Monthly Archives: October 2013
Since going to see Cosmo Jarvis a couple of weeks back I thought I would fill everyone in on what I have been doing since:
WEDNESDAY 16th OCTOBER – MUSIC – IMAGINE DRAGONS (live at The Palais Theatre, Melbourne)
THURSDAY 17th OCTOBER – FUTSAL – CORRUGATED WRAPPERS RESERVES v VICTORIA’S SECRET (ALBERT PARK INDOOR SPORTS THURSDAY DIV 4 GRAND FINAL)
SATURDAY 19th OCTOBER – FOOTBALL – NEWPORT COUNTY v YORK CITY (Rodney Parade, Newport, Wales)
TUESDAY 22nd OCTOBER – FOOTBALL – PLYMOUTH ARGYLE v NEWPORT COUNTY (Home Park, Plymouth, England)
WEDNESDAY 23rd OCTOBER – FOOTBALL – BAYER LEVERKUSEN v SHAKTAR DONETSK (BayArena, Leverkusen, Germany)
SATURDAY 26th OCTOBER – FOOTBALL – BARCELONA v REAL MADRID (Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain)
SUNDAY 27th OCTOBER – AMERICAN FOOTBALL – JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS v SAN FRANSISCO 49ERS (Wembley Stadium, London, England)
I am finally back in Australia and will be putting the reviews up over the next few days.
On paper it seems like a good idea to open the season with a derby match – it is the biggest game on the Australian domestic calendar (for now anyway). In reality there is not a single major football league in the world that does it. There are a few reasons for this, namely that the games are feisty but offer very little in the way of decent football and are desperate not to lose. This also becomes magnified when both teams have played no competitive games since March. The A-League starts late and finishes early, leaving it with the longest pre-season on the planet! The Victory had a gentle pre-season run-around against Liverpool in late July, but to say that was competitive is to call a Maltese-Shitzu a wolf.
Don’t get me wrong, the A-League needs blockbuster games to justify the hype. It is just too early in the season to wish for a miracle and pull a solid gold rabbit out of the hat. The 2011 season kicked off in front of 40,000 when Victory whimpered to a 0-0 against Sydney FC. Two weeks later in front of another 40,000 strong crowd, another toothless performance in the Derby, saw another 0-0 and the second chance that the wannabe supporters put out there was thrown back in their face, like that home knitted jumper your mum got you for Christmas, when you asked for an X-Box. Crowds dropped significantly after that not surprisingly and didn’t really return. Last season’s opener was again the Derby match and at least we saw some goals in a drab affair. The Heart snatched a 2-1 win in front of 42,000+, but the crowds fell quicker than an Italian winger, to less than half of that and again, didn’t recover.
Freezing in front of big crowds is nothing new for the Victory faithful. Way back in their second season Sydney FC came to town and over 50,000 packed into Etihad Stadium to witness quite possibly one of the worst games of football that you could imagine. Another 0-0 on that occasion gave the AFL supporters every bit of ammunition they needed to stay away for ever more. Seven years on and to them it seems not much has changed!!!!
The one thing that normally stands out is the atmosphere that the Melbourne Victory supporters generate. Even that has now been compromised with a split in the biggest supporter group. The once all encompassing Blue & White Brigade, has split into the Northern Terrace, Horda and the remaining Blue & White Brigaders. All these groups seemed to be chanting over each other and nothing really ever got going. The South End were alarmingly well behaved and subdued, where the Melbourne Heart fans were simply being themselves and offering little in the way of “value adding” to the event. I guess this was the most disappointing aspect of the game – the crowd just didn’t, and for the most part, couldn’t, rise to the occasion – mainly through the fare that was being served up not giving them any reason to.
Here are the highlights. There were FOUR shots on goal during the game and two of those were tame, slow rollers straight at the keeper! That’s it I’m afraid – there was not much else to report! Were both teams afraid to lose? Or did the Heart just nullify the Victory’s quick passing game and shut down their offensive weapons? Was it simply that the Victory had no Plan B after Plan A didn’t create anything. Was it a case of rustiness or just one of those lacklustre games you get every now and then? The Heart showed nothing but gave nothing away. Their lone striker was isolated and their midfield played very deep.
The two stand-out players for me were the two new centre backs for each team. 67 times capped Chilean, Pablo Contreras oozed composure and will be just that little bit classier and experienced than the A-League standard – it seemed strange that the Victory went for a defender as their marquee player, but after 90 minutes, I can now see why. Australian Patrick Kisnorbo, who has spent the past 10 years in the UK was also a controlling presence at the back for the Heart. Perhaps this better explains the 0-0 scoreline! Although the fact that Victory continue to play without a striker also adds to this. Imagine playing AFL without a full-forward, or netball without a goal-shooter and expecting your midfielders to rush forward to fill that space, time and time again. If that system is not working early doors, then it has to be changed. Change is a totally foreign concept to most Australian coaches so more often than not games peter out into neutrality.
Harry Kewell returned from the wilderness to play for the Heart against his former club. Harry’s sole raison d’etre for this season is to do just enough to squeeze into the Australian 23 man squad for the World Cup in Brazil next year. If he does or doesn’t make it, I can categorically say that 2014-15 A-League (and all other football) will be Kewell-less. This season is all about Harry – mind you, when has it ever been about anything or anyone else? It was almost all over for him after just 25 minutes too when he went up for a header and got clouted just above the left eye, resulting in him needing stitches. The word is that he nearly passed out as he received them on the sideline and later on in the game, he was substituted with a sore headband.
After only one game of the new season, there are already floating fans that will not return, and die-hards that are completely underwhelmed. Neither side deserved three points. To be completely fair, neither side deserved any points. I have been saying this for a number of years – it is time to consider 0-0 draws not getting any points. That way, you know if you do not score, you do not get rewarded. In fledgling leagues that compete for airtime against other free scoring sports, it should make for some more attacking games……… Just a though to ponder. Remember we might have another 26 weeks of this…….
MELBOURNE VICTORY 0 – 0 MELBOURNE HEART
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There are two phrases that fill most gig-goers with fear – “This one’s off our new album” and “This next one’s a cover!” If it’s the second one that really grinds you then a word of advice – Me First and the Gimme Gimmes may not be the band for you.
Evolution, we are lead to believe, takes (living) things and makes them better – it enhances them for future generations to enjoy a better way of life. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are the musical epitomy of Darwinism, but unlike the Dodo and Tasmanian Tiger we will unfortunately continue to experience the likes of Barry Manilow’s Mandy and The Searcher’s Needles and Pins in their unimproved forms. Me First take those cheesy tunes that you were forced to endure by your parents and turn them into fast, raucous, bouncing punk rock anthems – the type you will be able to torture your kids with in years to come!!!!
Me First are the punk rock supergroup that have no agenda, no fixed make-up and no “original” tunes to speak of. Formed by members of notable punk bands NOFX, Foo Fighters, Lagwagon, No Use For a Name and a host of others, just for something to do in their downtime. Nearly 20 years on, eight albums and over 500 live shows later their appeal has not waned. It takes some doing to get a room full of punk rockers to sing along with fervour, to R Kelly’s powerballad I Believe I Can Fly or Lionel Richie’s Hello. They are a genuine covers band and could quite easily be accused of being a bad cruise ship or wedding reception act! In fact, they do dress accordingly to suit either of these personas….
They did two shows in Melbourne – both of which sold out. The only thing you can guarantee with a Me First show is that you have no idea what classic tracks they are actually going to play, but you will know the majority, and you WILL sing along, even if you have no idea what tune it will end up as. And if I am being completely honest, there were times during the set where I don’t think they really did either. During a couple of the tunes I felt that the punk rift stayed the same and all they changed was the lyrics, but as everyone was singing along and having a great time, no-one cared or batted an eyelash. It was just part of the show. The pisspoor extrusion of Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely was comical to say the least – even the band couldn’t stop laughing at how bad it really was!!!
They opened with a rousing rendition of I Will Survive, and followed up with the 1935 smash hit, George Gershwin’s Summertime. They turned Dolly Parton’s Jolene into 100 seconds of pure boom-crash mayhem and cut John Denver’s Leaving on a Jet Plane in half. Hits from Paul Simon, Billy Joel and The Beatles all got the treatment, but it was the Yippee-Yi-Ay, Yippee-Yi-Oh chorus of Johnny Cash’s Ghost Riders in the Sky, where every man and his dog joined in at the top of their lungs and blasted it around Richmond and beyond. That was quickly followed by Somewhere Over the Rainbow (1939 – is there a theme?) which enjoyed nearly as much crowd participation. I was then half expecting the theme song from Sesame Street to come up, it was that kind of vibe…. but thankfully it didn’t.
One well received surprise (to me anyway!) was a solo ukelele, punk-rock performance of Tom Jones’ Green Green Grass of Home. I’m pretty sure I was the only one in the crowd that knew it all the way through, seeing as it was my karaoke specialty way back in the deepest, darkest pubs of the Homeland, but it totally brought the house down. They brought the show to a close with a version of Rocket Man that Elton John could have never envisioned and then crowned things off in their own inimitable style with Boyz II Men’s End of the Road.
In about 80 minutes, they blasted their way through 20 odd hits. There was never a dull moment. The crowd sung along with every tune and no-one went home disappointed. The perfect Sunday night combination of a few drinks and an upbeat sing-song in a punk rock stylee. I have to say that the sound was again top notch at the Corner Hotel, which in the past has been a bit hit or miss. It still has the famous view defying pillar in the middle of the dancefloor, but I don’t think anyone expects that to change anytime soon.
When you go to see a Me First and the Gimme Gimmes show, and I cannot urge you enough to, because they are great fun, there is only one thing I can guarantee you; “the next one’s a cover” – and it always will be!
In amongst the overpriced rides, overpriced carnival tat, inappropriate piercings and tattoos, and kids called Zaiden, Kaylee, Jaxon and Shannae there remains links to yesteryear and the 100 year history of the agricultural community coming into town! The “Woodchop Arena” is centrally located in all its understated glory to showcase the skills of the men from the bush and beyond. The grandstands are full, more in wonder and intrigue than actual sporting interest, but after all, the Royal Melbourne Show (and all other shows across Australasia) are there for this very reason. The majority of the events continue through tradition alone but are based around the rural skillsets that were prevalent before the times of machination.
I still can’t recall a sport where Dunlop Volleys are still the footwear of choice for the competitors. Especially when they are supposed to be protecting the competitors’ ankles/feet/toes against the dangers of a medically precision sharpened tree felling axe or a motorbike engine powered chainsaw. It is genuinely man versus wood in a wide range of disciplines that are seldom used today. However, every man loves to swing an axe every now and again, and split some firewood or fell a tree. It is good for the soul to get back to the primitive basics. Imagine the inner pleasure when we have to cook dinner on a wood-fired bar-b-que (that you chopped yourself!) …..
In a country where workplace health and safety is so over zealously enforced, it is amazing that some of the events that take place in this sport, are still allowed to continue. The one below is sheer madness. This is tree felling where the competitors use three boards wedged into a small pocket that they have just sliced out to climb one side of the trunk and cut half the tree. They then descend to the ground and use the same three boards to climb the other side to finishing chopping through the tree. They stand on a 6 inch wide plank, 15 feet in the air, chopping the top of a tree off….. with no harness or anything!!!
I’m sure in the past, there have been some horrific injuries sustained in these competitions. Is the rural community exempt from the red-tape we have to endure in civilisation? I have heard of an axe head flying off and hitting a spectator a few years back, which gave rise to the brilliant headline “Little chop of horror!” I guess you get the feeling that someone is going to get hurt – if you’re patient enough!!! I was also told once that the reason why they wear white pants is to show the blood as quickly as possible, because the adrenaline that is pumping through their body as they chop masks the pain……. Not sure if that is the same for cricket……
The competition that I witnessed was the chainsaw race. The concept of this is that you have to saw 3 “wheels” off the end of the log as quickly as possible, but you only have a 100mm (4 inches) space to do this. In all fairness it sounds easy, but it is a true test of operator ability. As well as keeping the cutting motion as smooth as possible, the revs need to kept as high as possible, and you need precision and a soft touch – get the pressure wrong and the chain may well jam in the wood.
Now, these were “stock saw” races where the chainsaws are supplied by the show organisers. There are a variety of other classes available though – this synopsis refers to those Gold Old Boys in the US of A competitions though:
There is no standard class, things vary with the part of the country that you are in, and from show to show. Most commonly, the other classes available are:
STOCK APPEARING – where the chainsaws look stock standard, but are highly modified;
SUPER MODIFIED – where the chainsaw had to start out as a chainsaw but can be modified with expansion chambers etc., altering the appearance of the saw;
All of these can be broken down into displacement classes. This is commonly done on the west coast, where they sometimes run a less than 6in3 (100cc) class and an over 6in3 (100cc) class
OPEN or MOTORCYCLE – go cart, motorcycle or snow mobile engines are used. The only restrictions are that they be one cylinder and started with the pull of a cord.
UNLIMITED – Car engines are used. It takes two people to lift one of them.
A lot depend on where you are. The “unlimiteds” are usually found in the pacific northwest. In New York, you may see a hotsaw class along with a stock class where the contestants bring their own chainsaw. In West Virginia, they prohibit “motorcycle” saws, and run only super modifieds. Across the Mason Dixon line in Pennsylvania, most, but not all, of the contests allow motorcyle saws. It is confusing, and you have to check the rules everywhere you go. I once showed up at at contest entered in the stocksaw class thinking the saw would be provided. It wasn’t.
Your are usually safe if you show up with a big chainsaw which has been visibly modifed. Of course, if the motorcycle guys show up, you will get smoked.
I have also been informed that some competitors will also modify their chainsaws to run on nitromethane to give it that extra bit of oomph – as if you need it! Now I know what you’re thinking – nitromethane, ultra-turbo-boosts, car engine powered chainsaws that take two people to lift them…. Why, why, why??? I suppose for some dumbass rednecks, that was just another normal day in the office – a bit like these ones!!!
In other news, I missed the axe throwing which I was truly gutted about! I’m glad I wasn’t walking past when these guys threw (at 1:05 & 1:47)……
I wished I watched more events than I did. There are a multitude of events that are contested, although by quite a small number of competitors, most of which are descended from a long line of lumberjack families. I’m glad these traditional sports continue and as long as countries like Australia rely heavily on primary industry, they always will. I just hope that they don’t get lost in the commercialisation that seems to be abhorrent in today’s society.
ROYAL MELBOURNE SHOW WOODCHOP – HOT STOCK SAW
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