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330 página
4 horas
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Sep 22, 2013
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9781742844053
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Fandemic explores the tension of being a football fan and writing about sport in an academic and literary style. The fusion of football, literature, popular culture and myth provides a perspective rarely seen in the genre of sports writing.

Editorial:
Publicado:
Sep 22, 2013
ISBN:
9781742844053
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Philip Dimitriadis was born in Corfu, Greece. He grew up in Melbourne's Northern Corridor and also spent two years living in Queenstown, Tasmania during the 1970s. He has always been fascinated by football and the way it can arouse passionate expression in people across a diverse social spectrum. He has lectured and taught at tertiary level in the areas of literary study and ESL for the last 15 years. An avid Collingwood fan, he now lives in Preston, Melbourne with his wife Dina, his daughter Anastasia and cat Skidla.


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Fandemic - Phillip Dimitriadis

Fandemic

TRAVELS IN FOOTY MYTHOLOGY

Phillip Dimitriadis

Fandemic

Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 2013 Phillip Dimitriadis

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

The information, views, opinions and visuals expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect those of the publisher. The publisher disclaims any liabilities or responsibilities whatsoever for any damages, libel or liabilities arising directly or indirectly from the contents of this publication.

A copy of this publication can be found in the National Library of Australia.

ISBN:  978-1-742844-05-3 (pbk.)

Published by Book Pal

www.bookpal.com.au

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Dad, Anastasios, for buying our first house in the shadows of Victoria Park and laying the foundations for my colourful journey as footy fan and critic. You are sorely missed. Mum, Mahi,for inadvertently fostering my love of magic realism with her ghostly tales about the supernatural forces in her village. My sister Julie, for encouraging me to read Euripides, and Shakespeare.

My older brother Tim, who carried me on his shoulders at Vic Park in the 1970s and assisted my literacy by encouraging me to read footy books. An avid supporter of my musings, I will always be grateful ‘Mr Benny’.

Darren Tofts, my first Literature tutor at Swinburne Uni in the early 1990s who introduced me to the world of literary theory. Who’d have thought that I’d use it to analyse footy?

Keith Simkin at La Trobe for showing me how teachers can inspire students and Rob Hess at VU whose hard, but fair appraisal helped me get a Master’s degree.

John Harms from footyalmanac.com.au

has always been supportive of my irrational ranting and my more measured analysis. You’re a champ.

Ian Syson, for being a wonderful friend and trying to keep me honest when I drift off into sporting romanticism. Occasionally, you have succeeded.

The Collingwood Football club for just being its deluded, imperfect yet irresistible self. You’ve given me so much material to work with.

My partner and best friend Dina who keeps me grounded as I gaze at the stars. And Anastasia; the best daughter a daddy could wish for.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Contents

Introduction

PART ONE

UP THERE CAZALY AND THE MYTH OF ICARUS - AN EXPLORATION INTO THE NARRATIVE OF FREEDOM AND FAILURE IN AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL

DEATH OF THE BALL BURSTER

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER - 10 YEARS LATER

CAN WOMEN PLAY FOOTY AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL?

CHAMPAGNE FOOTBALL - MYTH AND BUBBLES

150 YEARS AND NO GAY FOOTBALLER? THAT'S QUEER

THE LANGUAGE OF FOOTBALL - A BARTHESIAN PERSPECTIVE

THE SYMBOLIC DISSEMINATION OF A HIGH MARK

DAISY CUTTER

THE RECURRING DREAM

ANCIENT MYTHS - LOCAL HEROES

RELATIVELY GUTTED

THE BACK TO THE FUTURE FOOTY PANEL

A TIGER IN A NEST OF MAGPIES

FOOTY AS RELIGION - A MYTH FOR ALL SEASONS

PHARMAKOS/PHARMAKON - THE SEDUCTION OF IMMORTALITY

THE LONELIEST FOOTBALLERS

THE SKIPPER AND GILLIGAN

A LESSON IN FAITH

FIGJAM FOOTY

FOOTY AND THE MIGRANT EXPERIENCE

GREECE AND COLLINGWOOD - 2010 PRELIMINARY FINAL

OF BOGANS AND BURQAS

WRESTLING WITH REALITY

WHEN WINDIES, AND CRICKET, WERE KING

References for Part One

PART TWO

THE MYTH OF THE MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND

DOES SPORT NEED HYPERBOLIC LANGUAGE TO SUSTAIN INTEREST IN THE PSYCH OF VIEWERS?

RUNNING IN TO AN OPEN GOAL

THE SYMBOLISM OF RUNNING THROUGH THE BANNER

VICE AND VIRTUE IN A VIRTUAL WORLD

HERITAGE ROUND - SELLING AND MYTHOLOGISING NOSTALGIA

MYTHOLOGISING FOOTY THROUGH REAL TRAGEDY

TED AND ERN, EDDIE AND STAN

PLAYING GOD - THE RISE AND FALL OF GARY ABLETT

THE MYTH OF SAM NEWMAN

REMEMBERING DARREN MILLANE AND GARRY WILSON

References for Part Two

PART THREE

BOOKS

BAD BOYS

BILLY'S TREE - Ghosts that haunt the heart's possession

CRUNCH TIME - The fight to save football

THE SEASON

COUNTRY STRONG

WOMBAT'S FOOTY HEROES

TYGER TYGER

SPECKY MAGEE

COMPLETE BOOK OF VFL - AFL FINALS THE CALL BOYS AND BALLS DAS LIBERO

LOOSE MEN EVERYWHERE SATURDAY AFTERNOON FEVER ROSE BOYS

FOOTBALL'S WOMEN - THE FORGOTTEN HEROES

THE GREATEST GAME

THE COACH

A SALUTE TO THE GREAT McCARTHY

THE WILD MEN OF FOOTBALL AND FOOTBALL - THE AUSTRALIAN WAY

Theatre

THE CLUB (II)

References for Part Three

PART FOUR

Middle-aged Icarus

The Rhyce Shaw (Shank) Redemption

Footy's Coming

If

Bill and Bob

Untitled

Village to Victoria Park

CLEAN HANDS

PART FIVE

The Agon of the Collingwood Football Club

Passion, Pain and Theory

Grand Narrative versus Grand Deceit

REFERENCES

About the Author

Introduction

At a fundamental level, I have generally been fascinated by the way symbols and ideology influence the language and actions of people and organizations. From a football perspective, the expression of varying degrees of emotion ranging from heightened exaltation, momentary hatred, enervating boredom and blind faith and hope among others, has held an important place personally and professionally for me.

Statistics and broad descriptions of play can only hold an interest in a reader’s imagination to certain point. The feats that take on the characteristics of superhuman or at least, beyond the everyday, fuel the passion that compels people to write about them in different forms. Players or coaches (hardly ever a fan, woman, child, club president or official) consequently inherit the specific focus of mythological symbolism because they are in a position to invite spectators to peek into the portals of potential immortality. I use hyperbolic language here because it is primarily the language I have grown up with; one which is influenced by and acquired through the prism of non-fiction football literature. Reading and hearing about past champions or great matches fuelled an imaginative romanticism that rendered past champions in the pre-television era into beings that were depicted as anything but mere mortals. The stories about players like Haydn Bunton, Gordon Coventry, Jack Dyer and others made their achievements seem all the more meritorious. It is no coincidence that these three particular players played in the depression era, where sporting prowess not only provided at least some escape from poverty, but allowed young men enmeshed in it to dream of a way out through football.

In many ways, mythologizing players from this era is unfair and unrealistic. Did enough people really care about how Bunton would help Fitzroy win a game or grace them with his skill when the next meal could be days away? And yet it is precisely here that I got caught up in the myth that football can inspire starving people to marvel at a uniformed, well-paid – athlete who cared little for the wellbeing of his fellow men and women.

The first non-fiction football publication that I read as a six-year-old in 1975 was Football, the Australian Way, edited by John Craven. While this publication profiled many players giving practical tips to aspiring young footballers, the element of romantic hagiography was a feature of almost every chapter. One example with particular resonance was the portrayal of full-forwards from the 1930s that attained unprecedented heights after getting goals against some of the great fullbacks of the era. According to Buggy: To get a bag of goals against any one of them was the equivalent of an Arthurian feat of slaying a dragon or two.

¹

This quote is pertinent in the way that it hyperbolizes footballers’ achievements and in the same breathe almost laconically compares football prowess to ‘slaying a dragon or two’; footballers’ strengths and skills are magnified because they definitely slayed one and had the skill to kill another if they really wanted to. For this six-year-old, such a description brought the reality factor to an even more tangible level when I was watching footballers at Victoria Park or on television, just waiting for that dragon to come out and play so Billy Picken could take a screamer over him. The myth of the heroic local footy player seemed much more interesting than King Arthur, Hercules or Pinocchio.

Australian Rules football rhetoric is also driven by the desire to mythologize the game and its participants. Without the oneiric stories of past heroism or tragic turns of fortune, the game would lose much of its value in the imagination of readers and become an ever-increasing slab of statistical information destined for archival dust in libraries. Non-fictional narratives have primarily borrowed formulas from fictional mythology to frame the history of the game and its participants who are mainly players and coaches. But there is a growing support cast that includes fans, umpires, presidents, CEOs, journalists and academics who could rightly claim to have left a lasting legacy in the code’s historical narratives. These peripheral participants have generally contributed to upholding the sport’s positive mythological paradigms through withholding any on-field performance criticisms to performance and concealing off-field controversial behavior, until very recently. This type of censorship has contributed significantly to the establishment of a mythological symbolism that is in a marriage of convenience with archetypal conservatism

Archetypal conservatism becomes an ideology that is created and fostered to protect the sport from real villains. A vast amount of dramatized villainy is essential to keep contests interesting, but the pivotal point of difference is that the bad guys are playing out their role on the field, and are generally men of honor. They share a beer and a joke after belting each other for two hours previously on the field. Serious vendettas do not sit well with the ideology of archetypal conservatism and disturb the fairytale-like innocence of mythology. Enmity between clubs and players is real to an extent but the narrative build up is usually overwritten by the fact that opposing players and coaches are often friends or at least acquaintances who respect each other off the field. The rhetoric of enmity is often deflected onto the fans and while one can argue that there are heated rivalries in the AFL, the league has had no reason to separate fans with barbed wire fences or place a police cordon between rival supporters. Generally there are more violent incidents on the field than off, but the on field incidents usually end with combatants shaking hands and forgiving one another after the siren. One doubts that this would happen between spectators off the field. And yet this is a classic example of the way that footballers are mythologically separated as special beings from the rest of society.

Non-fictional literature propagates this mythology similar to the way that the Hollywood uses its publicity machine to protect wayward stars from being scrutinized for unsavoury off-screen conduct. Actors’ images need to be protected in order for the audience to remain loyal and football works along similar lines because the people who write non-fiction books about the game are usually journalists or former players with vested interests; their careers prosper if the game increases in popularity. Maintaining mythological symbolism and archetypal conservatism was until very recently a strategic narrative ploy that maintained moral integrity in the game.

A change in the way popular media scrutinizes the game has ensued with an increased sophistication of surveillance through the Internet and mobile phone cameras making sites like www.youtube.com

commonplace. The protectors of mythology and archetypal conservatism are now caught with their pants down because anyone can record players’ behavior that is anything but clean-cut, wholesome and heroic.

Since the beginning of this century, attitudes towards footballers as moral guardians have changed. This change is fragmenting mythological symbolism and archetypal conservatism as people are beginning to regard footballers as mere mortals with a number of previously undisclosed social and personal issues.

Ironically, it was fiction that laid the foundation for this new perception; that of appreciating the game and its characters more realistically. Players’ personal demons, relationship issues and the dynamics of club politics have provided readers with an alternative view to the formerly depicted rosy-colored profiles in non-fiction. This also reveals that in the process of maintaining the façade that stirs the imagination of thousands, there are complex relationships involved that include the good, the bad and the ugly, as there are in most walks of life. Professionalism has contributed greatly to this extra scrutiny with the old adage that shareholders and members demand success because players are paid handsomely to deliver glory. When clubs fail to deliver success, there are consequences that can no longer be dismissed as ‘bad luck’ or allayed by the promise of better things to come. Clubs are rarely united at any level; players do have affairs with wives of teammates and coaches and committee people play favorites with certain players for a multitude of reasons. The complexity of these relationships has been largely ignored by non-fiction in the past because ideology had to prevail for the game to stay pure. Fans are now better informed about the intricacies of football club politics and fictional portrayals like The Club by David Williamson have brought these issues to the forefront of public imagination.

A conservative archetype does not necessarily mean a clean ball-playing athlete who regularly goes to church and is a teetotaller. Ron Barassi, Leigh Matthews and Haydn Bunton are examples of conservative archetypes that exhibit toughness, aloofness and individualistic ambition without receiving overt critical analysis for their failures and misdemeanours. They were more easily forgiven and appeared more human because their personal lives were relatively protected in comparison with those of recent champions such as Wayne Carey, Gary Ablett and Ben Cousins.

While I don’t attempt to analyse comparative moralities, I find that it is essential to detail how players are perceived by the literature and media relevant to their specific eras and what kind of rhetoric that literature produces as well as how is it trying to influence the reader. The ‘bad boys’ or ‘the wild men of football’ as Jack Dyer’s book referred to them in the mid-sixties, were portrayed as heroic and virtuous despite their flaws. Flaws in the temperament or behaviour of players up to this century however, were largely centred around incidents directly involving their performance on the field. This might have included getting reported, falling out with coaches or committees, or experiencing poor form for a number of reasons. Issues like drugs, alcohol and sexual transgressions were taboo for publications like The Wild Men of Football in the 1960s right up until the seminal publication by Gary Linnell, Playing God: The Rise and Fall of Gary Ablett. If anything, books like The Wild Men Of Football featured tales of beer drinking as little more than innocent frolicking, and considered an essential part of team bonding.

The game has now become too professional and too serious for this kind of revelry to go unscrutinised. Indeed, there is a danger that the media is almost replacing the footballer as the mythological archetype spruiking conservatism; and in some respects, to the game’s detriment.

PART ONE

Published Essays and articles 2006 to 2013

UP THERE CAZALY AND THE MYTH OF ICARUS: AN EXPLORATION INTO THE NARRATIVE OF FREEDOM AND FAILURE IN AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL

Published: www.footyalmanac.com.au

March 7, 2011

The Myth of Icarus is a story about defying gravity, escaping imprisonment and overcoming fear. It is also about remaining cautious while having to throw caution to the sun. Flight is the only way to escape from a prison for Icarus, ironically built by his father (coach) Daedalus.

The song and film clip of Up there Cazaly by Mike Brady works within a similar mythological narrative. The recurring image of freedom in AFL footy is the high mark. It defies gravity and symbolically differentiates from British games like Rugby and Soccer. The spirit of the mark could be viewed as a symbolic escape from British rule and colonial imprisonment.

Up There Cazaly also offers escape to fans from the drudgery of work, another metaphor for a prison. The lyrics capture the rapture of the moment of flight in the Icarus myth and the temporary defiance of gravity. Hope and freedom are symbolically glimpsed in the ephemeral moment of the ‘Screamer’.

Icarus and Cazaly fly in the face of the sun and prescribed earthly experience. The footy ground is a metaphor for the sea that Icarus falls into, depicting a battle with an underworld of antagonistic forces. Brady sings Fly like an angel and in the next verse urges Fight like the devil, both followed by You’re out there to win

The song uses mythological language to depict the constant struggle between hope, fear, freedom/flight and reality/ gravity. The Myth of Icarus has often been used by football authors as a metaphor of hope and failure.

Roy Cazaly played for St Kilda and South Melbourne between 1911 and1927 and was heralded for his ability to leap high and take gravity defying marks. According to Ross, Cazaly was a non-smoker and non-drinker, and says that a lung full of air at the moment he leaps for the ball gives him added levitation.²

Apparently, Cazaly’s aerial feats inspired some diggers on the battlefields during World War II where Australian Rules football seemed to be a popular diversion from being shot or bayoneted:  News too, of other games around the battle fronts, where the cry ‘Up There Cazaly’, is often heard as the boys go into action..³

One has to wonder if the Rugby League or Union soldiers engaged in the cry with the perceived flippancy depicted here as they contemplated possible death or permanent disfigurement. And yet it is the expression of this hagiographic mythology and the description of a clean living and conservative Cazaly that camouflages the brutal facts of war and helps boost morale among young wide-eyed men.

They weren’t chanting ‘Up There Smith’ or Smallhorn, so there is some substance that separates Cazaly’s deeds from those of other footballers.

Singer songwriter Mike Brady penned arguably the most recognisable song about the game when he released Up There Cazaly in 1979. Brady puts music to the archetypal themes that seem to rivet many fans. The chorus of the song says:

Up there Cazaly

In there and fight

Out there and At ‘em

Show ‘em your might

Up there Cazaly

Don’t let ‘em in

Fly like an angel

You’re out there to win

An interesting contrast to the final line of this verse is when Brady recognises the duality of the hero who is not whole by exhibiting purely angelic qualities. He balances ‘fly like and angel’ with ‘fight like the devil’ in the following verse and this is an interesting paradox because it exalts demonic behaviour in a context where muscular Christianity and the imagined good must prevail.

Brady is expressing a mythical and real agon in this song.

There can be no angels if they have no devils to contend with. Brady, with these two lines, has possibly expressed one of the more earnest truths about the consciousness of the game, its players, supporters and writers.

He is saying that in reality we want our game to exhibit both extremes of the myth. There is no middle ground. You can either be an angel or a devil but we don’t care as long as you win.

Paradoxically, there is not a single image of a goal in the entire clip and this signifies a celebration of ‘playing’ rather than solely winning.

Perhaps is safer to fantasise about Cazaly, Coventry, Coleman and Haydn Bunton because their deeds provide palliative entertainment. They will not become tyrants that send Collingwood fans to the gas chambers or turn Carlton into a Stalinist gulag.

Football fantasies must be predominantly childlike and therapeutic because reality undermines their power to instil hope and innocence. However, an element of failure must also be lurking in the background so that experience retains an earthy realism.

This is why a mythological figure like Icarus seems to figure prominently in much football literature. Icarus depicts the brave, yet immature archetype that flies into the face of the sun and plummets to his death into the sea.

Gravity and antagonists always intervene. In footy the ground can be a metaphor for the sea that Icarus falls into. Fight like the devil depicts a battle with the underworld on the field, i.e. Taking hits, showing courage and fighting injustice from umpires.

The footy ground is both a labyrinth and an altar. Victory and Flight symbolise temporary escape from the labyrinth.

The oval-shaped ground and ball are symbols of fertility, rebirth and hope. Yet they can also be seen as symbols of frailty and danger; exposed to human and unseen forces wanting to control their destiny.

The line: In there and at ‘em, don’t let ‘em in, I interpret as not letting fear and gravity interfere with courage and spiritual hope.

The song uses religious mythology – Angels/Devils, which depict the constant struggle of hope versus fear, imagination versus reality and flight versus gravity.

It is interesting that the moment of death in Icarus’ story is rarely referred to in football literature. It is mostly about the moment of flight, the defiance of gravity, of human bondage, the possibility of attaining the freedom and powers of a deity. In his poem High Mark, Dawe captures the rise and the fall. He writes:

–tensioning for the

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