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Soup of This Day #50: When You’re On A Golden Sea You Don’t Need No Memory

August 14, 2011

Kelly Slater
Kelly Slater, like, un-mixing his bag dude! And yes, I know that makes no sense – Photo: Rob Keaton, 2006. Rob Keaton has no affiliation with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Earlier this year, back in April, 10 times men’s World Surfing Champion Kelly Slater dropped by Margaret River in the South Western corner of Western Australia to compete in the Margaret River Pro at the aptly named Surfer’s Point.

It’s a popular location and event although it is run as a second tier ASP Men’s Prime Event rather than the premier ASP World Tour so there is no real obligation for the superstars, such as Slater, to participate. Nor is there the prize money with the $250,000 on offer being well short of the $425,000 available in the main games. Which goes some way towards explaining why Kelly was making his 1st trip to the tournament since 1993, when he’d competed as a 21 year old tyro. You can make up the rest of the distance via an exchange between Slater and a journo at the pre-tourney presser. The journo pointed out that Kelly’s last visit had been a bit of a ‘mixed bag’. Slater’s response:

‘I lost my first heat, got last place, ripped my wetsuit open, broke my board, got my leash stuck on the reef and then my car broke down. It wasn’t a mixed bag, it was all pretty bad for me at that event and I haven’t been back to surf it since so I’m trying to change the luck.’

Well ok then.

To be fair to the press rep I reckon he meant ‘mixed bag’ in a negative sense whilst still leaving Slater room to pick out some diplomatic positives for the locals.

In this tradition I’d like to now describe the mixed bag that was the Longworth72 sporting weekend starting with a recap of last night’s season opener for Liverpool FC. Prior to the game Samuel L. Jackson had tipped a 3-1 win for the Reds (Yes, that ‘Samuel L. Jackson’) which should have inspired the lads to strike down upon Sunderland with great vengeance and furious anger. Although they probably had no justification for vengeance, great or otherwise, or in fact furious anger, particularly as none of the Black Cats were presumably poisoning or destroying anyone’s brothers. Ezekiel 25:17 maybe not the best quote then.

Perhaps this confusion had got through to the dressing room because the game, at Anfield, was a real mixed bag in itself, i.e. crap.

Liverpool dominated the opening exchanges. In fact they dominated the opening 35 minutes and could have and really should have put Sunderland to bed in that time. They had chances, most notably a penalty on 6 minutes when the effervescent Luis Suarez was brought down by Keiran Richardson in the area. Richardson arguably should have been sent off but Sunderland received a bigger let off when Suarez skied his penalty attempt over the bar.

A brief diversion into Penalty Taking 101.

Hit. The. Target.

It’s simple really, because it doesn’t matter how hard you hit the ball or how well you fool the keeper if you can’t actually get the ball on target. Longsworth72 has actually only been involved in the taking of 4 penalties in his career and all 4 were on target. 2 actually resulted in goals, which is a freakin’ miracle. Hit the damn target Luis.

It seemed like the miss would prove irrelevant just 6 minutes later as Suarez atoned for his error, knocking home new boy Charlie Adam’s free kick. Adam in general was good value for the game, often driving the Reds with a decent range of passing. Fellow debutante Stewart Downing was not quite as impressive but still good value on the left flank, at one point drilling a strike against the woodwork.

Sadly in the 2nd half Sunderland improved and Liverpool lost their zest. More so when the Black Cats equalised via a decent volley from Seb Larsson on 57 minutes. That’s the way it finished then, with Sunderland deserving of their 1-1 result and the subsequent point. Liverpool have some work to do ahead of a lunchtime tester at Arsenal next Saturday, however there are some promising signs in Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Luis Suarez.

Miss a penalty Luis and you often seem to pay.

In baseball the equivalent is to waste RISP. Get the bases loaded and then fritter away the opportunity and it will surely come back to bite you in the arse. In this morning’s Game 2 at Seattle the Red Sox had mucho opportunities to steal a win. I say ‘steal’ because Josh Beckett had a nightmare 1st and conceded 5 runs. The significance of those 5 runs became clear 8 innings later because they were all the M’s scored and they were all the M’s needed. Boston threatened briefly, breaking out for 4 runs in the 6th with Ellsbury and Pedroia both knocking home 2 run blasts. And that was that, as the Sox got runners on, eclipsing the M’s in the hit count 10-9, but couldn’t find the tying effort.

An interesting play occurred in the 4th with Ellsbury steaming home off an attempted Pedroia sac fly. Ichiro threw the house down from deep right with his effort getting in ahead of Jacoby, who nailed catcher Bard at the plate. The ump initially called Ellsbury safe, possibly believing that Bard had dropped the ball in the contact. Amongst protests galore the umps conferred and reversed the decision prompting an explosion from Tito that saw him ejected. Replays showed that Bard had held the ball, just. So, regardless of whether reversals should or shouldn’t happen, it was a fair outcome and a great throw.

Elsbury caught his knee on Bard’s head but both seemed to be ok. Likewise in Fremantle’s game with Carlton on Saturday the Blues’ Brett Thornton copped an accidental fist to the face in the last quarter, however scans have cleared him of a fracture. Sadly scans have shown the Dockers to be not so lucky – It turns out that their season is hanging by a thread, partly because of injury but mostly because they haven’t been playing very well.

Carlton eased away early in the match, taking a 17 point break into quarter time. Ominously that entailed 10 scoring shots to 3. By the half that was 17 shots to 6 and the lead had extended to 28. In the 3rd the Dockers fought it back down before late scores saw the Blues head into the last with a 33 point buffer. Which would have looked more gettable if Freo had scored more than the 49 points they had to that point. Carlton made sure of the win down the stretch, booting the first 4 goals of the final quarter and although the Dockers got 4 of their own it was an easy 16.19 (115) to 12.13 (85) win for the Old Navy Blues in the end.

So where does that leave Freo? They are in 9th on 36 points, the total they had 4 matches ago. Above them Essendon have improved to 7th on 42 points and are firming for a shot at the finals, albeit having played 1 more game. Sydney are in 8th with 38 ladder points, following a 43 point humbling by lowly Richmond. Both the Swans and the Dockers have 3 to play and realistically they are fighting for the last spot. Freo plays North Melbourne away, ladder leaders Collingwood at Subi and the Western Bulldogs away to complete the season. North and the Bulldogs are on 32 and 28 points respectively and are not easybeats. Collingwood will slaughter the Dockers on current form. Sydney’s run is just as daunting with on song St Kilda, rampant Geelong and awful Brisbane. They will realistically win 1 while the Dockers must win 2.

Whatever plays out, as a general rule, when you’re getting down to this kind of maths you’ve kinda $&@%ed up your season.

I’m calling it quits tonight by returning to the tactful Kelly Slater. For the record he didn’t win the Margaret River Pro. At 39 he still has the chops (He’s the defending World Champ and is 6th in this year’s rankings after 4 of 11 events) but he couldn’t make it past the last 24. I think he was ok with that though because earlier he’d revealed what was possibly his real reason for returning to a region rich in vineyards and food culture after a whopping 18 year break:

‘My girlfriend wanted to come here and drink wine.’

That will do it Kelly. Welcome back to the island in the sun mate.

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