Corner kicks, cows and cartoonists

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I DON’T know about you but every so often I feel the need to springclean. In your case it might be the bedrooms, the car or the garage that need clearing out. In Banksy’s case it’s his reporter’s notebook. Well, not so much a notebook as scraps of paper, toffee wrappers, newspaper clippings torn from dog-eared newspapers. . . anything, really, that I’ve scribbled on with one of the miniature bookies’ pens I keep tucked in the lining of every jacket ‘for emergencies’. I regard my squirrelling tendencies as a public service, but I require no thanks: it is a solemn duty that I perform on your behalf, for the public good, a truly pro bono activity. So, let’s see what I have hauled out of my bulging pockets amid all the fluff and foreign coins 

What football could learn from rugby

Ah yes! A scruffy cutting from a fortnight-old Metro acquired second-, third- or even fourth-hand from the back of my seat on the tram to the BBC’s northern power base at Salford Quays. It quoted an exasperated Southampton manager Ronald Koeman arguing that referees should give penalties when players grapple at corners.

He complained that while the referee ‘controversially’ awarded West Ham a spot kick after a Leicester defender tangled with a Hammers forward the same ref ignored a similar tussle at the other end of the pitch in the match’s dying minutes. imageKoeman demanded consistency from referees over penalty decisions from corners, arguing that “if you start to give penalties then [penalty box grappling] stops.” But the quote that caught my eye was when he added that then “everybody knows that if you grab somebody’s shirt LIKE A RUGBY TACKLE or you ‘take a man out’ in the box, it’s a penalty.” For me, the rugby union analogy is the key: at a rugger line-out the team given the throw-in advantage gets to choose how many catchers to put in the line; the opposing team then matches that number, be it three or seven.

Why not the same when a corner kick is given in a football game? The attackers choose, say, to put three men in the box; three is then the maximum number of defenders that will be allowed, plus the goalkeeper. Any interference can then be clearly seen by the referee or his assistant. Physical contact by defenders is punishable with a penalty and, by attackers, with a free kick.

What’s that? You don’t care about football and its silly rules? Okey-dokey, I have something in my grab bag of goodies for all tastes. How about. . .

Cows and my favourite cartoonist

Warren Brown is a highly talented, funny man. Author, columnist, broadcaster and, above all, Australia’s best cartoonist, Waz was the caricaturing humorist who set my editorial page afire with his daily illustrated drollery when I edited the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

I sometimes featured: when a Pom with a walrus moustache, a liking for drink and a big gut was required a face and figure suspiciously similar to my own would appear. My pantomime irritation (in truth, I was flattered) was met by Wazza’s hurt expression and protestations of innocence. He always avoided the censor’s blue pencil.

So I was delighted some twenty years later when flicking through Facebook to be confronted by this photograph, taken through his window, of the paddock on Wazza’s farmhouse retreat in rural New South Wales to be accompanied by the Great Cartoonist’s comment:

image“Just woke up to a beautiful morning, sun shining, birds singing and the cows gently grazing in the paddock . . .Wait a minute! We don’t OWN any cows! Good grief!”

How very Wazza. And how very similar to the humour of an even better-known (occasional) visitor to Woy Woy, Spike Milligan, who once described the Central NSW resort where his retired parents went to live as “the largest above-ground cemetery in the world”.

You don’t believe me? Visit Woy Woy yourself and while there inspect the ‘Spike Milligan Cycle Bridge’, built and opened in 2007 to celebrate its famous (adopted) son.

And do drop in on Wazza. Tell him Banksy said it would be okay to camp with his cows!


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