Welcome to our new sporting columnist! And he is a sport! 

You would think that once the football season was over …. alright, alright, you rowdy mob in the back row can calm down or I’ll have you thrown out!  Yes, the soccer season has just begun but – as I have said on many occasions and it proves you’re still not listening – soccer  IS NOT  (I say again,  IS NOT) included in the generic term football because, First,  they are soccer and, Second, they play in spring/summer when true football is played in winter.  Here endth the lesson.  All correspondence should be addressed to my garbage bin so let us continue the thought I began with …. there would be a paucity of sporting news, but not so.

For starters, there was The Bathurst 1000.  I watched a good deal more of it than I planned and to see Craig Lowndes and  The General  snatch the bickies from everybody else was quite gratifying.  Of course, with neither car being built in Oz anymore (what am I saying, we don’t build any cars here anymore) it was also sad to note  The Henry  isn’t going to use the Falcon anymore but will run two door Mustangs next year.  Oh, how the times have changed.  I can remember when the only cars that could be entered in The Big Race were those that had 500 of them registered on Oz roads.  This lead both car manufactures to build “specials” for the race and these included ratios in the gearbox and diff that made better use of the V8s grunt so times up Mountain Strait and down Conrod could be increased.  Now of course, there are Nissans and Mercs in the field.  Who’d’a thought.

One thing that still bugs me about Supercar racing though is safety.  I was watching one of the races in The Gold Coast 600 t’other night and there was a stack just round a corner.  Even one of the dribblers made a call regarding his fear of further carnage and surenuff, several cars turned the corner at race speed and then had to make hurried adjustments to avoid the initial prang.  In a short time however, one couldn’t avoid the mess and wiped his car out.  Why?  I recall years ago, attending speedway races in Canberra (I did seriously think of taking up an offer to learn to ride one of those bikes, but that’s another story) and we could see clearly that at about half a dozen places round the oval were large tri-coloured lights.  It was simple:  Green (YOU’RE RACING);  Orange (SLOW DOWN NOW);  and Red (STOP NOW).  Alright, with speedway racing the officials can see the whole track but don’t tell me it couldn’t be installed and operated at any racetrack!  The same rules would apply as do when the pace car is out – a set speed and no passing.  Does another death have to happen before something like this is considered a little more than  “possibly useful”.

Horse racing is said to be the Sport Of Kings but in my mind it’s better described as the Sport Of Fools.  It’s as simple as giving the masses a distraction and a hope (forlorn, of course) of riches.  Oh yes, we’ve all heard of the punter who “won big” on The Cup but what we weren’t told was how much was the bet and how many times has that same punter torn up his ticket?  Just recently we saw the running of  The Everest, which is nothing more than the Sydney (read Randwick) horsey mob trying to upstage the Melbourne Cup.  And then there was Alan Jones supporting the use the sails of the building as a billboard for this supa doopa, unique, historic (this is only the second running of it, by the way) and filthy rich horse race.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want to get the real feel of owning a racehorse or being a punter on them, buy yourself a large caravan (it’ll cost as much as a present day stable and handlers) and a 44 gallon drum.  Put the caravan in your back yard (but don’t live in it, just yet), cut the top out of the 44, punch some holes around the bottom edge, half fill it with some waste timber and set it alight.  Now, on a regular basis (like every 10 minutes and 24/7) throw a single $50 note into the fire.  That’s what it feels like to be a racehorse owner/punter.  The caravan?  Hang onto it coz that’s where you’ll be living if you keep chasing the nags!  It was the late Frank Hardy who called it “The Four-Legged Lottery” and I think he was spot on.

Should I mention  The Galahs?  No!  How about  The Wallabies?  Why?  Can I talk about  The Boomers?  Please don’t!

OK, I can take a hint.  Talk at you next month,


Hillside Critic

(Not all of us are sports fans, but I think everyone  who saw any of it, will agree that the Invictus Games, and Prince Harry, have been utterly inspiring! Ed.) 

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