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The undoubted major sport story of the week was Brendon Julian’s televised announcement of a new perpetual prize for Test cricket competition between the West Indies and Australia, “the Sir Wank Forrell trophy.”
Presumably the previous trophy, which honoured Sir Frank Worrell, will now be retired.
But Rugby League’s State of Origin II at the MCG was anything but small potatoes.
It featured shock revelations by everybody adjacent to a microphone that (a) Melburnians will turn out in numbers for major sporting events, and (b) that the MCG is useful for this purpose. It’s little short of astounding what you can learn from television.
Nine’s commentator Ray Warren got the inevitable reference to “this massive colosseum” away very early in proceedings, thus relieving those concerned about any creeping trend towards tinier colosseums.
Ray also observed tradition with his description of a second-half pass as “a shade forward” – seemingly Warren code for “like a quarterback rifling a ball 20 yards upfield”.
But the stand-out performer in State of Origin coverage was a man of very few words indeed, Andrew “Joey” Johns.
Nine’s Clint Stanaway had the pleasure of Johns’ company during a rather brave live cross during the evening news.
With both standing at ground level in what Ray may well have described as the “cauldron” of the MCG, Clint asked the former rugby league great, “Looking around, what do you think?”
Johns thoughtfully replied, “Well, it’s cold.”
Not too much later, Cameron Williams was charged with the responsibility of the pre-match scene-setting on the Nine coverage. “What makes it different?” he asked, regarding the MCG setting.
“Well, it’s not Sydney or Brisbane,” explained Johns.
Whatever else was interminable and florid in the preamble – and the lead-in seemed like it went for decades, and, indeed, for all we know may still be going – Johns wasn’t.
Parenthetically, imagine an international news service crossing to Johns as Godzilla rampages through Tokyo.
“Can you describe the amazing scenes for us there?” asks the news anchor.
“Well, it’s fairly cold, and it’s not Sydney or Brisbane,” responds Johns, as Godzilla bites an adjacent skyscraper in half.
Cue the news anchor quitting, to go into the hardware business like his mother always wanted. End scene.
Returning to AFL coverage, there seemed to be a focus on words that might have been better chosen.
“They just pulled the trigger on the substitute,” reported David King, solemnly, at West Coast v Essendon. It can be a harsh game, modern football.
And a half-time Foxtel highlight from St Kilda v Melbourne seemed to channel just a touch of Johns.
GERARD HEALY: “In a word, Bomber, will they win?”
BOMBER THOMPSON: “I don’t know.”
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