Category Archives: sport

Meanwhile, how unpredictable is Cricket, eh!

The second test in Adelaide versus the West Indies is such a contrast to the first in Brisbane!

Australia will be forced to re-write 107 years of history to win the second Test, after West Indies set a record chase of 330 runs on the final day at Adelaide Oval.

The highest successful fourth-innings chase at the venue was Australia’s 6 for 315 in 1902, and a similar feat beckons after the Windies were dismissed for 317.

The tourists added 33 to their overnight score of 8 for 284, and skipper Chris Gayle carried his bat to finish unbeaten on 165 after a splendid captain’s knock took the fight to Australia on day four.

Ravi Rampaul (14) and Kemar Roach (8) were the last men out for the Windies as Mitchell Johnson finished with a five-wicket haul of 5 for 103.

Doug Bollinger was Australia’s next best with 3 for 50, a total of 5 for 117 in his return to Test cricket, Shane Watson took 1 for 15 and Nathan Hauritz effected a run-out.


Right now Australia need 268 runs to win with 9 wickets in hand.

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Posted by on December 8, 2009 in Australia, Cricket, sport


Second Rugby League post in 24 hours!

Very uncharacteristic!

But first the local good news: the South Sydney Rabbitohs beat the premiership favourites 41-6 on Saturday. Sirdan was pleased.

Now the news with wider import: Hazem el Masri’s final day for the Canterbury Bulldogs.

After yesterday's game

After yesterday's game

More pics at Zimbio.

We won’t talk about the Cronulla Sharks – out of sympathy with my grand-nephews who are very sad today.


Great player, example, Australian… and Muslim

One Daily Telegraph (our most right-wing daily) reader notes on hearing of Hazem El Mazri’s retiring from Rugby League:

I teach in China, Italy and the UK, and when my students start talking about who my sporting hero is, I always say, without hesitation… Hazem El Masri. Not the greatest player, probably the greatest goalkicker, but more importantly, one of the greatest men on or off the field. A tribute to real Muslims, immigrants, loyalty, discipline, family values and the Bulldogs. You are a legend Hazem El Masri, we will miss you!

It is fair to say such an opinion is pretty much universal here in Sydney. See for example El Masri’s army salutes its inspirational leader.

El Masri’s popularity isn’t restricted to the boys who, like him, have Muslim backgrounds. He appeals to them all. Helal is a Muslim boy, as is nine-year-old Adam Abdulwahab. Eight-year-old Andrei Bakhos and eight-year-old twins Michael and George Tabet are not Muslims, but it makes no difference. They all love El Masri.

Most of them have met the Bulldogs winger because he gives so much of his spare time to the community and they enjoy the way he kicks goals from everywhere and scores tries, but perhaps more importantly they can tell he is a good person.

“I hope he wins the comp this year,” Andrei said. “He deserves that. I follow the Bulldogs. My dad’s a member of the football club, so we go to all the home games. Hazem’s my favourite player. I play wing or fullback, but I want to be a winger when I grow up.”

In the Brisbane Courier-Mail Mike Colman writes:

… Some want him to enter politics.

When I told my wife that she said, “Well, he’s got my vote” and for my wife to say that about a rugby league player, much less a Bulldog, is saying something.

Hazem and his wife were so delightful it was hard not to feel uplifted by the experience.

One thing summed him up perfectly. After Fatty Vautin had urged league supporters to get along to ANZ Stadium this afternoon to “say thank you” for all the pleasure he had given them over the years, Hazem insisted on having the last word.

“It’s not really about people saying thank you to me,” he said, “it’s about me saying thank you to them for all the support they’ve given me.”

The label doesn’t matter – league player, Bulldog, Muslim, human – it comes down to one thing: He’s one great role model.

Football great Steve Mortimer has this to say:

“It’s an absolute privilege to be mentioned in the same sentence as Hazem El Masri,” Mortimer said.

“For me, rugby league is the greatest game of all and it just seems with all the hardships we’ve been through, Hazem has been a shining light his entire career.

“He’s a silent hero, an unsung hero, who has played the most number of games for the Bulldogs and been a wonderful servant for rugby league.

“With his religion and his faith, he’s just an absolute role model not only as a player on the football field, but as an Australian citizen as well.

“I’m proud to say I know him.

“He’s a very humble man and an absolute star.”

And again: Man of God whose greatest deeds are done off the pitch.

There will be many fine things said about Hazem by footballers, coachers, pundits and the Premier in the coming weeks, but you get the feeling it all washes over the kid from Tripoli who made Sydney his home at age 10.

He’s playing for are the kids in blonde-brick apartment blocks around Bankstown and Punchbowl, the ones who attract police attention quicker than an Everlast hoodie.

Very few people can claim to have made a real impact on their community. But when tensions between Lebanese and Anglo Sydneysiders spilled into the streets during the Cronulla riots, it was Hazem who played the crucial role in bringing his community back from the brink. Unlike some Muslim clerics who should have known better, Hazem spoke the language of respect and not revenge. With hindsight, we all recognise things could have been so much worse without people like him.

When Hazem El Magic runs out on Sunday, we’ll honour a footballer, peacemaker, teacher and philanthropist.

And here he was on Stateline in 2004:

Here at Holroyd High School in Sydney’s west — a school with a large number of students who are refugees — he’s come to draw the winning raffle for a school fundraiser.

But his visit is more than just a celebrity appearance.

In this discussion with the school football team the conversation soon turns to one of the boy’s experience of being discriminated against for being Lebanese and Muslim.

HAZEM EL MASRI: The whole community suffers because of a small minority, you know, and what upsets you sometimes is that the culture and the religion and all of that doesn’t promote such a thing but we end up copping a fair bit against it.

I always say to people, “The best way to go about it is let your actions do the talking.”

You know, around the footy and that and a lot of the guys know anything happens outside I don’t get teased about it or I don’t — because they know the type of person I am, the lifestyle I’m living.

I’m trying to lead by example and show them that’s how it’s done, basically.

Hazam El Mazri and his family

Hazam El Mazri and his family

Sydney has been fortunate in having this man, his wife Arwa, and their family in our midst. From the man himself:

Kerry Stewart: How about Hazem el Masri.

Boys: Yes, he’s footy, best kicker in the world.

Kerry Stewart: Is he impressive, do you think?

Boys: Yes, yes.

Kerry Stewart: Why?

Mohammed Nurjaman: Because if you can get religion into the way of his other play, like he’s the only Muslim in the NRL, and he’s a good player, and he’s not there to show them that he’s Muslim, he shows that he plays good football.

Kerry Stewart: But I think he brings his religion to the game.

Boy: He brings religion to the game, yes.

Mohammed Nurjaman: You never see him in punch-ups. Yes, he always keeps it to himself. That’s what Muslims learn from their religion.

Hazem el Masri: Well look, I didn’t choose to be a role model. To me, I don’t like to sort of call that as a role model, I prefer to just to go out there and let my actions do the talking. I try to live a wholesome lifestyle. Early on, I had to take that stance of making sure this is what I’m about you know, the fasting, the praying, the eating Halal food for example, not drinking alcohol, the temptation of ladies, you name it, I try to have fun as well but everything within the limits. I love socialising with my friends and I love going out and I love spending time with my family and all that. But at the end of the day I’m my own person, I try to as you say, set the right example for these kids and hope that they can follow the same footsteps. And it’s a matter of as well, because all the misleading coverage and the generalising out there especially of the Muslim and the Lebanese community, that I’ve taken that stance to show everyone pretty much, that we’re not all the same, everybody’s got their bad and good in them….

Yes, his wife wears the hijab — her choice, not his, as she saw it as marking the next step in her religion: she adopted it about a year after her marriage, very much her own choice for her own reasons. (That was in an excellent Good Weekend profile of El Masri in this Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald — not online.)

The man — and indeed the family — is a living, breathing rebuttal of all that paranoia out there about the Muslims in our midst.

Finally, read A Winger and a Prayer – Transcript from Australian Story 2007.


Fifty years on – guess what, nothing is for ever!

4shs There’s not much wrong with sport over all at my old school (class of 1959) and former work-place, as a glance at the current High Notes shows. But guess what: sport isn’t everything, and I know the English Department was rather chuffed when SBHS outperformed Sydney Grammar in English in the HSC last year… And there are other achievements, as the photo on the right from the school’s website suggests.

Nonetheless, a large minority – and you may take large several ways – did in the past secure the school a reputation in Rugby which was highly prized, even if never a majority activity. The cultural cachet it attracted is for anthropologists to explain, but while many dedicated staff and friends of the school, and many gutsy if increasingly outclassed students, have done their best to maintain that particular tradition, the writing has been on the wall for at least a decade – though it should be pointed out the game does continue, even if somewhat diminished.

So we read today in the Sydney Morning Herald: Worst XV: Sydney Boys drop the ball after 100 years of rugby – except that curiously I had to go through the Melbourne Age to pick up the story online.

SYDNEY Boys High School’s chocolate and blue rugby jersey will be no more when the Greater Public Schools First XV competition kicks off this year.

Citing safety, the school has pulled its teams out of top-level competition for the first time in 103 years. Instead it will combine its teams with those of Sydney Grammar, competing in the Second XV and B-grade fixtures. Grammar will continue to play in First XV and A-grade fixtures.

For three years, Sydney Boys High has had disappointing rugby results, because of mismatches in size and ability with those of opponents. The Greater Public Schools rugby convener Mark Ticehurst confirmed that the one-sided results had added to the risk of injury to Sydney Boys High players.

In 2007 the school lost all seven of its matches, conceding 633 points and scoring only eight points. Last year it contested only one game, which it lost to St Joseph’s 112-0, before forfeiting its remaining six games. Mr Ticehurst said: "It was the safety issue that saw Sydney High withdrawing. It’s an opportunity to develop their rugby, and although they will still be in a very tough competition, the pressure is off them to perform at the First XV level."

Sydney Boys High is the only public school in the GPS and selects its students on an academic basis. It has traditionally been competitive in rugby, but its students have recently shifted to sports such as soccer.

Last year the school had only 32 players registered in its senior rugby ranks, compared with 79 who signed up for soccer…

Seems the GPS has made the necessary adjustments too, and they’d better watch out in football (the real one) and basketball, among much else… Not to mention Debating of course.

My own contribution to Rugby fifty plus years back was one term as a linesman at age 12, which did score me “took an interest in Rugby” on my school reference. Not much interest, I have to say… I wasn’t in the large minority.

Update 26 February

The Sydney High School Old Boys Union published a correction yesterday, which I have just caught up with. See High Rugby Update.

…As the School announced last year, High and Grammar will share rugby fixtures this year, with Grammar competing in First XV and A-team fixtures and High in Third XV and B-team fixtures.

The High v Grammar first grade match will take place as usual in the last round of the 2009 competition and it is possible that High may play some other GPS First XV teams in other rounds of the competition.

These changes have been temporarily introduced as part of our planned process of building the participation rates, skills, strength and success of rugby at High, from the junior school up.

All other sports at High will be unaffected by this temporary arrangement and there is no impact upon High’s status as a GPS school.

There has been a resurgence of rugby in High’s junior years. In 2008 we fielded four 13s teams for the first time in at least 10 years. Last year’s 16As defeated Newington to record High’s first win in an A v A match for many years.

We are planning to field 16 rugby teams this year compared with 13 teams last season. A coordinated, three-sessions-a-week coaching program for all junior rugby teams commenced last year and we now have about 15 old boys regularly coaching our teams…

There was truth in the Herald story, but it wasn’t really news, and the emphasis was skewed by the angle the journalist took. So “SYDNEY Boys High School’s chocolate and blue rugby jersey will be no more…” is more than a bit hyperbolic.

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Posted by on February 25, 2009 in Australia, Australia and Australian, education, generational change, memory, personal, Salt Mine, sport


Ian Thorpe — artist

Naturally I have blogged about Ian Thorpe before; why not, indeed? He seems a very interesting young man. I believe he has been studying at Macquarie University lately, and it appears he has also taken up art.


My Pain, My Gain by Ian Thorpe

According to the story linked to the picture above:

“When I was a kid I used to imagine within my body there were all these mini people and the people in my goggles were the control room,” Thorpe said. “They were kind of like lemmings and they used to power everything in my body. I was always whipping them to make them work harder. That was my form of visualisation.”

The painting will be sold with the proceeds going to “the Right to Play China charity, which works to enhance the health and education of young people through sport.”

I wonder what The Rabbit makes of all this? He did, after all, sit next to Ian Thorpe in class at one time…


Posted by on September 25, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, creativity, sport


Tales of war and peace as Games end – Latest News – News – Olympics –

“Tales of war and peace as Games end” is an upbeat story, but let’s focus there just for a moment… There are a few video highlights in my previous entry.

INTERNATIONAL Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said his most memorable Beijing Games moment was the embrace between a Russian and a Georgian athlete.

The war between the two nations over South Ossetia was sparked on the night of the opening ceremony as Russian President Vladimir Putin was in the VIP seats waving to his athletes and vigorously discussing issues with US President George Bush.

Since then there have been the magic moments of Michael Phelps’ eight gold medals, Usain Bolt’s world record, openly gay diver Matthew Mitcham winning gold and a first medal won by Afghanistan. But Rogge chose a political example as his defining Beijing story.

His message was that sport and politics were intertwined and that athletes could overcome adversity…

I’d like to revisit a magic moment from the end of the 2000 Olympics. 🙂

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Posted by on August 25, 2008 in Olympics 2008, sport


Well, so it’s over!

The quality of the first one isn’t great…

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Posted by on August 25, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, Chinese and China, Olympics 2008, sport


A perfect 10 – Diving – Sports – Olympics –

Matthew Mitcham is inspirational.


From teenage retirement to Royal Easter Show high-diver to gay icon to gold Olympic medallist; Matthew Mitcham’s journey to success has been an amazing roller-coaster.

Mitcham’s pulled off a stunning final dive in the 10 metre platform, scoring an incredible four perfect 10s, to steal the gold off favourite Chinese diver Luxin Zhou. Mitcham finished with 537.95 points.

It was a massive upset defeating the premiere and form Chinese divers Liang Huo and Luxin Zhou in front fierce home crowd.

Mitcham, 20, battled depression, retired in his teenage years after physical and emotional burn-out, then just nine months later resumed his sport in 2007. Last night his triumphant return to the sport was crowned with gold…

One person who has been by his side for the entire tumultuous and now brilliant journey is his partner, Lachlan, he was in the crowd last night courtesy of a Johnson & Johnson Olympic sponsorship.

Mitcham is one of only a few “out” gay athletes in Beijing and the first Australian to openly declare his homosexuality going into an Olympics. He’s been a cover-boy for gay magazines and featured on the cult gossip website accompanied by the tagline: “Yum. Yum. Yum! Can we have a piece of that????”…

His rocky road to the top was worth it Mitcham said last night.

“Coming back and doing everything I did was to win an Olympic gold medal. When I was training every single day, twice a day, eleven sessions a week, thirty hours a week before every single dive I said to myself; ‘I want to win an Olympic gold’.

“It was all worth it.”

Congratulations to all the Aussie medallists. I have a faint idea of what it’s like for friends and family. 🙂 I will certainly never forget the Munich Games of 1972…

For a nation of 20 million we really have done well.

Some too will be taking comfort from another story in today’s Sun-Herald: Arts give sport a run for its money.

A NIGHT at the opera or a day at the footy? Sydney is a city spoilt for choice as millions attend sports and cultural events each year, and an increasing number of people are giving their patronage to both.

In an average week in NSW, more than 100,000 people attend a top-line live sports event and more than 2million people play organised sport. Meanwhile, 25,000 people visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales, more than 9000 go to the Powerhouse Museum and more than 6000 watch a Sydney Theatre Company production…

At the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) an exhibition of the work of Australian photographer Fiona Hall attracted more than 100,000 people, putting the organisation on track for one of its biggest years on record…

We don’t so often hear about this other side of our country though. Thought it worth noting.

— Pic from the Sydney Sun-Herald.


Young Matty goes for Gold and GOLD ! from

…I don’t know if he remembers me… I met him about 4.5 years ago up in Brisbane, when I went to see him and a friend of mine compete in a diving competition. I remember having a long chat to him and introducing him to my Dutch friend Patrick, to whom Matty took quite a liking to. A few chats on MSN after that, but lost track of him later down the track.

Working at the IBC (International Broadcast Centre), I thankfully have the opportunity to view every feed from every venue, before they go to the broadcasters like Ch7 or NBC. So I’ve been watching Matty’s dives in unedited HD, and after watching his prelims tonight I think he has a very strong chance of giving the Chinese a run for their money…

Not wrong, Gus, obviously. 🙂

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Posted by on August 24, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, creativity, Gay and Lesbian, gay issues, inspiration, Olympics 2008, sport


I have taken no (zero, zilch, nada) interest in the IPL competition…

…because I rather like Cricket.

If I wanted to see to a circus I would go to a circus. If I wanted to watch World Championship Wrestling I would… There are better things on television at more convenient hours, and not on Channel Ten, which also brings you various other prime examples of Reality Television. Etc.

Nonetheless I was amused by this post on Life Is a Street Car Named Desire.

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Posted by on April 28, 2008 in Cricket, sport, TV, weirdness


AFL for peace in the Middle East

It’s one of those human interest stories (this one in the sports section) that you might just pass over, but I regard it as really significant: Teamwork goes for goal: peace.

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Posted by on December 27, 2007 in Australia, current affairs, faith and philosophy, humanity, interfaith, Israel, politics, sport


Master and commander at last

This is what has been exciting us here in South Sydney lately.

A RELENTLESS 12-week campaign by Peter Holmes a Court – and the dramatic last-word intervention of the actor Russell Crowe – swayed die-hard South Sydney supporters to accept a $3 million privatisation offer at an extraordinary general meeting yesterday.

The bid scraped across the line. With a 75 per cent majority required, the suitors won 75.8 per cent of the 3936 votes accepted – a margin of only 30 votes.

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Posted by on March 20, 2006 in friends, local, Lord Malcolm, Sirdan, sport, Sunday lunch