Did I Really Hear That?

Its Friday night and I turn on the footy just before half time. Australian rules – the one with the four posts each end of a huge playing field. Its a low scoring game – one team, Richmond, has only 15 points in a game where both teams usually score over 100. As the second half unfolds Richmond’s troubles continue. Their opponents Melbourne kick the occasional goal easily staying well ahead. . Richmond’s troubles are unusual. They can move the ball down the field but can’t get it into scoring position. When they do, the kick is just off line enough so that it hits the post – turning a six pointer into one point. You expect to see that maybe maybe once in a game, but they keep doing it. After about half a dozen balls coming off the post the commentator says:

“They have more posts than Beaver Cleaver’s bedroom.”

I’m half asleep and I play it back in my mind…”Land o’ Goshen.” I say to myself, “he really did say that.” Even though Yankeewombat has lived in Australia for 30 years he still gets surprised by the er…colorfulness of Australian language.

Imagine an American sports commentator saying something like that. Why, ‘twould be deemed a sexism bigger than Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction – which I know isn’t saying whole lot. In general, American broadcasting is more – well prudish - to be kind, than Australian broadcasting. Although down in the trenches where folks let it fly freely they’re just different.

Our national broadcaster the ABC regularly does things – particularly in programming for young people- that are way beyond what you see or hear on broadcasts in the US. For example, some years ago the ABC youth radio network Triple-J played a song called ‘Detachable Penis” with a regularity that clearly owed a great deal to youthful testosterone based life forms. It was an American song and genuinely funny account of a young man who keeps losing it. I’ve never found an American that had heard of the song and I doubt there was an Australian under 30 who hadn’t. Not to mention quite a few oldies like myself.

But back to the footy. A couple of years ago the Grand Final was between the three time champion Brisbane and Port Adelaide. It was the first time Port had been in a grand final if memory serves. In any case it was the sort of final in any sport where the inexperienced team may lose their nerve and perhaps not come into their own until the following year. The game was close until well into the third quarter when Port began to get on top. It was well known there was no love lost between the two teams but Port seemed to just have an attitude that they’d be damned if they were going to give Brisbane any chance at all. ‘Bloody minded’ would be an appropriate Australian expression. You could feel the attitude as the game came to a close and believe me Brisbane was not giving up and they were good.

There is a tradition in Australian Rules grand finals that at the final siren a reporter runs full pelt onto the field – in this case with a cameraman – to interview the winning captain. I mean they are on him in a few seconds and poke the mike in his face and rather predictably ask “What does it feel like to be the champions?” There is the Port captain, Warren Tredrea, a big raw boned bloke still puffing and full of adrenalin. He pauses a moment before he answers and looks right into the camera and says “I don’t know if I should say this on radio, but they can stick it up their arse.” Who says men aren’t in touch with their feelings? He got away with it too.


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