Many moons ago, while I was working as the local paper’s tyro sports journalist, a bit of a war had broken out between the football codes - or so I had thought.
Soccer/football had just launched its national competition, the old NSL (National Soccer League), rugby league was rationalising its inner city clubs, and the AFL was talking about expansion to Sydney, of all places.
That was the Swans of course, and it happened not long after, which was around the same time Canberra came into the old NSW rugby league competition.
In the column, I speculated as to who may emerge victorious from such a war for the hearts and minds of Sydney’s sport fans.
Yes, I know, how young and silly of me. Not that it did any harm, but it was a very naive proposition I foisted on to my poor, unsuspecting readers.
Looking back from the vantage point of the end of 2012 — My God, where did the years go? — I can see even more clearly that it’s true to say of all of life that the more things change the more they stay the same.
Let’ see where we’re at in this, the twelfth year of the third millennium: Soccer/football has a new national league, the A-League, the giant that the AFL has become has just expanded a little more into Sydney with the addition of a second team, the Greater Western Sydney Giants. Rugby league, despite years of setbacks caused by never ending off field scandals, has just scored a $1 billion plus TV deal for the next five years and is cashed up like never before.
Sounds like the recipe for a football codes war, doesn’t it?
Well, if living on to my sixth decade has taught me anything at all, it’s that there’s no football war, just marketing battles to grab a bigger slice of the pie.
Not only that, I have come to view the existence of all of the football codes here in Sydney as a blessing for the pure sports fan.
It’s about seeing the glass as half full, or looking on the bright side of what seems like a downside.
So, that’s Sydney, much better than other places such as Melbourne, you poor buggers, where if you don’t follow the AFL, you may as well pack up and leave if you like instead soccer or rugby (as they call both league and union south of the border, the ignoramuses). Some reckon Melbourne’s one football religion situation is worse than in the UK and Europe, where soccer is king and queen rolled into one. There at least they tolerate a bit of rugby union, and even rugby league in the north of England.
In Melbourne, it’s either the AFL way or the highway.
So, when it comes to sport choice, especially football, if you are lucky enough to live in Sydney, it feels like you’ve died and gone to heaven. And we don’t want to rub it into Melbourne anymore by mentioning world’s greatest harbour, Bondi beach and magnificent weather. Yes, we do, yes we do.