Saturday, July 31, 2010

Something Is Rotten In The State Of Refereeing.

There is a line between incompetency and bias.

Tonight, Jason Robinson and Bernard Suttor crossed that line.

I was at Leichhardt Oval for the game between the Sharks and the Tigers. I saw every minute.

The difference between biased and merely incompetent refereeing is that when the ref doesn't know what the hell he's doing, generally both teams on the field feel it.

Tonight? Only one team did.

I'm not just speaking as a Sharks fan here. Even the Tigers fans around me knew how much we were getting fucked in the arse.

The tigers try coming after a Benji Marshall push in the play-the-ball. The Ferguson no try which should have been benefit of the doubt. The ridiculous scrum penalty. The Tigers getting the ball after the Sharks drove Tuqiri into the in-goal. The extra two metres the Tigers got on nearly every play.

And the game-clincher - the "double movement" shit sandwich penalty against Ben Pomeroy.

At the very least, that was a play on Sharks. If the ref had called him held and the Tigers guy had hit him after the calling, it should have been a Cronulla penalty.

When that decision dropped, you could hear even Tigers fans expressing surprise. Sharkies fans were just cursing.

You notice the trend here?

All those decisions were against the Sharks.

Every single one.

And there were more that I don't even remember.

I don't think we had a single 50/50 call all night. Even when something was blatantly in our favour (the first Collis try) the refs made sure to look at every single fucking possible angle to try and find a goddamn way to make sure we didn't get it.

I can understand a few bad calls going against us. That's footy. But when nearly every single fucking possible call goes against you, including one that could have won you the game...then something is really, really wrong.

This goes beyond refereeing incompetence.

This is a conspiracy.

I feel stupid just saying it, but it is.

David Gallop and the NRL have been waiting for years to stick the knife in the Sharks.

Why? It's quite simple - we're an easy target.

The Sharks have a small fan and player base, we don't have much financial muscle, we don't have the historical value of a club like Souths or the sustained success of a Manly.

The NRL spilled blood to keep those teams around. They're not gonna lift a finger for us.

They want us gone.

Luckily for them, they also have a perfect replacement.

With John Singleton's considerable financial backing. the North Sydney/Central Coast Bears are a near-lock to be included next time the NRL decides to expand.

However, we're currently running a 16-team competition where teams are already facing financial strife. Adding another team (or two) won't help in that regard.

Therefore, the best option is to have a club fold and have the Bears ride into their spot like the proverbial knight in shining armour. And we're in the best position to fold.

Think I'm crazy? Remember 2008.

Remember the team we had then? It was a pretty good team.

What happened to it?

Losing Noddy was our fault, straight up. Management didn't do right by him, and we got Baz instead. Which isn't so bad. Losing De Gois also was a major blow, and I'm convinced that the NRL had a hand in ensuring he left the Sharks for Newcastle.

However, nothing quite stinks as bad as the Greg Bird saga.

2008 was Birdy's real coming out party. He and Gal (the Bruise Brothers) were the heart and soul of our team and one of the main reasons we got to within one game of the Grand Final despite our sputtering attack. They gave us a massive dose of our defensive steel.

Then came the glassing bullshit and the rest is history. Turns out that very little really happened and his girlfriend was high as a plane at the time. (I hate the expression "high as a kite". Kites don't get as high as planes.)

Thing is, I can totally believe that Gallop and the NRL managed to blow the situation up. I don't know how, but it's 12am on a Sunday morning and I'm stoned as fuck in an attempt to numb the pain from the bullshit that was the ref's performance.

I'm sure they can leak something to the media - maybe Birdy's girlfriend talked to a friend who talked to someone else before the NRL eventually leaked it?

Or maybe he really did harm her, only that now he's on a different (and more glamourous) team it's to the NRL's benefit to ensure that one of their stars stays on the field rather than in the courts?

You notice how the Manly rapist (Stewart)'s case has been dragged out for nearly two years now? Hmmm, could that be because he's the star player for a star team? Ya thunk?

As the week goes on, I'm gonna try and fill out this theory more coherently so it makes more sense.

The independent commission can't come soon enough. I can only hope that they can somehow uncover just what Gallop and co have against the Sharks, figure out a way to get the Bears in the comp that isn't at our expense and clean out the sorry sack of shit the greatest league for the greatest game in the world have for management.

In the meantime, I'm gonna dream of the firey death of Robinson and the painful death of Suttor.

Peace out, and up up Cronulla.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bands You Should Have On Your iPod 1 - The Refreshments.

My taste in music can best be described as diverse.

Some people like to claim this, but my iPod says it all.

I got songs and albums from everyone from Pantera to Paramore, Less Than Jake to Lady Gaga, Metallica to Mudhoney and the Wipers to Wu-Tang Clan.

In fact, I can honestly say there's only a few genres I will never listen to, primarily that new crunk shit (like Soulja Boy, and the even more wanky screamo-crunk spinoffs like 3oh3 or whatever the fuck they're called) and modern indie wanker shit. (I have a near-pathological hatred for both Radiohead and Muse. But you'll learn about that as time passes by).

With that said, though, I have an undying fondness above all for two particular eras; 80s hardcore (particularly LA Hardcore) and 90s alternative rock.

And I don't just mean the Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins' of the world (although they're pretty fucking good as well) but all the bands of the time who slipped through the cracks of popular consciousness.

One of those bands was the Refreshments.

While you probably don't realise it, there's a good chance you've heard a Refreshments song before as they contributed the theme music for King of The Hill.

However, outside that they never had much mainstream success outside their home state of Arizona.

Which is a crying shame cause they were really fucking good.

Unlike a lot of the post-grunge alternative rock bands, the Refreshments never wallowed in mindless teenage angst - while their song subject matter was often a tad repetitive (girls, partying, trips to Mexico, often all together) - the feel-good vibe was a nice change from the my-mummy-didn't-love-me-and-I-just-broke-up-with-my-girlfriend trap so many bands of the time fell into.

Their run as a band was short - just six years (1992-1998) before frontman Roger Clyne went on to form the equally good Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, who play a similar style to the Refreshments but with more of a country/Americana roots rock feel.

During their time, however, they recorded Fizzy Fuzzy Big And Buzzy, which has to be one of the great forgotten albums of the mid-90s.

Don't believe me? Check out for proof. If you can't fit the entire album on your iPod, that and minor radio hit Banditos ( are musts.

Keep rockin'.

LeBron James, The Man-Child.

Even though this is my first basketball-related post on this blog, in my other lives I had written many articles and blog posts on LeBron James over the past year, with special focus on his free agency.

Like many others, I never expected him to take such an easy way out and run to Miami and join what is and will still be Dwyane Wade’s team. I had expected that he would either stay in Cleveland or head for Chicago (the best place for him as a ballplayer, excluding the Clippers where he was never going) or the Knicks (the New York market and the business opportunities that presents, Madison Square Garden) or maybe even New Jersey and Mikhail Prokhorov’s billions and yacht stacked with supermodels.

When he announced he was taking his talents to South Beach (one of the more unintentionally hilarious lines of all time) I churned out the obligatory reaction posts before finally deciding to take a break from LeBron James. Until next year, I vowed to not write a single article about, relating or even referring to the Man Who Would Be King.

Until I read this article.

After my initial reaction (a combination of shock and awe at the excess of the party, and confusion that Big Baby didn't start drooling at the naked chicks) I read the article a second time and finally grasped the point.

He’s an absolutely brilliant baller, but at heart LeBron James is still a kid.

I can’t believe it took me so long to figure this out.

With all the opportunities he had on the table at free agency, LeBron took the one that all kids would have – go spend the next four-to-six years playing ball with two of his best mates in the NBA and partying all night on South Beach after. Oh, and get paid pretty well to do so. The titles they’re surely gonna win? Another nice fringe benefit.

Having watched my ten year old sister grow up, one thing I know more than anything about kids is that they have no real sense of the future. LeBron’s “Decision” showed that he doesn’t genuinely care about his legacy either. As I mentioned earlier, the Heat are and will still be Dwyane Wade’s team. I imagine he will still be the primary scoring option for the Heat with LeBron playing a Magic Johnson-type role that probably is better suited to his talents than having to consistently carry the scoring load every night.

As for the money? Same thing. LeBron, Wade and Bosh are all making less than the max contract, and while Miami is a big market the business opportunities don’t compare to what LeBron would have had at his disposal in New York or Chicago, or Mikhail Prokhorov’s global reach. So much for becoming the NBA's first billionaire athlete.

So now that we've established that LeBron is a 25 year old man-child, then comes the next question.


I'm not 25 (six years off) and I'm hardly a very mature 19. But I'm fairly sure I'm a few steps ahead of LeBron on the maturity ladder. So why hasn't he really grown up yet?

It's simple. Call it Michael Jackson Syndrome.

Everyone who knows anything about Jacko's story knows about his obsession with reclaiming the childhood he never had.

With LeBron, it's a case of having never really had an adolescence.

You gotta remember, this guy has been basically hyped as the Next Jordan since his early high school days. Guys like Shaq were coming to his games when he was in his junior year.

While all that is nice, you've gotta imagine it was hard for a kid to handle all the pressure. Not only that, but it would have to have created a certain isolation between himself and his peers. Anyone who has seen the documentary of his high school basketball years can not only see this but also see that it does upset him - that this is a guy who wants nothing more than to be able to hang out and play ball with his mates and go party after like the rest of them, but isn't able to because he's basically too good for them.

Well, now LeBron gets to live out his adolescence. South Beach is his Neverland Ranch and Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh are his Bubbles.

However, we all eventually grow up.

Which is why I'm calling it now.

It's July 2013. The Heat are coming off their second consecutive title. LeBron, Wade and Bosh have all spent the past month partying non-stop.

LeBron wakes up in his Coral Gables mansion one day and it hits him.

He's basically pissed away his legacy as a player, his chance to become the first billionaire athlete, the chance to do something few others before him could have done just to live out the adolescence he feels was taken from him.

The media are questioning how good he could have been. He's growing apart from his teammates who are feeling the pinch of adulthood themselves and wondering how far they could have gone on their own. His kids are effectively growing up without a father. He may not be the most hated player in the NBA, but the hate is being replaced by apathy. Hell, even ESPN are beginning to care less and less about him and more about the team concept.

And all just to have some fun in South Beach.

Even though I didn't really have a dog in the hunt of "The Decision" (I'm a Kings fan), I hated LeBron when he made his self-aggrandizing announcement and stabbed the city of Cleveland in the back.

Now? I just pity him. Once he realises what he's done, he's gonna feel like shit.

And there'll be no going back.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Meet The New Boss, Not The Old Boss.

I woke up yesterday morning to the best news I'd heard in some months.

After several tortuous weeks where the boys were mailing in games and Ricky Stuart looked like a defeated man on the sideline, he finally did the honourable thing and stepped aside.

While it's a pity it took a shellacking of the nature of the Pond Pigeons Rout to finally get him to see the light, what's done is done.

I have one Ricky Stuart story I'd like to share.

It was the day after the Rugby League World Cup final, where the Kangaroos had of course been upset by the Kiwis. I was in Brisbane at the time for a different reason (saw the game with dad at a pub cause we couldn't score last minute tickets) and we were seeing my mum off at the airport when I saw Ricky. He was on his phone and sounded pissed off.

Of course, that was 2008 and I was coming off what amounted to my best year in memory as a Sharkies fan. Since I was wearing a Sharks T-shirt at the time, I thought he could use some words of comfort after the loss so I went up to him to thank him for all he had done for our club once he got off the phone.

His response? "Yeah yeah, thanks mate. Now piss off for a second." And he got back on his mobile.

I was never a huge fan of Ricky Stuart the man, but that just confirmed once and for to me that he was a cunt of the highest order.

As it turns out, my respect for him as a coach eroded pretty quickly as well after the hellish last couple of years.

I became a Sharks supporter in 2001 when I was just 9. I remember the Chris Anderson Era too well. The last couple of years under Stuart were worse. Much worse.

In my opinion (and I can't be alone in this) the biggest mistake of the Ricky Stuart Era was blowing up the 2008 team that was one game away from the Grand Final (and, with the Storm scandal, should legitimately have made it).

First we screwed Noddy over which drove him into the Puppies' kennel. Letting Isaac De Gois go to Newcastle. Not putting up a fight to keep Fraser Anderson. And please don't mention the Greg Bird saga because it really makes me cry thinking about the Bird/Gallen days and just how good our backrow could have been with Tupou.

All those guys were vital pieces to the 2008 team. We let the first two go without a fight, and as for Birdy...well, if the Pond Pigeons can keep the rapist on their team we should have stuck by Greg and kept him. Especially since he was found innocent.

Since then, Ricky's recruiting hasn't exactly been top shelf either. Trent Barrett has been the only major signings of ours since 2008 who has at least somewhat panned out. Other than Baz...Adam Fatcuntbertson. Tim Smith. Screwing little Albert Kelly around by sticking him at fullback. See where I'm going here?

On the field, we haven't really seen much since 2008 either. Here's where I think the loss of Noddy more than anything really hurts us.

Stuart's system doesn't really call for halves with creative flair. It's more important to have a halfback who can organise the team, boot it downfield and kick to the corners. Noddy could do all those things. Other than Scott Porter for flashes, none of our halves since then could organise a poker game in a casino. Which isn't necessarily their fault.

However, with Ricky seemingly insisting on having our halves play his way, you can see the soul slowly being sucked out of them.

Ricky's way of coaching halves reminds me of another coach's treatment of players who play the same position he once played.

Doc Rivers, the current coach of the Boston Celtics, is widely hailed as one of the best coaches in the NBA right now (and one of a select club who have coached a team to a title). However, in his early days as Celtics coach he was notorious for being very tough on his young point guards by giving them inconsistent minutes and frequently berating them.

Only after the 2008 Celtics championship did he begin to give his young starting point guard more licence to play his natural game. Rajon Rondo responded by developing into an All-Star, and, since the 2010 playoffs, arguably the best point guard in the NBA.

Ricky could have done worse than follow Doc's advice with his halves. A less dogmatic coach would have given the talented but erratic Albert Kelly a run at five-eighth (his natural position) or off the bench, or allowed Tim Smith to play his natural game rather than constraining his options while creating the side-effect of leaving us with a slow, predictable attack. It's no secret that we went from having one of the better offenses in the NRL under Stuey Raper to one of the worst every year under Ricky. At least in 2008 our defense was immovable. Since we lost large pieces of our defensive steel (Birdy) and organisation (Noddy, especially on kick chase) that's vanished as well.

So with that said, how will I remember the Ricky Stuart era? I'll be tempted to remember the bad stuff first.

However, there's one memory I'll always have of the Ricky Stuart era.

It was the second game of 2008 when we were playing the Storm in Melbourne at the near peak of their powers. (IIRC Ben Ross was also sent off during that game). Our attack was still sputtering but our defense had kept us in the game until Noddy made that field goal in the last minute.

It was then that I knew we were going to make the finals. I don't know how - I just knew. Such wack psychic moments aren't exactly common to me, and when I do have them I'm often wrong. But goddamnit if I didn't get this one right.

So I keep that memory as well. It serves as a reminder that nothing in life as in footy is irretreivably shit.

Except last week's game.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Eagle Suck.

I had a bit of a blow this morning when I went to put my laundry in the dryer.

Turns out that I'd left some gum in my jeans and it had gotten out and stuck to my Sharks jersey. So until I can afford another one (i.e. maybe in my next life) my only fan gear is an old hat and scarf from the Raper era.

Nevertheless, I'll still be making the trek across Tom Ugly's this Saturday to watch the boys in the black, white and blue play the Manly Pond Pigeons. Not just cause it'll be my first ever Sharks game (a story in itself) but also because it's fucking Manly.

I hate Manly.

You hate Manly.

Everyone hates Manly.

The funny thing is, I could just as easily have become a fan of theirs. My father has been a Manly fan pretty much ever since he came to the country 20 odd years ago. My mum's side are all Parramatta fans and they took him to an Eels-Eagles game. Manly won and he became a fan, despite the reaction of some of my uncles (I think they tried to stop the wedding).

When I told him that I wanted to become a Cronulla fan, I think he wanted to disown me.

However, I could never have been a Manly fan.


Cause to me, going for Manly is like backing the favourite every week. Sure, you may win every time, but constant winning as a fan is bad for the soul. You gotta know the pain of losing to truly appreciate the euphoria of winning.

We Sharks fans know all about losing. Which makes the successful years - 1999, 2001, 2002, 2008 - even more memorable and special.

And when we finally win that premiership...there will be parties in the Shire for weeks and I'll pass out naked in the middle of Tom Ugly's with my scarf around my balls.

Manly fans are the same people who go for the Lakers in the NBA, Man United in the EPL and Geelong in the AFL. Some are legit (like my Dad) but most are complete fuckwits.

Like Fergo.

Peace out, bitches and never forget, UP UP CRONULLA!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blake Ferguson Is A Fuckwit.

I first heard about the Blake Ferguson saga from my dad. He was checking out the sports pages of the Herald and mentioned, "hey, isn't he one of your guys?" I grabbed the article once I read the headline and started cursing in my head.

Fuck. No. This can't be happening.

One of our club's most talented young stars is walking out on us? No.

Once the anger at the situation itself abated, I pretty much turned my rage on Flaky Blake. And that's pretty much where it's stayed.

Look, I'm not so pissed about him leaving. In the modern ultra professional game, players come and players go. While it sucks to see a guy as talented as him leave, shit happens. The days of the one-club player are all but dead.

No, what pisses me off the most is that he took this opportunity to call out the club and his teammates.

Flaky Blake claims that he "just wants to win" and that the "uncertainty" around the club or some shit like that means that he doesn't think he can.

He also points out that the club hasn't been travelling well this year. No shit, you say. Well, Flake, guess what? YOU WERE PART OF THAT FUCKING TEAM!

It's not like you've been setting the world on fire this past year. In fact, after bursting on the scene like he did, I'd say you've definitely had a case of the second year slumpsies up to now - not as bad as Daniel Mortimer, yeah, but a case for sure.

Maybe if you had run straight instead of across field a bit more and used your speed and strength, we'd've done a bit better?

OK, it's a bit harsh to blame Flake alone for the club's on-field woes the past year. Nonetheless, as one of the supposed "future stars" of the team, maybe he should have taken it upon himself to play a greater role? He whinged about being made to play on the wing and not getting opportunities to show his ability as a creator as opposed to just a finisher. Yet in this day and age, the winger doesn't have to just sit on the sideline and wait for the ball. I haven't seen him take the initiative to go looking for action, or getting his arse into dummy half and running frequently, or even doing much with the ball other than aimlessly jogging across field when he has it this season.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that as a devoted Sharks fan, what Flake has done to the club is pretty much unforgivable. We, the fans, pay his salary. He runs out onto the field with twelve other guys who expect each other to run through a wall for them.

How do you think guys like Gallen and Dougie, who have and will continue to spill blood for the black, white and blue jersey, felt when they heard the news? What about the other young blokes in the team like Isaac Gordon and Nathan Gardner? Do any of them still believe Blake.I.Am (cause Fergie was too easy) has their back?

More importantly, why did he do this?

Basically, I'm getting the impression that Flaky Blake has gotten a bit too big for his boots over the past year.

Stuff like being selected to the Indigenous All Stars team and being named (admittedly by a fool like Phil Rothfield) as one of the 50 best players in league has obviously pumped up his ego a bit and started making him think he's hot shit when he's not there yet.

I imagine he may have come in this season thinking it was gonna be a cakewalk, and when it wasn't, he looked for an excuse to bail. Ricky Stuart leaving gave him said excuse on a platter.

Anyway, what's done is done and fuck him for it. I'd like to see him joining Cuthbertson on the Como Crocs for the rest of the season, but since Stuart is his biggest dick rider it ain't happening.

Good night, good luck, and up up Cronulla!