Francis Leach takes a look at what was great about the weekend’s sport, what wasn’t and what could be.
Matildas and Socceroos bring it all back home
Football fans were given a rare treat this week with both men’s and women’s national teams playing matches on home turf after long stints offshore.
Before Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Korea Republic, the Socceroos last home match was the crucial World Cup qualifier against Honduras in Sydney in November 2017.
Since beating China 5-1 in Geelong in late November of last year, the Matildas had played 15 consecutive away games before the recent series against Chile.
Just WOW! 😱😱😱
Maty Ryan pulls of an incredible save.
— Caltex Socceroos (@Socceroos) November 17, 2018
The number of away games is often a product of the tyranny of distance and a crowded schedule that makes the travel demands of playing in Australia a disincentive for visiting teams.
Yet there’s no denying that both national teams are the strongest assets FFA has in promoting the game.
At a time when football is under the pump to fight for visibility in a crowded sports media market, the Socceroos and the Matildas need to be available to a football public hungry to watch them in action.
The new board at FFA headquarters that will be installed on Monday needs to ensure that football fans see their national teams playing quality opponents on home soil on a more consistent basis.
One of the highlights of this weekend’s Australian Open tournament has been the sight of disabled golfers competing in the Australian All Abilities Championship alongside their able-bodied counterparts throughout the four days of competition.
The integrated tournament is a world first for golf and follows on from the huge success of the integration of all-ability sports into the Commonwealth Games program on the Gold Coast earlier this year.
Players such as Spain’s Juan Postigo Arce, who has had his right leg amputated above the knee, have been putting on a superb display of skilful, powerful stroke play.
Course is in pretty good shape and fans are really awesome in this side of there world!! 👏🏽👏🏽
— Juan Postigo Arce (@JuanelePostigo) November 13, 2018
The Australian Open has shown that integration enhances the tournament and that visibility can be a powerful platform to demystify notions about what differently abled people are capable of.
Channel 7 promo no-no
What did Sam and Dave ever do to deserve the desecration of their soul classic Hold on, I’m Comin’ by the tin-eared drongos in Channel Seven’s promo department?
With cricket on Seven’s menu for the upcoming summer, sports fans could reasonably expect an avalanche of over-hyped tripe from the ad men as they trumpeted their expensive investment in covering Australia’s favourite summer sport.
This, however, was next level.
the phrasing of this is…… unfortunate pic.twitter.com/JzAc7spXq9
— Tom Lloyd (@tomwLL) November 14, 2018
It’s a certified apocalypse of awkwardness. It’s part Spinal Tap double entendre, part David Brent gormless smarm from The Office and as limp as a wet fish.
What is heard can never be forgotten. Glenn McGrath may have once shot an elephant but the greatest atrocity he’s ever committed is being involved in this.
One saving grace is that no matter how bad Australia plays this summer, it will not be the worst thing about the cricket season.
Seven killed a soul classic with an earworm of awfulness that will never be erased.
Australia’s cricketers might be facing a long hard summer in the field.
They might want to pinch a tactic from the world of darts, where two rivals at The Grand Slam of Darts are kicking up a stink and accusing each other of farting to put off the other.
Scot Gary Anderson is world champion and he beat Dutchman Wesley Harms in the quarter-finals. Harms smelt a rat though – and various other noxious fumes – accusing Anderson of “leaving a fragrant smell” on the stage during their clash.
“It’ll take me two nights to lose this smell from my nose,” Harms told Dutch television after the match.
Anderson was having none of it, suggesting the smell came from the crowd or his opponent.
Given the traditional darts diet of pints and pork pies, the prospect of an olfactory weapon being deployed in this manner is quite frightening.
As Virat Kohli races toward one of his inevitable centuries this summer, Tim Paine might want to have his fieldsmen let one rip at short leg.
It might be the only hope we have of getting him out.
Australia’s summer of golf needs a makeover
Golf’s Australian Open trophy has some legendary names engraved on it across its long history.
Jack Nicklaus, Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth are just some of the iconic figures in the sport who have won the Stonehaven Cup.
While the likes of Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Scott have been regular visitors in recent years in support of the event, this year’s field was abandoned by nearly all of the top 30 players in the world with American Matt Kuchar (29th) the highest-ranked player.
With a first place prize purse of just $225,000 it’s clear that the Australian Open, tagged on to the end of a long northern hemisphere season, just isn’t worth the effort for the world’s biggest players.
Though Australia continues to produce world-class players – Scott, Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman and Jason Day are all top in the 50 – our local summer of golf is flagging.
There’s talk about moving the Open to a February time slot to give it some clean air. Australia’s oldest and most prestigious tournament deserves a makeover and it’s time it had one.