The Eighties

The tipping comp, could-a-beens and frenzied xenophobes
Lloyd O’Connell

A few years back, a bunch of ageing could-a-beens, mostly with loose ties to the Uralla Wanderers (and weren’t they always), decided to rekindle old UNE Aussie Rules mateships through an AFL tipping comp. Sounds pleasant enough so far. But as the seasons rolled on and the Brisbane Lions’ dominance of the game spanned milleniums – at the expense of so-called AFL states – the good-humoured fellowship began to turn nasty. What with the Cats sinking further into the kitty litter, the Crows opting for yob over youth, and Eddie and Sheeds doing their best to whip anyone south the Murray into a xenophobic frenzy – something had to give. And it did. It came to a head when Tony Sawers (aka C Saws) asked for a ‘special’ rule interpretation: A failed attempt to invoke the “Saws Clause” “It so happens I was in Crowland last week and not having the lap top, rang the better half and asked her to log on to the web site and put in my tips. Unfortunately she failed to actually enter them into the Wanderers’ website in accordance with rule 4 paragraph (b) clause (1). Had the better half entered those tips in a lawful and proper manner, I would have only got four correct. As it was, my picks were not registered through the prescribed channel and I think, fairly and properly, my entry was disallowed and as a consequence I had the AWay teams giving me six correct … etc etc”. A fractious Julian Morison shot back a reply spitting with venom and frustration — Anyone who’s ever run a footy tipping comp will be familiar with the plaintive plea of: “Oh, I did my tips but forgot to put them in.” (JP – honest) or “I was over at Lincoln doing some policy issues with the troops, had a few sherbs, time got away and missed the flight back” (Teddy – full of shit) or “At the last minute had to go to China to close a couple of mines – didn’t remember the tips ’til we were somewhere over Guam” (Cammy – corporate arrogance) or “I had one of the girls put them on a spreadsheet and that young scallywag from auditing, Chris, was going to check them. Don’t know what happened, cock-up somewhere” (BV – dodgy accounting) or “I was on a shoot on Christmas Island and Yamada san said we need a 40 foot yacht, a twin diesel generator, a paddock of flowering canola and 40,000 sheep. Had it just about sorted when Hashimoto kun from Fuji rang to say we were short of dunny paper and that Oh Sama from the Yomiuri Giants was coming in that arvo and wanted a game of golf. Next thing …” (Browneye – worse than Teddy). Now the thing about these piss poor excuses is that there is, on the balance of probabilities, a skerrick of truth there somewhere and, like a Bangladeshi batsman, should be given the benefit of the doubt. But C Saws, how can we apply this case history to your grubby situation? As I see it, we have two choices: (A) apply case history and accept the tips you made and sent to your better half; or (B) make a new law and deem all unsubmitted tips, for whatever good or dodgy reason, ineligible. The nice irony here is that the “new” law (what could become known as the Cunning Robb Law or more plainly the Saws Clause) would simply be strict enforcement of the existing law. To me the case history demonstrates application of what might be termed the spirit of the law. The choice between A and B is a choice between the spirit and history of the game or, consistent with the litigious age we live in, a strict adherence to regulations, no allowance for circumstances and absolute consistency with the letter of the law! I vote for A. Further, the use of Wayne Carey to strengthen the morality of your case seemed to be a mistake in the eyes of all but perhaps a few sad Crows fans! The case rests…

The game takes to the road
Mal Rowe

In the early 1980s UNE moved to the North West League, with clubs including Inverell, Moree, Wee Waa, Coonabarabran, Gunnedah, Tamworth, Robb, and Armidale United — a team made up of blokes from most other colleges (mainly Austin and Albies) with a couple of ring-in shearers and their sons from town. So, there were only two UNE teams at that stage. United played in Footscray jumpers. In 1985 and ’86, I was playing for and coaching United, until one of those gentle (but gigantic) grain farmers from Moree lowered me from what seemed to be the top of a 30 tonne silo, not slowly, onto my shoulder, and that was the end of that career… During these couple of years, United actually fielded a juniors team, made up of young blokes from a variety of Armidale schools, (and shearing sheds). A couple of young lads, Mark and Sean McKnight (12 and 14 years), who, after playing juniors, regularly ran on for a quarter or two with the seniors – gutsy young blokes – who probably ended up playing for Moree. Other UNE players who I remember include Jack Roxburgh (Robb), Lachie Day (Robb after an initial year with United), Mark McRae – who regularly played with a broken wrist (United), Campbell Hill – high flying young bloke, liked to run in from the side and get the lift from the others (United), Daryl Gifford – fastest bloke in the league (United), and Guy Geeves – gutsiest rover I’ve ever had the privilege to play with (United).Then there was Ox, Boone, and a swag of others whose names have all faded. As I remember it, it was always a struggle to get a full team together each week, and despite the promises on training nights that they’d all turn up on Saturday, we’d often get to Moree with only 14 players.Wee Waa and Coonabarabran were long-hauls, and the three to four hour journey home meant that muscles had pretty well locked up by the time we arrived back at college – fall out of the car, having missed dinner (which might have been a good thing) and take the next week to recover. It was a different story when we played Robb – always good to beat Robb. Always good to see Jack Makeham down behind the goals too, and share a drop of the cask – if there was any left – after the game.

Hail the King
John O’Connell

Justin King was a much loved and sadly missed member of the UNE fraternity (attending uni between 1979-83 and playing footy for a season or two with United) having his life and football career cut short through cancer in 1990. To be brutally honest Justin was a bloody hopeless footballer who somehow managed to sneak into the team photo opposite (front row, of course, second from the left). Nothing good could ever be said about his exploits on the field – but off the field was another story (or several). Here’s just one of them of note: I spent a notorious week or so with Justin in his home town of Adelaide around 1982-83 staying with his parents at their place in the McLaren Vale vineyards.We hit the big city lights of Adelaide on a Friday night where Justin hooked up with an old girl friend who was staying with her parents in Glenelg – along with a couple of her rather attractive mates. This same night we briefly bumped into another Adelaide cum UNE local,”Smiley”, who was a legendary centre half back for United (best mark of a football I’ve ever seen). In my impressionable eyes he always seemed to be ‘out of it’ or ‘on something’ hence the smile. Anyway, we left Smiley smiling by the bar and headed off towards Glenelg and some beachside nightclubs with the girls in tow. Justin had noticed how the girls had reacted to our banter with Smiley about footy at UNE and he could sense we were on to something so out came the bullshit thick and fast. Unfortunately, this footy banter began to wear thin and the girls decided to start walking back to the parent’s place which was not far away.We tagged along still hopeful of a romantic liaison of some sort but Justin soon realised we weren’t impressing them and something drastic needed to be done. Justin was a dangerous man when bored or frustrated as he was capable of almost anything – like the time in a restaurant in Adelaide when he got bored having a dinner with some friends. Saying nothing he stood up and walked off to the toilet taking a long bread roll with him. Slightly mystified, his friends continued eating until Justin appeared out of the toilet completely naked except for the bread roll wrapped around his penis. He walked up to the table and calmly asked if anybody else was as unhappy with the food as he was and would they like to try hot dogs instead. Thinking back, whenever he was bored or desperate he often took his clothes off in public and he did it again on our night out in Glenelg.Walking from the beach we came to a river that Justin just had to swim across. Off came the clothes and he jumped into the river managing to reach the other side. I was with the girls who were giggling away but there was something else amusing them: Justin was hung like a horse – or should I say in the context of this book – a goal post.This tweaked their interest greatly. (Another famous Justin story goes that he won a bet with a few locals in a pub in Hamilton regarding the size of his appendage, but that’s another ‘golfing’ story). Back in Glenelg, on getting out of the river Justin refused to put his clothes back on and we had to endure him marching along the main streets of Glenelg starkers until we get to the ex girlfriends parent’s place. Unbeknown to us, the parents lived in the swish penthouse of a 10 storey building. If my memory serves me right, her father was mayor of Glenelg.Anyway, Justin marches up to the lifts in the foyer and presses the lift button. As the first lift arrives and the doors open some horrified residents who had picked the wrong time to leave the building, are faced with a beaming, naked Justin. We’re all in stitches as we jump in the now hurriedly vacated lift and go up to the penthouse with Justin proudly standing at the front of the lift.The penthouse was a secured floor and when the lift doors open there we are looking straight into the living room of the girlfriends parent’s apartment where her parents are quietly watching TV, apparently having decided to stay up a little later than usual. Silence prevailed for what seemed like an eternity as the parents sat there staring at the naked Justin who, for once, was also lost for words. Finally, the father spoke:”You look wet, has it been raining?” We survived the incident and the parents decided they would go to bed whilst we partied on a bit more. Emboldened by this acceptance, Justin tried his charms with the ex girlfriend noting that her parents clearly liked him or they’d have called the police by now. With the party nearly over it was decided by the girls that we guys could stay in the guest bedroom.The next morning I woke up bleary-eyed and realised Justin was not in the room with me. I also noticed the mayor across the hallway carrying a tray with a jug of orange juice and an empty glass just opening the door to his daughter’s bedroom. As the door opens the mayor stops as if hit with a hammer. Silence prevails for what seems an eternity (again) as the mayor is faced with the sight of a panicing (again naked) Justin lying on top of the bed next to his daughter. Finally, the mayor speaks:”Well, I’ll need another glass then.” As he walks off I could hear Justin telling the mayor’s daughter: “See, I told you he liked me.” As a prologue to the story apparently nothing naughty happened in the daughter’s bedroom – Justin had nodded off in a drunken stupor almost immediately he hit the bed. There’s a million more stories like that one about Justin. He is very sadly missed by his UNE mates – the good die young. Hail the King!

Mad-dog memoirs: Gouty and the Colonel
Mike Gout

After spending 1978 and 79 playing with the Lappins at Chiltern whilst I studied externally, I returned in 1980 and played for United. It became apparent that the Colonel (being a former VFA player) had established a reputation as a bit of a knuckleman in my two year absence. Most of the players were aware of my reputation as a champion of the oppressed and that I wouldn’t stand by and watch an opposition player take a shot at any United player. The lead up to the United v City game was filled with speculation as to whether there would be any confrontation between Gouty and the Colonel. It was a real anticlimax with little rough play until the last quarter when the Colonel belted David Jackson (Jacko) about 30 metres from where I was resting in the back pocket. I was prepared for this event and sprinted over and hung a big haymaker at the Colonel who was now involved in a melee that had begun. Not satisfied I decided to have another crack at the Colonel who at this stage was in the middle of the melee on the ground. I was not sure where my second shot landed so thought I had better have one more for good luck. As I took my backswing my arm got stuck and would not swing forward. I looked back and there was Bill Malcolm (I could identify him from his Ron Barassi ankle high footy boots) holding my arm. “I think you’ve had enough,” was Bill’s comment. After the game and a clean up, the United boys always had Sunday night beers back at the Railway. As we were downing our middies, Smiley arrived sporting a big shiner. “Shit , what happened to you!” was the question asked. With his usual Smiley grin he replied:” During the dust up between Gouty and the Colonel, someone whacked me, but when I looked up there were no other City players around so I don’t know who hit me.” “Sorry Smiley, “I replied. “I wondered where my second punch had landed.” Postscript: Gouty played 204 senior games for nine different clubs in eight different leagues, represented three of those leagues, coached two clubs,won one premiership as a player and was never reported (yeh right Gouty!).

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