AFL satirist Titus O'Reilly gave this speech ahead of the Round 18 Sydney v Adelaide game at the SCG. It was at a pre game function and it was the week Adam Goodes didn’t play because of the booing. The emotion up there was one of white hot anger.
It’s terrific to be with you all here in Sydney today and in a fairly eventful week.
I’m also very happy this game is at the SCG but I do miss the rustic charm of the exposed metal bolts of ANZ Stadium.
I came up from Melbourne yesterday where there is obviously a lot of talk about Sydney at the moment.
I’ve always found the Sydney/Melbourne rivalry thing a bit strange.
After all they both have their attractions.
For example, you have the harbour bridge, an engineering and architectural triumph, we have a graffiti filled alley with a dumpster.
You have the Opera House, one of the great landmarks on the world, we have another graffiti filled alley but this one has a hard to find bar that seats just four people.
Being from Victoria and a consumer of only Melbourne media, I often have to be reminded that there are teams outside of Victoria.
The whole Victorian thing of supporting any Victorian club over an interstate one has always concerned me.
I feel pretty uncomfortable with any policy that requires you to be on Collingwood or Essendon’s side.
I was honoured to come speak to Sydney’s top supporter group and I’m told this group provides a lot of money to the Swans.
It must be nice to see your money going to a successful organisation that puts it to good use.
I’m a Melbourne supporter and that’s a bit like putting your money into an alpine fireplace.
There’s an immediate feeling of warmth, but it’s quickly over and suddenly you realise it’s all gone up in smoke.
So when I was asked to speak here, I thought I should brush up on my knowledge of the Swans.
I wanted someone who’d spent time here and had flourished in this great city.
Someone who had an affinity with Sydney and the Swans.
So I caught up with Eddie McGuire.
Now I wasn’t sure if he’d have an opinion or be willing to share his thoughts.
You may not know this but he’s a guy who usually likes to work quietly behind the scenes.
Speaking publicly is not usually his style but I thought it was worth a try.
So I sat down with him and said ‘what do you think of the Sydney Swans?’
So Eddie carefully explained to me how you northern clubs had secret underground laboratories.
These laboratories use the DNA of great AFL players to create ‘super footballers’ who are then trained in your unfair academies.
Really, Eddie thinks anything North of the Murray is basically North Korea.
Poor Collingwood, with their massive membership, financial clout and wall-to-wall media coverage.
It must be tough.
It’s always been a bit strange to me the controversies surrounding the Swans.
I’ve said this long before I was asked to speak here, so it’s not playing to the crowd, although I’m never above that.
For instance, the Cost of Living Allowance.
Basically, the argument has been; ‘how dare Sydney do something they’re legally allowed to do.’
In fact, it was what you were told to do.
And that’s the worst type of cheating! When you’re not cheating at all.
As if the other clubs would have said no to any advantage they can get their hands on.
What really upsets people though is the Swans have been successful in managing their club.
You’re doing all those things we said they could do and being smart about it.
How dare you!
Don’t you know that good administration in an AFL club just highlights how bad it is in others?
No wonder they’re upset.
Why couldn’t you have just recruited Karmichael Hunt?
No one would be angry with you then.
Hasn’t the Gold Coast Suns been a wonderful experiment?
It’s like a bad reality TV show.
Let’s get a bunch of eighteen year olds, stick them on the Gold Coast and then put an NRL player in with them.
How could that possibly go wrong?
Putting a sport team on the Gold Coast is like invading Russia in the winter, it never works.
I mean even Clive Palmer couldn’t get it to work.
Anyway, Sydney’s real mistake was stealing Buddy from GWS.
That basically ruined the AFL’s entire marketing strategy for the next five years.
The AFL had learnt the hard way that NRL players can’t play AFL, which is not surprising to anyone that has say, seen both games before.
So they needed Buddy at the Giants. They were desperate.
And you all ruined it by obeying the rules and putting together a better offer.
The pain lingers for them as Buddy has been a massive success at the Swans, especially once he realised what side of the road you drive on up here.
It’s why the AFL absolutely had to stop you trading last year for no real reason.
The AFL had no choice but to send a very clear message that following their rules is no protection from arbitrary decisions.
You have to remember, not long ago the AFL fined Melbourne for being found NOT GUILTY of tanking.
Now everyone knows they did it, although subsequent years have shown that might just be their resting state.
The AFL could have found Melbourne guilty, but it was more fun to say they were not guilty and then fine them anyway.
So the AFL can punish you whether you did something wrong or if you are completely innocent.
So basically, being in the AFL is like being in a marriage.
Anyway, I thought I should address the big issue at the moment, which has dominated the media this week.
Every one can see the big impact it is having on your club;
That issue of course is the large amount of stupid people in Australia.
We seem to have as much stupidity as we have iron ore.
If only China needed idiots; we could be richer and solve this problem.
You may have noticed that I’m a middle-aged white man and that makes me the perfect person to talk to you about racism.
If there’s one voice missing from the discussion surrounding Adam Goodes and the experience of being indigenous in Australia; it’s that of white men.
To be honest, white men are always a bit intimidated by any man who can dance.
Have you seen a white Australian male dance?
It usually involves both feet being rooted to the spot and a clear lack of understanding of what to do with their hands.
Spilling a drink while doing it is often a key feature.
What would be funny about this, if it wasn’t all so very sad, is grown adults saying they were intimidated by this dance.
Although that’s easy for me to say.
I wasn’t in the crowd and can only imagine how sharp that spear was.
What has been great this week, is having some of Australia’s great public intellectuals weighing in on the debate.
There’s been ex-footy players, AFL journalists, Shane Warne, Jason Akermanis and Sam Newman to name a few.
It’s just a shame no one asked Dawn Fraser for her opinion.
That would have meant we’d collected the entire set of ill informed sports people.
Obviously, these are the public intellectuals you want leading a debate on the complex and sensitive issue of race.
They all bring a deep personal understanding of what it’s like growing up indigenous in Australia.
What I do love about this debate is the arguments you get from those who want to keep booing.
Like this is what this is all about, not that it’s having a profound effect on a real person.
They honestly talk about their ‘right to boo’.
That must be in the Bill of Rights Australia doesn't have.
I actually had someone on Twitter tell me their right to boo Adam Goodes is protected by the First Amendment.
The first amendment! Where do I start with that?
We’re dealing with really stupid people here.
I mean who’s going around booing people all the time anyway?
Do these people ever boo people when they’re not in the safety of a crowd?
Just walk up to people and start booing?
I don’t know, maybe at their Reclaim Australia rallies they do.
That said, there have been a lot of times I’ve been stuck in a meeting and just wanted to start booing.
Any of you whose been in a board meeting would know that feeling.
Perhaps corporate Australia would be better off if you could boo the next consultant who suggesting something ridiculous and expensive.
I'm not saying everyone who boos Adam Goodes has been doing it for racist reasons.
Who truly knows?
But when a bunch of racists are doing it too, maybe that’s a sign you should stop.
It’s like if you have a long held opinion on a topic and then suddenly Brian Taylor starts saying the same thing.
You would immediately start questioning your own thinking on the topic and would definitely stop expressing it publicly.
If this was just about football and not racism, you would see others being booed.
I mean how does Adam Goodes get booed and James Hird doesn’t?
I guess racists have always had a soft spot for the blonde hair and blue eyes.
I like to focus on the fact that despite this horrible situation emerging, there are a lot of powerful and very good people on the right side of this debate.
We will win this.
We have what’s right on our side and the tide of history is flowing our way.
It’s just a shame that a great Australian has to go through this for Australia to wake up to itself.
I’m truly hopeful Adam is strong enough to handle all this but we need good people being vocal and lending him support.
Now moving on, if you listen to the media at the moment, you’d think Australian Rules football is about to fall off a cliff.
I just want to go on the record and say I actually quite like footy and I don't believe it's on the verge of imminent collapse.
I’m told saying that can lose me the media gigs I have.
But congestion is not going to end the game and we’re not going to be overrun by ‘soccer’ as the media breathlessly predict.
There’s actually a lot of good going on in footy at the moment.
Just this week, I watched a wonderful documentary on some Essendon players who travelled to India to spread the code over there.
Did anyone else see it?
For those that didn’t it was mostly just them clearing customs before they got on the return flight but still very powerful.
Basically it was like watching an episode of border security.
Still, a great initiative.
AFL is just so big in India at the moment so sending about five players for a clinic should push it over the top there.
Last night, we also had a great game with Richmond defeating Hawthorn in a game that has huge ramifications for the finals.
It means the Hawks can be beaten and I think that Sydney, Richmond, West Coast and Fremantle are all still chances.
Your guys have to step up. We need the Swans firing.
We can’t have Hawthorn win three in a row. It’s a world I don’t want to live in.
I can’t stand the idea of there being any more happy Hawks fans.
Then we have today’s game.
This should be a good one.
Today’s opponent, the Crows, are a team that we all have a fair bit of sympathy for at the moment.
It must be terrible to be living with the threat of Mick Malthouse coaching you.
They have a lot of good players Adelaide and we’ll soon know if Patrick Dangerfield is going to stay.
What a lucky guy, choosing between living in Geelong or Adelaide.
That’s the glamour of AFL for you.
So good luck today.
A Swans victory would be a wonderful end to a frankly horrible week.
Let’s hope your boys get it done.
Titus O'Reilly writes footy and sport articles, including his hilarious 'The Weekly Knee-Jerk Reaction' that are a must for sport lovers.