Thursday, 12 January 2017

Just The Facts Ma'am - Part 1

The catchphrase "Just the facts, ma'am" is often attributed to the character Sgt. Joe Friday of pioneering U.S. television series Dragnet. The fact is, he never uttered those words. He would sometimes state "All we want are the facts, ma'am" or "All we know are the facts, ma'am" but it was a parody record by satirist Stan Freberg that led to the character having the catchphrase assigned to him. The movie L.A. Confidential features a television show called Badge of Honour, based on Dragnet, who's leading character uses the actual "Just the facts, ma'am" phrase.

So sometimes what is assumed to be a fact, really isn't. Myths can be formed from slight errors, but also deliberate lies can also come to be accepted as fact. There are many instances of both occurring in Australian football.

For many years, the wikipedia entry for goalkeeper Michael Turnbull was one of the great pieces of Australian fiction. Claiming almost 50 senior Socceroos caps, and more than that many first team appearances in the Serie A for Roma, the entry was taken as fact by ignorant journalists who pushed a story that he had knocked back a move to the Budesliga in late 2014. The entry had been toned down by the time he gained notoriety for embellishing his playing career on the "reality" tv series The Bachelorette. It's an example how falsehoods come into existence and can be accepted as truths, and why lazy media should be held to account.

Emile Damey

Former Nunawading City player Emile Damey gained some media exposure last year when he linked up with the Liberian national team for a training camp. This included a game, in which he scored, that the author of his wikipedia entry touts as his international debut.

                                               (Click on all images to enlarge)

Now I'm not sure what the status of the game against Morocco was, but neither FIFA for the Liberian FA seemed to recognise it as a full international.

In the last few days that entry has been changed to note the game was against the Moroccan Under 23 team. His goals and appearances record for Nunawading City has also been amended. From 25 games and 10 goals across 2015-16 it now claims 13 games for 7 goals in 2015 and 19 games for 3 goals in 2016. The actual truth - who knows but I wouldn't trust that wikipedia page.

Sadly, some have.

"Liberia were beaten by Tunisia in their final qualifying game with Damey failing to feature, however he did play in a friendly against Morocco, scoring with his first touch."

Reading that one would assume the friendly was a full International. It wasn't. Morocco's actual national team played a friendly the following day, in Albania. It's an important clarification that needed to be made, the fact that it wasn't makes you question the motives of those that published it.

South Melbourne

South Melbourne certainly has a long and storied history. Founded in 1959 as South Melbourne Hellas the club has won numerous titles in National and State competitions and represented Australia on the world stage at the World Club Cup.

In 2009 the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) awarded South Melbourne the title of Oceania Club of the Century and presented them with this trophy:

The club, and others, have since referred to this award as if it was issued by FIFA.

FIFA only issued one award for Club of the Century, to Real Madrid in December 2000. Real were presented with this trophy:

Real Madrid also picked up a trophy from the IFFHS in 2009 for European Club of the Century. Penarol, Asante Kotoko, Al-Hilal and Saprissa also collected IFFHS awarded for their respective Confederational Clubs of the Century. 

Now undoubtedly a FIFA award is more prestigious than an IFFHS one, simply because most people would ask "Who?" if you brought up IFFHS while with FIFA they would know who you were talking about. Looking at the South Melbourne trophy it's clear to see it's an IFFHS one given the number of times/panels IFFHS appears on it.

For a club which rightly demands more respect for Australian football's past, it could do without the embellishment. When you play around with history you diminish it's credibility, and that does the game no favours.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Fred Villiers on World Of Sport

Long time Melbourne soccer journalist Fred Villiers had a weekly segment on HSV7's popular World of Sport programme, with a clip from a 1985 appearance included above. Villiers had been covering local soccer for papers including The Herald, Soccer News, The Sporting Globe, Truth and the Sunday Observer since the 1950's. He was inducted into the FFA Hall of Fame in 2006.

As you can see from the above clip, the usual formula would begin with a round-up of the overnight (the show was broadcast on Sunday afternoon) British scores. From the early 1980's this would include some footage (as technology began to allow for it). Then it would be a round-up of local results (NSL) or brief preview of fixtures later that day. Occasionally there would be an interview.

Unlike over at SBS, correct pronunciation of names was not a priority, as you can tell from his reference to "Jewventus". Likewise the Aussie vernacular gave us Preston Mackerdonia and Green Gully Ay Jacks.

The set of World of Sport was far less professional than we see in the modern day. Backstage the drinking would begin early. The number of guests (most of the VFL coaches would attend to appear in the Coach's Corner segment, as well as several players) and sponsors giveaways made for a party atmosphere. Practical joke would be attempted, as (prior to the teleprompter era) cue cards would be set alight to see if the presenter could read them before they disappeared. Presenters would also be mooned from behind the camera in an attempt to put them off.

As an outsider from the "foreign" code Villiers was targeted for special treatment from the largely Aussie Rules boy's club. Most of it came from the very old school former Richmond champion Jack Dyer and his offsider Lou Richards.

Never the most accomplished presenter, in later years the number of gaffes would increase, and by the 1990's the pioneer of football media in Melbourne was no longer on the scene. He made an appearance at the FFV's Gold Medal Night in 2011. He accepted the inclusion of his friend Michael Weinstein into the FFV's Hall of Fame, with Weinstein not well enough to attend the function.

Thanks to George Cotsanis of My World Is Round we have a couple of photo's of Fred's newspaper work below:

                                                   (Click on images to enlarge)