|Issue No 60||30 June 2000|
The Locker Room
Moving the Goalposts
Reviewed by Anth Courtney (no relation!)
In his Author's Note at the end of "Moving the Goalposts", Mark Courtney makes apologies for any inaccuracies which might be contained within the book, but he quite rightly qualifies this attitude by stating that "in the final washup, I reckon how you remember something, how it actually felt at the time, is probably more important."
In the context of reviewing this book, I would not only second this editorial sentiment, but I wish to adopt the same approach. After a first reading, I openly admit that I couldn't recite every single incident that Mark talks about in his 224 page red and green fantasma.
In fact without being prompted, I probably couldn't convey accurately more than 20 or 30 of the incidents/events/observations that he relates.
But if you asked me to convey the emotions that I felt while reading it on the train and bus that I caught home this afternoon from Redfern to Penrith, then without thinking I could offer you a detailed and lucid response.
I could tell you about how I laughed myself silly at the thought of Mark banging his head into the hill of Redfern Oval. How I shared his frustration at the obnoxious and ignorant attitudes of the executives at the NRL. I could admit without hesitation that I cried on the bus when reading about the devastating impact that the October 15 decision had upon supporters of all ages, sizes and backgrounds. But most strikingly and starkly upon Angela and her kids.
If you were asked to sum up Mark Courtney, you'd have no hesitation in using only two words, "Red and Green"; and you could feel satisfied that people would know what type of person he was.
If you were asked to sum up the experience of reading "Moving the Goalposts", the words "empathy" and "emotion" would be a quite valid and satisfyingly thorough description.
Because when you read the book, the one thing that strikes you is that at some point or another, and in some chapter or another, you've been there and you know exactly what Mark is writing about. Whether it be remembering vividly the moment that Mark is describing and remembering feeling similar emotions of happiness or frustration, or experiencing similar attitudes towards opposition teams, players or executives as
As a South Sydney supporter, you too have analogously jumped the fence at some point in time.
Put simply, in every South Sydney supporter there is a little bit of Mark Courtney. In "Moving The Goalposts" there is a little bit of the life of every South Sydney supporter.
And when there's not, when there's a chapter that you cannot relate to because you weren't present to share the experience, the strongest emotion that you can feel is regret.
Because that's how captivating and powerful Mark's story is.
I must confess that when the decision was handed down on October 15th, I was standing on Platform 14 at Central Station listening intently down through the earpiece of a payphone as Dad relayed what was being said on the radio. After I'd hung up (half breaking the handpiece in the process: apologies Telstra), I had an instinctive urge to just walk off the edge of the platform and hope that the next country train to Wyong would poetically cast me aside in the same fashion that Whittaker et al had done to my beloved Souths.
Thankfully that instinct passed, but I dealt with the inner turmoil by getting on a train back to Penrith instead of continuing onto the Leagues Club at Redfern as planned.
Having read the chapter titled "The Execution", I deeply regret my actions. Sitting on the bus this afternoon, I wished that instead of catching the train home on October 15th, I'd carried onto the Leagues Club like Mark did. But what I wish most of all and have deep feelings of regret for not doing, is that I'd been standing alongside Mark when he screamed unrestrained abuse at tv images of Neil Whittaker later that evening.
"Moving the Goalposts" redefines the cliché of "a rollercoaster of emotions." In amidst the emotions of happiness, sadness, frustration, elation, regret and rejoicing that the author connotates, two clear and emphatic feelings shine through.
Firstly, just like attending the various displays of solidarity like the Reclaim the Game rally or the recent Red and Green breakfast, Mark Courtney reminds you of how great is to be a South Sydney supporter.
Secondly, but lastingly, "Moving the Goalposts" reminds us fellow Souths supporters of how great it's going to feel to be watching the cardinal and myrtle run around next season.
And if you're like me and want to stand next to Mark and Greg next season at every game, hurling abuse, banging heads and giving running commentaries, then our intrepid author is going to have to reserve more than 15 seats.
He'll need an entire bay. And after releasing a book as inspiring as this, maybe they'll name one after him.
Anth Courtney is a chronic Rabbitohs fan and co-developer ofThe Rabbitoh Warren - the unofficial but supreme South Sydney website.
Moving The Goalposts by Mark Courtney is published by Halstead Press and is available from most good book shops for $24.95.
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