|Issue No 101||06 July 2001|
The Locker Room
The Bunnies Bite Back
Jim Marr looks at how the battlers have beaten the silvertails in the footy courtroom drama of the century.
On an especially moving episode of the ABC's Australian Story Broncos coach Wayne Bennett argued rugby league's greatest merit was the way it prepared young men for real life - courage, character, determination, teamwork and loyalty were the qualities he nominated.
Nobody proves Bennett's theory quite as completely as George Piggins.
When Piggins was a young man, and that wasn't yesterday, he spent more than a decade with his head buried in a red and green scrum. There was punching, gouging, all manner of things that can't be mentioned, and a bit of footy too.
Piggins was no superstar but he was tough, loyal and South Sydney to the core of his being.
After football, he branched out from his beginnings on the wharf to become a truck driver, truck owner, inventor, garden centre proprietor and horse breeder.
By most estimates he is a self-made millionaire who didn't need the hassles of bashing his head against a corporate wall and suffering the slings, arrows and indignities that come by return mail.
But News Ltd were out to exterminate his Bunnies and that was more than business. It was passion and it was personal.
To most, Piggins v Murdoch, was never going to be a fair fight. But, then again, most didn't know Piggins or understand the lessons he had learned at Redfern Oval.
He took on the Murdochs, their spindoctors, and no shortage of cowards who knew he was right but settled on flight.
Piggins fought them on the streets, in law courts, and the court of public opinion.
It wasn't long before his direct, no bullshit approach had sewn up the latter venue but, at the turn of the millennium, that hardly appeared to matter.
Piggins is no master orator and he plainly did it tough under hours of legal grilling but, in truth, more Bulldog than rabbit, he put his head down, bum up and ploughed ahead.
In Brisbane, at the helm of the franchise that gave us Super League, Wayne Bennett might not have liked the politics but, surely, secretly, he must have loved the approach.
This week, in the Federal Court at Melbourne, of all places, a full bench decision went Piggins' way.
The original trial judge will now have to determine relief and there is no guarantee that that will have the Bunnies back in the elite competition.
Nor should that be a court decision. If the NRL has any courage, loyalty or determination to see the game flourish it will make the call itself.
For the first time since Murdoch, News and their cronies attempted to hijack the sport, things are looking up for the battered old game.
Onfield, the dream came true. Alf, the champion, led those northerners to the most improbable Origin success.
On the Footy Show, believe it or not, Phil Gould produced an outstanding post-Origin interview with an emotional, clearly shattered Brad Fittler.
The ABC re-ran their extraordinary piece on Bennett - father and human being.
Then George Piggins proved that, despite the corporate line, old footy heads aren't dickheads, after all.
FI FO FO FUM ... I smell the blood of the population.
Judging from its recent antics this could be the slogan of our very own Jolly Green Giant.
Yes folks, following in the footsteps of its good friends, the banks, the NSW TAB has decided its shareholders count and the rest of us don't - that racing is a product and those who enjoy a punt are consumers.
What else could you make of recent decisions to force viewers to pay, on top of pay tv fees, for racing on Sky Channel, and the possibly even more outrageous elimination of useful Saturday morning information from 2KY.
Last Saturday's 2KY programme was a disgrace. Twenty five years of providing punters with information before, God Forbid, they actually go to the races, down the tubes.
We won't go into the nuts and bolts here. Suffice it to say - price assessors (read bookies) eliminated; scratchings and core information far too late to be useful to anyone other than those ambling down to the TAB; and the best and most inquisitive racing commentators flicked in favour of the boringly bland.
Switch it on at 8 or 9am tomorrow and see what we mean. Stick around for TAB prices and race calls from Warwick and New Zealand, in preference to something we might actually want to know.
You might be thinking molotov cocktail. Personally, I'm just wondering if George Piggins has got another battle in him.
Interview: A Little Knowledge
Labor's science spokesman Martyn Evans was the Opposition's key player on the Knowledge Nation inquiry. He fills us in on the process.
Education: Theory and Practise
Whether or not you agree with the priorities for of Barry Jones’ Knowledge Nation Taskforce, Julie Wells argues its boldness has to be admired.
E-Change: 1.1 Email Nation
In the first of a series of articles on politics and the new economy, Peter Lewis and Michael Gadiel argue network technologies are reshaping the fundamentals of society.
Economics: Banking on the Goodwill
Given their history, Evan Jones wonders whether banks can really claim to be "just like any other business"
International: A Deathly Struggle
In this dispatch from PNG, a trade union leader briefs us on the situation following the shooting of seven students at an anti-privatisation rally.
History: Enlarging Human Personality
Mark Hearn argues that Lloyd Ross's post-War approach to Workplace Democracy seems contemporary by today's standards
Satire: Shit is a Four Letter Word
Australian TV drama is lame and gutless just look at the ABC's Love is a Four Letter Word, says Tony Moore
Review: Tribute to an Artist
Dalgarno painted the seagulls circling the seafarer like flies buzzing around the face of a bushman. Thus did the artist depict the maritime worker.
View entire latest issue
© 1999-2000 Labor Council of NSW
LaborNET is a resource for the labour movement provided by the Labor Council of NSWURL: http://workers.labor.net.au/101/b_sportspage_jim.html
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005