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Soup of This Day #265: Wonder How They Have The Power To Shine

November 13, 2012

Rabbit proof fence
This is Western Australia’s State Barrier Fence, formerly known as the No.1 Rabbit-proof Fence. It ran for 1,833km (1139 miles) across the state from north to south, Cape Keravdren to Starvation Harbour, or the other way around, depending upon your outlook. It was built to keep rabbits and other pests away from the state’s agricultural resources, while also providing the rabbits with the wherewithal to play volleyball. Although it’s not so much fun – They have to provide their own balls and once they’ve served it’s a devil of a job getting the ball back. Longworth72 spent some time in the late 90’s just the pest side of this fence, lumped in with the rabbits and some argumentative co-workers – Photo: Roguengineer, 2005. Roguengineer is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Once, when I was working out in the bush, I got into an argument. This was not common – Mostly you followed an unwritten code that pretty much said that you were stuck out in the middle of nowhere and it was best to just find a way to get along. Almost everyone observed this code and those that didn’t weren’t around for long – They’d go to bed 1 night having been shouted a drink spiked with some cold medication that they were allergic to. Or they’d wake up 1 morning with a star picket through their door – Subtle messages that they weren’t fitting in and that they should think about moving on.

Soonish. Like yesterday even, because we have a bigger star picket sunshine and Bluey over there has spent the day sharpening the end to a frightening point so that you’d get the point…

In this case though, I was near the end of a long stint and 3 of us, forced to spend long hours in each other’s company, were yapping and snarling at each other in defiance of the code. This was particularly worse on the drive out to the site each morning – It took close on an hour and we were crammed into a Landcruiser cab. It was on 1 of these runs that the argument started.

My colleague, who I will call The Weed Guy, announced that since sporting team A had beaten sporting team B this was an indication that A was therefore better than B. This might seem intuitive and to a point it is, but The Weed Guy took his case a little further – His thesis was that if team B had won the World Cup and was then subsequently beaten by team A in a friendly match, then B should relinquish the mantle of World Cup winners to A – Sort of like with a boxing belt, which has to be constantly defended against challengers.

This struck me as dumb and I helpfully articulated why…

For a start we were talking about association football, or soccer, where the best team does not always win. This is because a score in soccer is not always a common thing – Therefore a team can dominate a game but not score, whilst their opponents might be on the back foot for all but 1 minute, yet still win by dint of taking the 1 good chance that came along in that 1 minute. In this case the winning team isn’t necessarily the best – The sample size is too small and luck can play too big a part in the outcome.

Then there was the part whereby The Weed Guy could not face a single day without a fairly hefty toke of weed with breakfast. Usually followed by a whole bunch more hefty tokes spread throughout the day. Occasionally he’d break the whole party up with some fresh air but on the whole, he was pretty much based in Dopeville, population him. This, I accept, is playing the man and not the ball, but his love of cannabis speaks to his wisdom.

So I thought his argument was just as wacky as his smokes.

But as it turns out, I think we were both right. Team A is the better team – For that time and place. Team B though is the better team – Statistically anyway.

A good example of this is a game of football played last week between Celtic and Barcelona.

The Catalan side are, by most measures anyway, the better team. They are most certainly the more beautiful team, playing a brand that is to football what the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra is to music. They possess the ball – Hell, they woo the ball, take it out for a moonlit carriage ride and then make passionate love to it. They are 1 with the ball.

Actually, against Celtic they were 84 with the ball. That’s the percentage of time the Catalans controlled the ball, punctuating neat passing triangles with 25 shots at goal and evoking ole’s at every turn.

Which is probably why they lost.

Ole.

Because Celtic took their allotted 16% and fashioned out 2 goals from their 5 shots, including what was to be the winner by an 18 year old substitute called Tony Watt. Meanwhile Barcelona’s supremely gifted play-maker Messi could manage just a late consolation strike. Barca were better, and still are, but Celtic owned that night. You can tell they did because they made Rod Stewart cry with joy:

The rhythm of his heart is beating like a drum…

If you take Rod out of the equation though, it’s a little harder to pick the side that was the winner, holistically speaking. Football is like that sometimes. Occasionally though the score can be so lopsided as to provide a clear indication of who was better.

Last season, and those before, you’d have hardly made the case for the Perth Glory Women as the better team. They lost a game 11-0. Not a lot of ambiguity there then.

This season though… On Saturday just past the Glory Women travelled to Newcastle. The Perth team had lost last start and despite winning their 1st 2 games it felt uncomfortably like they were casting back to type. The Newcastle outing then needed to be a statement – A demonstration that Perth was serious – A contender even.

They won 1-6.

Katie Gill notched a hat-trick and Lisa De Vanna, Collette McCallum and Marianna Tabain got the others. Perth have now won more games after 4 rounds than they won in the entirety of last season and what’s more, sit atop the table and with a healthy goal difference.

I think they might be serious. They were certainly better on that Saturday at Wanderers Oval in Newcastle.

This Saturday coming though they will be just a bit more serious and even better again. For it is their annual benefit game for the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF). They will be taking on Sydney United and they will not be wearing their trademark purple and white stripes to do so. Instead, these glorious women will be donning a special purple and pink strip and doing their best to win the 3 points as well as raise some dosh for a worthy fight. If you’re in Perth, Western Australia then it’s 11:00am local time down at nib Stadium.

And that would have been a good place to end this post but for 1 quirky addition:

While writing the blurb for the title picture I needed to know just how long the No.1 Rabbit-proof fence had been. I managed to find out that it was 1,139 miles, but this is Australia and we’re metric down here so I typed that figure into Google for a conversion.

Which the internet colossus duly provided. It also provided a link to a story that coincidentally featured that exact distance. Earlier this year you see, a team of bicycle riders were racing their way across China and into Tibet when they were followed by a stray dog.

For 1,139 miles.

Apparently they’d fed her once and she’d doggedly latched onto the group. Some of the riders dropped out of the race along the way but not the resilient canine, Xiao Sa, who somehow survived altitude sickness through the mountain passes.

What makes the story all the more amazing is that the riders fed her initially because she looked tired.

1,139 miles later and she probably was a little run-down.

Who the best is might always be a bone of contention but there is little doubt that every dog has its day.

Wonder How They Have The Power To Shine

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