Interview: Out of the Bedroom
Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
Legal: The Fantasy of Choice
Politics: Labor Pains
Economics: Economics and the Public Purpose
Corporate: House of Horrors
History: Clash Of Cultures
International: Childs Play
Culture: Folk You Mate!
Review: Last Holeproof Hero
The Locker Room
Contract With Australia
The Locker Room
A Sort Of Homecoming
The remarkable resurgence of Rugby League continues apace, something largely ignored by half the country.
Rugby League first came to Penrith just before the First World War; there was a side at Glenbrook and another at the Gravel pits at Emu Plains. There seems something normal about League emerging from a gravel pit.
Penrith Waratahs spluttered into life in the 20s, when they were a part of the Western Districts League, based in Blacktown, playing a number of teams from around Parramatta, St. Marys, Windsor and further east towards Lidcombe.
On one occasion a truck carrying the Lidcombe team overturned near Rooty Hill, on the way to Penrith, with many of the players seriously injured.
Rugby Union never really got a foothold, and Union still struggles there today. When Penrith came into the NSW Rugby League, and through that the NRL via Super League, it had the biggest junior base anywhere.
There was a hell of a lot more clubs in the seventies, especially around Mt Druitt, and up in the Hawkesbury, but player numbers fell, clubs amalgamated, as the game itself went through a rough patch.
But in those far flung western suburbs of Sydney the game is coming back. Kids are playing it again. And so are grown-ups.
Over eighty years later Penrith Waratahs are still there, clobbering anyone who comes within a Sunday afternoon of them in the A Grade third division.
Katoomba A Grade disappeared for a while, but they came back last year. They struggled with injuries and this year didn't get off to a great start, but a good win after travelling to Quakers Hill shows promise. These blokes just won't lie down, which is always entertaining.
A win next week over the cellar dwellers, Mt Druitt Tigers, sets up for a nice showdown on May 14 when the Katoomba Devils take on the Waratahs at the Katoomba Showground on a late autumn mountains afternoon. The footy is back in town.
Rugby League supporters would have been largely oblivious to the furore south of the Murrumbidgee.
A remarkable incident at Launceston at the end of the Fremantle and St Kilda AFL match: the umps didn't hear the final siren and Saints came from a point behind to secure a draw.
Thousands of increasingly violent insurrectionists called for the result to be overturned; largely because of a sense of perceived injustice for the Dockers, but also because, if they were good enough, Saints would have goaled and put the issue beyond doubt (a draw always has a level of discontent for the insecure).
One consensus is that anyone who kicks a behind when you need a goal doesn't deserve to win, and the AFL buckled to the howls of the mob and gave the game to Freo on a morality.
This sort of thing happens in country football all the time and it's a wonder that the AFL didn't looked there for a solution. Most Australian Football timekeepers at a club level have a thankless task and fewer morals. Many a trip to Donnybrook has been taken over the antics of the official who gives the aerosol horn a blast in the gloom of a southern winter.
I've seen grown men wrestling over an alarm clock, and grizzling over cans of Carlton Draught, but it comes to no avail. The Umpires decision is final, and no correspondence shall be entered into, even if the Ump has to be escorted to his car by a cop or the victorious club secretary.
Otherwise every week you'd have calls for games to be overturned because any given game of footy, in any code, has its share of rough calls. Some of them are even reasonable, but most are visible only to the partisan. It gives people something to talk about.
In Tasmania in 1967 the state final between North Hobart and Wynyard at West Park, Burnie, finished when North Hobart full forward Dickie Collins marked in front of goal at the end of the fourth quarter. North Hobart captain coach at the time, John Devine, takes up the story.
"Dickie was in the right spot, he marked in front of the pack and then got knocked over as well.
"The umpire paid a 15 yard penalty that took him right to the goal line.
"That's when the spectators jumped over the fence and ran onto the field. There were people and kids running around everywhere.
"I said to Dickie 'hold your horses, the umpire will sort this out and get everyone off the field'.
"But the next thing I know the goal posts are running past me up the field.
"They were only sitting in sockets in the ground and the Wynyard people pulled them out and took off with them."
The Wynyard supporters claimed Collins had marked after the siren. Umpire John Pilgrim, a Presbyterian Minister, disagreed.
North Hobart supporters attempted to souvenir the goal post for the return train trip south but, despite the support of some sympathetic railworkers, police managed to retrieve the offending pole.
Wynyard, in front when the mayhem ensued, were left holding nothing but the goal posts after the state final was declared as a 'no game'.
Taswegians, as we've recently seen, are a tough breed, and they love their footy, and they know from bitter experience the frailties of the final siren. Umpires and referees, as a rule, seem to annoy everyone at some stage, but without them there is no game.
It's a caution, to be sure, but there is merit in leaving things to the man in the middle. That way, supporters, coaches and players don't have to blame themselves.
Phil Doyle - taking it one week at a time
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