INDEPENDENT NEWS

Guy’s World: Australia’s Sons Are Ostriches

Published: Mon 20 Aug 2001 10:00 AM
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I felt for poor Thomas Stowers, the ring-in singer who stumbled through Advance Australia Fair at Carisbrook ahead of the All Blacks/Wallabies Bledisloe Cup game the other weekend.
While Mr Stowers maintains technical difficulties were at fault for his butchering of the turgid anthem, TV evidence suggests the inexperienced 21-year-old Kiwi baritone was struck by what rugby experts term a ‘brain explosion’, and the words refused to make the journey from brain to mouth.
Why wouldn’t the words come? Well, Advance Australia Fair’s lyrics, penned by Glasgow-born joiner Peter Dodds McCormick some time in the 1800s, are hardly the stuff to get a 21st century Kiwi boy’s musical mojo working.
As a 5-year-old at Sydney’s French’s Forest School, I couldn’t hear “Australia’s sons, let us rejoice” when we sang the national song at school assembly. The circuitous Victorian language didn’t register. I used to innocently sing “Australia’s sons are ostriches.”
My lyrical alteration was not nascent rebellion, that’s just what the words sounded like to me. Frankly, I still think my lyrics are better, and they’re what I would’ve sung if the Carisbrook organisers had entrusted the dignity of Australia’s national song to me.
Fifteen of Australia’s finest sons on that very paddock were apparently wallabies, while the 21-year old singer did his best impression of a startled possum. It’s not that much of a stretch.
The stuttering rendition of Advance Australia Fair, while riling the small Occa contingent at Carisbrook, didn’t phase the Wallabies, who had smarts and self-belief over the fragile All Blacks. Even though they’re named after the docile, herbivorous wallaby, a stunted cousin of the kangaroo, the Aussie footballers had the killer instinct and deserved their 23-15 win.
There’s something petulant and mean-spirited about the national reaction to an All Black loss. Dour old relics in pubs liberally pour scorn on the lads in black, while sports writers and talkback callers polish the same old 2 cents and offer it up over and over. If only they could muster the same enthusiasm for a win.
It’s time we got over the ABs. Let them get it together without the burden of the nation’s collective low self-esteem weighing on their shoulders. Meanwhile, if we’re looking for a winner to back, lets look to social-grade hockey. YWCA men are doing the business.
After avoiding any form of organised sport for all of my 25 years, I found myself playing for the YWCA. Apparently the team was formed several years ago by the husbands and boyfriends of the YWCA women.
Despite the sissy name, Y-dub has only lost once on the field, in a game when we only fielded nine players during the first half, versus Upper Hutt’s full contingent of 11 on the field, plus subs.
Y-dub leads the points table heading into the semis, real contenders to take out social-grade honours.
Before this year, the closest I’d come to team sport was playing in rock bands. I’d never picked up a hockey stick and my knowledge of the game didn’t go much further than an appreciation of the Black Sticks’ legs at the Olympics. But I can run and have passable hand-eye co-ordination, and that was enough to be taken in to the dwindling ranks of Y-dub.
Unorthodoxy reigns in Wellington hockey’s lowest grade – fat wings take advantage of the no-offside rule and spend the entire game camped in the opposition’s circle never getting any ball; pleasant poms spend the game talking about gardening to the opposition; one-handed wonders pull off acts of brilliance that you’ll never see in a coaching manual. And no team does unorthodox better than the men with the girl’s name.
International rugby is getting stale and predictable, technical difficulties during the national anthems notwithstanding.
The national women’s hockey team, currently playing the Champion’s Trophy tournament in Holland, are a good watch for attitude and sex appeal, if not winning form – witness the 5-1 dismantling dished out by the Hockeyroos on the weekend.
If we want to see Kiwis triumph, perhaps we should be setting our sights a little lower. Y-dub are the form team in social hockey. We’ve got the desire and the skills to reach the top of the bottom of the heap. Back a winner – back Y-dub.
Feedback: guy@scoop.co.nz

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