And then there are you other bastards, you Australian ones, you knuckle-dragging egg-ballers and your oaf supporters, who have also sneered for years about “spag-ball”, pretending that your parish-pump games of Aussie rules, league and union belonged in the same universe as football, yes, football, you bastards!
And now look at us!
Having scared the bejeesus out of the once mighty French by only going down 2-1 in the first match, our lads then took on the great Danes on Thursday night and made them look not so great after all!
Having suffered a Danish goal five minutes in, did the Socceroos crumble, weep, shake their fists at the heavens above? Did they concede that they were up against a team whose net worth on the soccer market would buy and sell them 10 times over and still have change left over to buy Wollongong?
Did they, hell!
With nothing to lose, and everything to gain, the Socceroos unleashed an all-or-nothing game where they kept moving the ball with searing speed to the wings, who tore off downfield and kept firing at the Danish goal, like bazookas on a bunker.
Time and again the Danish were stretched to breaking point, one time so stretched the only way they could stop the ball was to CHEAT and have a defender put a hand to it. Penalty to Australia, before the goal mouth!
Captain courageous: Mile Jedinak channels Ned Kelly after nervelessly converting from the spot.
Who can Australia turn to in our time of need? Do we have someone who wonât blink in the face of pressure, someone with enormous physical prowess, and cool, calculating eyes? Someone who is a marksman to beat them all?
Say, do we have someone who looks like Ned Kelly? I think we do! Step up, Mile Jedinak, Australian captain.
Now, to oppose him in the goal mouth, we need someone who could pass for a Nordic ski god, a blond, blue-eyed behemoth who fancies his chances at the dances, the ones on and off the pitch.
And while our bloke lines the ball up, we need Mr SuperNordic to jump up and down, wave his arms, and keep shouting at Ned.
Quiet chat: Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel tries to psych out Mile Jedinak to no avail.
Thatâs it, mate, just keep shouting. See if it might help. But I donât think Ned looks fussed. He, seriously, doesnât blink. He is just coolly calculating where you think, he thinks, you think, heâs going to put it. It takes all of 20 seconds, but heâs got it. You think Nedâs going to kick it left.
Ned runs in. He strikes it lef . . . no right, with enough force to blow a barn door down and make the horses bolt.
Goal! Goal! GOOOOOOAL! A goal for your life, Iâll tell a man it is â 1-1!
Even Princess Mary, I tell you, could have been forgiven for doing a quiet fist pump when she thought no one was looking.
And so the score stayed for the next 50-odd minutes as the Australians surge, the Danes wilt and in the end it was the Europeans who could feel relieved not to have lost outright.
(True, I did nod off a little, with five minutes to go in the second half, but only because it was late, and only because I was THAT confident we would hold the brutes. And we did!)
How will we go? Youâll have to ask someone who actually understands soccer. But to my Neanderthal eyes, if we can hold France to a one-goal margin, and draw with Denmark, the Socceroos should beat the Peroos without trouble. And if Denmark can then get appropriately smacked by France, it really will be GAME ON!
This is it, sports fans. This is the weekend where the goodies win, the baddies lose; where ancient wrongs are righted; where the true rulers of the sporting turf can take their place atop a podium composed of their vanquished foes, smiling with their trophies held high.
I refer, of course, to the Wallabies playing Ireland tonight at the SFS and the NSW Origin team playing Queensland at the Olympic Stadium tomorrow night.
In both cases, a splendid series victory is at hand if only our teams have the mettle to grasp it with both hands. Sure the Wallabies had something of a small setback against Ireland last week, going down by a small margin in Melbourne, but so what? After their wonderful win in the First Test, such a defeat will ideally give them just the steel they need to put the Irish to the sword this week. It will happen, I tell you, which will see Australia beat the no.2 team in the world, no less than the grand slam champions.
As to Fittlerâs Blues, the portents could not be more promising. After a great first-up win in Melbourne, they come to play on their home turf against a Queensland side that recently lost three of their four most important players. They need a miracle, but miracle workers such as Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk are missing, with only Billy Slater left standing â and apprentice miracle-maker Kalyn Ponga making his debut. If we canât win this one, we will never win.
But we will win this one! A great weekend awaits, with two great football victories, at home, another one against Peru to come early next week, and only the cricket to keep us humble.
I am tired, OK? And even I canât keep up with the latest Greg Norman heroics â this one seeing him pose stark staring naked, while holding golf clubs. Good luck to him. I merely wish to add that it at least brings to mind the surely apocryphal story which saw late-night TV host Johnny Carson ask Arnold Palmer if he had any pre-tournament rituals. The great man replied: ââYes, I have my wife kiss my balls for luck.ââ
Johnny, deadpan: ââIâll bet that makes your putter flutter.ââ
And so Iâll say it again. If Greg Norman is going to have his mid-life crisis, why canât he just wear a red bandana, like NORMAL people!
Back. Waaay back when, after the Dreamtime, but well before Blue Hills started, back in early August 1918 I say, back in Sydneyâs western suburbs a group of likely lads, aged nine to 13, who delighted in playing street-cricket â âOver the fence is six, but if you break Mrs Cafoops window, youâre out and on your own, cobberâ â decided to form a sporting club. A sacred meeting thus took place in a chook pen in the backyard of Bob Clarkâs place, just off the Appian Way, Burwood. Bobby himself was the key driver, and so became, if you please, the âHonorary Secretaryâ.
What are we going to call it, lads? Well, what about the name of our first âPresidentâ Jackoâs house? The Stones have a grand house in Kelso St, with its own indoor dunny and everyfink, and itâs called âThe Briarsâ.
Yes, thatâs it! âThe Briars Sports Club,â has a nice ring to it. Initially, the lads just ran and swam and played cricket and rugby among themselves. But in 1922, by the time they are young bucks, they enter a Briars team in the local cricket competition and did likewise with rugby a year later. They go on to build a sporting library and a tennis court, and in 1929 â now young men and with a burgeoning membership â they lease a club room in Burwood. Two Briars, Mal Blair and Billy Mann, toured the UK with the famous Waratahs of 1927â28 and 157 members from a list of 187 served during World War II. Sixteen didnât come home. The club has produced Wallabies and Olympians, and today has 1200 juniors and 800 seniors participating in cricket, rugby, hockey, squash, netball and lawn bowls. No other sporting club has a story quite like it.
On August 4 at Sydney Olympic Park, Briars is holding a centenary dinner with, appropriately, a great marathon runner, Robert de Castella, as guest speaker. The centenary history of the club is also being launched. Deek follows in the footsteps of some famous names who have spoken at past annual dinners, including legends such as Alan McGilvray, John Thornett, Dawn Fraser, Nick Farr-Jones and Louise Sauvage.
Old and young Briars seeking details and tickets can visit www.briarssports.com.au
Bravo, you Briars.
Plan? What plan? NSW coach Brad Fittler.
NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler to our own Andrew Webster on his game plan for Origin II, tomorrow evening in Sydney: âI donât know what Iâm going to do. Iâm just gonna wing it. Weâve winged it this far …â Webster says he was joking. He thinks.
James Maloney on Fittler making the Blues taking off their boots at Coogee Oval and walk barefoot on the frost: âWe’ve done some research and Coogee Oval has more nutrients in the earth than any other [oval] in Australia. Deadset. I looked it up on Wikipedia. Apparently it’s good for you. Iâm buying in.â
Chava Sobrino, Australiaâs national diving coach, tells the Tele that Ronaldoâs diving antics in the penalty box in the match against Morocco have impressed him: âIt was a good entry and the performance in the air was really good, but his legs were a little bit apart. We would definitely find a spot for him on our squad â the only problem might be affording his salary.â
Evgeny, the head bartender of Gudini Bar in Kazan, on Australian fans drinking the bar dry after the opening World Cup match against France: âAustralian guys are like Russians, we are the same because we are drinking too much. In the morning, we did not have any beer in the pub. All the beer was drunk. It was so busy, it was so much fun because a lot of Australian people came into our pub and drank all night. I donât know exactly how many glasses of beer I poured last night but I think it was one million.â
Tim Paine on that record ODI loss, which saw England score 481 runs, for the loss of only six wickets: âThis can be a really big positive for us going forward …â How many runs would England need to have scored, before it could be put down as a shocking negative? Discuss, sports
Holdenâs Dave Reynolds on winning a race in Darwin: âI just hung my balls out at turn one and went a bit deeper than everyone. It paid off and that is what set up our race.â Charmed, weâre sure.
South Korea manager Shin Tae-yong didnât worry about Swedish spies watching training as his side cleverly switched jumpers on players, to confuse who was in which position: âThey might know a few of our players but it is very difficult for westerners to distinguish between Asians and thatâs why we did it.â
Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi, after nine people associated with the controversial new stadium, including the principal contractor, have been arrested for corruption. âWhat will happen with the stadium? We donât know. The steps of the procedure all seem valid. We reserve the right to make further insights. If there are no irregularities, we can move forward.â I know.
Lleyton Hewitt on Nick Kyrgios: âThe more often he gets to quarters and semis of grand slams, it starts to become second nature. It doesnât feel that special any more in that situation, and that is
normal and what you expect â and that is where he wants to be. Some people are genuine box office, and Nick is one of those. He is an entertainer and sport needs that â I am glad he is Australian.â
Eddie Jones on England’s loss to the Springboks in the second Test, to lose the series: âIt was a bit like a horror movie, almost a rerun of last week. I wish I knew.â I am glad he doesnât.
Karl Stefanovic, one of many unhappy with Optusâs live streaming of the World Cup: âMy uncle Rob who could do a better job hanging a coathanger from the Edmonton Bowls Club in far North Queensland.â
American golfer Brooks Koepka on winning back-to-back US Opens: âUS Open just takes so much discipline; sometimes you feel like you are about to break mentally, but that’s what I enjoy.â
Wallabies. Take on Ireland tonight in deciding Test
Australian cricket one-day side. Theyâve lost 13 of the last15 matches, and on Tuesday, England broke all records by scoring 481 runs against our attack, lost somewhere between hapless and
Afghanistan. Introduction to Test cricket was a two-day loss to India with all 20 wickets going down in one day!
Alex Blackwell. First woman in 159 years to be elected to the board of Cricket NSW.
Uni Norths Owls. Their 80th Celebration Dinner will be held at the Canberra Rex Hotel on Saturday July 7. Call Mudguts, Jacko, or the Monster, for details. Blue Moon will be in da house! Come.
Robbie Farah. Returns to the West Tigers.
Eddie Jones. In the beginning all that he touched turned to gold. Now not so much. Regardless of what happened then or now, all that matters is what happens in Japan late next year.
RIP Peter Thomson. 1929-2018. The Melburnian who won no fewer than five British Opens passed away on Wednesday, aged 88. (More golf majors to his name, than any male Australian golfers).
Peter FitzSimons is a Herald journalist, columnist and author, based in Sydney. He is also a former Wallabies player.