Posts Tagged ‘Darwin’

Casuarina v Litchfield, Saturday 9th April 2016, 12.30pm

July 7, 2016

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All of the Darwin area local football leagues start up again in April and this game was the first in the Women’s League.

Despite the lunchtime start, Jen and I had plenty of time to pay a visit to the Crocodylus Park on the outskirts of Darwin, which as you might have suspected, is a park full of crocodiles. If you’ve ever been to Gatorland in Florida, it’s a bit like that, although you couldn’t feed the inmates with raw sausages at Crocodylus in the way that you can at its American counterpart. Possibly because sausages, or ‘snags’ as they call them over here are too highly regarded in Australia to be lobbed at reptiles.

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We did watch a keeper feeding the crocs and we got to hold a small one with its mouth taped up, so it was a worthwhile morning. They had other stuff too, a few lions, some dingoes and a colony of meerkats. I could watch meerkats all day.

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We had to pay ten dollars to watch the women’s match which is probably the first time that either of the teams had played in a game with an admission charge. It was because the game was taking place on the Larrakia pitch nr 2, which shared an entrance gate with the main pitch and which was hosting the final game in the East Timor Cup later that day.

One team was in red and the other in black and white squares. I should really have asked someone which team was which, but to be honest, I wasn’t interested. The black and white team were the stronger and in the first twenty minutes or so the ball was rarely in their half.

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I counted eleven spectators, including a bloke who was videoing proceedings and so I suspect had some sort of connection to one of the teams. If not, he was a sucker for punishment as it was bad enough having to watch the game live, never mind the thought of watching it all again at home.

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The Number 2 pitch backed onto the main stadium and whilst you could have watched the game from the rear of the big stand facing the other way, a small ‘bus shelter’ stand was provided. It probably held fifty, which was more than ample for today’s attendance.

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The red keeper made a couple of decent saves before the black and whites went a goal up. I’d had enough before we even got to half-time as the standard was probably poorer than any game I’ve ever seen.

No shame in that though and it’s good to see people enjoying themselves. For half an hour so at least anyway.

Boxing at Darwin, Saturday 27th February 2016

June 28, 2016

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There’s not much goes on in Darwin. It doesn’t tend to be included when bands are arranging their tour schedules and the sport is local rather than national level.

I was therefore quite pleased when I saw a night of boxing planned, particularly when I read that it featured a bout for the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Really? In Darwin? Well, yes and no. It was for a heavyweight title, but that of the WBF.

It’s hard to keep track of all the champions these days but as belts go the WBF strap is in Bank of Princess Susy territory. I think Audley Harrison had it for a while and maybe even ‘Aussie’ Joe Bugner. They were definitely high points for the organisation though and this promotion was matching boxers with world rankings of 104 and 211 respectively.

Still, it’s a night out and with our $125 dollar tickets Jen and I got seats on the front row of the banked seating, just behind the tables of people scoffing steak and prawns.

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If the headline fight promised little, the undercard delivered less. It was all heavyweights and the first bout appeared to be between two blokes who had just left the pub. The one with the bigger belly was nicknamed ‘The Knife’, something which I’m sure must have caused some trepidation for his opponent.

‘The Knife’ was less keen on fighting than he was on, say, chopping vegetables and he kept falling to the canvas whenever the other fella  aimed a punch in his direction. Eventually the ref could take no more and stopped proceedings on the three knockdown rule.

Fight two featured a baldy bouncer who had so many folds of fat on the back of his head that it looked like his brain was escaping. He also had little desire to stick around with someone trying to punch him in the chops and whilst he complained bitterly when the ref stepped in you could tell that his mind was already on a shower and a beer.

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Next up was an aboriginal bloke who seemed to be fighting in underwear boxer shorts rather than boxing boxer shorts. He also just wore normal trainers. Despite his lack of proper gear he seemed quite good. Unfortunately he looked to have been matched against someone twice his size and the other bloke just pushed down on him until he wore him out.

Fight four had an international flavour to it with Clarence Tillman from New Orleans fighting what might have been a Russian bloke.The skinny Russian didn’t have much of a punch on him but it was sufficient to cause Tillman, who had bigger tits than most of the ring girls,to quit in his corner.

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The penultimate bout was for the Australian Heavyweight Championship. It was won by Willie Nasio who looked a class above his determined but limited opponent. I reckon Nasio, despite his relative inexperience would have coped easily with either of the headlining heavyweights.

And so to the main event.  Peter ‘the Chief’ Graham from Australia against an American, Julius Long. Forty and thirty-eight years old respectively, it had probably been a while since either had dreamed of holding the Heavyweight Championship of the World.

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Long, at an inch over seven feet tall, had an obvious reach advantage and Graham found it hard to get through to him. One lunge caused a clash of heads opening up a cut on the Australian’s head which a few rounds later was deemed severe enough for the fight to be stopped. The cut was ruled accidental and so it went to the cards. Graham was declared the winner.

I had Graham a point ahead at that stage, as did one of the judges. The other two officials had him four and five rounds in front respectively.

Whilst the majority of the crowd got the result that they had been hoping for, the confusing finish and the scoring that didn’t reflect the closeness of the fight caused a bit of an uproar. Peter Graham calmed things down by offering a re-match but I’d be surprised if it happens. I’ll be especially surprised if it happens in Darwin.

Boxing at Darwin, Sat 17th October 2015, 7pm

December 25, 2015

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One of the difficulties of living and working in Darwin is finding stuff to do on a Saturday. I don’t get home from work until mid-afternoon and at that point I’m keen to pack as much into my one-day weekend as I can.

I wasn’t too fussed about returning to the Tio stadium for some more Aussie Rules football, or as it’s more simply known over here, ‘footy’. However, I’d read in a mid-week newspaper that there was some boxing going on so we thought we’d give that a go instead.

The venue was the Portuguese and Timorese Social Club in nearby Marrala. Apparently Portugal owned East Timor for about three hundred years up until the mid-seventies. Perhaps the social club is for those who hark back to the days of colonial rule. Marrala is a quiet area and $35 in a taxi outside of Darwin. We paid another $25 for tickets on the door.

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As we were there well before the first bout there were plenty of tables and thankfully most of them had fans above them. It’s warm in Darwin, although as people delight in telling me, nowhere near as warm as it’s going to be.

At one end of the building was a bar and unlike at the footy it was selling full strength beers. I asked the barman for a recommendation and he advised a Corona. I hadn’t come all this way to drink Mexican beer though, although in light of my surroundings I might have been tempted by something Timorese. Maybe even a Portuguese Superbok to bring back memories of the Boro’s trip to Lisbon ten years earlier.

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Fortunately the bar also had plenty of Australian beers, all around the 4.7% mark. I can’t remember which ones I tried but they all went down better than the 3.5% selection I’d sampled at the TIO Stadium the previous week.

There were eight fights on the amateur bill, starting with a walkover at 38kg where the ‘winning’ lad still had to put the gloves on and climb into the ring to receive his trophy, up to a 91kg heavyweight fight.

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Each bout was Queensland (in red) v Northern Territories (in blue). All of the boxers were introduced with a brief outline of age, heritage, how long they had been boxing and what their other interests were.

More often than not they professed to spend their spare time fishing and taking it easy. In their position I wouldn’t have been able to resist declaring a liking for something like cracking skulls and embroidery.

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There were some very good bouts, including one between the two female boxers on the bill. Fight of the night though was an unscheduled 3 x 1 minute rounds contest between a four year old and his five year old brother.

The younger of the two would begin each round by charging across the ring and then they’d spend the minute exchanging blows with the familiarity of kids who beat the shit out of each other every day of the week.

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It was all over in good time and by half past nine we were outside in the car park waiting for a taxi. The air was full of flying beetles, similar to the dung beetles in South Africa, but smaller.

Sometimes they made a whirring noise as they flew through the air and at other times a crunching sound whenever we accidentally trod one into the tarmac.

Darwin Buffaloes v Palmerston, Saturday 10th October 2015, 4.30pm

November 15, 2015

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After spending the last couple of years in Africa, it looks as if the next two will be spent in Australia as I’ve taken a job at Darwin in the Northern Territories. Climate wise, it’s hot and humid, which is no big deal when I’m in an air-conditioned office or apartment, but it’s not the sort of place where you’d want to spend much time outside at mid-day.

Evenings are fine though and when taking a stroll down towards the harbour area Jen and I have spotted a whole new selection of birds. I presume none of them ever fly anywhere for the summer or winter as I’ve not seen them anywhere else in the world. In a way, it makes me think that I should be ticking them off a list, or underlining their names in a book, but there’s only so much of that stuff you can do and I suspect I’ve probably got more record keeping spreadsheets than is healthy.

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There are bats as well. As it turns to dusk they will appear from wherever they spend the daytime and land in whatever tree is best for the bugs or berries that they eat. Sometimes we’ll sit in a seat nearby and watch them climb from branch to branch, using paws that I’d never realised they had on the ends of their wings.

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When I was a kid we’d see bats in St Mary’s church in Norton. They seemed much scarier in a graveyard after dark, particularly one where the vicar had a tendency to walk around wearing a cloak. Occasionally we’d take younger kids there, ostensibly on a bat hunt, and then scare the shit out of them by one of us emerging from behind a gravestone wearing a monk costume from an old school play.

One time we thought we’d make it a little scarier by emptying out the contents of a firework onto a gravestone and creating a flash of light known, at those times, as a ‘genie’. Whilst a couple of mates led the unsuspecting victims towards us, I lit the match whilst Nico stood by complete with hooded costume and an impressive, from a distance, four-foot long wooden sword.

It worked like a dream. The firework powder created an explosion of light that perfectly illuminated the monk and his sword, causing the younger kids to scream and run. Unfortunately we hadn’t closed our eyes and so were temporarily blinded by the flash. The consequence of which was that when making our hurried escape we couldn’t see any of the tombstones that stood between us and the far wall.

We must have fallen half a dozen times as we collided with shin level grave markers and ended up exiting the churchyard with far more cuts and bruises than we’d have got in a kicking from the vicar.

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I’ve not seen any fireworks in Darwin, or any graveyards come to think of it, so I doubt I’ll get up to much like that over here.

What I have seen though was some Aussie Rules football, or as it’s more simply known over here ‘footy’. The opening weekend of the new season had four games in a row at the TIO Stadium which is situated a little way outside of town. I’m not sure how far but it was thirty dollars in a taxi.

The travel costs were offset by the ten dollar admission charge. Not bad for four games of football, although at the time we arrived for the third game, there were only a couple of hundred people inside the ground.

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Aussie Rules is an odd game. You have eighteen players on each side, at least I think it was eighteen. It was hard to tell as they don’t seem to have any restrictions as to who goes onto the pitch. Physios will run on to treat injured players. Waterboys will jog around the centre of the field offering the players a drink and the coaches will sprint to the far side to give a player advice or a bollocking directly to his face.

At times it looked just like kids being let into the playground for a break with people running in different directions, colliding with each other, or stood chatting a hundred yards from the ball. If you’d let a couple of dogs loose onto the field I doubt anyone would have noticed.

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The food and drink wasn’t up to much. I suspect that the chicken and chips I had were left over from the previous season, whilst the beer was limited to 3.5% alcohol content. My first can of Carlton Mid wasn’t too bad, although perhaps that first beer on a hot day feeling clouded my judgement.

I tried a Carlton Cold next. There’s a television show in there somewhere with a tag line of “You’ve been Carlton Coled” and featuring the former West Ham striker pranking people. Or maybe pranking football clubs by somehow getting them to give him a contract and then smirking and opening a beer.

Anyway, the beer was terrible. Cold, I’ll concede, but terrible nevertheless. I felt as if I’d been Carlton Coled.

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One other oddity was the insistence of the linesmen taking the throw-ins themselves. In an attempt to appear impartial they faced away from the pitch and lobbed the ball backwards over their heads. If they didn’t want to see where they were throwing it I’d have been happy to light a genie in front of their faces and temporarily ruin their vision that way. It would have seemed no less bizarre than everything else that was going on.

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And the result? Well, Darwin got around a hundred points and local rivals Palmerston seventy-odd, I think. The reason they get so many points is that you get six for kicking the ball between the two middle posts and one point if you fail but still get it inside one of the outer posts.

I’d recommend they simplify matters by getting rid of the outer posts and making it a one point score (or a goal) for getting the ball between the inner posts. All you’d need then are crossbars and goalies and you’d have a decent game.