Yes, yes, yes I know. At the very mention of the word “Australian sport”, there will those of you grazing in these rather more intellectual pages who will identify with the great Fran Leibowitz: “When it comes to sports I am not particularly interested. Generally speaking, I look upon them as dangerous and tiring activities performed by people with whom I share nothing except the right to trial by jury.”
But stay with me anyway. For you see sports fans, and the rest of you (sniff) this is not just another week in the history of Australian sports. For this, friends, this, as Paul Keating might remark, is “the one that brings home the bacon”. Finely sliced English bacon, to be precise.
A little history first. See, back in the early days of colony life when the white folk fancied themselves as England by the sea, neath the Southern Cross, there was never any question of beating a real English champion in a sporting contest. For we were just colonials and they were, well, they were the superior English.
But that all changed on Tuesday, June 27, 1876, when a 25-year-old Sydney sculler by name of Edward Trickett took on the Champion of the Thames, Joseph Henry Sadler, racing for over a mile in a sculling race and beat the brute motherless!
Three weeks later when the news got through to Australia, the Herald went big with the story in the afternoon edition of July 19, 1876. “This is the first time that the champion of England has been beaten by a competitor who has not been a native of the British Isles, and the fact that this victory has been won by a native of this colony cannot fail to be regarded with pride by every citizen of NSW [and] rejoice in it as some proof that the Anglo-Saxon race has not deteriorated in physical stamina by translation to the Southern Hemisphere.”
When Trickett actually set foot back at Circular Quay later in the year, Sydney completely lost its nut. He was greeted by a crowd of 25,000, and though a carriage with horses awaited, the horse were cast aside so the cheering Sydneysiders could haul him up to Punchs Hotel on the corner of King and Pitt streets where they partied all night long.
Because it was about a lot more than mere sport. Somehow, in the very marrow of our bones it was a sign of what an advanced people we must be to firstly produce champions like Trickett and have them beat the best that perfidious England could throw at us, just as theyd thrown us here in the first place! (Yes, somewhere in our psyche, there was something about giving England one back in the eye for what theyd done to us.)
And here is the exceedingly strange thing. When it comes to beating England in a sporting contest, even 150 years on, not only is that feeling in the marrow of our bones still there, but it unifies us.
True – and I am not making this up – there really are one in four Australians who passionately believe we must stay with a system of government which sees a family of literally born-to-rule English aristocrats sitting atop us. And yes, half of us still believe, amazingly, that our own flag should bear the British flag for perpetuity. But even the most rabid of monarchist flag-wavers – and heres a special hello to our former prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott – come good when it comes to beating England at sport, and want nothing more than to see England destroyed on the pitch, on the tennis or netball court, in the waters you name it.
Which is why this week, take a peek, our cup doth runneth over as never before. In an extraordinary alignment of the stars, on Thursday the Australian one-day cricket team will take on England at Edgbaston – and thrash them – in the semi-finals of the World Cup. ORead More – Source