In this week”s Talking Culture, our reporter Andrea Bolitho discusses some of the stories making the headlines this week.
Dior standing by Depp
Luxury goods company Christian Dior has said it will be keeping Johnny Depp as a brand ambassador, despite pressure to drop him after he lost a libel case linked to allegations he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard.
The actor has also been refused permission to appeal the ruling.
Return of music festivals?
Meanwhile the strain on music festivals might be about to ease with some news that could get them back on track amid the coronavirus restrictions.
It’s after the first rapid testing programme was officially announced by Public Health England.
The COVID-19 tests will be carried out on sites in as little as 15 minutes.
Watch Andrea Bolitho’s culture update in the video, above.
Anita Ellis – Hell yeah, what a silly question. We are the backbone we are the ones who hold their hand where no one else does in their last moments, god bless you all who work in aged care.
Kim Smith – That’s a question that shouldn’t even need to be asked. Their jobs are as important as other services, or even more so given that they care for our wonderful treasured seniors during their final days, months and years.
It’s not just a ‘babysitting’ job as they deal with seniors who may have dementia and/or a vast array of medical issues. The aged care staff also have to look after their resident’s emotional and mental states daily as well.
It’s a job that is unrelenting as there is no light at the end of the tunnel, as soon as one resident leaves their care, another moves in to replace them and the cycle starts again. It’s a very difficult job for the workers both physically, mentally and emotionally.
They, like their residents, deserve our utmost respect and their efforts should be acknowledged and remunerated accordingly.
Lisa Hamill – Absolutely. We are looking after people. But get paid less than shelf packers at woollies.
Carmel Robertson – Of course they do. If anyone has had an experience of visiting or having a parent in an Aged Care facility, they know how difficult the job can be, They are always welcome.
Bernadette Richardson – Yes, but it won’t happen when they are mostly privately run
City Hill constraints ‘fatal’ from planning perspective
WITH decades of experience in urban planning under his belt, Coffs Harbour man David Hargreaves is speaking out in support of the Cultural and Civic Space.
Demolition work is currently underway at the Gordon Street site.
A decision on the Development Application for the $76.5m building, which will house a new library and art gallery, was expected by the end of October or first week in November.
Janet Courtney – Urban Planning expert ! Give me a break – a building that size in Gordon St. Come On.
Ann Leonard – The state and federal governments have had some fantastic offerings by way of cultural infrastructure grants over the last several years and CHCC has squandered the opportunity through their desire to will the Gordon St project into being inclusive of new administration offices.
I live in hope there will be more into the future and that Coffs Harbour people will have the opportunity to take pride in a cultural precinct set into ambient space as people all over the world do. The change which grew through Brisbane following the development of the Southbank Parkland along the banks of the Brisbane River was palpable. We deserve the same. We deserve to be filled with pride too.
Shane Briggs – I would say the problem with City Hill is parking and access. City Hill is out of the way. Yes it’s a way better site than Gordon Street. So is Brelsford Park and the Showground – all other sites are better than Gordon Street. Coffs will go broke if Gordon Street goes ahead unless the state and federal government pays for that site
Councillor slams ‘culture’ of confidentiality
PAUL Amos has slammed what he described as a “culture” of confidentiality during an impassioned address to fellow councillors.
Cr Amos’ strong words came after his second attempt for more transparency on the Coffs Harbour Airport lease was knocked back during last night’s Coffs Harbour City Council meeting.
“I’m very disappointed. This is not about whether we sign up to an airport lease or not – it’s about the culture of how we do things around here,” he said.
Mark McDonough – Keep them honest and accountable Paul. Thank you for representing the best interests of the rate payer.
Graham Cowling – Wow, there’s some disharmony in the present councillors ? This whole airport leasing situation shows me that we have the WRONG people on our elected council ! Not a business brain among them & they’re trying to hide their lack of expertise by covering up their incompetence.
Rodger Pryce – Keep at it, Paul Amos, you are so, so right in what you are asking. Do not give up.
Bruce Thomas – This current Council is easily the worst ever.
Green’s talents are too obvious to ignore and a call-up to a senior squad was only ever a matter of time after his marathon 197 against NSW in the Sheffield Shield.
The all-rounder has been among the Sheffield Shield’s most dominant batsmen for 12 months now, averaging 74.07 since the start of last season. It’s run-scoring that has led to Allan Border hailing him the “real deal” in Australia’s hunt for an all-rounder, and Greg Chappell declaring him Australia’s “next superstar” and the best young player he has seen since Ricky Ponting.
It is worth noting though that the incredible form he has shown of late has all been in red ball cricket – he is yet to truly find his feet in limited overs matches. Green has averaged 27.83 with the bat and 34.42 with the ball across his nine List A matches and 15.14 batting across nine T20 innings.
Also worth noting is that most of that sample comes from before Green’s meteoric rise with the bat in first-class cricket and he has shown signs of what he can do against the white ball, blasting a 78-ball 86 in the One-Day Cup last summer.
Nevertheless, given he is still unproven in limited overs cricket, you suspect this call-up is as much about getting him around the national set-up as anything, particularly when NSW veteran Moises Henriques has also been picked.
“Similarly, Cameron’s domestic form has been outstanding and he has carried it through for Western Australia this summer,” chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said via a media release. “As a potential player of the future this is an opportunity for him to be part of the squad and build on his experience.”
Green will not be short of people turn to in the Australian set-up as he looks to press his case for selection and learns what it takes to make it at the next level.
While his star is on the rise, Green will still have a hard time cracking into a well-set Australian XI, with David Warner, Aaron Finch and Steve Smith locks across both formats, Glenn Maxwell close enough to being the same, and Marnus Labuschagne holding a firm grip on a spot in the ODI XI.
That leaves Green fighting the likes of Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade and Henriques for the last remaining spot in the top seven with Alex Carey to take the gloves.
The WA youngster will be hoping the call-up is a sign of things to come, with Australia’s selectors to pick their Test squad for the India series towards the end of this block of Sheffield Shield fixtures.
A LONG, LONG TIME BETWEEN DRINKS FOR LYON
When Nathan Lyon walked off the SCG after winning the New Year’s Test, few would have believed it would be almost a full year before he’d play for Australia again.
Of course, 2020 is largely to blame for that, but so is his falling out of favour with selectors in white ball formats.
Having made Australia’s 2019 World Cup squad, Lyon hasn’t spun the white ball for his nation ever since.
Instead, Adam Zampa has re-established himself as Australia’s frontline spinner and has shared duties with Ashton Agar, who’s proven in 2020 he can do far more with the ball than just hold up an end.
Agar has taken 13 T20I wickets at just 12.46 this year — all of which came on the road against the might of England and South Africa.
That form has left Lyon very much on the outside looking in.
He now heads into the summer of cricket having had not had the chance to play in the heat of an international battle since early January.
When the first Test of the summer starts at Adelaide Oval on December 17, almost an entire year will have passed since Lyon last played for Australia.
Extra emphasis will therefore be placed on him completing overs for New South Wales in the early rounds of the Sheffield Shield.
He may also be offered a chance to play for Australia A in a tour match against India in early December to help his preparation.
MEREDITH AND PHILIPPE PLACED BACK IN THE RACK
Perhaps it’s a matter of two steps forward and one back for Riley Meredith and Josh Philippe.
Either way, being snubbed from an 18-man squad is very much a move in the wrong direction for the young guns.
Both have been billed as future stars for Australia — a vision selectors seemingly shared in August when they were picked to tour England along with the uncapped Daniel Sams.
The latter was recalled on Thursday, while Meredith and Philippe weren’t.
It’s hard to discern what the duo did wrong because neither actually played for Australia on that tour and there’s been limited action on home shores this season.
Sams didn’t play on that tour either and has featured in just one match in this year’s IPL, taking 0-30.
Meredith, 24, has previously had some high-profile backing in Shane Warne who has repeatedly called for the Tasmanian speedster to be included in the Australian set-up.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Philippe, 23, also has his fans, namely in Steve Smith who he has often been compared to, if not for his looks alone.
“There’s no reason why he can’t play all three forms for Australia,” Smith said of the youngster earlier this year.
“He’s got all the tools there, it’s just about using them at the right times.”
Having come so close to making their Australia debuts, Thursday’s squad announcement will be a tough pill for the players to swallow.
MOISES ENDS THREE-YEAR HIATUS
It’s not every day a 33-year-old re-enters the Australian set-up, but today is one of them.
Moises Henriques is back.
The veteran all-rounder was last in action for his nation in October 2017 when he played the last of his 22 white ball matches for Australia.
Henriques has been out of the equation ever since as Australia shifted away from specialist all-rounders in favour of an extra batsman with part-time bowling capabilities. When an all-rounder has been selected in recent times, it’s been Mitch Marsh’s phone that’s been ringing.
But Marsh is unavailable for the series due to an ankle injury sustained in the IPL, while Henriques has the runs on the board when it mattered.
The Sydney Sixers captain started the summer of cricket with scores of 167 and 15* for New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield.
In terms of white ball cricket, he led the Sixers to BBL victory last season while making 267 runs at an average of 24.27 and strike rate of 148.33.
He rarely bowled that series but completed ten overs against Western Australia last week for figures of 0-32.
STOINIS’ CHANCE TO PUT IPL LESSON TO USE
Back in the Aussie set-up for the tour of England, Marcus Stoinis fared reasonably in the Twenty20s (84 runs at 42, strike rate of 135.48) before a leaner time in the ODIs (56 runs at 18.66).
It was a tour that did not hurt his long term ambitions, but also has him fighting for selection in the XI rather than being a walk-up start like he was up until the end of the 2019 World Cup.
Stoinis was a constant in the side throughout the tour of UK, but he’ll have a tougher time cracking into the ODI XI this time around. The Western Australian batted at No.3 in the absence of Smith (concussion) in the ODI series and will have to give that spot up to the right-hander against India.
That will leave him once again needing to bat in the middle-order, and with Mitchell Marsh missing as he recovers from an ankle injury, there is a spot open for him to fight for. Not that he’ll have an easy time of it – standing in his way is fellow all-rounder Henriques, Matthew Wade and the exciting Green.
Boding in Stoinis’ favour is the development he showed playing in the middle order for the Delhi Capitals in this season’s IPL – the same role selectors want him to play in limited overs matches for Australia.
While his form has tailed off of late, Stoinis has largely had an IPL to write home about, averaging 23.70 with a strike rate of 152.90. That average no doubt has room for improvement, but what Stoinis has shown in the UAE is an ability to hit the accelerator from the getgo rather than needing time to get himself set.
The 4G mobile network’s 100 Mbps service coverage extended to 18% of Finland’s land area by the end of June 2020. As such, coverage had increased by two percentage points in the last six months. In ideal conditions, download speeds of 100 Mbps were available to slightly over 93% of all households. In contrast, no significant changes occurred in 30 Mbps and 300 Mbps service coverage during the first six months of the year.*
100 Mbps mobile service coverage extended to 57% of Finnish main roads and highways, with the total coverage of all road classes being 41%. Rail network coverage was 58%.
The speed-category-specific coverages of the mobile network represent availability in ideal conditions. They do not account for network congestion or structural and geographical obstacles.
What’s with all the chatter about the new photo of Meghan and Harry? Well, it’s their first portrait since quitting full-time royal duties in April. It was taken to promote a Time100 talk that occurred early on Wednesday, Australian time, about “Engineering a better world”, discussing social media and misinformation – subjects the pair has been speaking a lot about since their move to the United States.
There’s something oddly familiar about the photo. Taken by black photographer Matt Sayles for Time, the portrait mimics the pose the couple took in their 2017 official engagement portrait, which was taken by Alexi Lubomirski.
They both look a little… different than we’re used to. Since moving to California, there has definitely been a “softening” of the couple’s appearance. Harry’s face seems to have relaxed, and if I’m not mistaken, I do believe there’s a bit of West Coast swagger in his posture.
But we’re really here to talk about Meghan, right? Where to start!
If you’ve ever turned on your TV – or pressed play on your streaming device – then you know Harriet Walter’s face.
The British thespian has been prolific these past few years, popping up in everything from Killing Eve and Succession to The Crown and Patrick Melrose – in the latter she had an unforgettable albeit fleeting role as a snarling 80s-era Princess Margaret which was pure joy to witness.
A mainstay of British TV, film and theatre, the highly regarded Walter (she’s a Dame, you know) has been so busy that when COVID-19 rolled around and shut productions down across the entertainment industry, she found herself breakfasting with her husband, Guy Schuessler – but every day.
It’s an upside to this tumultuous year in which everyone has been trying to find the silver lining at an otherwise emotionally bruising time.
“Mostly what I find really pleasant was being at home with my husband for months because we’ve been travelling around – he’s an actor as well,” Walter told news.com.au.
“And here we are, every single morning he was going to be at breakfast. That was great.”
Still, Walter was grateful to have one gig pop up during the pandemic lockdown because, as she puts it, “it’s not good to have so much time to think about how we don’t know what is going to happen with the world, work is a helpful distraction”.
That project is a revival of iconic 1980s series Talking Heads, a series of monologues written by playwright Alan Bennett and performed then by the likes of Eileen Aitkens, Maggie Smith and Patricia Routledge.
Walter is among a class of top British actors to take part in the 2020 series starting tonight on BBC First on Foxtel* and Fetch, which also included Martin Freeman, Tamsin Greig, Jodie Comer, Imelda Staunton and Kristin Scott Thomas.
The series consists of 12 episodes, each fronted by one actor who tells the audience a story in character. Walter takes on a story previously portrayed by Stephanie Cole in 1988 about a recently widowed woman, Muriel, who finds her fortunes gradually diminished.
Over 36 minutes, it’s just Walter talking to the camera, a stripped-down performance that relies entirely on one person convey the emotional heart of the story.
It also depends on Walter memorising long stretches of monologue. She confessed that she did flub a line right at the end of a long take – “I think that did happen once and it went right at the end as well” – but she just got on with the job and did it again.
“Maybe the director would remember it differently, but I don’t think I ever did more than three takes,” she said. “I’ve been flashing lines in my head for three weeks, it was a good challenge for the first three weeks of COVID lockdown to have a monologue.”
Her episode was filmed in one day with the crew having rehearsed the blocking and other technical aspects the day before. Because of the pandemic, the rehearsal and pre-production process was completely different, and she had more input than usual.
“We rehearsed on Skype and Zoom, then I had conversations with the designer about costumes and we were to bring any costumes we had because the BBC was trying to keep the cost down so that the profits would be higher that we could give away to [COVID] charities, and also eliminate the need for going for fittings and being in too close quarters with other people during lockdown.
“We had one rather great time when on a Zoom call and the hair and make-up designer was talking my husband through cutting my hair,” Walter mused. “It was actually very successful. I had a rather good haircut!”
For her character Muriel’s look, Walter took inspiration from her mother. “I sent photographs of my mother because there were many aspects of Muriel that are quite like my mother. For instance, my mother always dressed in bright colours and I don’t tend to.”
Walter said she resisted watching Cole’s original performance in Talking Heads but then relented.
“I’m afraid I kept saying ‘don’t watch, don’t watch, don’t watch’ and then I did,” she admitted. “The thing is that I’ve done a lot of classical roles in my life that I knew other people had done before me. And you get used to the idea that you can’t compare one performance with another.”
One of her recent roles that is definitely incomparable is in runaway hit and Emmy winner Succession. Walter has only appeared in three episodes across the first two seasons but as Lady Caroline Collingwood, the mother of the three Roy children, she’s a scene stealer.
Walter had actually worked with one of the “Roy kids” previously almost 20 years earlier – Kieran Culkin in 1999 TV miniseries, The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns. Culkin was a teenager at the time although Walter remembers him being “a little boy” and even showed him a photo of him as a rosy-cheeked sprite.
Walter, who was nominated for a Guest Actress Emmy this year for her role, said she’s still not sure how she was cast in the series created by writer Jesse Armstrong, a man she called a “genius”.
“I don’t know how anyone gets cast. It’s always one of these mysteries that makes you feel a little bit vulnerable – what they think of me that they think I can play this awful person.”
But as audiences saw in the second season, perhaps Lady Caroline has a more complicated side which leads her to that fractured and contentious relationship with her kids.
“I’ve just written that up. I showed Jesse Armstrong [Lady Caroline’s] backstory the day because I thought I’ve had two years to think about what’s happened to her and who she is.
“I thought we’d better be on the same page about this and if he doesn’t agree with me, let him say now or forever hold his peace. We need to be on the same page for that bit.”
Walter confirmed that she’ll return to Succession’s third season for “probably only in one episode”. We can’t wait.
Talking Heads starts on BBC First on Foxtel and Fetch on Sunday, October 18 at 8.30pm
They were supposed to spark laughter, not outrage. But the Coodabeen Champions ABC debut in 1988 didn’t quite follow the script.
After seven years on community radio, Triple R, in Melbourne, building a loyal audience, the Coodabeens secured a coveted slot for their Saturday morning footy show on the national broadcaster.
When their first program went to air, the switchboard lit up.
“We didn’t realise this at the time — Clarke Hansen (ABC executive producer of sport and broadcaster) who got us across protected us from it — but there were 300 complaints,” recalls Coodabeens co-founder Jeff Richardson.
“And there were complaints coming internally as well, one member of the sport team went into Clarke’s office and said, ‘Get these blokes off air’!
“But Clarke, to our eternal gratitude, stuck by his guns — he liked what we did and wanted us on air.”
But what could possibly have been so offensive about a radio show that consists of a bunch of mates talking, joking and singing about footy?
“I think it was because our show was just so different,” says Richardson.
“Nowadays, it probably doesn’t seem very different because we’ve had decades now of people being “funny” about the football, but back then no-one was.
“What we did was obviously unstructured, obviously unscripted, and totally not in the mould of the way football pre-game coverage usually sounded so, for people who weren’t used to it, it must have sounded quite shocking and amateurish.”
But the Coodabeens had the last laugh, broadcasting on the ABC for seven years, then moving to commercial station 3AW for a decade and returning to the ABC in 2003, where they remain popular.
Over the years, on the ABC, they also hosted a national Sunday night radio show, a travel-based program, The Idlers, and for a decade presented the national broadcast of the New Year’s Eve countdown to midnight from Hobart.
They’ve twice featured in the on-ground entertainment at the AFL grand final (more on that later), are revered in the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) Media Hall of Fame and have travelled the country, staging countless outside broadcasts, including a popular OB from the MCG on grand final morning, and sell-out community shows.
2020 marks a remarkable 40 years on air, during which they’ve become an integral part of Victoria’s football culture.
“I still sort of pinch myself when I go into the Media Hall of Fame at the MCG and we’re up there.
“I look at it and think, ‘That’s not real, is it?’
“Given some of the other names that are up on that board, I just feel very humbled.
“Shows come and go, and the fact that we’ve been able to keep doing it as long as we have — it’s sort of a little miracle, and really pleasing.”
The conversation that launched the Coodabeens
They weren’t chasing a media career — the Coodabeens was born out of their frustration as passionate footy fans.
It was Anzac Day 1981 and 20-something mates Jeff Richardson, a teacher, and Simon Whelan, a lawyer, were driving to the MCG listening to the pre-match programs on the radio and finding it all a bit dull and cliched.
“As we walked into the MCG we were saying, we’re going into the standing room [area] and we’re going to hear people in the crowd with as much, or more, insight into what’s going on as we just heard on the radio — and delivering it with much more wit, entertainment and intelligence — and we thought that there’s got to be some way to capture that and get that on to the airwaves,” says Richardson.
So, they rang up a contact at Triple R and were on air the following Saturday.
There was barely any planning, it was to be (and still is) as spontaneous as possible, and they did the show around their ‘real’ jobs.
There was no formal auditioning of new members. Over the course of those first few footy seasons, a casual parade of friends and friends-of-friends simply wandered in and out of the studio.
Among the core group that formed in the early days was Billy Baxter, who came up with their name based on a line from one of his favourite films, On The Waterfront, in which Marlon Brando says: ‘I coulda been something, I could’ve a contender’, and his mate from high school, Ian Cover.
“Some people came and went, and I had no idea who they were,” recalls Cover, who was then a football journalist with the Geelong Advertiser and went on to become a member of the Victorian Parliament.
“It was a bit chaotic in the studio, there were only two microphones and there’d be sometimes six or eight people squashed around the desk.
“There wasn’t much room to move and you had to sort of elbow someone out the way to lean in to get onto the microphone to say something.”
Forty years, thousands of songs
A couple of years after the Coodabeens started, Adelaide-born musician and songwriter Greg Champion joined the crew, and his talent for writing parodies was a hit with the audience and the rest of the team.
His first musical segment began with ‘The answer my friend is like kicking into the wind’, to the tune of Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind and, over almost four decades, Champion estimates he’s performed about 3,500 songs — written by himself and enthusiastic listeners — and released at least a dozen football CDs.
He wrote an original song, That’s The Thing About Football, that became a much-loved footy anthem when Channel 7 used it as the opening theme for its Friday night footy coverage in the mid-90s and continues to inspire a crowd singalong at the end of their grand final shows.
Other hits included the catchy I’m DiPierdomenico (to the old English music hall song I’m Henry the Eighth I Am) about the likeable Hawthorn champion, Robert DiPierdomenico, and an original song about the team’s hard man Dermott Brereton, titled Dermott Brereton is a Hood.
“Dermott’s got a very good sense of humour and he said to me that it doesn’t matter what they’re singing as long as they’re singing about you.”
While both players got a laugh out of it, some of the Hawthorn bosses didn’t find the Dermie song so amusing, particularly when the Coodabeens were scheduled to perform at the 1987 grand final in which Hawthorn was playing.
“I very naively thought I would ring the Hawthorn Footy Club to get Dermie’s permission to play Dermott Brereton is a Hood at half-time,” recalls Champion.
“And Alan Joyce, the football manager, comes on and says, ‘You’re not doing that at the Grand Final’.
“I rang the boss of the league, Ross Oakley — in those days you could ring the boss and get straight through — and he said to leave it with him.
“Two weeks later, I rang him back and he said, ‘You’re not doing it, if Dermie knocks someone out in the first five minutes and you play that at half-time there’ll be a riot,’ and it was hard to argue with that.”
For knockabout blokes who worshipped footy and did a show on community radio in their spare time, performing at the grand final before 100,000 people at the MCG was a massive thrill.
When league boss Ross Oakley said he couldn’t pay them, they cheekily asked for a limo to get them to the game and expected a couple of taxi dockets.
To their surprise, a limo was dispatched, hovercrafts ferried them onto the ground and they sang three songs — none of which triggered a riot.
“It was a really special thing,” says Cover.
“We’d invented this radio show six years earlier and here we were now out in the middle of the MCG.
Tony’s Talkback and how we fooled Harry Beitzel
In the 1980s, Harry Beitzel was a giant of football commentary on 3AW.
His Saturday afternoon game coverage concluded with a talkback segment called Slather and Whack in which the Coodabeens, who then had another show that followed Beitzel’s, saw plenty of comic potential.
“We heard these people talking to Harry and were thinking you can’t write this stuff, it was really funny,” says Cover.
“There was a Collingwood supporter who came on and said, ‘Look, Harry, I never complain about the umpires but in the third quarter Ricky Barham had the ball and he got penalised and it cost us the game …..’ and someone said why don’t we come on and say exactly what these people are saying, we get a phone and put on a funny voice.
“Tony Leonard said he’d take the calls, so we immediately called it ‘Tony’s Talkback’ [now Footy Talkback with Jeff ‘Torch’ McGee after Leonard, now a respected football commentator, left in 2003].
“The show begins, Richo says there’s some calls left over from Slather and Whack, and Tony says ‘Go ahead, you’re talking to Tony’.
“A voice says: ‘Hello, Tony, It’s Digger here’ and Tony says, ‘Who do you barrack for?’
“‘Collingwood,’ says the voice.
“‘How long have you barracked for Collingwood, Digger?’ ‘137 years!’ says the voice.
“‘Have you got a football question?’ Tony asks.
“And ‘Digger’ says: ‘I never complain about the umpires but in the third quarter….’ and it went from there with all these characters getting lives of their own.”
Digger, Pearl from the Peninsula, Stan the Statistician, Ivan from Ivanhoe, Massive from Moorabbin, Peter from Peterborough, Helen from Healesville … the list goes on.
Despite the hilarious and outrageous things the ‘callers’ say, there’ve been plenty of listeners — and the odd broadcaster — over the years who think they’re real people.
“Harry Beitzel said to me one day, ‘I’ve been listening to your show, it’s sounding good.’
“And I knew it was working because we’d fooled Harry,” laughs Cover.
“Another day, I was in the outer at Geelong around the late 80s and a bloke I’d been to school with, who I thought had a modicum of intelligence, said to me, ‘Hey Cove, that talkback segment on your show, I’ve been ringing up and I can’t get on, the same people get on all the time, what’s going on?’
“And I said, ‘They probably all have the talkback number on speed dial and as soon as they hear it’s coming up they hit the speed dial’ and he said, ‘Oh yeah, that bloody speed dial.'”
The fans they haven’t fooled always want to know who plays who, but the Coodabeens like to keep them guessing.
Coincidentally, this year’s return of Simon Whelan after a 16-year absence while serving as a Supreme Court judge seems to have inspired the long-silenced Digger to pick up the phone again.
And while the Coodabeens have been amazed at how listeners have been taken in by the talkback segment, Ian Cover admits the characters have become so familiar that, at times, even he feels like they actually exist.
“It’s a funny thing, you know, we’ve done the talkback for more than 30 years, our characters are still the same and, to me, they are all real,” he says.
“When it’s your turn I feel like I just become that person for two minutes of the phone call and when it’s all over, I imagine that person still being out there somewhere. It’s weird.”
Three generations of fans
Laraine Rodriquez is a huge footy fan and passionate Melbourne supporter who has been listening to the Coodabeens since the late 80s.
“Once I started listening, I was hooked,” recalls Laraine.
“If I couldn’t listen ‘live’ on Saturday morning I would record it on my radio/cassette player and listen later — either at home or on my cassette player in the car.
“I do remember buying The Coodabeens Big Bumper Footy Book (published in 1990) and laughing throughout most of it.
“I still pick it up at times and continue to laugh, even though some of the information is dated.”
Laraine has been a regular at the outside broadcasts at AFL finals and on grand final morning since the mid-90s, and been interviewed on the show several times.
“In 1994, [with Melbourne in the finals], I was wearing all my Demon gear and I copped some good-natured ribbing about having a red and blue crocheted rug, thus fitting their (and others’) stereotypical image of a Melbourne supporter.
“We had quite a conversation and I received a prize for being a good sport,” she says.
Laraine Rodriquez says the “magic” of the Coodabeens is their interest in the “whole” of football — footballers who played a handful of games, not just the big names, as well as those from country, suburban and women’s leagues.
In fact, the show featured female footballers decades before the AFLW was established.
“I think the Coodabeens appeal to all listeners because they are so inclusive, their style of humour never alienates anyone because it is such good, clean, clever fun.
“As a Melbourne supporter (who has never seen snow anywhere in Australia!), I fume when I hear constant references to Melbourne supporters going to the snow instead of the football.
“Yet when the Coodabeens put Demon fans and snow in the same sentence, the way they do it makes me laugh and I am not one bit offended.
“Long may the Coodabeens continue!”
That they tapped into something that has resonated with footy fans for so long is both surprising and hugely rewarding for the team.
“Not only do we have first-generation listeners, there are also third-generation listeners,” says Cover.
“A lot of people have said to us along the way, ‘Dad used to make us listen to you in the car, and we had no idea what you were going on about, then we got into it and now I’ve got my kids listening.’
“When you reflect on that, there’s a sense of accomplishment that you’ve created something that as well as having longevity has been enjoyed by so many people.”
“Some people have used the term the ‘Rolling Stones of radio’ [to describe us] and I see the parallels,” quips Champion.
“Not that I’m equating us with the Rolling Stones, but there’s the 40 years thing and the longer it goes the harder it is to consider leaving.
They’ve particularly loved taking the show on the road.
“The Coodabeens have done hundreds and hundreds of regional gigs, in Victoria and across the borders, and it’s been a wonderful, wonderful journey playing in the bush and connecting with the people,” says Champion.
“That’s where people tell you what their ABC and their Coodabeens mean to them, how important the Coodabeens and the ABC are to them, and that drives home what a privileged and special position we’re in.”
Still kicking goals
For their 40th year, they’ve published a book, 40 Footy Seasons, that features tales from the core group and many other contributors who’ve come and gone over the years.
While much has remained the same and nostalgia is a big part of their appeal, they’ve also moved with the times, recruiting producer ‘Young Andy’ Bellairs, one of those ‘kids’ who grew up listening to the show in the car, introducing new segments and embracing social media.
COVID-19 has torpedoed their outside broadcasts, community shows and a proposal to appear in this year’s grand final entertainment, but they’re live-streaming part of their GF show and feel lucky to have been able to remain on air.
“Just because of the amount of correspondence we’ve had from people making the comment that in these difficult, unprecedented times, the fact that we’ve been on has provided a bit of normality amongst all the craziness.
“Greg’s had double the song contributions this year and the social media question has had more responses every week than it’s had in the past.
“Driving up from Barwon Heads [when the first lockdown began] I really felt that I wasn’t just going in to do the show as normal, I felt, without sounding too over the top, a sense of responsibility that we had a job to do to entertain people, to cheer them up, to be there.”
With all but Young Andy now aged in their 60s and 70s, the question is how much longer will the Coodabeen Champions be there?
To quote one of those footy cliches they love to make fun of, they’re taking it one week at a time.
“I’ll be happy to get to next Saturday, I don’t think any further ahead than that,” laughs Jeff Richardson.
Listen to the Coodabeen Champions grand final day broadcast from 10:00am on October 24 on ABC Radio Melbourne and around Victoria, ABC Listen or wherever you get your podcasts
The Morrison government accidentally says the quiet part very, very loud when it emails out 10,000 words of in-house talking points to journalists. Plus other tips and murmurs from the Crikey bunker.
Look who’s talking Not for the first time in the Morrison government, some poor schmo has this morning accidentally emailed out the day’s talking points to Australia’s journalists. Ten thousand words of dot points ensuring the party of individual liberty is all on the same page while creating the simulacra of being interviewed. (Tipsters, if you hear a pollie employ the phrase “getting Australians out from under to doona”, please let us know.)
As ever, the most interesting sections are the “IF ASKED” notes, a sign to what’s worrying the government at the moment. So following Senator Gerard Rennick’s seeming assertion on Sky News that the Coalition doesn’t support any federal integrity commission — even the relatively supine one that it is actually proposing — MPs are directed to say Rennick has since “clarified” his comments.
That was then Another talking point MPs have been asked to hammer home is the party’s “deep concern” about “the mental health impacts of a prolonged lockdown on Melbourne residents”. Indeed, they’ve already been mining this, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg yesterday tweeting that his “message to the premier of Victoria today and every day, is please understand the significant impact the harsh lockdown is having on the mental health of Victorians”. Meanwhile, acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge tweeted out stats about the devastating impacts of lockdown on mental health.
Read the latest tips and murmurs from the Crikey bunker.
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Another week, another Richmond controversy. But the Tigers’ new-found status seems to be helping them.
Plus the reason behind a finals trade flop and the potential for a historic draft haul.
Catch up on the big storylines out of semi-final weekend in Foxfooty.com.au’s Talking Points.
Watch the 2020 Toyota AFL Finals Series on Kayo with every game before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
TRADE WISHLISTS: The ideal off-season targets for every AFL club
OFF-SEASON CENTRAL: Saints delist five after finals exit and Pie retires
‘Get out of there Ray!’
TIGERS ARE THE AFL’S VILLAINS, AND THAT’S A GOOD THING
Just three years ago, the story was simple.
It wasn’t as if Adelaide was some superpowered villain, yet most neutral observers came out of the 2017 Grand Final happy for Richmond’s win.
Though it wasn’t a glorious underdog story to the extent of the 2016 Bulldogs, it was still a club finally reaching the pinnacle after decades of pain and starvation from success. You could feel happy for the Tiger Army, finally getting to celebrate a flag after 37 years without one.
But as everyone who’s lived through 2020 knows, a year is a long time. So three years is an eternity.
In those three years, the Tigers have won and won and won some more. With two more victories they’ll become a dynasty – just the ninth team in VFL/AFL history to win three premierships in four years.
And the price of becoming a dynasty is becoming hated.
We see it across the sporting world. The New York Yankees of the late ‘90s became a behemoth. The New England Patriots, led by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, went from a laughing stock to making nine Super Bowls in 19 years.
In perhaps the most recent and apt comparison, the Golden State Warriors went from years of failure, to beloved, to a team almost everyone was happy to see not make the Finals for once.
So it’s natural for most footy fans to be rooting for teams other than Richmond over the next fortnight. A Brisbane flag would be well received. A Port Adelaide flag too. Even most would agree a Geelong flag would give Gary Ablett a fitting ending – though the Cats’ omnipresence at the top of the ladder means they’d still prefer someone else.
But the truly great dynasties have something extra.
With the Yankees, it was spending millions more than anyone else. With the Patriots, it was the infamous ‘Spygate’ cheating scandal (to name just one). With the Warriors, it was adding Kevin Durant to an already star-studded group.
With the Tigers, it’s what they call “playing on the edge”. It’s what others would call “over-aggression” and becoming “really unlikeable”.
The somewhat unfortunate poster boy for Richmond’s aggression is Tom Lynch, who – as we’re reminded every time he does something wrong – is a lovely guy, and relatively quiet off the field.
Lynch fined for knee incident
But his knee drop to the neck of Dougal Howard during the semi-final win over St Kilda was his fifth Match Review incident this season.
In fact, it’s worse than that – the misconduct charge was his fifth incident in eight games, following misconduct against Brisbane’s Alex Witherden (Round 10), two striking fines against Gold Coast players (Round 12) and a Tribunal hearing for striking Michael Hurley (Round 13), of which he was cleared.
None of these incidents in a vacuum was worthy of a suspension. As a whole, they suggest a pattern of behaviour that is out of place in today’s game.
“They’re becoming very unlikeable, I’ll say that about Richmond,” Kane Cornes said on SEN’s Crunch Time.
“They wouldn’t care about that because all they care about is winning and they have the respect clearly but this year they’ve become a really unlikeable team.
“I thought what Trent Cotchin did to Zak Jones, that really dangerous, high sling tackle had more of a chance to cause injury than Tom Lynch’s knee on Dougal (Howard).
“They’ve been a really unlikeable team this year, they’ve been hard to watch at times.”
The Cotchin incident mentioned by Cornes was particularly odd. It was rough, and after the whistle, yet it didn’t warrant a free kick – primarily because it came seconds after the Tigers gave away a different free kick. It also wasn’t assessed by Match Review Officer Michael Christian.
So was it a serious, dangerous incident? Or not worth noting by any of the AFL authorities? We don’t have the answer. And perhaps the fact a Richmond player did it made it draw more attention than it otherwise would have.
That’s where the Tigers are now at. Because they’re successful, and because they’re playing on the edge, they’re inching towards pantomime villain status. They just need to twirl their moustaches a bit more.
And in a way, isn’t that a good thing? Any good story needs a bad guy, so it’s better for the viewers, and if the team is smart, it’s good for them too.
Richmond has very clearly embraced their status and taken an us-against-the-world mentality. It’s an added piece of motivation – which can sometimes be a question when you’ve been so good for so long.
Think of it this way, Tigers fans: wouldn’t this flag be extra sweet, because of the way everyone is acting towards your club?
Tigers put Saints to sword
NEW THEORY BEHIND $5M SAINT’S STRUGGLES
While his team’s 2020 campaign will be widely lauded, Bradley Hill’s first season in St Kilda colours was a tough slog.
The most high-profile and highest-paid of the five players recruited to the Saints 12 months ago, Hill arrived hoping to fill a chasm and become the club’s key linkman when transitioning from the defensive 50 to the forward 50.
Saints fans caught a glimpse of that throughout the season – his aerobic power in the Saints’ Round 4 win over Richmond was something else. But they didn’t see it enough.
After being stiff to not make the All-Australian 40-man squad in 2019, Hill, who signed a long-term Saints deal estimated to be around $900,000 per season, was arguably lucky to hold his spot for all 19 St Kilda games.
Saints coach Brett Ratten said after a loss to Geelong that Hill’s teammates weren’t looking for him enough during games. That issue seemed to temporarily correct itself, but Hill faded badly towards the back-end of the season.
The 27-year-old mustered just 12 and 11 disposals in his two finals against the Bulldogs and Tigers respectively.
Speaking on SEN on Saturday, Port Adelaide champion Kane Cornes revealed his theory on why gun runner Hill struggled in Saints colours in 2020: The shortened 16-minute quarters.
“I think he’s the one player in competition that’s been most affected by the shortened quarters and shortened games,” Cornes told SEN’s Crunch Time.
“He’s the best and most powerful runner in the game. Some would say it’s a minor thing, but you shortened the game by the amount that we’ve shortened it this year and it takes away one of his biggest strengths. The 25-minute mark of a normal quarter onwards, he was good for four or five touches – and he’s a 10-possession last quarter player.
“We can we can judge him harshly – and we will because he is that high price recruit – but I think once games go back to their full length, he will be a much more effective player than what he has been this year.”
Cornes gets the last laugh!
But as SEN co-host Sam Edmund pointed out, quarter lengths mightn’t return to 20 minutes plus time on, with the league considering only a slight increase to the 16-minute quarters we’ve seen this season.
Fellow panellist Gerard Whateley said he wasn’t utterly convinced that was the reason behind Hill’s down year, adding he thought Hill could be “more committed to the task at hand than he has looked at various stages” and the Saints had a right to demand that from him.
“Hill’s at his best when he’s fed (the ball) and things are on his terms. (But) you have to add a little bit more to your game if you’re prepared to take the cheque that he’s taking,” Whateley told SEN.
Cornes said Whateley’s point was fair, but added the Saints knew what type of player they were recruiting.
“He’s never been a big tough, inside midfielder. They identified that speed on the outside and the role on the wing after going after Andrew Gaff as well.
“They knew what they were getting. But I think there is a subconscious level of security that kicks in when you get that big, bumper long-term deal – and that happens across the board.”
WHAT BOMBERS’ BUMPER DRAFT HAND COULD MEAN
There’s plenty of doom and gloom around about Essendon’s off-season so far; and fair enough, too. You build your list to try and find stars like Joe Daniher and Adam Saad, not to lose them.
But at the same time, if the price is right for both players, it could hand the Bombers a historic chance to re-load at the draft.
This year isn’t the ideal time to do it, admittedly. Most draft-age players have been unable to show their talents in under-18s matches due to the pandemic, and the draft was already going to be heavily compromised through Academy players.
But with the Bombers already holding Pick 6, they could very quickly find themselves holding three top-ten selections.
Let’s say the Dons end up with Picks 6, 7 and 8 – their original pick, Carlton’s first-round pick for Saad and a first-round compensation pick for Daniher walking as a free agent.
That would end up being a replica of what Fremantle had in 2019, once someone (likely Adelaide) bids for Bulldogs Academy prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at the top and pushes them down the order.
The Dockers had picks 7, 8 and 9, selecting Hayden Young, Liam Henry and most notably Rising Star winner Caleb Serong. That’s two very promising players AND the pick of the bunch through one year.
So who else has had the chance to shop early and often, and what have they done with the picks?
THREE OR MORE TOP TEN AFL NATIONAL DRAFT PICKS (Since 2000)
Fremantle (2019): Hayden Young (7), Caleb Serong (8), Liam Henry (9)
Gold Coast Suns (2018): Jack Lukosius (2), Izak Rankine (3), Ben King (6)
Gold Coast Suns (2016): Ben Ainsworth (4), Jack Scrimshaw (7), Will Brodie (9), Jack Bowes (10)
GWS Giants (2011): Jonathon Patton (1), Stephen Coniglio (2), Dom Tyson (3), Will Hoskin-Elliott (4), Matt Buntine (5), Nick Haynes (7), Adam Tomlinson (9), Liam Sumner (10) [Toby Greene 11, Taylor Adams 13, Devon Smith 14]
Gold Coast Suns (2010): David Swallow (1), Harley Bennell (2), Sam Day (3), Josh Caddy (7), Dion Prestia (9), Daniel Gorringe (10) [Tom Lynch 11]
Hawthorn (2004): Jarryd Roughead (2), Lance Franklin (5), Jordan Lewis (7)
As you can see, there are some huge hits in there, but also some misses – which is sort of the point.
If you have one first-round draft pick and you miss a good player, it hurts. If you have multiple chances, you’re dramatically reducing your chances of missing.
The draft is a dart board. You want early throws, and you want as many as possible, because no matter how much you practice, sometimes your arm does funny things.
THE CATS TWEAK THAT MIGHT EXPLAIN CROUCH PLAY
If that’s what Patrick Dangerfield can produce as a more permanent forward for Geelong, look out.
And we could see it come to fruition should the Cats land Adelaide free agent Brad Crouch.
The Cats superstar was breathtaking in his club’s commanding semi-final win over Collingwood, particularly when he truly broke the game open in the second term with two classy checkside goals, a few towering marks and a goal assist that set up a Tom Hawkins major.
Dangerfield and Hawkins would both finish with four goals in a sign the two veterans could form a tantalising forward 50 partnerships if given the opportunity to thrive.
Pies enter the DANGER zone
But can the Cats afford to take Dangerfield – who’s made eight of the past nine All-Australian sides primarily off the back of his on-ball dominance – away from the middle? Melbourne champion Garry Lyon reckons it’s time to pull the trigger.
“Does he (Dangerfield) have to play 70 per cent-plus forward for Geelong to win this premiership?” Lyon asked on Fox Footy.
“I’m starting to prepare him for life as a 75 per cent forward. That’s where I think Geelong are at.”
But as dual premiership Kangaroo David King pointed out on Fox Footy’s First Crack, Dangerfield is still one heck of a midfielder. Against the Pies, he attended six centre bounces and won two clearances – a better strike rate than teammates Joel Selwood (2 from 19) and Cam Guthrie (2 from 20).
What would make Dangerfield conundrum easier, though, is if the Cats could land a pure inside ball-winner during the upcoming AFL exchange period.
Enter Adelaide’s leading contested possession player in Crouch, who’s eligible for free agency and been strongly linked to the Cats for many weeks.
St Kilda legend Nick Riewoldt put two and two together, asking on Fox Footy: “A left-field one: Looking at Geelong and their recruiting, is that why they’re into a player like Crouch do you think?
Lyon replied: “Possibly. They asked the question of Jack Viney as well.”
Triple premiership Lion Jonathan Brown added the Cats should take a “horses for courses” approach with Dangerfield as he can easily swing on ball or into the forward line at short notice.
Gaz’s silky skills hurt Pies
But King said Dangerfield as a forward was a more damaging and unique asset.
“The bottom line is they’ve got multiple options that can go through the midfield,” King told First Crack. “They’ve only got Hawkins – (Gary) Rohan is in and out of games and you can’t bank on him – and if you’ve got Hawkins and Dangerfield, you’ve got goalkickers. You can’t replace them.”
As Riewoldt pointed out, Dangerfield had the potential to be an outstanding goalkicker if he was given the chance to train with the forwards group.
“At the moment as a forward, Dangerfield is a ‘stand and deliver’ forward,” he said. “He relies on athleticism; he doesn’t have any forward craft.”
Lyon added: “He’s just playing brutally. If he adds some nuance to that, then look out.”
Any coach who approaches a referee without wearing a proper face covering now can be slapped with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
A memo sent to teams Friday from Perry Fewell, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating administration, authorizes officials to throw the flags. It is a response to complaints from the NFL Referees Association about coaches and other sideline personnel pulling down their masks to yell at officials from close range.
“We have seen multiple occasions where head coaches have removed their masks to communicate with game officials during games,” Fewell wrote in the memo. “Doing so creates unnecessary, increased risk for the game official, the head coach, and others, and is inconsistent with the requirement that face coverings be worn at all times. …
“Consistent with all other individuals on the sideline, game officials are entitled to your respect as they perform their job duties during the pandemic.”
The league’s COVID-19 protocols require everyone on the sideline to wear a face covering except for players who are actively involved in the game. The referees only remove their masks to announce penalties.
The NFL fined five coaches $100,000 each — and their teams $250,000 — for failing to wear masks properly in the early weeks of the season.