This, like many of the things read on this website, is a true story: When I was but a nipper (we’re talking in the days of black & white) the bloke who taught me cricket at school (Graham Walder, if you must know), when asked about the impending Ashes series said: “If England bat first and score 738 for 4 declared, then bowl Australia out for 39 and 41, it has been a bloody great game.”
Mr Walder said those words to me in 1978, at a time when we were actually bloody good at cricket (and thankfully, when the Aussies were bloody awful.) And that, pretty much, was how we were brought up to eye the Aussies: They must be beaten at all costs, and when (or normally if) you have them down, put your foot on their throat and keep pressing.
I’m here to tell you that there were many years in my youth and young adulthood when that wasn’t the case. It was Australia who held the whip hand and the Poms who were complete and utter rubbish. A rabble. A bunch of Galahs, you might say. It was a dark, dark time for those of us who followed the game and who had to painfully acknowledge that the colonials were actually in the ascendency. It hurt.
Things have gone full circle, and it’s now The Motherland who are supreme rulers – winning three of the last four competitions. And don’t we love it ? When Michael Vaughan‘s 2005 side first beat…scratch that… TROUNCED the touring Australians, the much-loved English press wasted no time, missed no opportunity and showed no mercy in their reporting of the hapless Aussies. An English victory hadn’t happened for many a long year and the press (and some bloggers) set about their task with vengeful gusto.
And the sport of laughing at the colonials has spread to the Olympic Games.
If there was a 100m Aussie-Bashing competition, “Team GB” would secure a 1-2-3, taking all medals. It’s difficult to open a paper, browse a news site or turn on a TV Channel without someone squealing with delight at the poor performance of the Guys and Gals in Green and Gold. Led, of course, by The Daily Mail and Seb’s own news outlet, T’BBC, the cries of “What’s Happened to the Aussies?” is louder than a Brit crowd cheering Jess Ennis.
Things get worse. If there’s one country Australians hate losing to it’ll be Britain. Unless its New Zealand. Even the Kiwis are doing better than their Tasman neighbours. At time of writing the All Blacks have 3 golds to the Aussies’ 2. This hasn’t gone down well. When New Zealand reached 10th place in the medals table, official Australian Olympic broadcaster Channel 9 reportedly wiped New Zealand off their top 10 Olympic medal table TV on national television, showing only the top 9.
And it’s not just the British Press – the Aussies own have been having a go.
Why don’t we have papers over here like that ? Oh, right, we do.
In the pool there was not a single Aussie individual Gold medal, just a relay win. In 2008 they’d come home with a tucker bag-full of ’em. Some Aussie journos have suggested their athletes lack conviction. You might say that it would be a first for there to be an Aussie without a conviction, but you would be being cruel and historically incorrect.
The Sydney Daily Telegraph decided to combine both Aussie and Kiwi medal totals , calling the new state ‘Aus Zealand’ which ranked ninth in the medals table, still behind Kazakhstan but above the likes of Belarus and Cuba.
Things will improve for our cousins. They are sure to win gold through hurdler and leading lemon-sucker Sally Pearson (unless, that is her face splits asunder should she break into a smile). Perhaps she’s nervous. Perhaps she just isn’t Michelle Jennecke. We can’t all be, love.
With the British medal total looking to break all records (which, after all is what is supposed to happen when you host the games) other nations are seeking explanations, looking for excuses. Aussie press are moaning about the huge Lottery Fund-led cash insertion to Team GB. Quite right. That’s how we felt when you lot were useless in the 70s and decided to inject wads of cash into all sports and set up academies. We learned what to do from you lot.
The French are insinuating that the wheels on our bikes are somehow illegal, as we hide them away after every cycle race. Well of course we do. If history has taught us anything, it’s not to share our secrets with you lot or the Yanks. Churchill had to pawn our best stuff and secrets to save the nation, without so much as a “Thanks, Bud”. We don’t have to do that any more.
US coaches questioned the validity of a great win by a Chinese 15 year old swimmer, Ye Shiwen, querying how one so young could win so well without the use of stimulants. Oddly when their 15-year-old Katie Ledecky produced the second fastest 800 metres freestyle in history to take gold the silence was…er…golden. It won’t be long before Mo Farah will be accused of something by someone, I’m quite sure.
The wheels (legal wheels) seem to be coming off the British Gold Dispenser as Athletes go crook, runners under-perform or even fail to turn up. But that’s ok. We’ve won lots. You lot have a couple. Go on, help yourself, mate. We don’t want to be greedy. And we’re uncomfortable being so good anyway.
By four years time in Rio it will all be very different. Normal service will resume. You’ll remember how to swim, and we’ll remember how to lose, or at least beat you and apologise for doing so – promising it won’t happen again. But I think we can finally dispense with the tag of Whinging Pom, don’t you ?