Sunday, 7 August 2011

Bar Footy (2004)

Many a drunken conversation is about bettering your fellow conversers previous comments. Drunken conversation related to sporting prowess is always one of great interest for me though.

As a barman for some years, there are many interesting thoughts shared: funny, smart, stupid, deep, unintelligible, mindless gibberish describes the majority of it. But one topic I always seemed fascinated by was the drunken Rugby League conversation.

Most of these conversations start at around 10.45pm on a Friday night after the patrons have finished critiquing the decisions by players and officials of the nights televised match on the television located in the bar area.

Considering these men all played amateur football, under different rules and when weight divisions were in place, not age groups, it seems to be slightly out of order for them to be commenting on an evolved version of the game they once played.

The drunken conversations start out with who played against the oldest people due to their weight. I always thought heavy kiddies meant they were overweight, but these men spoke as though they were 8 years old, 6 foot tall and 80 kilos of pure muscle, while all the people of the same age were at most, half the size.

Then come the amazing feats of strength, skill and speed.

“I remember making 60 tackles in 30 minutes one game!”

“I remember scooping the ball up in my own in-goal and racing the length of the field untouched to score under the sticks to win the Grand Final!”

“I remember scoring 7 tries in one game!”

Rolling my eyes at three drunk fat middle aged men talking like they were the greatest players alive, I pour them all another beer, knowing that the stories will undoubtedly get better.

“I played reserve grade when I was 15!”

“I scored 3 tries in my first ever game and got man of the match!”

“I almost got to play for a club in Sydney!”

And with that last comment, the stories pick up a notch. Not surprisingly the amount of alcohol consumed increases, as the amount of honesty decreases. ‘What the Hell, give ‘em more beer!’

“We used to play under the 8 tackle rule.”

For men who were reliving their youth and trying to sound young, to be reverting back to this comment always confused yet enlightened me. They forge on regardless.

“I was compared to that Longhands bloke who used to play for the Dragons.”

“The game today is soft, if those blokes had’ve been playing when I did they woulda got smashed!”

“They’re a bunch of wimps, I was twice the player half of those overpaid idiots will ever be!”

Then with a shaky outstretched hand clutching at the middle glass, the all take another mouthful of the amber fluid and continue hurtling down a memory lane that only exists in the bottom of a middie.

“I used to play alongside Arthur Beetson!”

“I remember having a fight with Les Cleal in reserves one year. I smashed him with two punches!”

Then the comparisons of manhood ensue, with the conversation going a long way off topic. Two hours, and many more beverages, later, the conversation comes back to the nights game which they had viewed. The armchair critics begin their spiel.

It’s also at this stage the speech begins to slur, and memory decides to go and take a leak, without its owner.

“I bet thoshe bloody refsh are being paid by clubsh. Shee shome of the decisions made tonight? They were a joke!”

Some incoherent mumbling ensues before the next comment of intellect.

“I reckon they’re bein’ bribed, we never had that problem when I played footy, refs always called it shtraight down th’ line, none of thish crap that went on tonight. It’s a joke!”

Invariably, the conversation then goes back to where it started, with many more reminiscing beginning with “back in my day” and more misunderstood swearing under the breath.

One thing I would like to see, and I know these drunken men would be up for it after a few ales, is a drunken game of league. Let us not worry about weight divisions. Let us not worry about age, size or injuries. These men speak with such enthusiasm about their talents, it’s hard to believe that they are mere mortals.

We can tape the game and after 80 minutes, go back to the bar, and with beer in hand, watch the game and see who really was honest.

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