Tag Archives: football

The birds down the beach and other things

Ho hum. The Football World Cup is coming to its conclusion and many of the people I know who are interested in the round ball game were hoping for a France-England clash. I must admit there would have been something historically satisfying about a France-England clash. The Poms might finally have got their own back for the Battle of Hastings.

Oh wait. That was Agincourt, wasn’t it? The French were probably hoping to get their own back for the Battle of Waterloo.

The Frogs and the Poms are best mates these days, ever since WW1, which ended slightly fewer than one hundred years ago. But they were bitter enemies for many centuries before that. Alas, it is not be. The last semi-final has now been played, and it seems England will have to wait for a few years more. Croatia beat the Poms 2-1, so the grand final will be France vs Croatia, which does not have the same weighty historical significance. I expect the Croats won’t care.

To be honest, I’m not very interested in the round ball game. There’s far too much tiggy-touchwood passing and histrionics from overpaid players who roll around screaming when somebody clips their ankle. In the men’s game anyway. The women tend to just get up and get on with it. Of course, they don’t get paid as much…

The Australian team made its expected exit early in the piece, beaten by the French. Somebody pointed out that the fellow who scored the winning goal for France was ‘worth’ more (in terms of salary) than the entire Australian team. That says something. Personally, I don’t like it. It’s no longer sport, it’s an overpaid circus. Yes, I know cricket players and rugby/AFL players get paid a lot, too, but not in the millions and millions paid to these fellows.

The best football news I’ve heard lately is that 12 Thai kids and their coach are back above ground. Such a wonderful thing to get some good news for a change.

Oh – and in the State of Origin Rugby League (which is a HUGE thing in Queensland and New South Wales)  the Cane Toads (Qld) beat the Cockroaches (NSW) in the third of a three-game series. NSW had already won the series – but Don’t. Call. It. A. Dead. Rubber. (I wonder why they call it a rubber?)

If football’s not your thing you can always watch the tennis at Wimbledon. Sorry, I’m not a tennis fan, either. But even I think it’s great to see the oldies doing so well. Carn Roger, carn Raffa, carn Serena. (‘carn’ is Australian for ‘come on’.)

I was delighted to see that the officials at Wimbledon have refused to move the mens’ grand final to accommodate the football world cup final. After all, it’s tradition.

And now for something Quite Interesting – birds at our beach.

This Brahmani kite is one half of a couple of pairs who hang around the beach. It has just caught/found a sea snake for supper and is carrying it off.

Pelicans are often seen around the Torquay area or at the pier. These three are in perfect formation, flying low across the water.

There’s a couple of pairs of ospreys with territory on the beach, too. They’re often seen around the pier, on the rocks, or in their favourite beachfront trees. This one has just taken off after a bath. The ospreys and the kites seem to exist quite equitably together. They’re often seen in fairly close proximity to each other.

An Australian white ibis comes in to land amongst its fellows foraging at low tide. They are the local scavengers, rummaging around in bins for scraps and hanging around people trying to eat their fish ‘n chips. But they come down here for their natural food, too.

Of course we have the ubiquitous silver gull. This one’s just landed on the shore. Unlike pretty much everywhere else in Australia, our gulls don’t mob people for food. There’s usually plenty for them to eat, what with fishermen leaving fish carcasses on the beach.

And that will do for this Saturday. Enjoy the sporting blockbuster of your choice, and I hope your team/player wins.


A non-believer’s view of football

Sorry, folks, it can’t be avoided. Once again the Maroons have massacred the Blues in the State of Origin series. And without JT!

Actually, I have to admit I don’t much care, but watching Jonathon Thurston put his body on the line for an unlikely win in the second game even impressed me. I expected the Blues to win the third and  last match because JT wasn’t going to be playing. I was wrong. I’m sure I’ll get over it.

Why have I even mentioned it, you ask? It’s a topic nobody up here can avoid, really. Rugby League is something of a religion, just as AFL is in Melbourne. And it can all get very confusing.

I mean, why do they call it football?

The idea in rugby league and rugby union appears to be to tuck the ball under your arm and run like hell until a couple of guys on the other team throw you to the ground. If you’re in danger of getting mowed down you’re supposed to chuck the ball to somebody running a little bit behind you, and let them have a sprint. To score you have to ground the ball (that is, have it actually touch the grass) past the last line on the field, where the goals are – that’s called a try (which always reminds me of Yoda (do, or do not. There is no try)). Often tries are scored when the person carrying the ball flings him/herself at full stretch onto the turf. THEN you get your appointed ball-kicker to kick the ball, carefully positioned on a little mound, from a standing start. If the ball goes between the posts, you get two extra points on the four you got for the try.

The differences between rugby league and rugby union are a bit beyond somebody like me, who (don’t tell anybody) isn’t really interested in either of them. It has something to do with scrums (where everybody goes into a huddle with the ball in the middle until somebody grabs it) and line-outs (where everybody stands in a line and somebody throws the ball into the field and a player is lifted up by his/her colleagues to catch it). I think. And something about union being the upper class game and league being played by the working class. I’m not sure how the All-Blacks (who play – dominate the world – union) would consider that definition. But like I said – what would I know?)

Let’s move on to AFL, the Australian Football League. It’s a legacy of our colonial past, very closely related to Gaelic football and brought here by the Irish convicts. At least in AFL there’s a bit more of yer actual kicking than in rugby. But you can move the ball from player to player via handball, which is not the same as a throw (which is illegal). You kind of balance the ball on your hand, then punch it with the other fist. You are allowed to kick, though, which (usually) sends the ball a longer distance. Then we get to see some spectacular jumping to grab what’s called a ‘mark’. (That is, he caught it). Then they get a free kick for being clever. And you have to kick the ball to score a goal if it passes between the middle two uprights (six points), or if you only manage the outer two uprights, you get a point.

And now we come to the round ball game, played all around the world, where the best players can earn obscene amounts of money. Over in Europe and South America they call it football. Only the goal keeper can touch the ball with her/his hands. You can use your head, or bounce the ball off your body, but basically you’re supposed to kick the thing. So ‘football’ is actually a very apt name.

That’s why in Australia we call it ‘soccer’. After all, both codes of rugby, and AFL, are footy.

Yes, soccer is played all over the country, and is commonly played by school kids, but it’s very much second fiddle at the elite level. Our better players go over to Europe to make a quid, just as the basketballers go to America. Soccer is supposed to be a non-contact sport, which is why you see the play-acting on the pitch (or whatever it’s called) when somebody pretends to be kicked in the ankle. Union, league, and AFL are all brutal contact sports where they’ve had to bring in rules to prevent serious injuries. It’s a bit like gladiators, I suppose. Only nobody is supposed to literally, you know, die.

I guess in that respect we’re a bit more civilised than the Romans.

Lorikeets have their own form of contact sports. Here’s a few pictures.