Rory Lobb had an off game and couldn't find the goals. However, a lot of that was to do with the extraordinary work of…
I’m at the Hippy Club – who knew it was Hip-E? – it’s deep AM, and I’m standing at the bar next to an unknown guy whose hair is nothing short of magnificent. It is the type of hair that draws a crowd.
It is long, with mud flaps at the back, a little bible part at the top, and a shade of bright white only enhanced by the psychedelic strobe of the Hip-E Club lights.
‘WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO’, I scream in the ear of the man whilst holding my best Ric Flair pose.
Happy with myself, and after receiving no response from the man who was obviously Ric Flair, or a Ric Flair stunt double, or a Ric Flair impersonator, I tap the stranger on the shoulder and re-create what I believe to be the greatest Ric Flair impersonation ever performed.
He turns. Angrily. I can feel the rage inside this man. He’s been disrespected by some chunky-arse-punk, and his stare is fierce. In a moment that I can only describe as panicked-fear, I feel like I’ve seen this stare before, not on WWE, but terrorising other international sportsmen.
I know this man. And I know him to be a national hero, my dad’s hero, and as a fast-medium bowler, I want to be this guy, and I’ve just mocked him, loudly, in front of other cricketers, and his friends, who turn out to be former cricketers too.
“You don’t think I haven’t heard that before ya smart arse” says Jeff Thomson.
Nothing good happens at the Hippy Club, or the Hip-E Club. Ever.
You know who I blame?
Paul Marsh – current CEO of the Australian Football League Players Association (AFLPA), and a man who also negotiated a couple of Memorandum of Understandings on behalf of Australia’s cricketers.
Fine negotiator, Paul. Player salaries went through the roof, we got cash from video games, more cash from CA for them under budgeting every four years, bottles of Johnnie Walker were distributed to players of the month, but most importantly, Paul became God-like when he planted special terms in one MOU that saw us go from part-time professional cricketers to full time travelling alcoholics.
BPM (the time stamp for Before Paul Marsh), travelling domestic teams got one night’s sleep in the away city before starting their game.
Under new special terms, travelling teams would get TWO nights sleep before their first day’s play AND would get additional pay to spend on “food”.
Now, picture this.
You are playing Western Australia on a Saturday, in Perth, meaning you land Thursday afternoon and have two-night sleeps before the Saturday scheduled start.
What do you do? Enjoy the benefit of sleep? Wake up early for a slow walk recovery, take a sit-down coffee, train at midday, followed by stretching on the cool grass of the Queens Gardens opposite the WACA?
Or? Drop your bags off at the team hotel and head straight to the best Thursday night double in all the land – The Leederville Hotel and Hip-E Club.
Sure, we trained; that Swan Stout never tasted better as it rained out of your pores the next day at a training session that can only be described as “less than half-arsed”.
Then came the important part: Sleep. 4pm through to the next day, ready for 25 overs up the hill and into the wind, kinda sleep.
It is why I feel for “The Leederville Seven”, who have been named up like a posse of drug mules entering Indonesia.
They weren’t required to be sober for a full week of sleeps!
No wonder the AFLPA is up in arms.
“While we empathise with the challenges currently facing the WA based teams, we do not support rules prohibiting players from entering venues, nor the sanctions imposed,” AFLPA General Manager of Player & Stakeholder Relations, Brett Murphy said.
If Paul Marsh and the Australian Cricketers Association didn’t ever plan for the golden clause to become a booze fest, then shit, I apologise on behalf of a generation of domestic cricketers who operated at 65% of their capacity as a direct result of that special clause.
I hope Jackson Nelson, Josh Rotham, Jake Waterman, rookies Campbell Chesser and Rhett Bazzo, and SSP pick-ups Hugh Dixon and Patrick Naish can learn a little from my experiences and the constant message I received from captains, coaches, and team leaders, that helped me navigate Perth and progress as a professional athlete.
“Your biggest mistake that night was one that has been made by more than just you. And fear not, you won’t be the last. You walked past two kebab shops, and the taxi rank, for the pull of post-midnight-kick-ons. No good comes from hunting the beacon of misery left of the kebab stores in Leederville”.
Of course, this is guidance from 2007, to a domestic cricketer; a sport where drinking milestones have you celebrated as a national treasure. Those Boonie Dolls were awesome, until they malfunctioned into Boonie Devils, and started talking to you from under your bed.
Is it relevant for the modern-day footballer? In a city ravaged by COVID, playing for a team already smashed by injuries, health/safety protocols and the opposition, and a coach who is in the sights of the media as the most sackable?
As the footballers say in their post-match interviews …