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Opinion

Celebrating a century: My sporting love affair

Shane Warne's 'Ball of the Century' - arguably the greatest delivery bowled in Ashes cricket. (Photo by Rui Vieira/EMPICS via Getty Images)
Roar Guru
26th October, 2020
117

It was pointed out to me recently that I’ve reached that very nervous milestone of 99 Roar articles, not out. Therefore, I have various choices to reach my hundred.

– Grind it out and wait for the right ball. In Roar parlance, this is wait until inspiration for a truly great article hits me. But if I had done this, then articles three through 99 would likely never have been written.

– Take two skips down the pitch and send the ball flying towards the side screen. This would require a controversial and topical article to get the comments flying.

However, since the much more capable Tim Gore already emptied the fridge and ransacked the pantry with the ‘Cameron Smith is the GOAT’ extravaganza, I’ve got nothing here.

My articles instead tend to try and stimulate discussion about something that happened decades past.

Instead of being sensible or bold, I’m going for option number three: nervously nudge the ball into the offside and scamper through for a poorly thought out and ill-judged single.

In Roar terms, this means I’m going to throw together a collection of random thoughts and hope the long-suffering Roar editors will show pity on me, keep their hands in their collective pockets as I dive headlong for the crease and allow me to dust myself off and take strike for another ball.

So here goes. In no particular order and with no criteria, research, rhyme nor reason, below is my ‘Century of Random Moments’, players and situations that have made sport worth investing too much of my life in so far.

1. 99.94
2. As a kid, smashing the metal advertising boards at Dolphin Oval to make a din as the opposition goalkicker lines up for one from the sideline.
3. Billy Slater’s State of Origin double chip

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Billy Slater

Billy Slater. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

4. The nick through slips, my only scoring shot
5. Craig Mottram at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. My first trip to the MCG and the loudest noise I’ve ever heard.
6. Cricket statistics. A treasure trove of insights and arguments just waiting to be started.
7. The Natural starring Robert Redford.
8. That photo of Victor Trumper
9. Darren Lockyer scooping up a loose pass from Brad Hodgson and starting the State of Origin dynasty in 2006.
10. ‘That’s not a try, that’s a MIRACLE!’
11. Going on a school trip to a nearly empty Sheffield Shield match at the Gabba and annoying poor Carl Rackemann all day.
12. Roy and HG
13. The Brisbane three-peat and the way commentators used to relish the word Akermanis!!
14. Crying into my pillow in 1981 as Redcliffe were denied the BRL grand final by a try on the bell.
15. The Broncos’ first match in 1988, smashing Manly all the way back to Brookvale.
16. Steve Mortimer scoring from the scrumbase in 1979.
17. Trying to understand how Heather McKay could be undefeated for 17 years straight
18. Smashing them like guitars!
19. Following Cadel Evans’ Tour de France victory
20. Dean Jones’ sunglasses. The coolest thing ever at the time.
21. Wally Lewis running and running to score the most unlikely try and drag a completely busted QLD over the line in 1989.
22. David Warner’s first T20 International innings.
23. Wayne Bennett screaming “Oh No!” in the stands as Sparkles McGaw scored a last-minute Origin winner.
24. Screaming at the TV as Mat Rogers kicked the ball away in the final minutes of the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
25. Ricky Stuart’s show and go length of the field effort to Mal Meninga to win the Ashes against England in 1990.
26. JT’s show and go.
27. Australia beating Japan in Germany. Harry Kewell! Tim Cahill!

Australian footballer Tim Cahill

Tim Cahill retired from international football in November 2018, aged 38 years and 349 days. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

28. Closing my eyes and praying every time Redcliffe fullback Ian ‘Bunny’ Pearce lined up for a toe poke at goal.
29. Greg Dowling’s catch off the cross bar
30. Noel Cleal’s 1.5 metre drop out in State of Origin
31. Kiwi coming from last in the Melbourne Cup.
32. Makybe Diva’s final Melbourne Cup. “A Champion becomes a Legend!”
33. Norman May’s swimming commentary.
34. Thorpey’s giant feet
35. Brian Lara’s 153.
36. Buying a box at the netball to watch the Firebirds. Once of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had.
37. The Ball of the Century.
38. The Summer of Mitchell Johnson
39. Any time Ryan Harris was bowling. What a Player
40. Collingwood vs. Carlton.
41. Coming off the back fence, with the tippy toe shuffle and the javelin throw in backyard cricket. Slowest Thommo impersonation ever.
42. Backyard cricket. No pads, no helmet, no quarter asked for or given.
43. Scoring my only rugby league try under the posts as the slowest winger in the history of ball sports.
44. Hitting the perfect left foot curling corner. My one footballing skill. And I did it once. Ever.
45. Suzie O’Neill’s guts
46. Watching my son play cricket. Giving him a monetary incentive for boundaries only to have him hit two fours in a row and start screaming from the middle “Dad, you owe me $10!”.
47. My ultimate revenge. Umpiring at the non-strikers end and giving my son out run out when his spectacular dive ended up 6 inches short of the crease.
48. The Swinton Massacre.
49. “There’s only 1 Tony Lockett”
50. “Hey, hey, we’re the Broncos”
51. “C’mon Aussie c’mon, c’mon”
52. “Up there Cazaly”
53. “I don’t like cricket, oh no, I love it!”
54. Michael Holding’s voice.
55. Viv Richards chewing gum and scaring the living daylights out of everyone.
56. Pat Rafter’s epic loss to Goran Ivanisovic in the final at Wimbledon.
57. Pat Rafter’s two US Opens.
58. Acing a guy that used to train with Pat Rafter
59. Any time the crowd rises as one. You know what I mean. Spine tingling.
60. Fluking a 30-foot putt
61. Nailing one drive a round
62. Looking at photos of my father racing stock cars in the 1960’s in Figure Eight Racing. Madness.
63. See a photo of my father in his speedway sprint car Upside Down in Mid Air in the middle of an epic crash that he walked away from at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds.
64. The 1989 NSWRL grand final.
65. The 2015 NRL Grand final.

Johnathan Thurston

JT. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

66. Sitting in a box at the Gabba on the Saturday of a first test.
67. Nasser Hussein sending Australia in at the Gabba.
68. Chloe Esposito winning the modern Pentathlon
69. Going on the MCG tour
70. Keiron Perkins from lane 8 in Atlanta.
71. The Dogs of War
72. The Entertainers
73. Match winning goals from the sideline
74. Tin Cup
75. Getting ridiculously excited by obscure Olympic sports once every four years.
76. The Sydney 2000 Opening Ceremony
77. Shane Warne bowling. Any time.
78. Having a recently retired Glen McGrath miked up in a T20 exhibition match as he explained exactly how he would get the batsman out over the next four balls – and did it.
79. The Nissan-Datsun Book of Test Cricket Lists
80. Charles Davis: “The Best of the Best”. Catnip for statistics geeks.
81. The Alfie Langer grubber kick.
82. The enthusiasm of Bruce McAvaney
83. Darryl Eastlake going up several octaves in state of Origin Commentary
84. Karmichael Hunt in his rugby league incarnation taking one of his kamikaze runs from fullback.
85. Scoring and umpiring schoolboy cricket
86. Brad Fittler’s side step
87. Greg Chappell’s on drive
88. Hanging out all day watching Bathurst
89. Greg Norman heartache at the Masters
90. The first sentence of John Elias’ autobiography “I’m going to die”.
91. Wally Lewis
92. The first ball of the summer in Test cricket
93. Trailing in the last 10 minutes, but knowing Darren Lockyer is on the field.
94. The Roar Editors when they very gently try to suggest that maybe my latest article is a little bit sh##.
95. The Roar contributors.
96. The Roar live commentary blogs
97. The Roar commenters, I can’t quantify how many hours I’ve lost to the back and forth over the years, or how much I’ve learned. I now know more about victor Trumper than is really healthy for a normal person.
98. Settling down for the Boxing Day Test. The great Australian tradition.
99. A new season, a clean slate, anything is possible. This could be the year!
100. This one’s for you to fill out, Roarers!