Why I need to take a break from football

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    The furore around Avondale FC covering the Italian flag on the back of their jerseys is the sort of nonsense that only the FFA could come up with.

    Time and time again, Football Federation Australia’s online apologists implore snarky critics like me to give them a chance, pointing out – not unreasonably – that running a sport like football in this country is much easier said than done.

    But then you tune into a televised FFA Cup fixture where one team is forced to tape over a miniscule Italian flag on the back of their jerseys, while the other team runs around in an away kit bearing the colours of that same Italian flag, and you can only shake your head and laugh.

    Let’s be honest: there’s no place for the National Club Identity Policy in 2018, and anyone who thinks it helps foster unity in Australian football clearly doesn’t understand the market.

    It was a bad idea when it was introduced four years ago and it’s an indefensible one now.

    And if David Gallop thinks anyone actually wants the NCIP in place, then the problem is Gallop, not football.

    The stupidity of the policy was amply illustrated every time the Fox Sports broadcast crossed to Dorrien Gardens in Perth to check on a progress score from Gwelup Croatia’s home game.

    So, just to recap: club named after country – fine; away kit representing colours of national flag – fine; small flag on the back of a jersey – not fine.

    Yet some would have you believe the problem lies not with the FFA instituting a convoluted, ill-conceived, borderline racist identity policy, but rather with those who highlight the fact that it’s this kind of thing that makes the game’s governing body look incompetent.

    That’s okay if shooting the messenger helps fill your quota of online rage-comments for the day, but it does little to pressure the powers that be into improving their own performance.

    A general view during the FFA Cup round of 32 match between Avondale FC and Marconi Stallions

    Avondale vs Marconi was dragged into controversy around the FFA’s NCIP regulations. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    And since this latest round of identity politics has fuelled such a visceral backlash, and given that FFA are clearly keen to be seen as listening to their stakeholders while the Congress Review Working Group goes about its business, now seems like the perfect time to put an end to this NCIP nonsense.

    Since I’ll be in town, I was half-considering making the trek out to Barlow Park to watch locals Cairns FC take on Western Australian visitors Armadale SC in the FFA Cup on Wednesday night – but frankly, I’ve got more pressing matters to attend to.

    Cairns beat Townsville outfit North Queensland United in the sixth round – both clubs have recently been renamed – and the Mackay and Whitsundays-based Magpies Crusaders United in the seventh round.

    Far North Queensland has long been a footballing hotbed, but aside from a few visits from Brisbane Roar, it’s been largely ignored in the A-League era since the demise of the North Queensland Fury.

    I’ll be in town for a different reason though. I’m getting married to my beautiful Cairns-born partner at Palm Cove later this week.

    And I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off for some much-needed rest and relaxation thereafter.

    “So what?” I can see my usual detractors tapping away in earnest.

    Well, for starters, I have filed a column for The Roar every week continuously between December 2008 and July 2014, and again from November 2015 until today.

    The 15 months I took off after the 2014 World Cup was the only time I have ever taken a break.

    I’ve produced columns on public holidays, written constantly on the road, I even once wrote out a column by hand during a short stay in hospital.

    I’ve now written 736 articles – equating to more than half a million words on football – for this website alone.

    So I hope you’ll forgive me for taking care of my personal life for a few weeks.

    I’ll probably still watch the remaining FFA Cup Round of 32 fixtures. It’ll just be from a deck chair by the pool on my honeymoon.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist since December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (49)

    • July 30th 2018 @ 7:19am
      Paul Nicholls said | July 30th 2018 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      And you call yourself a football fan!!! Just kidding. Congrats Mike and enjoy the break.

    • Roar Rookie

      July 30th 2018 @ 7:42am
      Waz said | July 30th 2018 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      Not sure what’s worse: not taking in a game on your honeymoon or your wife-to-be missing Roars FFA Cup game next week?

      Congratulations all the same (but it’s never too late to change plans Mike!!).

      Anyway, NCIP was always a sledgehammer to crack a small nut. An over reaction to problems of the past which exhibits just what it’s like to work with this FFA

      Similar restrictions apply to supporters entering grounds, with flags and banners banned or subject to convoluted pre-approval processes and long delays entering grounds.

      The time for change is now!

    • July 30th 2018 @ 7:48am
      MQ said | July 30th 2018 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      “… where one team is forced to tape over a miniscule Italian flag on the back of their jerseys, while the other team runs around in an away kit bearing the colours of that same Italian flag, and you can only shake your head and laugh.”

      “So, just to recap: club named after country – fine; away kit representing colours of national flag – fine; small flag on the back of a jersey – not fine.”

      Those two lines encapsulate perfectly the absurdity of what little ol’ Avondale was required to do by the FFA.

      That’s a fantastic shift you have put in, you’ve produced opinion pieces which have always led to plenty of discussion, precisely what this site is about. Have a well earned break, and don’t watch too much football on your honeymoon!

    • July 30th 2018 @ 7:55am
      Buddy said | July 30th 2018 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      Mike, I hope your wedding day is everything you want it to be although football should be included somewhere. Good time to take a break in some ways though.
      On the subject of the flags and kit etc, clubs representing a particular ethnic background werea stumbling block for me supporting an NSL side as it just didn’t make sense. In spite of the many criticisms thrown at the way A League sides have come about, the one thing I love at WSW is the melting pot of cultures and ethnic groups that unite under the one topic of football.

    • July 30th 2018 @ 8:22am
      AGO74 said | July 30th 2018 @ 8:22am | ! Report

      To be honest I wasn’t really aware of this issue with Avondale – thank you for bringing the absurdity of this to light. Putting aside the inconsistencies in its application that you note, it has no place in football and FFA should retract it.

      All the best for your wedding Mike – you’ve times it perfectly with a relative lull in both local and world football (midweek FFA Cup matches being the exception). Actually I just remembered the Matilda’s are playing so in reality there is no lull!

      May not always agree with you (such is the nature of these columns) but I will always come back for a read so you must be doing something right! Have a great wedding day and honeymoon.

    • Roar Rookie

      July 30th 2018 @ 8:25am
      Stevo said | July 30th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      Mike, but Football is life! You can’t just go on holidays. Hopefully you’ll be able to get some football pillow talk in during your break 🙂

      Well done sir and enjoy. If only Working Dog could put their collective minds towards a mini series about the goings on at FFA. What a hoot that would be. No shortage of material 😉

      • July 30th 2018 @ 10:00am
        reuster75 said | July 30th 2018 @ 10:00am | ! Report

        ” If only Working Dog could put their collective minds towards a mini series about the goings on at FFA. What a hoot that would be. No shortage of material” I reckon you could take any episode of Utopia and swap Lehmo’s character to working in David Gallop’s office and just change some characters lines and you’d have yourself a show. You can just see Kitty Flanagan’s character doing focus groups and coming up with the whole ‘Yoshi’ campaign.

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