Two men in the know defend the footy code they love. And take cheap shots at each other
The Footy Show reporter Damian Barrett rocks more ounce per bounce
Way up here in the moral high ground, us AFL people are so intoxicated by our own greatness there’s only one thing to do – look down on every other football group.
We scoff at soccer because we’re convinced that a match can’t be played without a flare going off or a riot in the stands. And what’s with those “exciting” nil-all draws?
We ridicule rugby union because we just don’t get it – and we don’t want to get it.
Now, rugby league…. look, we want to like it. Truly. And we once did, when the game had a wow factor, when Andrew Johns and Wally and Freddy and Alfie and ET were idolised by us almost as much as Dermott and Wayne and Vossy and Aker and Hirdy and Bucks.
But, what’s happened? Seriously, the game and those who now play it bore us. Sure, some of us will tune in for State Of Origin, but the code has stuffed that up too. There’s nowhere near the amount of biff we love.
We laugh when we look at vision of a match played at an empty ANZ Stadium. And puff our chests nearly every weekend when up to 90,000 people roll up to a home-and-away match.
We reel in derision when we hear how NRL players/coaches make announcements they’ll be playing with other clubs the next season – and then conveniently fail to acknowledge our players do it too.
Actually, we know we’ve got our own problems, like a disturbing, and growing, gulf between the haves and have-nots. But our players don’t feel the need to leave piles of number-two in hotel hallways, nor allegedly conspire with each other to manufacture bizarre ways to open the scoring in a match, nor get shot at in seedy haunts at weird hours.
Ah, maybe we need to rethink that. We did have Fev, who had a little issue with where he did number-ones in public. And yes, there was an AFL investigation into a gambling matter this year, and yeah, OK, there was a Collingwood star who may have been with a convicted murderer one night when he shot a couple of rounds from a handgun out of a sports car…
You know what? We actually don’t mind NRL. But please don’t tell anyone we know.
Channel Nine rugby league commentator Andrew Voss tackles the big issue
Aussie Rules does draw larger crowds and has more reach nationally than our game – but that’s trivial stuff. I pity their loss.
Does league really need to conquer Tasmania to become big? I’d say no. We were in South Australia for two years with the Adelaide Rams and that was all they spoke about there during that time.
We took it away because league is something that needs to be pursued – much like the house of your dreams. South Australians, West Australians, Northern Territorians – they need to strive for it. If we just put teams there, they wouldn’t appreciate it.
You need to find the pot of gold that is rugby league. We have a limited budget and we’re not here to conquer the world in one fell swoop. It may take 1000 years but it will happen.
In terms of results, AFL can’t come close to us. There’s very little variation with their tipsters but league is far more unpredictable. And that spontaneity only adds to the majesty of the sport.
We’ve seen the error of our ways, too. We’ve had GF replays in the past but when someone gives birth, you hang around right to the end. It’d be pointless to push the kid back in and come back a week later, as they did last year. Seriously, there’s no reason for bakeries to make different coloured bread two weeks in a row.
Finally, league gave birth to some great philosophers, like John Hopoate. When he said, after his eighth kid, I believe, “Now it’s time to knuckle down and do what’s right for my family,” I thought, “This is a bloke who’s possessed of wisdom beyond mankind, and who can only be a rugby league player.”
There’s a quote from Joel Clinton, the former Broncos and Panthers player, that is just so eloquent. He once said that being dropped to the bench was like getting a hot poker up his backside. That’s just a beautiful statement that paints a glorious picture.
That’s why I’d encourage kids to play our game – because you can have the ecstasy of winning a grand final, or the agony of having a hot poker up the backside if you’re benched. And that’s where AFL just doesn’t get it.
For the full feature and images grab the October issue of MAXIM, in stores Sept 21 – Oct 19, 2011.
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