Bigfooty Podcast 3×20 – Freo & North Tanking, Bolton, Retirements, Finals predicitions

On this weeks episode of the Bigfooty Podcast we talk all about the issue of tanking matches in round 23, discuss Boltons recruitment and prosepcts at carlton, look at the current retirements and delisitings and idly speculate on the makeup of the finals.

With ShanDog, Messenger, Mike__ and The_Wookie.

Download direct from here or Subscribe!

Directly in iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/bigfooty.com-afl-podcast/id662870487

Or via the XML feed which will work in your Android podcast app, or any podcast manager you use.

Surreal Conversations

Every now and then you get a stupid person call up to try to make a booking or to lodge a complaint. Sometimes it ends up being both. A case in point, literally just happened.

The phone rings.

  • Client: “Hi do your rooms have any mirrors or glass tables?”
  • Me: “No, our rooms do not have glass tables”
  • Client: “Is there anything in the rooms we can snort off”
  • Me: “No. And its not something Im overly keen on knowing about”.
  • Client: “Last time we were there the guy took drugs and pingers from us in exchange for the room”.
  • Me: “No he didnt”.
  • Client: “yes he did”.
  • Me: “When was this?”
  • Client: ‘About a year ago”.
  • Me: “What did he look like”
  • Client: “A big white guy”.

It should be noted at this point, that the company is almost entirely staffed by chinese persons with the exception of myself and has been that way since last April (about 17 months ago). The only person who this could possibly have been is myself. Ive never had our touched drugs in m life, hell Ive never smoked anything, and I dont drink even drink anymore.

  • Me: “No it wasnt, and no he didnt”.
  • Client: “Are you calling me a liar?”
  • Me: “Yes”.
  • Client: “you cant call me a liar?”
  • Me: “I can if you are lying. You can find other accommodation”.
  • Client: “No we are going to stay there”
  • Me: “No you really arent.”

at which point I hung up. The phone rings again.

  • Client: “I want to speak to a manager”
  • Me: “I am the manager”
  • Client: “I want to complain about your customer service”.
  • Me: “I dont care”.

And hung up again. The phone rang, I didint answer. We’ll see how this plays out.

 

 

To Catch a Predator

Every now and then you have that “feeling”. You cant quite put your finger on it, but something about someone, something or a situation is just off enough to get you on edge, or at least curious.

It was a Wednesday night at the Motel, not a night noted for action, and indeed a night I normally have off. (The latest in a litany of cheap chinese employees to try to work nights had quit that day).

At about 10.30, an indian man came in accompanied by two kids, a male kid who reminds me vaguely of the little fat kid from Hey Dad! and a female kid, neither of whom are even remotely indian in appearance. When i say indian I dont mean that in a general sense, it was on his ID. The young people with him claimed he was their father, and that they were both 18. They booked in for the night, but the “father” didnt know how long he needed the room for, while the male kid with him suggested they may only need it for a couple of hours.

There were four problems with this scenario already.

  1. These kids didnt look like they were anywhere near 18.The male kid was doing all the talking, and the father was very subduded about the whole deal.
  2. They were hesitant when calling him dad, and he never referred to them by name or as his kids.
  3. These kids were two of the whitest kids Ive ever seen.
  4. The confusion of whether they needed a room for the night or just for a few hours.

None of the above are definitive, merely oddities that can be explained one way or another, but the biggest problem is the time frame requested. Parents with kids coming in after 9pm inevitably are staying for the night – Ive never known it to be otherwise. On the other hand, folks rocking up for “a couple of hours” are inevitably here for an encounter of a somewhat sexual design.

While we check customer IDs as a matter of standard procedure, in ten years Ive never felt the need to scan one onto the computer for later reference if needed. This was the first time Id felt moved to do so. From then on, I was keeping a very keen eye on the kids and their “father” as they came downstairs regularly to smoke.

At about 11.30pm, the male kid asked me to call an ambulance – his “Mrs” was very drunk and very sick, throwing up everywhere. The kid gave a fake name – George Butterfield – to SA Ambulance, told them his Mrs was 30 weeks pregnant, and said that he did not want her to go to hospital, he was just requesting assistance.

I was very bothered by this – as it was obvious from the details on the phone the kids werent brother and sister.  I demanded ID from the kids, telling them that something was supicious about the whole deal and I wasnt satisfied. If I didnt get ID within the next ten minutes a call would be made to SAPOL.

The Ambulance folks arrived shortly after, and before they went upstairs I filled them in on what I suspected – and told them I was going to call SAPOL. A few minutes after they went upstairs, one of them returned to inform me that it was as suspected – the room was littered with used condoms, and the ambos strongly suspected there had been child sex involved – they at this stage believed the kids to be 13-14 years of age. SA Ambulance referred them to SAPOL.

SAPOL arrived not long after – the Police Station is literally metres away – and the girl was carried down by the police to the waiting ambulance, she was yelling incoherently at anyone that moved, and not at all in a good way. The male kid turned out to be missing from a juvenile facility – had been missing for about half a day – and tried to do a runner when the police arrived.

While I had half the Adelaide police in my reception area, two idiots thought it would be hilarious to poke their head in and ask if they knew where they could by weed. The cops told them to go away in short order.

Crime scene was called, statements were taken, and the Indian gentleman was removed from the motel in handcuffs, having essentially been caught red handed wth an underage girl.

I talked to two detectives later about the whole thing – I said Id have called them sooner, but had nothing tangible besides “feelings” – and given we have the police here frequently, I didnt want them to start thinking of us as vexatious callers. The detectives said that we’d done things the right way, but to not be worried about calling them even if we have a bad feeling about the scenario. Lesson learnt.

 

The 721 Route

Dearest Minister,

Today I made one of my all too rare jaunts to the distant southern necropolis that is otherwise known as Noarlunga, the journey in on the 721F was, while lengthy, not the most unpleasant experience I’ve had (I was married once and that’ll take some beating). I conducted some personal business without any issues, and made my way back to the bus stop at Collonades Shopping Centre and it is here where unfortunately our story begins.

Its not bad enough that I was stranded at Collonades. Its the kind of place people go to and get the hell out of like they are on fire if they know what’s good for them. A deserted wasteland with a car park and a shopping centre and a woefully outdated railway station does not make the area any more cilvised. As I sit at the bus stop awaiting a bus that, for no reason i can ascertain, will never come, and I watch the sun go down, I honestly expect to be defending myself against a horde of cannibals, savages and graffiti artists as these are, I’m sure your aware, the primary demographics of the what passes for our southern brethren.

The Adelaide Metro timetable lists several 721 buses departing Collonades between 5 and 6pm on a Friday. (4.58, 5.22, 5.52)

It is here that I notice something of a departure from my experience just yesterday. Arriving at the stop, I learned that the 4.58 bus was running late from people that had been waiting for it. Time passed and the 721 failed to materialise. An eagerly anticipated 5.22 decided not to show up, and then the 5.52 elected to be somewhere else as well. At this point I called the hard working minions of yours at the Adelaide Metroline enquiring as to whether the rapture had occurred and only the 721 route bus drivers had been taken, or was there perhaps a black hole that was sucking only the 721 buses into its singularity. Perhaps the Germans were finally getting their revenge for their World War 1 and 2 defeats by revealing their cunning plan to have their buses simultaneously combust upon reaching Noarlunga Centre.

These poor deluded gentlemen, who were apparently believing that everything was all puppy dogs tails and fairy floss as far as the 721 route was concerned, attempted to contact the drivers in question via radio,  but were then somewhat dismayed to learn that NO ONE was running the route back to the city at all. One bus I can understand not showing, it’s a hazard of Adelaide public transport that goes back to colonial days, but THREE? To make it worse, all THREE eventually turned up within seconds of each other. I wish I were kidding, and while I may be exaggerating other parts of this email for something of a comedic effect, rest assured this paragraph is gods own truth.

Minister, I understand that the buses are overworked and there aren’t enough of them. Im told that even the older, semi retired buses of my youth are running around, and rumour has it that outlying regions like Munno Parra are currently being served by Cobb and Co replete with horses, carriages and assorted bushrangers. I get that that the entire southern rail network is out of commission until September and I must say, this brings me to the second part of my complaint.

I fail to understand the reasoning which requires the ENTIRE Noarlunga and Belair lines to be out of commission for NINE months. It’s worth noting that the railway lines of Adelaide run directly to areas featuring the poor and downtrodden folks of Noarlunga, Elizabeth and Port Adelaide. Its my belief that such an outage would never be considered in the more affluent regions of the East where the rich and well to do of this city sit in their ivory towers, counting their money and worshipping Mammon. Like the folks of Babylon of old as it were. How can the entire line be required to be out? How was this not done in sections? I.e. City to Goodwood, Goodwood to Oaklands Park, etc. Taking the ENTIRE line out of action – and Belair for that matter – for nine months seems to be a little bit of overkill.

Finally minister, the public transport system is something of a joke, worse now than it ever was. It’s a joke that affects tens of thousands of people who are stranded at bus stops all over this fair city without knowing how or why the bus they are expecting simply won’t be coming today. The people cannot continue to be disappointed like this, and eventually the populace will rise up and that’s a risk governments almost certainly never want. Nobody wants a repeat of the French Revolution here in Adelaide. God forbid we should ever see the day the underclasses of this great and magnificent city march through the streets to take the states leaders to see Madame Guillotine. Understand Minister that I’m not advocating such actions, but the public will not stay quiet for long, we will not pass quietly into the night while we are betrayed by a government that is perhaps deliberately restricting the movement of its citizens in order to prevent such retributions being visited upon it.

In any case, Minister, thanks for your time and consideration.

Yours

Jason Lassey

Child Support Query

From: Jason Lassey
Sent: Friday, 2 November 2012 12:33 AM
To: ‘minister@humanservices.gov.au’
Subject: Child Support question

Dear Minister,

As a non custodial parent, I have recently been alerted to what I believe has to be an unintended consequence of the relevant laws pertaining to the payment of child support. Whilst there are many benefits including the support of children where we have contributed in a physical or other fashion, there is at least one major issue that I have only recently become aware.

I have learnt that my daughter has in time past become infatuated with certain English boy bands – in particular something called One Direction- and wishes to purchase several upcoming musical productions of they have produced. As the duly elected guardian of our children, one must ask what the Department of Human Services is doing to prevent this? Where the custodial parent cannot or will not act, surely it falls to the Government to protect our children from themselves? Surely this is grounds to withhold the payment of Child Support to the custodial parent at the very least?

At the very least, the Government must be aware that such influences undermine our national character, a character that has been unduly repressed over the last two centuries by brutal English repressions, such as the use of convict labour in colonial establishment, the Eureka Stockade incident, conscription, nuclear weapons testing, and the repeated broadcast of Absolutely Fabulous. If we are ever to attain our rightful status as a nation, surely it is within the Governments purview to prevent the undue influencing of our young by the evils of British pop music. When the very future of our
country is at stake the Government has a duty to act to prevent the minds of
our youth from failing..

Let’s face it, if this was a drug or alcohol problem, the Government would have no choice but to act, but because “brainwashing by boy band” isn’t recognised by our Government as an issue, nothing has yet been done. I say Minister, it is time for the Government to wake up and smell the coffee before it is too late and we are faced with a doom more potent than any that can be imagined, including war, drugs, television, the zombie apocalypse, or international communism. Most assuredly, no tsunami will ever cause as much damage to our nation’s future as the rising tide of young girls mentally
obscured by the soft dulcet tones of One Direction and their ilk. This strikes at the very roots of our cultural security and a failure to act now can only lead to heartache on a national scale.

Minister, i dare not look into a future where our sons and daughters roam the streets more effectively brainwashed by feel good Britpop than anything the Communists once hoped to achieve, but mark my words, that day is soon to be upon us. Legions of children with blank looks in their eyes and ipods in the hands marching to some toneless song by some random collection of young men who use their music to mentally control the weak and feeble minded young of our country. To prevent this the government must act now or sit back and just hope to Christ that the Mayans were right.

I leave this in your capable hands.

Yours Sincerely

Jason Lassey

Ultimate Frizbee or the end of sport as we know it

So Im at work and its the University Games and I have the misfortune to have some 60 uni students here for a variety of pseudo sports such as Touch footy – essentially tag with a ball involved somehow – and European handball, essentially Lacrosse without a stick. The proponents of these “sports” are both male and female and all insist that these are genuine sporting pursuits that I should take closer note of.

However, the worst of the bunch are without doubt those who participate in the pursuit they refer to as “Ultimate” Frizbee. Im reliably told that this “sport” consists of throwing a frizbee down the field towards somebody else. How this became designated “Ultimate” s beyond me.

Ultimate to me, should mean either that theres death or naked ladies involved or both. Naked women throwing a circular object around in a field of mud or jelly would rapidly become one of Australian mens – if not men all over – favorite spectator sports. Ultimate to me, also indicates that theres some sort of danger involved.

Ultimate frizbee could only be referred to as ultimate if it was performed on a minefield with an electrified barb wire fence on the boundary, wild pit bulls chasing participants after several months of not being fed and snipers watching from the light towers to pick off the stragglers and people who drop the frizbee. Further the frizbee should have razor sharp edges and when incorrectly caught  should cut the hands of the participant clean off – this would also serve as an incentive to improve skills.

Finally, the losers should be offered up as sacrifices to some random deity ala the Aztecs and their ball game. This would prevent tanking and match fixing.

Thats Ultimate Frizbee. Somewhere in a mad max version of the universe in the future, you can visualise this being done at the Thunderdome with Tina Turner watching on. Two teams enter, one team leaves.

On the other hand, I cant imagine a world where mankind idolises the stars of Ultimate Frizbee.

 

The footy is coming

In just 4 weeks the wait will be over, keen followers of the AFL have spent the summer arguing about the usual offseason tripe such as memberships, attendances, joining in the weekly code war, whether Richmond will make it, how low GWS will go, whether various players are training the house down, or whether Collingwood will get a free ride. Newspapers carry stories of clubs and players that are ready to go at it like a bull in a china shop as they scramble to find news to appease the football loving public in the off season. Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnell – In 28 days, we can finally get back to what we want to see – actual football.

So what I hear you say, its the preseason, it means nothing to anyone. I say to you, that you are sorely mistaken. The preseason allows us to see players who wouldnt necessarily get a game when premiership glory is on the line. It can be invaluable for any club in great need of a great start to the season. You can generate quite a bit of positive flow toward the club with a stirring performance. This can be particularly useful when looking for members and sponsors. I imagine people who rarely get to see professional sport first hand in smaller cities across the country would be quite fond of the preseason.

Since 1988 the VFL/AFL have conducted a pre-season competition, which has been over the years mainly based on a knockout format. In 2012 clubs are guaranteed 4 rounds of preason matches all over this fair country. This season takes us to the three way matches seen for the first time in last years NAB Cup, followed by a guaranteed 2 rounds of regular matches played all over the country. Say what you like about the NAB Cup and its relevance to the real thing, theres no doubt that for professional sport locations out in the middle of nowhere, these matches are a godsend. In 2012 at least, it has the added bonus of sending out the big Victorian teams (Collingwood, Essendon and Carlton in particular) to places that get very few visits from them.

NAB Cup Round 1:
Hawthorn, Richmond and North Melbourne (Etihad Stadium)
GWS, Bulldogs and Collingwood (Blacktown)
WEst Coast, Fremantle and Essendon (Pattersons)
Geelong, St Kilda and Sydney (Etihad Stadium)
Gold Coast, Brisbane and Melbourne (Metricon)
Adelaide, Port and Carlton (Aami)

For those unfamiliar with the triangular format, the competition is basically 3 matches, one after the other with two short halves and a quick break between matches. Clubs can completely change squads between matches if necessary. The matches also feature the 9 point super goal for goals kicked from further than 50 metres out.

Predicting the NAB Cup winners can be fraught with danger. Some clubs take it seriously, some clubs dont. Some clubs go all out (Port make this promise annually) while others are quite blatant in their belief its a practice run (see Paul Roos every year ad nauseum), so ive elected to give predictions pfor the first round only.

Richmond will show up bright eyed and bushy tailed – and will be stomped by Hawthorn. Collingwood will make probably their only trip to Blacktown ever to face GWS, why Sydney isnt in this group is beyond me given the AFL have neatly combined all other home state groups. Perth people will get to see the Bombers on a rare visit out west, where West Coast will comfortably account for all, and Fremantles hopes rest on one man – Aaron Sandilands – being fit. Geelong will dominate its group at Etihad. The close ones will be at Metricon, although I expect Brisbane with Merett and Brown back to lay down the law over a still gathering Gold Coast and Melbourne. Carlton will head to Adelaide where it should win both matches comfortably.

NAB Cup round 2, combines the NAB Cup with matches that used to form the NAB Challenge (for eliminated teams). Previously it was losing sides that competed in matches outside of the major metro areas. This year matches will be featured at Mandurah, Wangaratta, Alice Springs, as well as a rare AFL match at Bruce Purser Reserve for the Swans. Other matches will be played at traditional season venues at Etihad, Aurora and Metricon.

NAB Cup round 3 takes matches to Albury, Victor Harbor, and Ballarat as well as the usual AFL venues at Etihad, Simonds, Patersons and Aami. The Carlton v Brisbane match is listed as TBC for some reason, although Id suggest its likely to be in Victoria. That said, Ive also heard that its going to Queensland, I guess time will tell.

Under the new TV deal ALL preseason cup matches are broadcast live on Fox, and will not be shown on FTA for the first time. The Grand Final will be simulcast on the Seven Network. Note also that local matches which are usually shown in non victorian states on Free to Air do not get the same protection during the NAB Cup.

As a further note, Foxtels Footy Channel launches on February 17th with the triangular games between North, Hawthorn and Richmond. The 2012 AFL Premiership Season begins March 18th, 2012.

The Gathering Storm: A-league v Big Bash

“It’s enough to break my heart, but I sense that just as one may have hoped the Hyundai A-League was gaining a piece of media turf, along has come a new summer sports phenomenon destined to usurp it”. With these words, Les Murray portrayed the possibility of a gloomy future for the A-League.

Cricket recently revamped its domestic T20 series, and despite misgivings from the traditional wings of the game, it seems to be taking off quite successfully.

After years of falling crowds and dwindling television coverage, cricket has finally got a product that is family and television-friendly, and you might say is the empire striking back.

Against this backdrop, we have the A-League which moved to summer, at least partly to escape the all-pervasive presence that is the dominant football codes at the elite level, the AFL and the NRL.

One wonders where they can turn if the BBL continues to take off.

Murray complains about the media attention awarded to the BBL, and claims it’s a mystery. It is not.

Cricket has a huge number of advantages here. It has been in the national awareness for longer than any other sport in this country. It has long been seen as the ‘Great Unifier’, that one sport that bridges the divide between the NRL, ARU and AFL.

Growing up, it was not strange to think of the year as being split into the cricket and football season.

Indeed, many major stadiums in the country are utilised along the same lines. Cricket has lent us some of our greatest heroes, all household names.

It is credited with bringing us out of the depression, bringing hope to the masses after World Wars.

It has had enormous political and media support. It has given the country the legend of Bradman.

The A-League hasn’t given us so many heroes. Yes, there are the guys who made their names in Europe and have returned, but these guys perform far too rarely in the national team here, and most people will never see them play live, especially if you live outside of Melbourne and Sydney.

The BBL has the backing of Cricket Australia, and its state associations are all shareholders in teams. This means that the BBL automatically benefited from stadium arrangements, and the Cricket Australia marketing machine.

The A-League has to contend with expensive stadiums they don’t own and some of which are unsuited to professional matches. With T20, Cricket was able to pull star power in the likes of Shane Warne and Matthew Hayden, as a neat counterpoint to the A-League recruitment of Brett Emerton and Harry Kewell.

If anyone pulls a crowd in Victoria, its Warnie. Hayden carries a similar mythology in Queensland.

In T20, cricket found a match of family-friendly length, not much longer than a standard football match, and this for me is why it will persevere. No longer do you need to spend an entire day at the cricket, there is now time to mow the lawn, do some housework and then you areoff to an evening at the BBL.

The convenience factor of this should not be underestimated.

In T20, cricket has found a television-friendly format, no longer requiring a day or several days of broadcast time.

This is going to be key when broadcast rights come up for bids in 2013. For the present, both association football and T20 are on PayTV platforms, and the BBL is streaking ahead. ASTRA ratings shows the BBL is slaughtering the A-League.

A-League supporters would have us believe that the Socceroos are the biggest national team, but nothing compares to the Australian cricket team for national awareness. It is the unstoppable juggernaut that dominates the summer, as it has since before Federation.

Where the A-league does get an advantage is that it has a longer season, but what happens if Cricket Australia simply extends the BBL season? They are already talking about expanding the competition, and with that comes an inevitable increase in the number of matches.

Murray’s assertion that the BBL is a new, summer sporting phenomenon, ignores the century and half that cricket has been around for.

The success of the BBL coverage and crowds is also interesting when you consider that A-League proponents use its mere six-year existence as a reason for crowds and TV being what they are, yet the BBL in its first year, is trouncing it for coverage, in both TV and news coverage.

Its food for thought in any case.

The Victorian AFL Report Cards are in

Its finance reporting season for AFL clubs and the annual reports are in for all but St Kilda and so we gain an excellent snap shot of the current economic climate amongst Victorian clubs. We cant produce the same across non Victorian clubs due to the way those clubs are operated. Adelaide, Port and Brisbane (and I believe Sydney) DO produce individual annual reports, but the WA clubs, and the new boys on the Gold Coast certainly dont at this time. Further, St Kilda havent supplied an annual report yet.

Memberships were up across Melbourne, with 25,000 members added to the 2010 tally taking numbers to 425,756. Seven out of ten Victorian clubs recorded increases, with Collingwood taking out top spot with an increase of more than 17,000. At the bottom of the ladder, the Saints dropped more than 6,000 members. Collingwood, Hawthorn, Carlton, Essendon and Richmond round out the top 5 clubs for membership – all with more than 40,000 members.

To attendances, and these were also up across Melbourne with 25,000 more people going through the gates than in 2010 and total attendances in Melbourne and Geelong exceeding 4.3 million. The big movers in 2011 were Richmond, Carlton and Essendon recording net gate increase of more than 50,000 attendees. Collingwood still reigned supreme almost 90,000 clear of the Blues in second place. Bringing up the rear Melbourne dropped 70,000 at home, but the spoon goes to the Bulldogs and North, both under 300,000 attendees.

To Revenue, and its Collingwood and daylight. The Pies turning over 75 million this year, more than 24 million clear of the second place Bombers. Hawthorn and Geelong round out the top 4 there. North Melbourne haplessly bringing up the rear on 26 million, 12 million below the league average (38 million for vic clubs). Victorian clubs raised more than $400 million in revenue in 2011.

Its been widely reported than 9 AFL clubs have made a loss this year, but in terms of operations only two Melbourne clubs (North and St Kilda lost money). 4 clubs made profits of more than a million dollars. (Collingwood made 2). When write offs and depreciation are factored in, 3 clubs made a loss, including Hawthorn (albeit narrowly). The addition of AFL and Australian Sporting Foundation Grants almost certainly means two more clubs made a loss when these are taken out. Total profit for the Melbourne clubs is more than 7 million, and more than 12 million after consolidation.

In Marketing and Sponsorship revenue, Collingwood remain top earning $22 million, Richmond, Essendon and Geelong on around $15 million. Melbourne, North Melbourne and the Bulldogs fall way down on 8 million each. More than 123 million in sponsorship was raised in Melbourne across 10 clubs with an average of more than 12 million.

Revenue from Membership and gate receipts topped $100 million, Collingwood clear winners as expected with more than $16 million from members alone. Geelong, Richmond, Carlton and Essendon rounding out the top end, while North struggled with less than $6 million. The league average in Melbourne was over 10 million.

Gaming revenue is a tricky one, and most clubs include this with their social club takings – including hospitality and beverages. Most clubs in Melbourne average 3-4 million in gaming revenue. Ironically, the biggest gaming beneficiary is Brisbane taking more than 12 million from pokies in 2011. North has no gaming revenue at all.

Melbourne clubs spent more than 170 million on their football departments in 2011, and even North managed to spend 15 million on theirs in 2011. Collingwood way out in front at 19 million, Geelong, Essendon and Carlton not far behind.

Theres a lot of positives in the annual reports for clubs. Some have debts, but they appear to be entirely manageable, and for the foreseeable future the clubs finances are backed by the AFL. North and the Bulldogs remain causes for concern, they just appear to have no strong support either in the crowd or corporate sectors. As long as this remains the case, their future will be called into question by the waiting vultures, equalisation fund be damned.

On the flip side, that Collingwood benefits from the fixture more than any other club cannot really be a question any more. Not that its Collingwoods fault – every club wants to play them and theres only a certain number of AFL games that melbourne clubs can play interstate, for which the Pies generally do meet the average.

Hawthorn continues to be a financial powerhouse, with a reported $20 million sitting in the bank, developments in Tasmania and New Zealand, and a feisty board. I dont think theres any coincidence that guys like Eddie McGuire and Jeff Kennett are – or were in Jeffs case – at the helms of two of Australias most prosperous football clubs.

Carlton, Essendon and Richmond are begining to perk up again, and this is reflected in their memberships and astonishing increases in crowds. Essendon and Carlton in particular will be wondering if they can the MCG for home matches when their current deals expire. Carlton are already selling out Docklands for matches against non victorian clubs.

State of the Game: Sydney AFL

State of the Game:
Australian Football in Sydney

So its that time of the year where the various state and regional bodies begin to put out their annual reports and the first of these this year is AFL Sydney. With Greater Western Sydney coming in 2012, and the reputed “AFL Invasion”, theres a few things of interest to bear note of in the report, and these are things I will discuss briefly here. In short, however, the Annual Report confirms what some of us have believed for some time, that Australian Football is alive and well, and growing in the suburbs of Sydney.

In 2007, 19 Clubs fielded 62 teams, the Sydney AFL now boasts 22 clubs fielding 78 teams. A far cry from the lows of 1998 where just 7 teams took the field.  Where in 2007 total playing numbers were 2155, in 2011 they stand at 2914 (a 35% increase). In 2007, there 45 teams, in 2011 the Sydney AFL featured 59 teams. The league has gone from seventeen to nineteen Under 18 teams in the same time. Senior playing numbers have risen by 530 since 2008 (up 30%), and the Under 18 teams have also risen by 114 (Up 20%).

Eleven clubs have at least four senior teams. The league itself is split into five divisions, and two U18 divisions, with promotion and relegation systems for the lower divisions.

The annual report states that the AFL itself spent money improving facilities at Drummoyne Oval, Picken Oval, Pioneers Park, Gore Hill Oval, Hensen Park, Mahoney Park, Monarch Oval, and Olds Park. For those claiming to have never seen an AFL oval, its also worth noting that 35 venues were used for AFL Sydney matches in 2011. The Grand Finals for all divisions were played at Blacktwon.

AFL Sydney continues to benefit from some coverage on Foxtel with an hour long highlights package shown on Foxtels Main Event channel prior to the Friday Night AFL broadcast.

Against this backdrop, the East Coast Eagles participated in the inaugural Foxtel Cup where they were duly slaughtered by Port Adelaide at the SCG, thereby confirming everyones suspicion that the league standard may not be as high as in other Australian Football territories. In 2012, they will again face off in the Foxtel Cup, although they start with what could be a relatively close match against QAFL club, MT Gravatt.

East Coast Eagles – now Sydney Hills Eagles, will along with Sydney University, the Swans and Giants reserves, form the Sydney AFL contingent in the 2012 NEAFL Season, featuring teams from the AFL ACT territory, and matches against clubs in the NEAFL (Northern Division). In 2011, the Sydney area was represented only by the Swans reserves and the GWS Giants.

From its begining as the NSW Football Association in 1903, through its 1980 renaming to the Sydney Football League, to its present incarnation from 2009, Australian football continues to endure in the Sydney Area. 11 clubs took the field in 1903, and sank to an all time low of just 7 teams in 1998. Despite many clubs coming and going in the 108 years of its existence, the league is still here today.

With the arrival of Greater Western Sydney, and the continued work of the Sydney Swans, not to mention much resources and funding from AFL House, its easy to believe that Australian Football is driven purely by the big boys out of Melbourne. The fact is there are thousands of Sydney dwelling players, umpires, and club volunteers who are just as responsible for the growth of the game as anywhere else. Yes, helped immensely by an AFL that in 2009 was lambasted by the Swans for not paying enough attention to Sydney, after leaving promotion of the game in the NSW capital entirely up to the Swans for years. Helped along by the AFL spending money on facilities and promotion, there can be no doubt, but the backbone of the operation remains the people who go out week in and week out, they staff the canteen, they operate the scoreboards, they supply goal umpires, parking attendants and god alone knows what else to keep these clubs running.

That the number of teams and players is growing is undeniable. Will it take over Sydney? No. Will it be around another hundred years? Who knows what the sporting landscape will look like 100 years from now. We can however, safely say that the immediate future looks rosy for Australian football in Sydney.

Are we spending too much on stadiums

As a sports fan I love a good stadium, as an AFL fan I must say we’ve endured some great times recently as new ovals and upgrades to facilities that will be used by the AFL community are announced on a regular basis. Its all very exciting for the keen sports follower. However,as an Australian taxpayer, I have to ask though, is it all too much.

In recent times more than 1.8 BILLION dollars has been allocated to stadium builds – and yes much of it is the Adelaide and Perth developments. Yes, 100 million of it will come from the AFL and various crickeet trusts. The 1.8 billion rises to 2.5 billion if you factor in the last 8 years (which includes a 464 million MCG Northern Stand Redevelopment, admittedly only $77 million from the Victorian government). The question we should all be asking is just how State Governemts will find the 1.7 billion to build stadiums.

You have to remember that these are the same states complaining they dont have enough funds, in particular South Australia and Western Australia who complain about funding shortfalls every time theres a budget, but apprently think nothing of spending an easy half billion dollars on professional sports infrastucture.

In Perth, NIB stadium has received approval for an $82 million stadium upgrade, while at the same time the government intends to spend another $700 million on a stadium that will be used maybe 25 times a year for AFL matches. From a pure economic standpoint, wouldnt that extra 85 million best have been invested in the 60,000 seat stadium that will be full maybe twice a year…if only to justify the return on investment over time. Instead, you have Union and A-league, and in the future likely Rugby League playing out of the little 25,000 seat rectangular stadium, Cricket playing out of the WACA and AFL having this massive stadium more or less to itself.

In Adelaide, the economics border on ridiculous. The A-league club will play out of the 15,000 seat Hindmarsh stadium, while two AFL clubs will play out of the new, shiny Adelaide Oval they will share with cricket which barely utilises the ground to its current capacity, let alone the new one.

In Sydney, the SCG has approved a 186 million dollar upgrade – whole stadiums have been built for this recently – in a stadium that is almost never full, where the government is upgrading the showgrounds despite there being an 80,000 seat oval stadium right next door, and an underutilised 36,000 seat stadium across the city.

In Queensland the government has recently built Carrara, which aside from Commonwealth games use will only be used for the 11 AFL matches a year, while across the coast is a rectangular stadium that is also underused by its tenants.

Yes, I get that soccer, league and union are vastly better to watch in rectangular stadia. I just cant justify it in the face of hospital closures and extensive waiting lists for critical procedures. I cant justify it when funding for life saving medical treatments is being cut or is non existent. I known where Id rather our taxpayer funds to go. People wont die if they have to watch Australian football at ANZ Stadium, people wont die if they have to watch soccer at the new perth stadium. Then there are other issues. There are 180,000 homeless people in Australia that need help – they wont be able to sleep on the bright red Carrara terraces. Tens of thousands of people live below the poverty line – they wont be able to afford the food at ANZ stadium anyway. Thousands more are out of work and will not benefit from these stadiums one iota. The refugee issue gets no closer to being solved by building the stadium at Burswood, unless it will house the boat guys when they get here.

Where have our governments priorities gone when giant edifices which primarily benefit professional sporting organisations that rake in millions per year in profit are put ahead of public health and safety. Surely if we must build stadiums – and I get that sport is essentially part of the Australian culture – that the public have a right to expect more bang for their dollar. Its not like the average community player will benefit. Most will never set foot on the turf or do anything than sit in one of the brightly coloured seats for which they have had to mortgage thir house, and sell their cars in order to buy a pie and a beer in a plastic cup.

Cricket and the AFL share grounds across the country, Rugby league, Union and Soccer have all been played on the MCG and Etihad. Not to mention the Gabba, Carrara and SCG. It can be done, it should be done. Theroetically the more use you get out of a stadium, the cheaper it should be for patrons to enter. Compare AFL entry prices at the MCG with anywhere else in the country for most sports.

Stadiums should be for the consideration of all.

Major Stadium Grants in 2011-12

Skoda Stadium (Sydney Showgrounds) – $20 million
Metricon Stadium (Gold Coast) – $144 million
Sydney Cricket Ground – $186 million
Melbourne Cricket Ground (Southern Stand) – $55 million
Simonds Stadium (Geelong) – $29 million
Adelaide Oval – $570 million
Burswood Stadium (Perth) – $700 million
NIB Stadium (Perth) – $82.5 million
Bellerive OVal (Tas) – $21 million (applied for)
WIN Stadium (NSW) – $29.8 million
Penrith Stadium (NSW) – $5 million
———————————————-
Total: 1.8 billion
———————————————-

The Twelve Days of Christmas – Bank Street

On the first day of Christmas Bank Street gave to me,
A guy so drunk he couldnt even see.

On the second day of Christmas Bank Street gave to me,
two homeless druggies,
and a guy so drunk he couldnt even see

On the third day of Christmas Bank Street gave to me,
three people fighting,
two homeless druggies,
and a guy so drunk he couldnt even see

On the fourth day of Christmas Bank Street gave to me,
four people without houses,
three people fighting,
two homeless druggies,
and a guy so drunk he couldnt even see.

On the fifth day of Christmas Bank Street gave to me,
Five cops all running,
four people without houses,
three people fighting,
two homeless druggies,
and a guy so drunk he couldnt even see.

On the sixth day of Christmas Bank Street gave to me,
Six broken windows,
Five cops all running,
four people without houses,
three people fighting,
two homeless druggies,
and a guy so drunk he couldnt even see.

On the seventh day of Christmas Bank Street gave to me,
Seven natives shouting,
Six broken windows,
Five cops all running,
four people without houses,
three people fighting,
two homeless druggies,
and a guy so drunk he couldnt even see.

On the eighth day of Christmas Bank Street gave to me,
Eight trashed hotel rooms,
Seven natives shouting,
Six broken windows,
Five cops all running,
four people without houses,
three people fighting,
two homeless druggies,
and a guy so drunk he couldnt even see.

On the ninth day of Christmas Bank Street gave to me,
Nine large rats,
Eight trashed hotel rooms,
Seven natives shouting,
Six broken windows,
Five cops all running,
four people without houses,
three people fighting,
two homeless druggies,
and a guy so drunk he couldnt even see.

On the tenth day of Christmas Bank Street gave to me,
Ten toothless alley blow jobs,
Nine large rats,
Eight trashed hotel rooms,
Seven natives shouting,
Six broken windows,
Five cops all running,
four people without houses,
three people fighting,
two homeless druggies,
and a guy so drunk he couldnt even see.

On the Eleventh day of Christmas Bank Street gave to me,
Eleven lovely strippers,
Ten toothless alley blow jobs,
Nine large rats,
Eight trashed hotel rooms,
Seven natives shouting,
Six broken windows,
Five cops all running,
four people without houses,
three people fighting,
two homeless druggies,
and a guy so drunk he couldnt even see.

On the Twelf day of Christmas Bank Street gave to me,
Twelve ugly prostitutes,
Eleven lovely strippers,
Ten toothless alley blow jobs,
Nine large rats,
Eight trashed hotel rooms,
Seven natives shouting,
Six broken windows,
Five cops all running,
four people without houses,
three people fighting,
two homeless druggies,
and a guy so drunk he couldnt even see.

Leveling in the Old Republic 10-20 Part 1 (Sith Inquisitor)

So theres a 4 hour maintenance going on at the moment where they kick out the free loading early access guys, and I figured this was as good a time as any to move on to the next phase of the leveling experience.

Your Inquisitor story line requires you to head to Dromund Kaas, and so after selecting your crafting/gathering/mission skills and class speciality, you should head there, and begin the journey to Kaas city. (Unless you are PVP inclined and then theres a whole heap of missions on the Fleet. Im not so I wont be covering that).

The first thing that hits you when leaving the spaceport is the contrast in environments with Korriban. Where Korriban is sandy, rocky and constantly exposed to sunlight, Dromund Kaas is apparently in some sort of permanent twilight, full of jungles and rivers and creeks. Straying off the path into the jungle will undoubtedly lead you into one of the many heroic areas that dot the landscape.

Finally where Korriban was relatively small, Dromand Kaas is several times larger, and the zone is a decent size for the keen explorer. Fortunately speeder points and quick travel terminals are available at fairly regular intervals so its not unbearable, especially after level 14, but Ill get to that later.

Planetary Transport

I should briefly explain transport here. Until level 14 you walk everywhere, helped by landspeeders and the quicktravel function. For the experienced WoW player these are effectively flightpoints, and a much more mobile hearth ability. Unlike WoW this ability is not fixed to any one point, but can be used practically anywhere you find a speeder. On the downside, WoWs hearth ability is transferable across planets and continents, in Star Wars quicktravel is only available for the planet you are on.

Dromund Kaas features not only a spaceport but a shuttle as well from The Wall.

The Map

As previously explained your map is transparent if you have it open while moving, and in some cases features speeder points in locations you havent been to already, note that this is not always the case, but is useful when tryin to figure out where to go. The Map also includes co-ordinates, so you never find yourself in the situation where some idiot is telling you where something is based on an addon he has that you dont use.

Repairs

All gear can be repaired by Imperial Medical Droids, these are stationed all over the place, and can usually – but not always – be located not far from transport points. They also sell medpacks and “stims” – essentially buff potions for fortitude and similar stats.

The Questline continues…

Visits to Lord Zash are frequent at first, but the quests take you further and further away from Kaas City, and so interaction with your Sith Master is less burdensome that it potentially could be.

Arriving in Kaas City it looks massive, going into the city it FEELs massive. However this is sadly just a reflection on the Empires apparent desire to build huge plazas and wide roads, than any massive urban area. I was disappointed by this as most of the city serves as a painted backdrop and the areas of your exploration are somewhat limited in scope.

Upon arrival you can take the taxi straight to the central Kaas station, but there are quests and holocrons within easy reach, and being something of a completionist, I obviously opted to go down the latter path.

The Dromund Kaas story line is all about the continuing search for power with your master issuing directives and you carrying them out. These typically also are your breadcrumb quests which lead you from one zone to the next within the planet and then on to the next one. Dont be afraid to kill mobs enroute because these will frequently yield bonus quests.

Bag Space, vendoring and saving

The Fleet has your bank until you get your space ship. As is my want, I expanded my bag space as soon as I had the 5,000 credits to do so. You should feel comfortable enough to do that and still not have to worry about funds for your land transport. (Ill cover this later but I ended up with 20,000 credits over the needed funds without playing the galactic market or anything.)

If I havent mentioned it already, your companion can be sent off to vendor all your grey items, this typically takes one or two minutes.

Level 14 = Sprint

Until level 14 you are walking everywhere, its not terribly burdensome on Korriban and even Dromund Kaas isnt too bad (no similar epic walks to WoW where you could walk from Loch modan to Menethil Harbor for those with long WoW memories). At Level 14, you gain that most critical of attributes: Sprint. It makes a world of difference, trust me, especially on the next planet, and you can leave it on permanently, although you need to hit it again if you die.

You’ll use sprint a lot until you get your own speeder license at 25.

Level 16: Space, the final Frontier

At level 16, you will generally be almost done with Dromand Kaas, its possible that its even further along if you have significant rested experience saved up. However, your spaceship is tied in with your quest line, and so its likely you’ll be near the end of the planets quests when you receive your orders to proceed onward to a new area, and with it comes your own spaceship.

Your ship contains among other things, a bank vault, this is accessible from bank vendors as well as the ship itself. The ship can have various parts upgradeable to make it faster or give it more armor and firepower. The ship itself is the same model as one you use in Knights of the Old Repiublic Unfortunately, you cant quick travel back to the ship, and it seems you are condemned to walking through the spaceport/fleet/orbital station looking for it.

The Ship also contains your map of the galaxy, and so after Dromund Kaas the universe opens up for you.

And three makes company…

As an added bonus, you receive a second companion with your star ship, this time effectively a medical droid. Personally I find it easier to have Khem Val (an effective tank) running around with me, while my droid levels my crew skills, but this is a matter of taste depending on your speciality.

On to new worlds!

If all goes well, the Questline will take you out of Dromund Kaas, with the option of hitting Nar Shadaa or Balmorra. Nar Shadaa mobs start at around level 21, and most people seem to finish Dromund Kaas at around 16 or 17, so I strongly recommend Balmorra. This I will deal with in part 2.

 

 

Leveling in the Old Republic (Level 10) – Sith Inquisitor

Our journey from Korriban leads us straight to the Imperial Fleet, and its here that the game increases from the basic leveling you’ve done on Korriban. Its here that you will select your crafting choices and your class speciality. Id also like to touch on a few things that i neglected in the last article.

Training and Crafting

Your speciailty is unchangeable and theres a fairly detailed explanation of each class choice available from your trainer. For the Inquisitor, this means that you will be pigeon holed into either damage or healing, as this is where your talent trees take you. From here on when you train, the tab will feature skills for the Inquistor, and the Sorcerer – make sure you get both.

With your specialisation chosen, you should take the time to visit the profession trainers. You can only take one crafting profession, and there are a wide variety of other gathering and mission trainers available. Being me, I selected Scavenging, Investigation and Treasure Hunting as my three.

Heres where the game throws you a curve, not only do the companions you have fight for you, and cash in your low rated items for credits, you can send them off to level your professions as well. This takes anywhere up to 6 minutes with the average being about 3 minutes, and is a welcome change for the experienced WoW player whose used to standing around for ages leveling professions and doing little else. Later when you get your second companion (at 16), you can send the one you dont have with you off to do the jobs for you, thereby not impacting your combat ability.

Heroic zones and Flashpoints

With all that done, its time to choose whether you take the ordinary shuttle to Drumon Kaas or the Black Talon as hooked up by your master. The Black Talon is a two man flashpoint, and again represents a change for people used to either having to solo or forced into groups of 5.

The two man run was decent, the objectives werent overly taxing, and most of all, it was fun. Bioware seem to have decided that there is room for all manner of group sizes in the game, and so these little adventures are for anywhere up to 4 people (at level 19 ive yet to see one assigned for larger groups). You’ll know the recommended group size because the quest tracker will list it as “heroic 2+ or heroic 4” etc.

There are several of these on Korriban, and Drumon Kaas is liberally scattered with them, the innocent level 10 explorer will come across these elite mobs running around the jungle freaking out new comers, the heroic zones are literally marked heroic when you enter them. For Vanilla wow players, this is the equivelant of early Jintha Alor in the Hinterlands or areas in the original tier 0.5 upgrade chains.

Importantly, you gain social points for doing things in a group. This enables you to buy things from various social vendors.

Instancing and Storyline mobs

The game neatly does away with quest mob griefing by ensuring that mobs at the end of quest lines are safely locked away for you and your group. Some are for individual Sith Inquisitors and some are for your group as well. These are typically shown by a green doorway.

Solo Inquistor zones are usually pertinent to the Inquistor story line, and similar zones exist for all classes as part of Biowares excellent commitment to the class story lines.

Holocrons – Lore and Statistics

There are Holocrons scattered throughout the game, at least three that ive found on Drummon Kaas, and two on Korriban that I know of. These will grant you increases in knowledge and more importantly, some will give you permanent increases in stats. Be on the look out for roads and paths that go nowhere, and this is one of the best reasons you should thoroughly explore everything.

In addition, you can pick up lore from various tablets and displays lying around the place. These will show up as Codexes when you’ve clicked on them.

Self regeneration

Another awesome feature, and one I left out on the earlier article is the Sith feature, Seethe. No longer do you have to sit and eat and drink when a few seconds of Seethe will grant you health back. All classes have a similar ability and this is one of the many reasons Im finding Old Republic to be a better MMO than WoW.

Dark Side/Light Side choices and You

Your conversations with NPCs will occasionally lead you to make choices which will lead you further down the path of the dark side or send you on the treacherous path to the light side. For a sith, you are expected to be arrogant and attempting to kill everything in sight when its an option is usually your best bet. Why else do you think I went Sith lol.

Its important to note that your dark/light side score will determine some of the gear you can use. Your score can be found on your character tab, by pressing C.

And with that done…its on to Drumon Kaas! next article of course.

 

Leveling in the Old Republic – 1-10 (Sith Inquisitor)

 

Anyone who knows anything about me will be aware that ive done a vast amount of Warcraft playing over the years. Some would say too much. As the somewhat proud owner of some ten characters of every class and race past level 80, and most to 85, I believe that i can refer with some authority to the the leveling process in WoW.

Playing old republic has its familiar elements, make no mistake. The UI is relatively simple, action bars are located in the same place.

The Sith starting world is Korriban, a desolate wasteland devoid of most plant life and seemingly inhabited by rogue sith, badly programmed droids and the usual rebel scum. The zone is not large which is good since at this time you’ll be walking, with occasional help from speeders and such.

The zone is specifically designed to funnel you through the initial process of learning to use your abilities, get introduced to the sith way of doing things and learning to use various abilities. Reaching the Sith Academy on Korriban is relatively simple where you meet your overseer, and find out who you are working for, the lovely Lord Zash.

ok at this point there are a couple of key differences in questing. For one, the “kill a hundred boars” syndrome that is usually applied to WoW isnt the main game here. Yes, its there, but at no point to date has it been a critical part. The “kill X such and such” quests form an incidental part of the quests you are already on, tend to come up automatically as bonus quests which are up to you to complete, but no mission critical. In most cases, you’d be killing the mobs anyway so it doesnt really hurt.

A great feature is the map. Yes I know every game has a map, but unlike WoW the map can be open and transparent while moving, and is available anywhere in the game – caves, citadels, cities, flashpoints, ships. You can literally follow the full size map and see where you are going at the same time. it automatically lists available quest givers and vendors, and quest mobs. Its an awesome tool whether experienced MMO player or novice.

Another excellent feature – and sorely missing from WoW – is the ability to AOE loot bodies. One click and your looting everything within a short distance. It saves so much time and effort.

A feature that i find curious is the companions. You gain a combat companion – not pet – at around level 9 or 10, for the Inquistor this is called Khem Val, and he is effectively your tank. Companions can benefit from gear and enhancement mods, just as your own character can. 

In this way, Inquisitors are a mixnmatch Mage/Warlock/Priest class (more direct damage, less dots/some healing abilities/combat pets). This becomes more apparent when you reach the Fleet and choose your specialty at level 10.

Another excellent feature, is your ability to resurrect either at the med centre (effectively a graveyard) or wait for the droid to be available to resurrect you where you are. If you die a lot the timer on the droid can blow right out to ten minutes.

The final – and superb – feature is another that WoW could learn from, bag space can be bought – initial increase is 5,000 credits (followed by a 20k credit buy)  which is fairly easy to get hold of by the time you hit Droman Kaas. If you need bag space, you can send your companion off to sell your grey items to a vendor. This typically takes about a minute before they return.

Mission items are kept in a separate inventory, and as such dont take up bag space at all.

By level 10, you’ll have scored your lightsaber, you will be ready to leave Korriban, and move on to the Fleet. A meeting with your master will send you on to your next planet, in the case of the Inquisitor, on to Droman Kaas via the Imperial Fleet. This will be the subject of the next article.

In short, leveling 1-10 in Old Republic is fast, you’ll do it in hours, just as you would in WoW, but without much of the tediousness involved. The storyline is very well done, and for Australians at least, many accents will be familiar. There are so few american voice actors, and what appears to be many from the UK and even Australia, in the cast. For fans of star wars its heavily recommended, for Wow players looking for something different – this is it. Oh it wont kill WoW, not with an expansion around the corner, but its engrossing enough to keep me going for quite some time.