The sporting world is beset by bad omens
David Pocock now captain of the Wallabies (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
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I am not, as a rule, a superstitious man. I am more likely to look to the form guide and the injury list to predict the outcome of a game, rather than the fact that one of the teams has never won when the moon is aligned with Saturn.
So I have always scoffed when reading about a player who always puts his left boot on first, or won’t shave during the season, or (hypothetically) sacrifices ducks in the dressing room. It’s all terribly silly, the whole sporting superstition lark.
Lately there have been some disturbing trends emerging in the world of sport, omens which seem to suggest that there are indeed unseen forces at work.
Look at the Wallabies and the ‘Curse of the Captaincy’. James Horwill goes down. David Pocock steps up to replace him. Pocock goes down. The torch is passed to Will Genia. Genia goes down.
Is it not remarkable that Nathan Sharpe has accepted the captaincy for this weekend’s game against Argentina without the slightest protest? He must have nerves of steel, to grit his teeth against the terror that is surely gripping him at this moment, for he knows full well that he is next in fate’s firing line.
It’s only a matter of time on the weekend before Sharpe’s hamstring goes ping, or his shoulder is dislocated, or his head falls off.
It seems obvious by now that malignant powers are conspiring to strike down anyone with the hubris to assume the Wallabies’ captaincy.
The only question left is, how do we placate these spirits and end the curse before things get out of hand?
Something must be done, before we have to give the captaincy to Quade Cooper. We can’t have other nations laughing at us.
Or perhaps we need to simply heed the message that the universe is sending us: man is just not meant to be captain of the Wallabies.
But it is not only in the demon-haunted world of rugby union that ominous portents have been appearing.
In the AFL, eldritch signs have also been showing themselves. There is the return of Mick Malthouse to the coaching profession, that the media tribes always see as a harbinger of awkward press conferences and angry, tear-inducing stares.
Even more worrying were the results from week one of the finals, in which Fremantle defeated Geelong. This is a clear sign that the old order is dying, and that a new, confusing world is coming into being. Soon enough, the air shall turn purple and the world itself shall turn upside down.
The Book of Revelation specifically warns of such a time as this, and explicitly says that the age of chaos shall begin “When the Men of the Docks shall rise, and sing terrible songs under the grandstand”. If only Geelong had read the Bible.
In football, too, the signs are frightening – the Socceroos lost a World Cup qualifier to Jordan, which raises the possibility that Australia might not make it into the next World Cup. Which in turn raises the possibility that Craig Foster is going to get even whinier.
Oh we are ill-starred indeed! We can only hope the future is as yet unwritten, and the looming welter of Foster-whinging can still be averted.
Is rugby league immune from the deadly hand of destiny? It is not. The news that Ricky Stuart is going to coach a team on a weekly basis was terrifying enough – particularly for Parramatta supporters – but it goes from bad to worse.
First of all, Canterbury finished on top of the ladder, which all good-hearted league fans know is an indication that Satan has the upper hand. On top of this, the ARL just signed a broadcast deal which locked in night grand finals for the foreseeable future – an indication that God hates us all anyway.
So it is a disturbing time to be a sports fan, assailed on all sides by wickedness from the other world. How can we happily keep following our favourite sports, when we are clearly such insignificant playthings of the gods?
Put in perspective, however, none of that really matters, because the biggest omen of all comes from the world of cricket. Australia is now behind Bangladesh in the T20 rankings, which surely means that the world has already ended.
Ben Pobjie is a writer and comedian writing weekly on The Age, New Matilda and The Roar, whose promising rugby career was tragically cut short the day he stopped playing rugby and had a pizza instead. The most he has ever cried was the day Balmain lost the 1989 grand final. Today he enjoys the frolics of Wallabies, Swans, baggy greens, and Storms. Ben is also the author of the books Surveying the Wreckage, Superchef, and his latest, The Book of Bloke, available from Momentum Books.
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