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Anorak | Ashes Aside, Australia Still Kings Of Marginal Sports

Ashes Aside, Australia Still Kings Of Marginal Sports

by | 27th, December 2010

‘DURING the last Ashes series in 2002, we wrote about the tiresome claims of Australians – faithfully echoed by our own (largely Australian-owned) media – that theirs is a nation of sporting champions.

We easily demolished this fantasy, pointing out that Australians, like the Americans with their so-called “World Series” baseball, are careful to concentrate on sports that nobody else plays – or at least, nobody English.

We pointed out that cricket is a peripheral pastime in this country, and that when Shane Warne – one of the best players of all-time – played for Hampshire he got paid for a whole season what a top Premiership footballer would earn in a week. The only time most Englishmen watch cricket is when the Australians come to town, and then it’s a bit like watching the Harlem globetrotters – lots of clever tricks, but of no real importance.

The other sports at which the Aussies excel are similarly unimportant. Rugby Union is more popular than cricket, but is basically a marginal sport – and the Aussies couldn’’t even win the World Cup in their own country. Rugby League (or “football” as they insist on calling it) is an even more irrelevant sport than Union, when considered world-wide.

When we turned to two genuinely international men’’s sports – football and boxing –

We pointed out that the Australian record is woeful. Football (or “soccer” as they say) is still basically the province of immigrants in Australia. Admittedly, some half-decent Australian players are emerging, but they have to move to Europe in order to ply their trade.

Until the Australians have a proper football league, they simply don’’t register on the sporting radar. They hold the record for the biggest ever win in a World Cup qualifier, but that was against a team that included a child, and didn’t even have its own kit. Their win against England in a meaningless friendly was treated as though they had won the trophy.

As for boxing, Australians are OK at fighting kangaroos, but have made no impact whatsoever on the proper Queensbury variety. The best-known Australian pugilist is “Aussie Joe” Bugner – the Hungarian-Brit who went to earn a living out there once his days as a serious fighter were over.

It’s a curious fact that, for all their macho posturing, Australian males prefer to avoid the boxing ring, and concentrate on tennis, swimming, and other girls’ sports that Englishmen wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. One need only consider their preposterous “Aussie rules’ game, with its tight shorts and boob tubes, to see that something pretty rum is going on.

‘What about Australia’s legendary drinking culture?’ I hear you say. ‘What about David Boon’s 52 tinnies on the plane in ’89 – surely that’s pretty macho?’ Hardly. Australian beer bears about as much relation to the real thing as American root beer does, and frankly, one wonders why Boonie could manage only 52.

Even with booze that a baby could safely drink, the Australians can’t master the basic pub games.

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Posted: 27th, December 2010 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink