TFF received a huge response to my piece on Thursday, having a go at Shane Warne for his outrageous remarks about Steve Waugh being "the most selfish cricketer I've ever played with". One, and I mean just one response, accused me of being unfair, insinuating that I had waited until Warne was out of contact in the jungle, before having a go at him.
My man, please. I have had so many goes at Warne over the years, I have had to put another man on! And the reaction to that piece was so strong, and so complimentary, I dinkum felt seriously unworthy, cos' ...
Shane Warne rips into 'selfish' Steve Waugh
Shane Warne has a candid conversation in the jungle about his dislike for former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh. Vision: Channel Ten
Cos, I just don't know what it is. But when it comes to Shane Warne, strangely, I see the ball as big as a pineapple, in slo-mo, and there are so many angles with which I can see to hit it, and him, I am simply overwhelmed by the possibilities. I shoulda been a cricketer. Either way, for a sports columnist, Warne is the gift that just keeps on giving.
In the next few days, you will likely see an issue blow up on how the winner of a Shane Warne Foundation sponsored raffle for a Mercedes last June was none other than Warne's former PA and one time general manager of that very foundation!
My strong suspicion? It is just the luck of the draw, and it's all rinky-dink, ridgy-didge and all the rest. But no properly run foundation would ever allow former employees to enter and such a result is emblematic of how it was so badly run that it is now being audited by the Victorian government, even though it has just closed its doors. Watch this space
A great Australian
Great news this week, that the National Museum has bought Australian Olympian Peter Norman's famous singlet from the 1968 Olympics, where Norman was outrageously excoriated, and then rightly celebrated for what happened after winning a silver medal in Mexico City in the 200 metres. Before the medal ceremony, in the changing room, Norman found out that the two black American athletes – gold medallist John Carlos, and bronze medallist Tommie Smith – were about to deliver Black Power salutes, in protest at the treatment of black people in America.
"I will stand with you," Norman said quietly, and he did just that, also donning an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge to indicate his solidarity.
Come the moment, Norman, on the silver podium, was the one nearest the flags and so had his back to the two Americans, but he knew they were proceeding with their plan when …
"When I was standing there," he told me in 1999, "and I could hear this particularly rich baritone singing The Star-Spangled Banner, really belting it out, and then the voice suddenly faded out. I knew then that John and Tommie had gone ahead with it ..."
The same thing happened all over the stadium, with the singing replaced by stunned silence, which was in short order replaced by cat calls and booing. It was an iconic sporting moment, when our bloke stood on the right side of history – even if, at the time, it was so much thought to be the wrong side that the two Americans were immediately sent home in disgrace. As to Norman, there would be strong assertions that the reason he was not picked for the 1972 Olympics was because of his actions in 1968, though that is hotly disputed by the AOC. Either way, by 1999 when I interviewed him for a profile before the Sydney Games, he proved to be a very good man, who'd nevertheless done it a bit tough in previous years with alcoholism and depression, and had been all but entirely forgotten by the wider world. But the Americans knew, and honoured him. And his family knew. Just a week before I talked to him, Norman's young teenage daughter, Emma, was asked by her high school teacher to write a story "about a famous person".
"I'd like to write about my father," Emma said.
"Emma," the teacher replied, "it is nice that all children think their parents are famous, but I want an essay about a really famous person.
"Well," Emma replies equably,"he's in all five of those sports books you've got on the shelf, so isn't that famous enough?"
Norman died of a heart attack a decade ago, and both Smith and Carlos gave eulogies and were pallbearers at his funeral. On October 11 2012, Dr Andrew Leigh guided through the Australian Parliament an official apology which noted, "That this House: 'Acknowledges the bravery of Peter Norman in donning an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on the podium ... and apologises ... for the treatment he received upon his return to Australia, and the failure to fully recognise his inspirational role before his untimely death in 2006'."
Bravo, Peter Norman. Bravo the National Museum for honouring him in this manner.
Help at hand
Some families do it tough. Whenever such families came to the attention of the Holland family of Cromer, they were always the first to put their hand up to help, just as they were also mainstays of the rugby league community, attending fund-raisers, donating prizes and the like. And then, last year, they started doing it tough themselves, with one of the Holland lads diagnosed with a serious and life-threatening illness – inevitably incurring crippling medical expenses. Last week, the good news. His illness went into remission. So they went out for a night to celebrate, only to to have their house burn to the ground, losing everything, including Matt Holland's tool and work vehicle, with no insurance The one bit of good news is that the local community and sporting community have rallied together to help them get back on their feet, donating clothes, school uniforms, meals, furniture and $35K so far. If you'd like to help, too, Google 'Help the Hollands of Cromer'.
Swimming for the children
As if you didn't know, the Malabar Magic Ocean Swim is on Sunday, February 21, to support children with disabilities through Rainbow Club Australia. The mighty Patrons of Team Magic – Daniel Kowalski, Louise Sauvage, blind marathon swimmer James Pittar and Cronulla MP Mark Speakman – will be swimming "together" on the day to help raise money for the charity. (I still reckon Speakman will be bringing up the rear!) You can register to swim yourself in the 1km race or donate to support their fund-raising goal.
What They Said
Shane Warne on Steve Waugh: "There's a lot of reasons I don't like Steve Waugh ... because he's the most selfish cricketer I've played with." TFF made reply on Thursday, coming in off the long run.
The satirical journal The Betoota Advocate summarises with a headline the news that the Eels had won the Auckland Nines: "Sydney Hit By Massive Dust Storm As Parramatta Eels Return Home To Open Trophy Cabinet."
Jarryd Hayne on playing in the NFL: "Obviously the endurance side of things is different but I got hit twice head on and my head was rattled for a couple of days ... It's pretty tough. It's like having a helmet and running through a brick wall. If you do that, you can make it in the NFL."
Willie Wood, the star of Super Bowl I, exactly, 50 years ago when told that he was "the best of the best", a Hall of Famer, simply looked blank and said, in the presence of The New York Times reporter: "I was?" Despite 12 years in the NFL, he remembers absolutely nothing of it, and can only just speak.
Dr Bennet Omalu, the neuropathologist who inspired the movie Concussion, to Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback column during Super Bowl week: "There is no safe blow to the head, like there is no safe cigarette smoking ..."
Jillaroos fullback Samantha Hammond from Auckland: "But getting knocked out, I love it. It's part of the game. Last year, I was hit in our final game against New Zealand and couldn't remember a couple of things. But that doesn't worry me. I was just disappointed I couldn't go out that night."
Bernard Tomic, at the Ecuador Open, makes a dickhead of himself once more, in the process of losing in the third round to Italian Paolo Lorenzi, shouting out: "You don't need to be here, f--- this place."
An unnamed Rugby League official on the common denominator in repeat rugby league offenders: "In about 95 per cent of cases, they made their first-grade debuts when they were young, they haven't got many other interests outside the game from an educational or work perspective and most are repeat offenders who probably didn't quite get it right when they were young."
Braith Anasta on being a mentor to the young Roosters' players at the Nines: "Just coming in and being a mentor and giving them some advice and talking to them about things like playing in front of crowds. A lot of the guys hadn't signed an autograph before [this week]." Meantime, is it me, or are we in a weird world when each team at the Nines had an off-duty police officer assigned to keep them out of trouble at night?
James Holbeck, a seven-Test Wallaby on footballers and alcohol: "It's hard to quantify how much alcohol affected my career. I was injured a lot but I think, when you've also got a problem with alcohol, it doesn't look good to medical staff and others within an organisation. I managed to have little stints when I was off it but at other times I was a shocker."
Captain of the Australian Army rugby team, in his pre-match speech to his own team, before playing a Turkish rugby side at Gallipoli to mark the centenary of the battle: "Righto you pricks, last time we were here we lost!" This time the Australians triumphed, and both teams caroused into the night, all good friends, and jolly good compan-y.
Australian wicket-keeper Matthew Wade to NZ all-rounder Grant Elliott: "Only a f---ing coward sledges people when they walk off." That sound? Just a whole generation of Australian cricketers, shifting uncomfortably.
New Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue went there in explaining how he deals with detractors: "Look, they ridiculed Jesus Christ, so I'm certainly no exception."
Team of the Week
Heather Hawkins. The cancer survivor from Coogee ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. For those wondering about the logistics the itinerary was Antarctica, Chile, Miami, Madrid, Marrakesh, Dubai and finally Sydney.
Thunderbolts. The Australian 7's side didn't win the Sydney Sevens but still had far and away the best name. Incidentally, who remembers, on family caravan trips, visiting Thunderbolts Rocks, up Uralla way, south of Armidale, where the bushranger used to hold up passersby?
Parramatta. Kudos for them winning the Nines, but let's see how relevant this is come season's end.
Leicester City and Arsenal. Biggest game of the Premier League season tomorrow. I am told "if the the Foxes get up, they have one hand on the title", and if I knew which side was "the Foxes", I'd tell you that, too.
Eddie Jones. Perfect start as coach of England, with a solid win over the always valiant Scots, at Murrayfield.
Perth Wildcats. Just made the play-offs for a world-record 30th straight year. Oh, please. They are the basketball side. Sydney Kings, meantime, came stone motherless ...
Brisbane Bandits. Won the Claxton Shield, which I think is the Australian baseball comp.
Samantha Stosur. Led Australian Federation Cup team to victory against Slovakia. Now face the US in World Group play-offs.
Denver Broncos. Won their third Super Bowl title, with quarterback Peyton Manning, 39, likely playing his last match.
Headsafe. The doctor mob devoted to minimising concussion damage in sport are having a charity screening of the movie Concussion. Happening at the Bondi Junction Event Cinema on Wednesday, February 17. Go to concussion-preview-headsafe.eventbrite.com.au and use Promotional Code HeadsafeFitzFiles for a 20 per cent discount as well.