The Gus and Webby show
Phil Gould and Andrew Webster discuss a team that's on the rise: the Wests Tigers, plus all the big news in the world of Rugby League.PT8M4S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-36crn 620 349 April 9, 2014
The response to the historic announcement on Wednesday that all five major sporting codes had agreed to support a strong anti-homophobia policy has been overwhelming positive, but the line keeps coming up.
United: Chiefs from Australia’s major professional sports with the Bingham Cup. Photo: Ben Rushton
I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that. It would lessen the burden on the first day of The Championships on Saturday.
To understand why it is important, you should hear this from a caller to Melbourne radio hours after the new agreement was struck between the AFL, NRL, ARU, FFA and Cricket Australia.
Over the top: Nate Myles and Beau Falloon tackle the Storm's Will Chambers on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images
The caller said he had secretly been in a relationship with an AFL player for four years, before adding the player did not come out and their relationship ended because of the “paranoia and the fear of harassment that would follow” if he did.
“He'd go to family functions or … friendship functions, or whatever it was, you know, and I just simply couldn't go,” the caller told ABC Radio in Melbourne. “It was very painful.”
Something to say: Greg Bird celebrates after booting the winning penalty goal for the Titans against Melbourne on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images
Last November, I was prompted to write a column about coming out and the absurdity of discriminatory laws forbidding same-sex marriage after former Knights player Ryan Stig made some outrageous remarks about homosexuality, comparing it to the work of Satan and alcoholism.
The response was stunning.
Men of all ages made contact to tell their stories. They still do. From teenagers who say they had considered suicide before reading the column to men in their 40s through to their 70s telling me they have only recently come out, having kept the so-called secret of their sexuality hidden for years, decades even.
These are men with children – grandchildren, too – who have only come to terms with who they are far later than they should. Men who have been cut off from their families, pushed out of work and certainly cast aside by sporting teams they might have been in.
The families of these people – mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and a lot of mates – made contact with the same stories to tell.
Nobody cares? They do, for better or worse. That’s why Wednesday’s announcement is deeply significant. You mightn't listen to a politician, but you will listen to your footy hero.
When you sit in this chair, and talk out of your arse about sport and get paid do it, it’s easy not to acknowledge the good that our sporting administrators do.
Then NRL chief executive Dave Smith says this of Stig at Wednessday’s media conference: “We still have moments, which I am not proud of, something which happens in our game like when one of our players made the most disparaging remarks about homosexuality last year. We should have been stronger in our condemnation of those remarks. We have learnt from that experience and will take a harder line against anyone in our game making such appalling comments today."
It’s hard to not be proud of a game that can acknowledge it got it wrong, but from now on will try to get it right.
Smith and his counterparts from the other sports attended a special function at Government House on Wednesday night at the invitation of NSW Governor Marie Bashir.
Andrew Purchas, the president of the Bingham Cup, who has been the driving force of the policy agreement, summed up the importance of the landmark agreement.
“The commitment the sports make today goes beyond taking action in response to homophobic sledging on the field,” he said. “This is not only about rules and regulations stopping people doing or saying things, but rather taking action to positively enhance and encourage involvement by gay, lesbian and bisexual people, whether they be players, coaches, administrators or spectators.”
Nobody cares? Hopefully, in time, nobody will.
NRL needs to lift its game on lifting tackles
Thaaaaaat said, Smith and his head of football Todd Greenberg need to take control of this lifting/dangerous throw/cannonball/wrestling/leg-grabbing/three-man-in-a-tackle malarkey that is confusing all and sundry.
During the judiciary hearing that eventually ended in Storm prop Jordan McLean receiving a seven-match suspension for the tackle that broke the neck of Alex McKinnon, counsel assisting Peter Kite said that a strong penalty needed to be handed down so the NRL could send a “strong message to all players” as a “deterrent” to these type of tackles.
A week later, the match review committee let two spear tackles escape charge, and slapped a grade one on another that looked far worse than McLean’s.
Rousing farewell for Frykberg
Super League power broker Ian Frykberg was given a rousing send-off last Friday following his death, with sporting and TV executives kicking on at his wake at Royal Randwick that afternoon.
The absence of News Corp boss Lachlan Murdoch, who had stood shoulder to shoulder with Frykberg during the battle for control of rugby league in the 1990s, raised eyebrows among several mourners.
Murdoch’s representatives assured us he wanted to be there but was overseas.
Former Super League referee Graham Annesley, who is now chief executive of the Titans, attended.
We can tell you the former whistleblower landed at Sydney Airport that morning and then walked the entire way to the eastern suburbs. It took about two hours, and he barely raised a sweat.
Bird in full flight
The social media post of the week comes from Titans star Greg Bird after he slotted the match-winning penalty goal against the Storm with seconds remaining: “Every sinew in my body came together as one perfect whole. Haha these are the scariest and greatest moments in rugby league."
It was a very funny nudge of Storm halfback Cooper Cronk and his infamous “small fire in your village” interview during State of Origin last year.
Bird was predictably bashed up by Queensland and Storm fans, forcing him to deny there was any drama with the Storm playmaker.
Oh, and you heard it here first: Glenn Stewart will end up at the Bulldogs under former Manly coach Des Hasler. Don’t be surprised if brother Brett is there with him.
If Glenn re-signs with the Sea Eagles or goes elsewhere, let's never speak of this item again.
Let the games begin
We’re told negotiations for the broadcast rights to the next three Olympic Games – the summer games in Rio de Janeiro (2016) and Tokyo (2020), and the winter games in PyeongChang (2018) – are heating the hell up.
Channels Nine, Seven and Ten are all interested in the package deal, which is attractive because Japan and South Korea time zones snuggle in perfectly for Australian viewers.
Meanwhile, swimmer Stephanie Rice has been slammed for her self-indulgent retirement announcement on her own website.
The reason: she couldn’t negotiate a deal with 60 Minutes to break the news there.
Can Koroibete continue Tigers' roll?
There's an old saying about horse ownership: never invest in something that eats.
That hasn't stopped footballers past and present tipping their hard earned in, and much of that investment will be on display at Royal Randwick for the opening day of The Championships on Saturday.
The Wests Tigers are firing at the moment, so don't be surprised if Koroibete causes a boilover in the Australian Derby for part-owners Chris Lawrence and Robbie Farah. No word on whether the winger of the same name will be trackside.
Meanwhile, in the TJ Smith Stakes, former Socceroo Craig Moore will watch Buffering try to win another group 1. Sweet Idea will line up for former AFL star/current bad boy Campbell Brown, who celebrated long and hard after his horse won the Magic Millions Guineas earlier this year.
Of course, a race day at Randwick would not be complete without Roosters players past and present. Luke Ricketson and Chooks captain Anthony Minichiello have Northern Glory in the PJ Bell Stakes.
We speak to the Sydney FC defender as he prepares for Sunday's massive game against Perth Glory at Allianz Stadium.
You were living and playing in Qatar not so long ago. Now you are living in North Sydney. Different?
Well, there's a few more cafes in North Sydney. Qatar is an Arab nation, but it's a very westernised country as well. In that sense, it wasn't too much of a culture shock for my family. I could still get a beer when I wanted one, and have a good meal. But it's easier being back in Australia.
Will Qatar be able to host a World Cup?
They will be able to host a World Cup, but I don't think they can host it in June. The players will be fine, but it would be dangerous for the spectators with the type of heat. You can imagine the alcohol rules will be loosened. You don't want to be dehydrated in 45-degree heat.
I hear your passion is old cars. You drive a Chevy to training, right?
I do. A 1971 Chevrolet Blazer is what I drive to training and back. I've got six or seven cars like that. I restore them. That's what I like to do. Living in an apartment in North Sydney makes it hard, but once I settle back into life in Melbourne I will do it a lot more.
What are your hopes of a start with the Socceroos in Brazil? At 35, you're like a good red at the age of 35: you improve with age.
I dunno. I'm not holding my breath for a call-up. I missed the last couple of friendlies. I'll leave that decision to the man in charge.
What about Sydney FC's season? They were calling for Farina's head and now you're about to reach the finals.
When I arrived at the club, there were calls for everyone to be sacked. I arrived smack bang in the middle of it. But the talent the club has got, and getting everyone back on the park at right time of year, means we are showing what we can do.