We love a marquee player, but has it gone too far?

Kris Swales Columnist

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    A special fund for special players, can FFA make it happen? And should they? (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

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    You can barely make your way around the internet these days without stumbling over a revelation of a marquee signing to one Australian organisation or another.

    Some crazy South Korean pop star has a breakout track where he dances like he’s riding a horse? Quick, let’s get him to bust out Gangnam Style on a dance music festival touring the nation’s racecourses.

    Posh Spice was spotted looking at the Lonely Planet guide for Australia over an Orange Mocha Frappuccino in Beverly Hills? Quick, let’s get Becks down to the A-League to kick a few set shots for the masses.

    Some cricketer from somewhere overseas wants to meet up with some bird he met last time he toured Australia? Quick, let’s sign him up to play one match for some franchise no one’s heard of, in a comp no one will remember a single ball of by the time it rolls around again next summer.

    Someone from any international incarnation of The Voice wants to tour? Bugger the marquee signings, just let Channel Nine know so they can wrap an NRL game around it. Any game, and fast.

    Australia is a long way away from the rest of the world, so having bright, shiny things from across the seas doing their thing on our doorstep is exciting. What else could explain Nickelback routinely selling out arena shows here?

    Famous international sports stars have made their way down under before – the Sheffield Shield hosted the likes of Ian Botham and Michael Holding in the 1980s, while Ellery Hanley’s stints in the NSWRL were just short of legendary – but nothing quite compares to the summer of love Australian sports fans are currently experiencing.

    Is the money being thrown at Alessandro Del Piero, the Saviour of Sydney FC, actually worth it? Undoubtedly.

    The club known as the Bling have been all over the media for months, but reality is starting to set back in – and with the club currently rooted to the bottom of the ladder, the banks of empty seats at the SFS are starting to look a little more like regular service as the fairweathers drop off.

    So what does a marquee player mean to me as a sports fan? Probably quite a bit, if I’d been in any position to enjoy supporting one over the past decade.

    My beloved Canberra Raiders haven’t had anyone even remotely close to marquee status since Laurie Daley (a local hero, admittedly) hung up the mouthguard in 2000, the Brisbane Roar’s is routinely upstaged by a teammate who’s one of the most despised players/haircuts in the comp, and the Brisbane Bullets aren’t even running around at the moment.

    Still, the way things are going you just have to wonder where this madness will end.

    Hulk Hogan making a comeback for the Melbourne Storm as they roll into the 2013 finals?

    The Melbourne Heart signing Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart for their fixtures either side of Valentine’s Day?

    The GWS Giants getting so desperate to put bums on seats that they sign up ‘Marky’ Mark Wahlberg for the forward pocket – purely for the marketing benefits of being able to rename The Star casino’s flashy new nightclub Marky Mark’s Marquee while he’s in town?

    It’s so ridiculous that it just might work.

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