Toadfish and the AFL
Trip Start Jun 01, 2006
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"Bullshit - you can be mine"
I've just been re-reading the entry I posted earlier. It's a regular thing I do - I don't notice typos as I'm writing so I need to give it a few hours. I think there's a reason for this, which has something to do with rereading something you've only just written being replaced in your mind by the version that was in your head at the time. But that really isn't the point.
The point is, I noticed that it was the first entry I had done in around two and a half months... And that is just unacceptable in my book.
I have been letting down our regular, dare I say devoted readership, and although I can't address that by telling you a bunch of fascinating things, I can at least do another entry and tell you a few more things that have affected me recently.
Fore example - and this is not so much a claim to fame as it is merely one of the side affects of living in Melbourne - I'm now on first name terms with Ryan Maloney, who plays Toadfish in Neighbours. Bless him; he's coming to my leaving drinks next week.
I met him a couple of months ago when he came into the pub to promote his new Neighbours night. You see, for the first time the official (and shit) Neighbours night has some competition, as some of the 'key' cast members (and we're talking genuine 90s gold like Toadfish, Harold Bishop, Stefan Dennis and that Skye who was Joe Mangels' kid and has grown up to be hot) have told the official Neighbours night to kiss their ass and set up a new one in competition. For anyone reading this as a guide to Melbourne (and, regulars, it does happen every now and then), the new night is cheaper and - according to everyone we've sent there - a lot better.
ANYWAY, good old Toadie comes in every week or so to mingle in the pub, meet the backpackers from upstairs, do a few photos and let us know who's going to be down at their night next week. And love him or loathe him, I respect anyone who's more famous than I am willing to do their own legwork.
Although things are first-names-hunky-dory now, at the start it was a little different. He would phone me in the afternoon, and the conversation would go like this:
"Bell Inn, I mean Pint On Punt, Hello"
"Hi, it's Ryan Maloney, I was hoping it would be alright to pop down to the pub tonight?"
"It's not a problem?"
"I don't get it, are you barred or something?"
"No, no, it's..... er..... well... It's to do with the Neighbours night".
"Oh, right, yeah, we had Toadie off Neighbours down here last week".
"Yeah.... That's me".
"Ah. Shit. Sorry".
"I get that a lot".
And then I would walk around the pub with him as he worked the room, keeping a discreet distance but ready to step in whenever he was being smothered by some of our more 'individual' customers, like Mary, who's a fifty something year old psychopath who screamed her lungs horse and jumped on him when she first saw him. The first couple of times it would be a little awkward as I would lean in and say "I'm sorry to interrupt but.... Er.... Hang on a minute, had it a second ago.... Ah, fuck it, Toadfish off Neighbours is a very busy man and has to move on to the next group". It was an issue at first, but, you know, whaddayagonnado?
You really can't escape Neighbours if you're going to spend any time at all in Melbourne. It's their finest export, and their greatest tourist attraction. Although I hear Channel 5 has bought the rights so in ten years it'll be nothing more than a memory.
The other thing that is synonymous with Melbourne is AFL, or Aussie Rules Football, or, simply, 'Footie'.
This game is well known for being one of the most violent acts of thuggery every disguised as a sport in history. This reputation is not justified in any way, shape or form.
In fact, the game I relate AFL to the most is Netball, much to the chagrin of the customers in the pub that I tell my theory to, at every given opportunity. Cai and I, with an entourage of 10 or so other backpackers, went to the MCG to watch Collingwood lose to Port Adelaide a month or two ago, and it was just rubbish. A guy would kick a ball into the air, someone else would invariably fail to catch it, but if they did then nobody could tackle him and he was allowed to kick it again. So rather than a violent, fast game it was a slow, boring one. It really, really sucked ass.
I am still a devout Collingwood supporter, as Johnny and Fred at the pub are fans and the team has the reputation of having the worst fans in the entire league.
The reason AFL is such a big thing in Melbourne is simply that it used to be a Victoria only game. Of 16 teams, all of them used to be based in Victoria. Only after many years and lots of arguing have some teams moved away to other states to create a little interest. Still though, of the 16, St Kilda, Carlton, Collingwood, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, Geelong, Essendon, Hawthorn and Richmond are all based in Victoria.
So, for example, AFL news makes not just the last 20 pages of the paper but, invariably, also makes the front page (unless someone has thought of something new to say about David Hicks, obviously. Or maybe they've thought of a new way to say the same thing, which is just as good).
That's it for now - I just wanted to talk about Toadfish and AFL.