Sunday, February 04, 2007

Blogging some Bollocks

Yeah, I know I haven't really been on the blog, and I know everyone is still talking about the A-League. I reckon it's cool that Sydney have been knocked out, as they deserve in my view, but I haven't been watching the games, and have been content to read the analysis from Mike, Tony, John, Cecilia and Wayne.

I've also gotten a bit involved in the discussions over at the Queensland Roar Supporter's Forum. I'll do a bit of an analysis of that one day perhaps. Right now suffice to say that when it comes to "Why I hate Sydney?" I just don't relate. I don't even think it's funny.

Increasingly I'm thinking that it is hatred that is the irrational demon in our game. For all its glory, beauty and transcendental spectacle, is is just me who can see that football doesn't mean anything at all? That is, it means EVERYTHING of course, but meanwhile it means nothing at all. That's Football's superiority as a religion: unlike other religions, there is no pretense that some universal incontrovertability is underlying it. Unlike with other religions, there is no claim that football is not an earthy institution completely contrived and constantly corrupted by humans. Unlike with other religions, at the end of the day we can have a beer and a laugh with our most bitter enemies. I don't hate Sydney. I'm just bloody pleased that they're out.

For the handful of longer-term followers of this particular blogscape, The West End Terrorists are back for their second season, which is just a snappy two months ending with a finals day between the top four on the 31st March, just in time for the winter soccer to begin. For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, the The Terrorists are the indoor soccer team my son is part of, and which I manage.

Last week they began well with a 3:2 win over The Hogz, but unfortunately this week (yesterday - Sat - morning) they were defeated with the same score, by AC Milan. Personally I blame school 'leadership' camp, where after being expected to go to sleep in cabins full of old mates at 8.30pm, the rest of the night is a bitter and exhausting conflict between adults and children, finally resolved by corporal deprivations of enforced standing still and quiet outside for hours. I remember that crap from when I was a kid and I still think it sucks. The kids got back Friday night and needless to say they were all quite stuffed.

Meanwhile the world is full of the beauty of our game and institution. For Brisbane folk, the kick-about continues every Sunday at 4.30pm at South Leagues Club. Last week we got up to 12 a side. The real over-35s competition looms, which will be my first organised competition since I was about 8. But tomorrow, for the sheer hell of it really, I'm also going to a kick about in the morning with the Roar supporters crew, at Tarragindi. Might be an interesting thing. I've learned heaps about watching the game by playing it, and for any football tragic with even a modicum of health and fitness, I think it is compulsory. You've just got to kick one of those balls occasionally.

And there is always, always football games to watch. For the last two Saturdays, cheaper than Fox and more convenient than Suncorp, I've watched games down at the local pitch at El Salvador Soccer Club. 20 or 30 fans, not including the birds, a Corona from the humble little bar run by volunteers, and some wholesome, passionate football. Last week was 'Brazil' vs 'Lebanon'. These were pretty much fully ethnic teams as far as I could tell, screaming at one another out there with their own lingual protocols. Of course I expected the Brazilians to win but they were thrashed by the Mediteraneans. This week was two 'El Salvador' teams, less ethnically based, but with some great individual skill. It was an entertaining 2:2 draw, with a red card and a bit of fire toward the end. Good stuff. You could write volumes about the worse things one could do with a Saturday afternoon.

Football is a religion. It's not just the A-League. It's not for the elite. A part of it will always be a ball of socks on a dusty street in the sun, but it flowers and grows and articulates. It's solace, it's esperanto, it's biophilia, it's love.

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4 Comments:

Blogger john said...

Good to see you back Hamish.

The Sydney thing - it is the human tragedy. Brosque the total professional - no real interest in fans - gets sent off. And brawl erupts - no one is punished yet.

February 04, 2007 1:51 pm  
Anonymous watt said...

Its tricky.

The "hatred" of Sydney FC is a strange phenomenon.

I hate Sydney FC, I don't hate the people of course, and I do not know the city well enough to hate it (and in any case I don't waste hatred on buildings or roads). I never examined this properly but I only ever hate Football teams (River Plate, Nacional de Montevideo, Betar Jerusalem and Sydney FC on hated team in each country I lived :) ) I don't really hate people in any other context.

I hate the way Sydney FC fans keep finding lame excuses for not supporting their team (it was hot, it was rainning, it was Australia day, The ground is hard too get to etc.) I Hate the fact that although they are the biggest city in Australia and we need them to do well for the good of the A-league they brought less people than Newcastle to the game and then congratulated themselves for "being responsible for big crowds in away games" (how arrogant!". I hate the way they need a marquee player and the way they played this year.

But my hatred is not connected to violence. Yesterday a group of adelaide supporters deliberatly walked through the Blue and White Brigades pre game headquarters (pub) there was a lot of chanting and banter, swearing but not even a hint of violence.

The police publicly praised the North Terrace for "exemplary behaviour" at the Semi Final. The scenes after the last goal were some of the most extraordinary scenes most present have ever seen but ther was no hint of violence.

I don't think we should be afraid of the passion our games create I truly believe that most of the fear of violence is a result of media beat up.

One more thing, as we all know football is not just a sport, its a sociological and political phenomenon. Melbourne (and I think probably the rest of Australia) dislikes Sydney and what it represents and the dislike translates to disliking Sydney FC (I think something of the style/personality of a city its reflected in the style of its team), If Keating for example understood the way Sydney is seen he would never have vocalised his famous comment that lost him so many votes.

Maybe Hatred is too strong a word, would you feel more comfortable if people said "I dislike intensly Sydney FC"?

I know my answer is all over the place, I need to think about this a lot more.

February 05, 2007 11:26 am  
Anonymous Gweeds said...

Hamish,

Some of the responses that you get from supporters forums are inane and shouldn't be taken seriously.

I suspect they come from some teenager whith too much tetosterone in his system (mostly is a 'him')

Also there are some wannabees that because there is real hatred overseas then we must 'hate' here as well if we want to be 'true' football supporters.

I confess I don't have much 'traditional' football culture, but do we have to copy everything they do overseas to be 'true' football fans? So Chelsea and Arsenal fans don't mingle, Rangers and Celtic can't stand each other. So what? Are we inferior if instead of all this we decide as Australians to take a different tack?

Do we have to apply a cultural cringe to the way we support our teams? Unlike many places overseas we don't have grudges and hatreds going back thousands of years. We are a fairly happy go lucky country and if we decide to have a beer with a supporter of another A-League team does not mean that we are 'not real fans' because it is not done in South America or in Europe.

We can develop our way of supporting that reflects the type of country we are. I am not saying we should invite them to scones and tea but there is no harm in having a good banter after the game.

Remember also that we are still 'a minority' code and we have more things in common (ie the success of football) than things that divide us.

And as long as we have separate seating for away fans, having them being escorted from the ground by the police etc. rather than not being able to mingle. Other codes will have this aspect over us.

February 05, 2007 11:56 am  
Anonymous wayne said...

you made it out of that thread with grace and dignity Hamish - good lord, you even used "existential" in a reply, what were you thinking! I only started blogging after running in quasi-disgust from the CCM forum, and that for the most part has quite thoughtful, considered comments(i.e. more than three words), depending of course on what happened the weekend before. A timely post mate, thanks for the nourishment.

February 07, 2007 2:09 pm  

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