracies of American football, most of the anti-American comments refer just as well to Australia. At least we're trying to get over the use of the word 'soccer'.

All up, despite my negative comments about the production qualities of the film, there is a lot of fun in The Art of Football, and plenty of good content to interest pretty much everyone. There's probably no need to buy it as I did. But if you like football, it's definitely worth a borrow on a quiet Saturday afternoon.



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.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Suncorp Stadium, 7th October 2006

It was a full moon of course. The drama, indeed the tragedy, was perfect, Homeric even. Arnold's end, in my view.

The atmosphere at the Suncorp Temple was magic from an hour before. The three children with me, my son Jacob and his mates Morgan and Stavros, were beaming glory and light under the moon, along with the other 50,000. The night was as balmy as only Brisbane knows how to be. Beautiful. Sublime even.

The moon, climate and crowd were not the only sublime thing tonight. The football was truly glorious. Truly, I underestimated the Australian Socceroos. I am guilty in fact of even having moments of thinking they were a bit lucky in the World Cup. I'm on record as thinking they'd lose tonight 3 nil. I was wrong. Australia dominated, and dominated consistently, with grace, style, flair and beauty. I mean it. I was in heaven for 90 minutes.

But I reckon I was right about one thing. This business of replacing players as a matter of farewell ritual was ridiculous and it cost us the game. Here is the drama: our goal scorer, Tony Popovic, was replaced, for no tactical reason, and the very person who replaced him, on his first touch, scored a home goal against us. Hubris. Schwarzer, who let the goal through, had also only come on minutes before. Stupidity. Stupidity and arrogance. Hubris.

So this was their farewell? Am I the only one who reckons they should have been farewelled by some intelligent leadership (from the coach) which would have with virtually no doubt at all won the game, and maybe a cool ticket tape parade or something? This ridiculous ritual plan, replacing tactical acumen, ruined the night for the players, including the retiring ones, and the fans.

Graham Arnold, fuck off. You are a dickhead. Beauchamp, I don't blame you mate. Well I do - you fucked up, as did Schwarzer - but dumb things happen. I really blame your dim-witted, 'people person' (arse licking) coach. We should have won tonight, but Arnold was more interested in us all feeling nice than winning the bloody game.

It was a fantastic game of football. And fantastic drama. Let the passion, love, blame, guilt, tears, blood and gore flow, flow, flow. Thankyou Socceroos. A draw is good anyway. Glory to you all.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Football at the Story Bridge

The good news is that after some effort I finally found a pub with Fox Sport 3. They were just setting it up at The Story Bridge Hotel as I called at about 5pm.

Pleasingly virtually all the screens throughout the place were on the football. Watching football to a sort of rock n' roll yuppy atmosphere isn't too bad, but I'd prefer to be able to hear the commentary, and I must get Fox. If I figured it out, I'd probably save money on drinks and petrol (by the way I am very careful, drinking light beer and coke in turn).

Anyway I watched the North Coast vs Adelaide game and about twenty minutes of the Perth vs NZ game, which continues as I type. The first half of the first game was pretty good. North Coast looked decidedly unbasketcase-like in fact, and that Mori bloke had quite a few dangerous looking moments. But although Adelaide was very dominant in the second half and deserved to win, the second half was a scrappy business. By close to the end, with Adelaide up 2:1, it was just silly, desperate, panicky, ugly. Never mind.

I'm not sure if I would have gotten through the second game anyway, as I start a job in the morning which I could really use in order to be able to afford Fox, but the opening 20 minutes were really shocking.

A couple of very drunk young blokes asked me who I thought was going to win.

"They're both playing terribly; I don't care, but probably Perth," was my reply.

"Are you going to the Paraguay game tomorrow? I hope there's Paraguayan girls there. They're hot."

The other lad enquired, "Isn't it Uruguay?"

"No, it's Paraguay," I retorted. "I have a feeling they'll kick our arses."

"Mate, if they win, there'll be a riot!"

Great. Anyway I left about then. The company was matching the football.

I must say I can't wait for the atmosphere of a packed Suncorp Stadium, which is quite amazing even with 15,000 people, let alone over 50,000. And I do hope Australia wins, just for the adrenaline charged crowd experience of it. If Australia does lose, as my inner realist expects, I dearly hope we can be civilised about it. I love my country, but there is a dark side.

Good night.

Round 7 (and Paraguay) Predictions

Well for Round 6, I got three points for picking the correct score of that oh-so-forgettable game between New Zealand and Central Coast, and Jacob the lad got a solitary point for picking the result but not the score of Perth vs Newcastle. Over the two rounds we've done this, we're 4:4 even. The system in this private tipping competition between myself and my son is 3 points for a correct result and score and 1 point for a correct result only.

Here are our predictions for this week.

Adelaide vs Central Coast
Adelaide 2:1

Perth vs New Zealand
Perth 3:0

Sydney vs Queensland
Queensland 1:3

Newcastle vs Melbourne
Melbourne 1:3

Adelaide vs Central Coast
Adelaide 3:0

Perth vs New Zealand
Perth 3:0 (we agree!)

Sydney vs Queensland
Sydney 2:1

Newcastle vs Melbourne
Melbourne 1:4

The match that really concerns me this weekend of course is the Socceroos vs Paraguay. I brought the son yesterday to Queen St Mall to see the heroes, and yeah, the reception was great and everything, but the boys did not seem happy somehow. Considering there were thousands of people screaming adoration at them, some of them kind of looked depressed. I now suspect that I know why, and frankly I think the FFA screwed up regarding Craig Moore.

Look, why couldn't they give the man a fine, and strip him of the captaincy? Too easy. FFA didn't just drop one of our top players, they threw a morale bomb into the whole team. Do we want to beat Paraguay or not? I'm thoroughly pissed off and my confidence for the boys has gone.

Had a look over at Jesse Fink's Blog at Fox on the Moore subject. The man (Fink) is a self-righteous, arrogant turd as far as I'm concerned, and I'm disgusted with many of my fellow Australians for not giving one of our boys any benefit of the doubt.

The other thing which has been crawling under my skin for days now is this whole 'give the retirees a sendoff' thingy. So we're going to start with a second goalkeeper for the sake of a ritual? What's more, a large portion of the lineup, and four substitutions, are being decided on the basis of this grand gesture? Great. Where does that leave Arnold's capacity to be clever? A lot of people are watching Arnold wondering if he is capable of running a clever tactical game, but it seems he's solved that one before we've even started. Once again, does Australia want to beat Paraguay? The Paraguayans must be laughing at us.

I'm picking Paraguay to win 3 zip. Still looking forward to the game though - just hope they're good goals!

On Paraguay, quite aside from my own reasons, Jacob was not optimistic anyway (he's more of a realist than his Dad). He reckons Australia will lose 2:0.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Oz Football Bloggery Review

When I began this blog, I did so in the honest but naive belief that there just wasn't any ongoing football bloggery going on, and hence I determined to fill the space, however unqualified I was. I even gave myself the following sunset clause:
I do not think I'm the person for this job. If the Soccer Squirrel got going again or someone was to direct me to a good Australian football blog, I'll probably abandon this project, but meanwhile, I'll have a go.
Well good blogs there are, as I have since discovered. This has been a delight, and a wonderful source of learning to boot, but at the same time I've abandoned my sunset clause. I'm staying, despite the other good blogs.

Partly this is because I appear to be the only Roar supporter keeping a blog. But also, perhaps it's relevant to chronicle the journey of a brand new tragic. This is the blog of the utter non-expert. My game analyses are impressionistic, uneducated, and usually a little tipsy. Perhaps it is indulgent, but then, if the only relevant perspective was that of the expert, we wouldn't have a growing football culture in our country. Here we have the equivalent of pub talk. Take it or leave it.

So let's check these blogs out. I believe in independent bloggery. I (now) know Fox Sport has a very active blog, as do the Fairfax papers SMH (Flog) and The Age (Balls Up). These are important, as with the mainstream media outlets in general, as these have better access to primary sources than we do, and a certain discipline which can be relied upon. By independent however I mean not attached to any revenue base or editorial restraints. In politics I think the blogging world is very important, to ask the questions, make the speculations and draw the conclusions that the MSM simply are unable to make. And football, obviously, is far more important than politics.

Apparently there was a bit of a rash of football bloggery during the World Cup. I simply wasn't following it, which is a good indication of how recently I have been 'infected' (as Les Murray terms football tragedy). The Soccer Squirrel remains a good example of an apparently great blog, with several contributors and a mandate to be, "The best opinion based soccer blog which focuses on current issues within the world game. There is a specific focus on the development of the game in Australia, the A-League and the Socceroos." It, along with other blogs, apparently ceased to be attended soon after the World Cup. If it doesn't come alive soon, the link will be disappearing from my sidebar.

Who knows what happened to "A League of Their Own"? With the brief, "A less than serious look at the all-new Australian football league, possibly the only competition in the world that has a frisbee for a trophy. Part of the Real Life News blog community" it sounds great. The evidence for its existence is there, but there is now no such url.

But there are surviving bloggers. Happily just this evening I note the resurgence of Vando's Aussie World Cup & A-League Blog, which had lain dormant since the World Cup. If it is true that my blog had anything to do with Vando coming back to the fray, then I have done good there. Sure he's light, discursive and opinionated. Brilliant stuff! Bring it on! Buy the man another drink to loosen his tongue further!

There's a couple of other blogs which I'll just mention fairly quickly. Keks looked pretty good, and its author had at least begun with a commitment to following the A-League, but it does seem to be in languish since the WC, and it took almost two weeks for my comment to be moderated. It was moderated however, so there's someone there. Hello Keks? Come on mate. Maybe you've moved to another platform?

Like Keks, Owatalk is not just football. Football is just a main (if not the main) category. Wes is the author, and he's interested in other sports, including Christianity. I simply can't complain because I've been known to go on about politics, a far more dangerous sport than either rugby or religion.

Just yesterday I discovered Round Ball Footy, quite by accident, which has an explicit Socceroos focus but apparently is alive! There was a post about a week ago, the first since the 27th July! Hopefully with a bit of socceroo action coming up, we'll be hearing again from Philos and his mates.

I've left the three blogs which have really helped me, and which, without meaning to slight anyone else, I want to most greatly recommend, 'till last.

Confessions of an A-League Junkie, by James Brown, is always worth a look. I hope he doesn't mind me saying that his style reminds me a little of me, except with about seven oceans more knowledge of the game. He gives us regular reports, reviews, commentary on (football) politics as well as play, and he maintains an excellent list of football links. James is regular, and answers comments with friendliness and courtesy. He directly encouraged and helped yours truly in fact, in my search for blogs. At the same time, he humbly noted his 'jealousy' of the following two blogs, which in my mind (and I suspect James's) are genuine treasures for anyone in Australia who wish to follow football.

I mean it. Between Tony Tannous's The Round Ball Analyst and Mike Salter's The Football Tragic, we have an independent football resource to be very proud of. They are better - in my view by a country mile - than any football journalism the mainstream has to offer. In comments on their own blogs I'm sure I've thanked them so much that they're getting bored with it, but at this stage, novice tragic as I am, I am in debt to these two gents and call them both sensei.

For detailed, considered analysis of the games, apparently without fear or favour (maybe just a little bias toward Victory, but given their success rate, who can say it's bias?) Tony is the best bar none. If Tony is poached as a football journalist for a major newspaper at some stage, it will not surprise me. (Actually I'd say the same for Mike, but for different strengths.)

Tony's is not a daily effort. The regular features, which appear to go back to the beginning of the A-League, are a 'Round Up' after each round, and a 'Team of the Week' after each round. Browsing his archives I note that Tony does have the odd post on the Socceroos, and he certainly covered the World Cup when it was on, but these two regular segments are the features we can rely upon. The Round Ups are the best post-game analysis I can find anywhere, and for me (as a learner in early stages) his fantasy 'Team of the Weeks' are a most excellent introduction to the players with their strengths and weaknesses, with an obviously deep and intimate knowledge of their histories. Invaluable stuff. Just invaluable.

Having commented a little on his site I can also report that Tony is friendly in reply and has been encouraging to me as a newbie. If I have a criticism of his site, I think there's something just a tad arrogant about having no links to other blogs and resources. Bloggery, in my humble opinion (and I've had much more to do with bloggery than football) has a strength in community. But maybe Tony has aspirations to be more? A budding professional football journalist? Maybe he should be indeed.

Mike Salter of The Football Tragic might also aspire to be a professional football journalist, and clearly has some media background as well as connections in the industry. If so (to either Mike or Tony) good luck!

I've outlined Tony's strengths with unabashed flattery, and I meant every word, but Mike, apart from being obsessively regular (generally daily), has a much broader and more courageous sweep in his subject matter. It is impossible to review the content with justice, so I'll just touch on a few of his areas. Mike's is the only blog of which I have gone through and read every post and every comment. It was worth it.

Mike's player reviews (eg David Carney, Tony Vidmar), generally reflecting on the moment in their career but always very informed, are excellent. He covers international as well as Australian players.

Cliché Central, (Part 1, Brief Update and Part 2), and other journalism about sport journalism (eg Let's Get Physical) is excellent. Mike is a self-confessed 'football journalism tragic' as well as a 'football tragic'.

On football journalism, of commentators, Mike does not like Craig Foster, apparently since the latter's initial criticism of Sydney coach Terry Butcher, and most recently in Floundering Fozzie - Update. I'm just not qualified to get involved in this controversy, but having watched Sydney play a few times now, I'm inclined to think Mike's home-bias is colouring his defence of Butcher. It doesn't make the discussion any less entertaining, or even informative, however, and after Sydney's last result, maybe the Butcher-critics (including myself) are due for a diet of their own words.

When it comes to the rules, of which he speaks a fair bit, Mike is bold in recommending changes, which I find especially fascinating. Have a look at Rethinking the Restart Part 1 and Part 2 for an excellent example of this. The Penalty Curse, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 is also challenging and bold stuff. Once again from my newbie perspective, extremely educational as well. Love it.

Mike's analytical reach is broad, including on occasion women's football and local games in Sydney, but also reaching to the scandals at the highest levels of international soccer. He's critical of the Blatter regime at FIFA, and indeed the whole sordid network. Most recently, With Friends Like These... gives us an insight into one of the mates, Jack Warner. His Places at the Table series is the best intro I've encountered on how the different confederation's places in the World Cup are determined, practically and politically. It is also a good example of Mike's broad watching view of football media in general. I am not exagerating when I say Mike is an incredibly important source for all aspects of the game.

Mike also attracts some intelligent and helpful commentary. 'Magnum' stands out in this regard. The football blogging world is far from mature in this respect in my view. In sport as in politics, we get closer to the truth of the matter in the midst of dialogue than we do from a particular expert.

If I'm just far too gushing, especially of Mike and Tony, it is the awe of a novice speaking. Perhaps as I get wiser in the world of football I will see the edges better and will become more guarded and critical, but I'm not looking forward to that. I'm learning from these guys, and really loving it.

As a final thought, there's some niches that definitely need filling. In terms of the A-League, explicit supporters from Perth, Adelaide, Newcastle, Gosford and Auckland would be very welcome I reckon.

Far more gaping however is the need for a dedicated follower of the Matildas. The Matildas are not, in my view, destined to merely be a second-best competition, as in tennis and swimming. We know the women's league is growing and that the Matildas are doing very well, but this is not my point. The nature of football is such that just because the women may not be able to (on average) lob kicks as far up the field, do aerial combat so high, or be as physical with one another, does not mean they'll play a lesser brand of football. On the contrary, these are exactly the things the purists call for less of. Quite plausibly, the women will ultimately be producing a more beautiful game than the men. Food for thought there.

Cheers, and good night.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Do We Want the A-League or Not?

Now I'm angry, and I'm on a mission, and I'm asking people to help.

Especially with this sudden move to the new 'Fox 3', it is impossible for me to watch the A-League today. Believe me I tried. I went to five pubs. The Muddy Farmer, The Clarence, The Morrison, The Red Brick and the Boundary. None of them had heard of Fox 3, and even those who tried (Muddy Farmer and Clarence) couldn't get it. They couldn't find out how either as Fox technical assistance (according to Lee, the owner of the Clarence) ends at 5pm.

Now, sure I could get Fox Sport for myself. Firstly I simply can't afford it just now, but even if I could there's an extremely important issue here for the future of our game in Australia. I mean it. This should concern every one of us who has a desire for football to grow in our country, and we should not forget that it remains precarious. The survival, let alone growth, of the A-League is no sure thing.

I want answers to these questions:

1) How many households have Fox Sport in Australia (and SKY Sport in NZ - I have no doubt this is holding back the following of the game there too)?

2) How much did Fox pay for the A-League?

3) How much would/could SBS, ABC or a commercial free-to-air channel pay?

4) Who did the deal, and what is it exactly? I want details.

Without answers to at least some of these questions, I can't be sure, but right now I'm strongly suspecting that the economics of the A-League has a very short-term vision behind it. Apart from the broadcasting rights, the money is in sponsorships, game-tickets, food & beer at games, and merchandise. The first of these is by far the most important (I suspect dwarfing broadcasting rights) and all of these are dependent on everyday people following the game.

If the football was a viewing option on the weekends for people who may have enjoyed the World Cup but are otherwise indifferent (most people I know), people would be exposed to the game, and the game (because it is beautiful and evokes all the state-tribal instincts of every other gaming code) would grow. So the extra money from broadcasting rights from Fox (that is the amount minus what would/could be got from a free-to-air broadcaster) has to cover a large (and an increasing) opportunity cost.

I frankly suspect that not only is Fox furnishing a big cheque, but their also furnishing FFA executives with dinners, sweeteners and perks, because the interests of the game - and I'm talking about straight economics and growth - are not being put first. I can be proved wrong, but only with hard numbers. I seriously doubt I will be proved wrong.

Football is far from being a 'mature product' in Australia, unlike in Europe. In Europe the need to see the football would drive people to buy Fox to do so, and at the same time it would be impossible for a pub not to have the bloody game on. Here, it just ain't so. To get from here to there, we need free-to-air. Anyone who reckons otherwise, start talking. This tragic needs some serious convincing.

Once again, this to me is the single biggest problem facing our game right now - bigger than the quality of play, club management and coaching (also important, lest I be misunderstood).


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Melbourne vs Queensland

I'm not going to say much. It was good football, and the best team won. The Roar were a bit panicky from the beginning and never really looked confident, whereas Victory have a cool momentum about them which is going to be very hard for any team in this competition to beat. If the Roar can't do it, who can?

For Queensland the only joy was the revenge from the Broncos.

My addendum is yet again about the difficulty for a punter to even see A-League games. Once again I showed up at The Muddy Farmer, as it has proved a good venue for me until now. But they didn't have Fox Sport 3, which is a brand new channel, or that's what they said. I wasn't the only one disappointed this time. There was a small group of folk who had planned to first watch the football and then the Rugby. This is in Queensland mind, and surely the idea of a prequel for the rugby final of a good Brisbane vs Melbourne game should even be a bit of a feature. Not so.

It simply had to be their mistake and they obviously didn't try to figure it out. I called a friend who figured out how to get his Fox to the new channel and allowed me to invite myself over.

And yes, as John said, I really should just bite the bullet and get Fox, but it hardly corrodes my point that the lack of free-to-air coverage is seriously undermining the ability for the A-League's following to develop.


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