Baz Blakeney writes in yesterday's Hun,
I have attended only two soccer games in my life. One was a Crystal Palace match in London and it was a fairly civilised affair. The other was a Melbourne Heart game. That too, was without violence or major incident. No emergency services were called. No grandstands were burned. No one was trampled. Or glassed. Or stabbed. Or kicked to death.Here Baz maintains the grand Melbourne sports commentary tradition of writing about something of which he knows very little. But it hardly seems too tough on soccer. Bit of an advert for the game really.
He is disturbed, however, by the presence of a Capo, directing chants, who has his back to the game.
But there was this guy. In the Heart cheer squad. With a megaphone. Shouting chants for other cheer squad members to follow. He spent the entire match with his back to the game. Never saw a kick.
That's not a guy who loves sport. That's a guy who loves shouting.
|Maybe it was this bloke, someone who also spends a |
bit of time with his back to the play at Collingwood games . . .
|Joffa, turn around! The game's the other way.|
Perhaps Baz needs to have a bit of a look at other sports crowds to see just how engaged people are by the contest in front of them. Having recently attended a one-dayer at the MCG I reckon I saw a number of people who loved a number of things before they loved cricket: drinking, getting dressed up as Fred Flintstone, getting their gear off, bowing to authority, fighting, pretending to be morons, building beer-cup snakes. Let's face it, many of them don't actually give a shit about what goes on on the field.
Ultimately Baz is right, the Capo does indeed spend a lot of the game with his back turned. That's his role and his choice. But, it would be madness to say he is not engaged.
Baz, of course, admits that his knowledge and expertise is more in the realm of Australian rules.
I have attended many more Australian rules football games than I have soccer matches.I don't get how soccer is losing the argument thus far; boys being boys, Baz? Probably. But it seems that what footy doesn't have is the old 'underlying menace', a quality usually attributed to manifestations of a different culture or something difficult to comprehend -- like Asian migration, Islam, music without guitar solos, the interwebs, social media and quinoa.
And, despite all the bluster and chest-puffing among Aussie rules fans, I have rarely seen serious violence or malice. OK, I was once decked by a Collingwood fan at Victoria Park, but I probably asked for it. And an Adelaide Crows supporter once spat at me. But what do you expect from hillbillies?
Baz reckons that despite "the occasional fisticuffs and push-and-shove, Australian football never seems to have that underlying menace that pervades the 'world' game" -- a sport of which he has only observed two contradictingly placid examples.
Baz, like the parody of a burlesque of a stereotype that he is, inevitably resorts to the presence-of-evil-wogs (with knives and bombs) argument
I can vaguely understand the old ethnic woes that are inherent in soccer. Serbs and Croats living out ancient hatreds on the football pitch.
And the argy-bargy between English and German fans is understandable given World War II. Bombing raids tend to stick in the memory.
He rightly points out that such miserable bloody race feuds have no place in Australia -- though he does raise the serious possibility that he can't count: "But Victory versus Heart? One team is nine years old and the other is five."
In a thrilling close Baz nails his colours to the mast. He loves his country and its anthem. No doubt wearing his Cronulla Cape, he writes:
The opening lines of our national anthem say we should rejoice because we are young and free.
No age-old hatreds, no bitter rivalries or blood feuds. This is Australia.
Young and free. Young and free.
If you don't believe those magical words, then rack off.
And take your round football with you.A brilliant piece of polemic could have been truly capped off if only Baz had gone to the real source of his inspiration and quoted some of its choice truisms: