Friday, March 30, 2007

A text from Shane?- levremance

Shane Warne may be sending a text message to Ben Cousins as I write this. Don’t worry he’s not changing sides. He still barracks for St Kilda. Warne, who’s forgotten more than most will ever know about life in the limelight, offered his support to the Australian Rules champion who is currently battling with ‘substance abuse’.

Cousins’ star-studded fact file includes the 2005 Brownlow Medal and a 2006 premiership medallion but his prowess on the field has only served to highlight his frailties off it. Ben’s father has spoken publicly of the ‘challenges’ facing his high profile son. His club, West Coast, has suspended him for what it describes as ‘personal and private issues’. Sometimes the first step in overcoming a problem is admitting that you’re speaking in euphemisms.

If you view sport as a substitute for war, then Aussie Rules is the ‘Vietnam War’ of football codes. It’s a guerilla game played all over an expansive field. There’s no offside rule so it becomes a game of skirmishes between equally matched opponents. The ability to run, to reinforce, to make the contest is everything.

Ben Cousins, the centreman, runs gut-busting half marathons on match day. He rides fearful hip-and-shoulder bumps every time he goes into a pack to get the ball. He’ll cop a jumper-punch from a no-good tagger when the umpy looks away, then bounce up and kick a long goal, with alacrity, from the boundary line.

In a game loaded in favour of attack, the best defensive outfits have players prepared to wind-sprint to shepherd a teammate, or to dive full-length to smother the ball off the boot of an opponent. Ben Cousins does all that and more. But at 28, with his life in turmoil, he’s deciding whether to go into rehab or go it alone in order to save his career.

Naturally, in a nation as obsessed with sport as Australia, the PM has weighed into the debate, urging the AFL to toughen up its drug policy from ‘3 strikes and you’re out’ to ‘zero tolerance’. With newly released police wire taps implicating more players, the Australian game has a journey into its own heart of darkness to complete. Round one can’t come soon enough.

On Saturday night, the grand finalists of the last two years, Sydney and West Coast, meet in the game of the round before 60,000 at the Olympic Stadium. Bitter rivals, they have split 2 pennants by less than a goal. The Eagles, without Ben Cousins, still run out with an awesome midfield led by the code’s best player, Chris Judd. The Swans will be at full strength and seeking ‘revenge’ for the loss of the 2006 Grand Final by a lonely point. Adam Goodes, who burned in the epic last quarter of that game, believes the Swans are fitter than ever and can reclaim the title this year. But he would say that. The Swans to win by 2 points.

In other matches, my selections are Melbourne to beat St Kilda, Fremantle to be too strong for Port, Brisbane at home over Hawthorn, Adelaide but only just against Essendon, Richmond to account for March champions Carlton, the Western Bulldogs to see off the improving Geelong and finally Collingwood to dispatch the Kangaroos.

19 comments:

postern said...

nice piece, Lev. is this the start of a Pseuds tipping league?
i've spent some time in Melbourne over the last 10 years and have have a friend who is a former AFL player. that there are drugs about is common knowledge, melbourne's a small enough place...have the press just been turning a blind eye? Eddie Maguire has warned players this week not to caught - or at least not to be photographed doing drugs. off the field, how do you seen things panning out this season?

nesta said...

Nice summary Lev. Made the trip up from Tassie and I'm about to catch the train to Homebush and watch The Bloods send the Eagles back to Perth as sick and sorry as a junkie waiting for their fix.

Is Eddie losing his grip, mate? What's all this business about the 'pies CEO joining Cloke at Carlton? Is traitor a strong enough word?

And Lev can we have an article on the century old war between the Blues and Magpies? It would be a great read.

The Blood Stained Angels will be flying tonight. Cheers and good luck against the Kangas.

greengrass said...

Lev -
"finally Collingwood to dispatch the Kangaroos."
I hope that's your prediction for the result of the cricket World Cup.

gg

MotM said...

I really enjoyed those middle paragraphs describing the game - I hadn'r seen it in quite that light, but it's obvious now and isn't that the mark of good writing?

It's absurd to think that some young people with time and money on their hands aren't going to be tempted into drugs of some kind. So longs as they are clearly not performance-enhancing, I think we should just let it go. Of course what is and isn't performance-enhancing is no easy call.

What of Ian Thorpe? He's what 24 or something? Nobody of that age should be under that kind of scrutiny for what might turn out to be breathing second-hand smoke from a spliff. Surely it's not systematic pharmo-cheating under a medical regime we're talking about here?

Ebren said...

Pretty sure that when they banned Wendell Sailor for "substance abuse" WADA said it was nothing to do with them as cocain was not a performance enhancing drug.

MotM said...

Ebren - When Richard Caborn said something along these lines he got hammered - http://football.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/0,,1970797,00.html

Why anyone is bothered about whether someone, sports star or not, takes coke or smokes a joint in their own home is beyond me (other than the usual proviso about the monet reaching gangsters etc, but that's true of many things)?

Cheating is cheating and needs hammering. Not cheating is not cheating, even if it is illegal.

Ebren said...

MotM - I would love someone to be done for it, then point out they were in Holland at the time, had broken no law, and get off.

That would be a fun story

MotM said...

By many accounts the great Dutch teams of the 70s used that excuse.

Zephirine said...

Things I've learned recently: in England, to barrack someone is to heckle or sledge them, in Australia it's to shout in support. And in the US, if you support a team you root for them...which means something quite different in Australia. Divided by a common language and all that.

Thanks, Levremance, informative and sharply written.

mimi said...

lev: I am immediately transported back to our Saturday mornings so long ago - not that substance absuse ever happened in OUR house, obviously. Aside from the drugs thing, I'm struck, not for the first time, that the inventors of Aussie Rules were the inventors of post-modern irony. Why else title the sport of absolute mayhem with such a monicker.
And by the way, your PM seems to be trading dickheadedness with ours - want to swap?

offside said...

Good stuff, Lev, I enjoyed that. Any news about the compromise rules? Will there be more encounters with the Irish GAA lads?

On substances: Snooker hurricane Ronnie O'Sullivan was caught (suspended/fined? can't remember) for Pakalolo smoking a few years ago. A friend of mine was arguing that it may well be a performance enhancing drug in snooker if it helps you relax, concentrate and get into a "zone".

I'm not sure that it would do any good over 15, 20 or more frames. I can't be sure though, I love it but I've always been crap at snooker, whether I've smoked or not. Can't find a table in Moorea so my highest break will probably remain at fourteen for the foreseeable future. (Hey, it was all browns and greens, alright?)

levremance said...

Thanks for the comments, bit tardy getting online as in the idiom of HG and Roy its been a weekend when 'too much sport is barely enough'.
Postern - footy tips - DoctorShoot has set up a tipping comp and all are welcome, you've missed round 1 but its been a round of upsets so you won't be too far behind if you join up. I'll find the link and put it up tomorrow.
How will things pan out this season? I'd like to say the Pies will win the flag but maybe I saw the grand final replay cum forecast last night (WC beat Sydney by a point).

Nesta - Pies vs Blues rivalry, may build the next update in around 6 weeks time around that one.

Greengrass - When Aust plays Eng I find myself hoping that Collingwood will do well.

Ebren/Mouth - the medical 'jury' appears to be out as to whether the 'substances' Ben Cousins has used were performance enhancing. He was tested 4 times last year but wasn't caught.

Zeph - I've read that 'Barracking' as in support by shouting out came from English soldiers at barracks in Melbourne attending early Aussie Rules games.

Mimi - No we don't want your PM and I don't think you would want ours. Swap no, change yes.
Aussie Rules is second nature to me but so confusing to the rest of the world, Marngrook is a good name.

Offside - GAA are apparently coming back to us with some rule changes (no jumper-punching, headbutting, king hits etc)so it might be a bit less entertaining if it returns. Seriously though I think its pretty much going to be gaelic footy which is ok but that might lose a bit of support here.

greengrass said...

Lev,
really great to see an Aussie colony - a virtual Earl's Court - on here! No Windbag as yet, mind!

Sad to say I haven't heard Roy and HG for a while, but I'm sure they'll get loads of mileage from the shining example Thorpe and Cousins are setting for the youth of your great sporting nation.

As a fervent linguist,I am very happy to see the differences between Aussie English and American remarked upon: I have become increasingly fearful that more and
more Australians are speaking American English with an Aussie accent. I don't like to see languages - or variants - become
extinct, and sincerely hope you will prove immune to the Yankee vernacular virus.

I hope to see you in our virtual taproom, though if you're sensitive souls I feel that I must warn you that we have moved with the times and now welcome women ("sheilas") in there: their presence keeps the language cleaner, and they're quite agreeable chaps.

gg

levremance said...

Postern, anyone else - DoctorShoots footy tipping comp address -
AFL footy tipping comp go to http://afl.footytips.com.au/jc.cfm?c=77819&P=paddockwood
league is called 18RoyceHarts

Greengrass - I reckon Thorpe's been set up, time will tell, taproom's a good read.

bluedaddy said...

I liked this too. Funny how something well written can get you going more than maybe watching a clip or something.

Lev, Be nice to get a little results round up on this. I could look it up but be better to get a short summary from someone who watched it.

greengrass said...

lev -
interesting!
Who would want to set him up?
gg

levremance said...

Greengrass – It seemed strange to me that the story broke during the world champs in Melbourne. The alleged raised reading happened about a year ago and apparently has been under investigation for some time.

I read in The Age that the high levels of testosterone were probably due to the fact that Thorpe had broken his hand around the time when the test was taken. According to the medicos its quite normal for this to cause changes in the body’s chemistry. He also hasn’t returned a positive test for any banned substances.

levremance said...

Bluedaddy – This was going to be a quick summary but it morphed into another article.

AFL Round-up for Round 1:

West Coast and Sydney had their third 1 point result in a row (a record) in front of 63,000 at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium. The 2 clubs last 6 meetings have been separated by a mere 13 points. The script was played out much the same as last year’s Grand Final with the Coasters breaking away in the first half to lead by 3 goals at the main break. After an even third quarter Sydney stormed home in the last quarter but fell short by a point. Daniel Kerr, who is one of the alleged voices on recently released police surveillance tapes, played exceptionally well as did his captain Chris Judd. Kerr overcame exhaustion in the dying moments to sprint 30 metres to run down Sydney’s McVeigh, lay a perfect tackle, and win a free kick that made the game safe for the Eagles. Ben Cousins reportedly watched a DVD of the game from his Los Angeles hotel room where he is assessing rehab options.

Collingwood had a comeback win over the Kangaroos by 3 points at the MCG. Four goals down at three quarter time, the Magpies kicked 7 goals to 2 in the last term to snatch the 4 points. Not without controversy either, Shannon Grant of the Kangas was paid a 50 metre penalty 2 minutes from time but the umpire only marched out 35m to set the mark 15 metres out from goal. Grant duly hit the post with his kick from dead in front and the Pies were home.

In other games the Saints upset Melbourne in the season opener on Friday night to win by 31 points, Brisbane beat the Hawks in a scrappy affair by 4 goals, Port set up an unexpected away win over the much touted Fremantle by kicking 10 goals to 3 in the 3rd quarter at Subiaco, the Bulldogs accounted for Geelong by 20 points with Brad Johnson starring with 8 goals, Carlton’s youth shone in Sunday’s twilight game to earn a rousing win over old enemies Richmond by 17 points, and Essendon who lost by over 20 goals to the Adelaide Crows when they last met beat them this time round by 31 points.

The old adage that says that ‘any publicity is good publicity’ seems to have rung true again. The AFL recorded the 2nd highest attendance ever for a round of matches with just over 360,000 attending the 8 games. After everything that went on in the pre-season I think everyone just wanted to go to the footy and shout their lungs out.

Tips for Round 2: Brisbane over the Saints, Sydney too good for Richmond, Geelong to burst Carlton’s bubble, Collingwood to upset West Coast in Perth, Port to dish out more pain to the Kangaroos, Fremantle, on the rebound and away, to beat Essendon, Western Bulldogs to continue the Adelaide Crows woes, and finally Melbourne to score their opening win over the struggling Hawthorn.

postern said...

lev, thanks for the tipping address but do i need a password to join the league?

Tweet it, digg it