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Braham Dabscheck

Coaches and journalists are the high priests of sport. The former determine the liturgy; the latter explain, comment on, and provide judgments and recommendations for reform to the great unwashed. Roy Masters has performed both roles. He coached the rugby league clubs Western Suburbs (1978–81) and St George (1982–87) and has for two decades been a font of insight, mainly on rugby league, for readers of the Sydney Morning Herald. His journalism has combined intelligence, larrikinism and an eye for the absurd.

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The most recent cause célèbre of Australian industrial relations was the 1998 waterfront dispute, when the Howard government failed to destroy the Maritime Union of Australia. The Australian waterfront has been a continuing site of struggle since the famous industrial disputes of the 1890s. Tom Sheridan’s Australia’s Own Cold War: The Waterfront Under Menzies helps to remind us of the intense and bitter nature of industrial relations in that industry. Readers will find themselves making comparisons with the 1998 dispute and with other major events which have occurred in Australia’s political history. ... (read more)

The Master by Sean Fagan and Dally Messenger III & The Ballad of Les Darcy by Peter FiztSimons

October 2007, no. 295

Before and soon after Federation, Australia established itself as a sporting nation. Australia enjoyed good weather, with space for play. Despite the hardships of these times, youngsters, especially boys, found time to indulge in a wide range of sports. Two boys in particular, one the son of a boat builder/operator in Sydney, the other an East Maitland farm boy, became legendary figures in their chosen sports. The first was Henry Herbert (‘Dally’) Messenger, an all-round athlete and champion rugby player who turned away from the amateur rugby union and became a professional. Its best player, Messenger was a mainstay of the ‘new’ game, rugby league, in the lead-up to World War I. The second was the boxer Les Darcy, who, fighting mainly as a light heavyweight, won a series of titles in Australia prior to and during the war.

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On 18 January 2004 the Victorian cricket team defeated South Australia in an ING Cup match. After the game, some of the cricketers and officials, including the Victorian coach David Hookes, and their girlfriends, assembled at the Beaconsfield Hotel, in St Kilda. Hookes had played twenty-three test matches for Australia between 1977 and 1986, at an average of 34.36 runs. After retiring as a player, Hookes, beside his coaching duties, had carved out a successful career as a broadcaster and media commentator. As closing time approached, security staff informed the group that it was time to leave. Approximately fifteen minutes later in the car park, Hookes received a punch from security guard Zdravko Micevic, and fell and hit his head on the ground. He died in the early hours of the next morning. Micevic was charged with the crime of manslaughter, but was subsequently acquitted by a jury on the grounds of self-defence.

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Shane Warne is one of the greatest bowlers of all time, if not the greatest. Highly competitive and aggressive, he is one of the main factors in Australia’s prolonged dominance in world cricket. He has been involved in a series of controversies, on and off the field. He has been fined for sledging and over-aggressive appealing; and for providing, along with Mark Waugh, information to a bookie (something they both readily admitted, which the Australian Cricket Board tried to cover up). In 2003 he received a one-year ban for taking a banned substance, diuretic tablets, intended, he claimed (and this is not disputed by Barry), to help him lose weight. Off the field, like many leading sporting personalities, he is a serial womaniser

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