Monday, June 19, 2006


Tonight is the Balmain Ukulele Klub meeting, see gig guide, and also the Dylan meeting -- The Abercormbie, cnr Abercrombie and Broadway. In the beer garden.

Regular reader and commentator, muso Craig Pittendrigh has a new website where you can sample his wares and check out upcoming gigs around Melbourne.

World Cup Editorial:
Happy with the Brazil result this morning, we had our chances but if you don't score you can't win. You especially don't win if you don't score with an open goal in front of you coughharrykewellcough. We had always factored in a loss to them and a decisive confrontation with Croatia in the third match. We need a draw and there's nothing scary about Croatia, except their check shirts on your eyesight. I'm not one of those who claims soccer is about to take over league and AFL as our tribal ball game of choice. Being a Winter game domestically and an unrivalled international programme, I reckon we can all co-exist happily. What annoys me in reading international comments about Aussies embracing the world game is that "rugby" (rugby union) is always included in the list of sports Australians care about more than soccer.

Like, so not.

Of all the football codes, yawnion has the most to lose and I would argue is already significantly behind soccer -- OK, its a shit game followed solely by toffs, we all know that. But look at it dispassionately, just on the numbers. In its first season Foxtel viewing figures for the A-League pretty much matched Super 14s. First season, big gamble. Same ratings as an established international competition. Hello?

The big word is potential. The first Australia-England rugby Test last week was played on a Sunday night to avoid the league/AFL and therefore hopefully get penetration into a non-traditional rugby market like Melbourne. What happened? Rated well in Sydney and Melbourne, as you'd expect. Rated poorly, as you'd expect, in Melbourne. The city that packed 90,000 into the MCG for the Aust-Greece match a couple of weeks before.

Rugby has already had its World Cup in Australia and its associated popularity bump. Where now is growth going to come from? Even in Sydney if people aren't already rah rahs, what's going to suddenly convert them? The Federal Govt is doing its best to up the demographics with all that private school funding but rugby has had its chance. Where is there for rugby to go? Nowhere. Support for rugby is static.

Soccer, on the other hand, has a million miles of blue skies ahead of it. Yes, the hype will die away after the Cup. But Australia has Asian Cup qualification ahead -- regular quality matches with high(ish) stakes which is something we've never had. A reborn domestic league which hasn't put a foot wrong. (Yet.) Huge junior participation across demographics, and with the A League a realistic route for those players to take to the big time. Of course this is Australian soccer we're talking about -- disaster is never far away but its really time to stop talking about it being a second class sport here.

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