Bart Simpson once won an elephant he called ‘Stampy’ – a surly, obnoxious and aggressive beast that, as you’d expect, was more than a nuclear family could handle in a residential backyard.
Eventually, for everyone’s sake he was moved on to an animal reserve where he immediately picked up where he left off in Evergreen Terrace.
“Why is he attacking all those other elephants?” Marge asked the head ranger.
“Animals are a lot like people, Mrs. Simpson,” he replied. “Some of them act badly because they’ve had a hard life or have been mistreated. But, like people, some of them are just jerks.”
Mick Malthouse was moved onto the game reserve we know as Princes Park at the end of 2012 and picked up where he left off at Collingwood.
His coaching record can not be questioned – eight grand final appearances with West Coast and the Pies and a reputation for instilling a belief in his playing group who respond by playing for the coach. His players love him. That’s clear.
For eight long years after the 2003 grand final demolition at the hands of the Brisbane Lions, Collingwood fans could wear his aesthetically unpleasing boundary-hugging style and his team’s traditionally poor foot skills because they delivered results with a 57 per cent winning record at the Westpac Centre and the 2010 premiership.
He wasn’t delivered the luxury of the equivalent of a state team on a silver platter as he was at the Eagles. He built the team from the ground up through the ‘noughties’ and victory over Ross Lyon’s Saints in the replay was particularly sweet for anyone with a black and white bent.
But clubs, fans and, as an extension, the media, deserve more than the cantankerous petulance dished up by Malthouse and this year he has demonstrated perfectly why the lion’s share of Collingwood fans weren’t unhappy to see the back of him.
As an elder statesman of the game, as the face of a football club, Mick Malthouse has always made his club and supporters cringe.
His much publicised run-in with Geelong great Cameron Ling at the SCG on Saturday night was the latest in a litany of spats, outbursts and tantrums from a bloke who should know better.
The universally admired Ling apparently responded to Malthouse’s finger-pointing spray with “Don’t you ever talk to me like that.” The Carlton coach, like the bully who didn’t expect the victim in the schoolyard to punch him on the nose, was true to form as he backpeddled on Monday.
“I get on very well with Cameron Ling, no problems,” he said. “I admire him, I think he’s a fantastic bloke. He misinterpreted that I was talking to him – it certainly wasn’t him.”
Turn it up!
“If I wasn’t coaching, I’d hate the game,” he proclaimed last month.
Michael Malthouse is a frontrunner. Should his side salute, he can be an incisive, engaging and insightful subject but after a loss his shtick is to look down his nose at media with disdain, dismissing their earnest questioning as a Master Chef judge would a dodgy bowl of ‘spag bol’.
This from a bloke who hypocritically worked in the media between coaching appointments and even lectured at La Trobe University as a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow in the Sports Journalism course.
From Cameron Ling to Matthew Richardson, his own leaders to the cost-of-living allowance, Mark Robinson to Sam Lane, interchange and rotations to the state of the game itself – Malthouse’s boorish behaviour has touched them all.
And God help you if you unwrap a muffin in his presence.
“There he goes, Dad!”
My daughter loves to see Malthouse losing it in the coaches box but can’t understand why he insists on being “so mean” to all those other elephants.
For the majority of his adult lifetime, Mick hasn’t endured a hard life or been mistreated.
I told my little girl that, like ‘Stampy’, some people are just jerks.