THIS IS A COMMUNITY SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FROM NICKO PLACE TO ALL MELBOURNE HOCKEY FANS
Okay, Melbourne hockey fans. We need to make one thing clear as we head into this giddily exciting weekend of finals at the Icehouse with the ‘Stangs and Ice in contention for the Goodall Cup.
You need to pick a side.
I don’t want to hear any of this ‘I just hope one of the Melbourne teams can do it’ crap.
I don’t want to hear: ‘Oh, you know, I know a few guys in the Mustangs and I have a few of my coaches playing for the Ice so, you know …’
I don’t even want to overhear: ‘It’s just great for the overall sport in Melbourne that we have both teams in the finals.’
I don’t want to hear any of that.
Choose a side.
And barrack as hard as you humanly can. Until that side is eliminated or wins the whole enchilada.
And then celebrate or seethe.
I have been aware, over the past couple of years, of hockey folk who openly confess to liking both the Melbourne teams. I’m not going to name names but they’re out there. The shift from the Ice to the Mustangs of the Hughes boys, and Martin Kutek, muddied the issue of barracking for a lot of Next Level enthusiasts. I get that. But I’m saying it’s time to choose.
Red wire or blue wire?
You’ll have a lot more fun this weekend if you foam at the mouth, one way or the other.
One of the fundamental joys of sport, from where I sit, having watched A LOT of it, as a journo and an enthusiast, is the sheer joy that can only be found through complete emotional commitment.
In the AFL, you cannot barrack for Essendon and Collingwood on Anzac Day. (Screw them both. Go Tigers!)
In the NHL, you can’t watch the Red Wings versus the Blackhawks, while barracking for both sides.
It’s fine not to care which team wins, but that makes you an ‘unaligned hockey fan’, not a true Detroit or Chicago fan. (Let’s Go Red Wings!)
Or, if you watch Federer v Nadal and just enjoy the game, you’re a generic tennis fan, not a Federer or Nadal fan. (Go Fed!)
It’s Holden OR Ford at Bathurst.
It was Ali OR Frazier.
It’s Australia OR England in the Ashes.
I could go on …
Trust me, I know of what I type. This is coming from a long-suffering Richmond supporter in the AFL; a fan who still clings to those dusty memories of being 15 years old and at my first ever Grand Final when the Tigers won the flag in 1980, of yelling and chanting myself hoarse, of feeling the delirium of premiership success after going to almost every game that season. And never wavering in my support through all the dark, bleak, losing years since. I’m still a true believer and can’t wait to finally sing the song as they raise the cup, whether that’s in a year or 20. (And yes, I am extremely aware that it might not be in my lifetime.)
But I digress. I’m actually trying to do you, my hockey brothers and sisters, a favour by demanding you choose a side this weekend and ride that choice to glory or despair. It’s the only way to achieve the true bliss of Goodall Cup glory.
Me? I’m a Melbourne Ice fan. Through and through. I deeply want The Beard, Army, Tommy, Bacsy and all the other Ice players to raise that cup one more time. I’ve never actually seen an Ice championship in the flesh and I want Sunday to end that bizarre quirk.
In fact, let’s get shit started and rev into the weekend.
I DON’T want those frauds, the Mustangs, to win for several reasons:
- They’re a Johnny Come Lately team with no history or tradition and they play rockabilly and other bizarre musical acts before home games.
- Their mascot thinks he’s a horse but he’s not a real horse.
- Joey and Vinnie Hughes used to play for the Ice but are now the enemy so I’m trying to come up with taunting chants that rhyme with ‘Hughes’. (Blues? Clues? Fuse? News? … this is almost too easy)
- The Mustangs fans were so insufferable in their smugness and gloating after the team somehow beat the Ice in a derby earlier this season that I naturally want them to eat some crow.
- Did I mention the horse mascot who shakes hands with people? Not hooves. Hands.
Sure, I have friends who are diehard Clippyclop fans and I’ll be grudgingly happy for them if they win. Jess Kirwan, for example, I fully respect your one-eyed passion for the team. And a shout out to the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, who I have always admired and respected as a hilarious and interesting group.
I’ll be happy for you guys if the team wins. But I don’t want that to be this weekend, because my team is also playing.
As for the reborn Canberra, well, I guess victory would be one of the biggest achievements ever for crowdfunding as a concept but I still struggle to get excited about anything to do with Canberra, especially while politicians are as crap and vision-free as they are on all sides of the House at the moment.
And the Ice-Dogs? Meh, they won it last year so that’s enough success for them and anyway, there’s that whole bullshit Sydney versus Melbourne rivalry that I don’t usually buy into but this weekend, why not? Plus, I fundamentally don’t believe dogs can skate. I’ve seen my labradoodle skitter helplessly while trying to run on the wooden floor boards at home, and I’m pretty sure she’d be even more crap on a white frozen sheet.
So there.That wraps it up for the quasi contenders.
Go Ice go!
Local fence-sitters: pick up ONE scarf, right now.
Paint your face blue, red and white OR black, white and gold.
Be prepared to cry with your chosen team or celebrate wildly.
If it does happen to be a Clippyclop-Ice grand final, and it’s a lopsided scoreboard, there’ll be NO sneaking off to the Icehouse toilets at the end of the second period on Sunday to change colours and clothing. You hear me? There’ll be none of that! I might even check. And I’ll do a sweep of the toilets near the Bradbury Rink as well, in case you’re thinking of getting sneaky. I will. I’ll do it. Don’t think I won’t. You’ve been warned.
Jockeys don’t change horses mid-race in the Melbourne Cup. And neither should we. Which is why sport is torturous and fun.
Good. Then see you there.