Category: Strine Sports

Stone the Crows! Deja Vu All Over Again

Richmond Football Club will play in the 2017 Grand Final, tackling the favorite Adelaide Crows, who must be beaten at all cost.
It’s the first time in 35 years that the Tigers will play off in Australian Football League’s most important game of the year. Richmond would lose that game after a stripper took off all her gear and streaked across the hallowed turf, her illegal actions much more appealing to the Tigers’ opponent Carlton, traditionally a favorite haunt of Australian organized crime, than a Richmond known for its hearty applications of elbow grease and welcoming acceptance of battlers from all over the world.
It has been 37 years since the Tigers won the premiership.
1980 Grand Final Record
When the Tigers won the 1980 flag, one pundit famously dubbed them the Team of the ’80s. Richmond would not win much in the 1980s. In fact, its star players mostly walked out on the club, it almost went broke, did not play finals after 1982 and twice finished bottom of the league, a dubious honor that bestows a wooden spoon on the team that accomplishes it. The 1990s were no better, the finals drought finally broken in 1995, but misery ruled the day. The Noughties were even worse. More wooden spoons followed and despite almost twice as many teams being eligible to compete in finals as had traditionally been the case, the Tigers developed the alarming tendency to finish agonizingly short of the Top Eight qualifiers, finding itself labeled with the mocking nickname of Ninthmond.
Things changed, slowly as they are wont to do when a winning culture has eroded, upon entering the 2010s. Gradually, the Tigers redeveloped a winning culture. From 2012 to 2015, Richmond was a finalist every year, losing each time it played off, but being an A-list team for three consecutive years for the first time since the club’s mid-1970s heyday.
Things seem a hell of a lot different in 2017 Still, there’s lots of similarities at work. In the Tigers’ last Grand Final, 1982, they were valiantly inspired by the late, great Maurice Rioli, the first even and one of just a few players from a losing to be awarded the Norm Smith Medal for Man of the Match. Maurice’s nephew, Daniel, will be playing for the Tiges on Sept. 30. Richmond’s captain 35 years ago was David Cloke, who was suffering a niggling problem that cast his appearance in doubt. This year, Richmond’s captain, Trent Cotchin, may be suspended (for an alleged transgression that would not have even been a blip on the radar of umpire concern in 1982) and his appearance is in doubt. (FWIW, Cloke would play, but walked out on the club after the game to take big bucks from vile Collingwood, one of Richmond’s fiercest rivals. He would be unceremoniously dumped a few years later and return to Tigerland with his tail between his legs). Also of note in the 1982 game was Mick Malthouse, who would famously fail a fitness test. Malthouse would go on to claim the record for coaching the most league games.
Cloke had also been an uncertain starter when he was vice-captain in 1980, the Tigers’ last premiership year. He would make it. The Tigers’ captain at that time, however, was Bruce Monteath, who would spend most of the day as a reserve in what was his final game for the club even though he was only 25.
There’s also similarities to 1980, the Tigers’ last premiership year. That year, one team was clearly ahead of the pack before an upstart team clawed its way through the finals to lay down a challenge. It’s a similar case in 2017, when the Crows have been at the head of the pack all year and go into the Grand Final as a clear favorite, especially after flogging the Tigers in the teams’ only encounter for the year, if not the sentimental choice, which is clearly behind Richmond. It’s converse to 37 years ago when the Tigers had been the dominators and challenged by Collingwood as the first team to make the Grand Final after finishing in 5th place. The Tigers would go on to win by what was then a record margin (here’s hoping the same doesn’t happen again).
1982 Grand Final Record

Tigers Trump Tenderfoots

Richmond Football Club will contest the 2017 AFL Grand Final!
The mighty Tigers triumphed over the Australian Football League’s newest team, the Western Sydney Giants, a talent-packed outfit created to boost revenue from TV broadcasts.
Now, Richmond will play the rampaging Adelaide Crows to determine the Aussie Rules champion of the world!

Tiger Time!

Kangaeroo.com is usually concerned about kangaroos, especially those in Japan, but now it’s Tiger Time!
Richmond Football Club, the Tigers, are one of 18 teams competing in the Australian Football League.
Football in Australia can mean many different sports, mainly depending on the location where the word is used, but the most Australian variation refers to Australian Rules Football, an indigenous sport with professionals found only in Australia (the game is played by amateurs in dozens of countries all over the world, including Japan).
Richmond was once the most feared football team in Australia. From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, the Tigers played off in the VFL Grand Final, the most important game in the league and the match to determine that year’s champion team, on six occasions, winning four times.
When Richmond made the 1982 Grand Final, it entered the match as a hot favorite and was leading until just after half time. At that time, a young female stripper ran onto the ground. The Tigers never led all other teams in the league again.
Move ahead 35 years, almost to the day. On September 23, 2017, the Tigers will take on the Greater Western Sydney Giants in a Preliminary Final with the winner to progress to the 2017 Grand Final against the Adelaide Crows to become the champion of Australia. Richmond would be unlikely to win that game, having a pretty ordinary record against the Crows, which has been the best team in the league throughout this year.
Nonetheless, Australia, particularly the Aussie Rules heartland of Melbourne, is in the grip of Tiger fever.
A crowd exceeding 90,000 is expected to watch the Tigers take on the Giants, whose fans have purchased just 1,200 tickets to watch the game.

AFL – Modern Australia’s Religion and Failed Proselytizing in Japan

If post-European colonization Australian has any sort of religion, there’s a good argument to be made that it could be the indigenous code of football, known as Australian Rules.

171_001For most Australians in the southern part of the country, footy provides them with the closest opportunity they will have to a tribal allegiance and generally loyalties toward their team are fervent and frequently location based even now (and almost exclusively the further you go back into the past).
The Australian Football League (AFL), administer of the sport, to this day tries to spread the Aussie footy message overseas, but the reality is that the game remains local.

Scenes from Aussie Bowl '86

Scenes from Aussie Bowl ’86

Nonetheless, its impact on Australians is undeniable, with millions viewing games every week, either at stadiums or on television, and its influence on society is pervasive, even in the northern states of New South Wales and Queensland, where forms of rugby have traditionally been the favorite football codes.
It was part of the effort to spread the charm of Australian football overseas that Japan became involved. Australian football garnered a modicum of appeal in the United States through screenings on the ESPN sports cable channel.
From there interest arose from Japan’s Fuji TV, then flush with funds from the country’s bubbling economy and its series of phenomenally successful “trendy drama” shows with sky-high ratings bringing in almost boundless advertising revenue.
Ironically, on May 20, 1986, just as the Victorian Football League (the AFL’s predecessor) was poised to announce that its Melbourne-based game was to expand to encompass teams from Western Australia and Queensland, there also came the announcement of the “Aussie Bowl,” an Australian Rules game to be played at Yokohama Stadium by that year’s grand finalists.
Fuji TV had proposed the game and would bankroll it, providing the winning team with $20,000 and the best player with a new car. Total costs estimated at AUD$2 million would be borne by Fuji in exchange for global broadcast rights.
The game would be played as 15-a-side, three players fewer than normal due to the diamond-shape stadium instead of the oval ground the game is usually played on.
Fuji promoted the game heavily, running special features in magazines and manga associated with its media network and tickets sold like “tempura hot cakes,” according to one Australian commentator at the time. J-Walk, then an up-and-coming band, released the single Hono no Senshi (炎の戦士) to promote the game and it became a minor hit.
Aussie Rules was on the verge of becoming Japan’s flavor of the month just as the country’s newlyweds were also starting to fall in love with Down Under.
19860520 Aussie Bowl 86
Nov. 3, 1986, duly rolled around.
Culture Day in Japan, a national holiday, and good enough for a crowd of about 25,000 to roll up and watch the VFL Premiers Hawthorn Hawks continue their Grand Final dominance over the Carlton Blues, winning 22.17 (149) to 13.18 (96).
The ground announcer was Ichiro Furutachi.
A scene from Aussie Bowl '86

A scene from Aussie Bowl ’86

By all accounts, the game was a success. Robert Dipierdomenico would be voted player of the match and Aussie Rules was helping Australia gain a foothold in the affections of ordinary Japanese, joining koalas and frill-necked lizards as a symbol of the land Down Under.
Plans for Aussie Bowl ‘87 started immediately.
The pattern was similar: that year’s Grand Finalists would meet later in Yokohama, a huge crowd would attend and Fuji and the VFL/AFL would make a killing.
That was the plan, but things didn’t quite work out that way.
Many players from Carlton had apparently been reluctant participants in the 1986 game, which came some six weeks after they had been defeated in the Grand Final and had hoped to be on holiday. There had, as hinted at in a much-later column from then Carlton star and future Victorian State Government Cabinet Minister Justin Madden, been some minor cultural clashes between the “easygoing” Aussies and “time obsessed” Japanese.
Even though the Japan match was moved back a week to accommodate the players’ post-season vacation plans and then Carlton President John Elliott made threats against reluctant participants, the Blues qualified by making the 1987 Grand Final (again against Hawthorn) but by then had already pulled out and been replaced by the Essendon Bombers, the Hawks’ other great rivals of the 1980s.
19861106 Aussie Bowl 86
More troubles followed.
A typhoon swept over the Kanto Region in the days leading up to the Oct. 25 match.
In the two days before the game, Yokohama had been pounded by torrential rain. Prices for the match were also steep, more than double the cost of a Grand Final ticket and about four times what it would normally cost to watch a game of baseball at the same stadium.
Regardless of Japan being awash with cash, the previous year’s novelty appeal had not been maintained despite the game being plugged by Romancing Yard, a theme song by Chage & ASKA, at the time one of Japan’s biggest acts.
Only about 13,000 turned up to watch, many of whom were left wondering whether Essendon had turned up to play as the Hawks flogged the Bombers by about 10 goals (nobody is quite sure what the actual final score was).
It seemed Aussie Rules would continue to try and cultivate the Japanese market, which then appeared poised to become the world’s largest.
Suntory Ltd., one of Japan’s largest brewers, would use Aussie Rules and Mark “Jacko” Jackson to promote its beers.

But, around about that time, the bean counters stepped in. Fuji found financing Aussie Rules to be unsustainable, even in an age when it was the norm to throw money around on losing causes. The VFL wouldn’t or couldn’t continue to pay the cost of promoting the Australian game in Japan. And that was just about that.
19871026 Aussie Bowl 87
That’s not to say there wasn’t a legacy. For Aussie Bowl ’87, two university teams formed to play a curtain raiser to the main clash. From that, a Japanese Aussie Rules league formed, centered on university students. The league, the Australian Football League Japan, remains to this day.
Aussie Bowl 86 TuckieIt also forms the basis for the Japan Samurais, the team that competes in the International Cup.
The league grows yearly on a tiny base, but it looks great! It has even contributed a player who vied for selection in high-ranked Australian football leagues beneath the national league almost a decade ago.
Ichiro Furudate, the ground announcer for Aussie Bowl ’86, remains a nightly presence on Japanese TV as the anchor for TV Asahi’s News Station.
Others weren’t so lucky.
Koichi Nakamura, lead vocalist and the face of J-Walk, which had done the theme for Aussie Bowl ’86 would see his career in tatters following multiple convictions for drug possession and a term behind bars.
Aussie Bowl 86 Theme SongMirroring that was a drug conviction for Aska from the Aussie Bowl ’87 theme song performers, Chage and Aska.
Roles the performers had played in proselytizing Aussie Rules were long forgotten.
Perhaps the closest Japan has come to having a role to play in contemporary Aussie Rules was Essendon visiting for a Buddhism-inspired pre-season trip in 2006.
Or, perhaps even more recently, there was former bad boy Brendon Fevola tattooing his wife’s name on his arm in katakana script.
But even Fevola has been off the AFL scene for a five years now.
But the halcyon days of Aussie Rules given prime-time airtime in Japan are now decades in the past and unlikely to ever arise again.
1986 Record Promotion
1987 Record Promotion

Australian Football’s Tokyo Area ‘Samurai’ Off to the World Cup



Australia rarely makes the news in Japan, so it’s interesting to see it on the front page of the Asahi newspaper June 4 evening edition.
The story is about Japan’s Aussie Rules team, the Samurais, who’ll be battling it out in the International Cup starting from June 8.
Japan has a really small, but thriving, Australian Rules competition, with two leagues (including several all-Japanese teams), the Eastern League, centering on Tokyo and surrounding areas, and the Western League, comprising Osaka and Nagoya.

Here’s an excerpt from the Asahi report:

サッカー・ワールドカップ(W杯)大会が迫るなか、「世界で最も激しい」というフットボールの世界大会も8月に開かれる。それってラグビー? いえいえ、オーストラリアンフットボール。豪州では国技と言われる大人気のプロスポーツだ。5大会連続で出場する日本代表も、追い込みに入っている。

A translation: Just as the soccer World Cup is about to hit us, another football world championship — this one promising to be the world’s toughest — is going to start in August. What’s it for? Rugby? Nope. Aussie Rules. It’s the national sport in Australia and a professional sport. Japan’s national team has taken part in the past five International Cups and it’s about to take part in the next one.

All Japan Samurais
AFL Japan
Japan Samurais Members

「国家を静止するレース」:競馬のための祝日

Fiorente wins the 2013 Melbourne Cup

Fiorente wins the 2013 Melbourne Cup

Fiorente wins the 2013 Melbourne Cup[/caption] 
先日、日本が「文化の日」があり、祝日となったが、今日(5日)は、オーストラリアが祝日だ。ある意味同じような文化の日を祝っていると言えるかもしれないが、オーストラリアの場合、その「文化」が競馬だ!
 世界中にG1レースが大体100件ある中半分以上日本で開催され、間違いなく日本が競馬大国となっている。しかし、日本でも競馬のために祝日がない。
 だが、オーストラリアでは11月第一火曜日は「メルボルン・カップ・デー」とし、開催地フレミントン競馬場があるメルボルン市内が休日となっている。他州など、仕事があってもレースが開始する午後2時40分からの数分間ほぼ全国の人々が競馬を見て大盛り上がり。よっぽどのことじゃない限り、同レースを見て、職場などで掛け合う習慣があり、全国のほぼ全員の注目を浴びる。あまりにも影響が大きくメルボルン・カップは「国家を静止するレース」と呼ばれている。
 日本がメルボルン・カップと面白い歴史がある。初めて参戦したのは2005年だった。アイ・ポッパーが12着で終わった。しかし、翌年、3200メートル日本馬デルタ・ブルースとポップ・ロックが圧倒的に強く1・2着で争い、デルタ・ブルースが見事に優勝した。
 しかし、その直後、オーストラリアで「馬インフルエンザ」が発生し、日本馬のせいとされ入国制限が一層厳しくなった。以降、2010年のトウカイ・トリック以外、日本馬がレースしていない。

追伸:2013年メルボルン・カップが5日午後行ない、初女性調教師としてゲイ・ウォーターハウス氏のフィオレンテ(Fiorente)が優勝した!
Fiorente hands Waterhouse historic Melbourne Cup triumph