Monday, August 11, 2008

Hobart vs Launceston

So i was driving back from Launceston after listening to some terrible old school hits (and i mean proper old school, like Gene Vincent) and making mental notes about all of the wonderful out of the way towns that dot Tasmania that you just never get to. If you do the basic Launceston to Hobart drive, there's that giant boring stretch in the middle, but there's a lot of really interesting dirt roads, down which you can find the real Tasmania. Everyone seems to stop in Ross or Campbelltown, but what about Pyengana, where you get to walk on a duckboard (who needs the Internet kids). Evandale might have the Penny farthing championships, but what about Avoca? Fingal? Nile? Canoe paddling in Falmouth? Sounds great doesn't it? No one ever seems to go to the North East of Tasmania, it's just completely unspoiled and rustic, and I'd love to visit these places, especially since this is a blog about local pride within Tasmanian communities, particularly small ones. I often tell people these places out of the way are the real Tasmania, where the opinions are unreconstructed, the men manly, the women quite often manlier, and the beer always Boags. It's just a shame that as far as I seem to get these days (and it's my own laziness) is Launceston, and even that's a massive effort these days. I'd love to be able to expand my Launceston stories beyond a night at a quiz night, and a trip to The Saloon. Mind you, I must get to my night at The Saloon one day, but I'd love a lot more to be able to do a post about my trip to Binnalong Bay. I'm sure I'd learn a lot about girls the size of Cheryl Haworth in flannel shirts selling bait...always selling bait.

I was in Launceston to see the football, between Hawthorn and the Brisbane Lions. A man with fuzzy hair had a lot of interesting opinions on the relative merits of the umpires. He also was much funnier in his head than he was out loud, but I don't think I'm much better watching Collingwood in fairness, and when I went to the Telstra Dome, I threw my Paul Medhurst badge a shamefully long way across the lower tier in a hissy fit. I've mentioned before about the pride I always showed when Penguin did well, and how the community rallied around them, but AFL teams have moved a long way beyond that, and Collingwood as I've said before don't mean anything special to the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood for instance. Hawthorn want to become Tasmanias team, which I won't buy until I see Sam Mitchell at Isobar, and we pay them a lot of money to come down to Launceston and play. This is no guarantee of entertainment or interest though - the girls, I have to say, came to see Buddy, the men came to drink beer, and I have no idea why I attended. During the game I ended up talking to strangers about the saddest TV deaths in history (no question, Molly in A Country Practice - anyone who says Cathy Godbold is insane) and whatever happened to Rob Brough. There wasn't much feeling at the game, and we left before the predictable meat market that was the after match meet the players function. I went to one for Melbourne by lying to Jim Stynes that I was a member, and it was wall to wall mini skirts trying to pick up a footballer. I was tempted to grab a Melbourne tracksuit top and hang out and flirt, but I'm not fit enough to pass for that, although my cousin had a stone cold excellent reputation for picking up in England by putting on a Scotland tracksuit and claiming to be a member of Scotlands under 21 team. Sadly, my attempts to pick up by pretending to be a Penguin player always failed - no one wanted to clean my boots with a Paddle Pop stick, and mores the pity...

Part of the problem with Hawthorn being Tassies team (frizzy haired Melburnian visitors aside) is that four games a year isn't enough to build up a rivalry with anyone that Tasmanians can get behind. The real rivalry in Tasmania is between Launceston and Hobart, although no one is quite sure how to harness it. I think they want to be the capital city, and I spent an hour once with a Launcestonian telling me how great the Saloon was compared to Syrup (like picking between Anne Maree Cooksley and Rob Brough as Australias most obscure celebrity really). Scott Wade dreams of a football league where Launceston and Hobart grind to a halt to cheer their city on. We hate Launceston though mostly because they get all the AFL games, not because they could beat us in a contrived local league. Our great lovely radio station here (when they aren't pimping out their DJs) often try and stir up a local rivalry between Hobart and Launceston by organising tug of war competitions or referencing Launcestons monkey park where the monkeys have herpes. I don't know what they do in Launceston, but I'd imagine they get up to similar hilarious japes and probably mock our local hooded hoons and street parades for Reggie from Big Brother, where women dressed as chiko rolls cop a spray from unemployed males for wasting their time. There seems to be a rivalry there though that is begging to have money made out of it by a slick huckster, although I actually do like Launceston I must admit. I really enjoy the mall there, the girls are pretty, and the coffee in a cart is fantastic. And Target up there used to have the (second) prettiest store girl in the whole world, and the fact that she overused the word "cunt" every day did nothing to dim her light.

As much as living in Hobart has ended up skewing my view of Launceston a bit though, and as much as I would love for Hobart and Launceston to have something really big to harness the rivalry that isn't just Kim and Dave being tools, it's the small rivalries in Tasmania that fascinate me even more. I love going to the Regional League games down here in Tasmania and seeing a game between, say, Huonville and Dodges Ferry and seeing a crowd of about 150 getting into a massive bitchfest and bringing up old games from the 1970s. It reminds me of my childhood in Penguin, and the stories the old timers used to tell. One old timer who went to all the Penguin games was obsessed with East Devonport football club, and was delighted when they disappeared off a cliff one year, almost taking an advert out in the paper. One day over a Violet Crumble I asked him why, and he said that when he was younger, he had come home early from work, and found a pair of East Devonport logoed football socks in the wash. His wife said they must have got mixed up at the laundrette, but he didn't believe her and thought she was having an affair with a East Devonport player, and was convinced even more by the fact that there wasn't a laundrette within miles, but he didn't bring it up again for a few years, until their tenth anniversary, at which point he gave his wife a gift - an East Devonport jumper rolled in pig manure with divorce papers in the middle of it and her ring in pieces on top of it, lovingly laid out in the middle of the bed. I don't know whether or not his wife ever did cheat on him, but rivalries like that burn for years.

Scott Wade, you can't create rivalry like that...you can't even come close...

2 comments:

Kris said...

Everybody knows that Burnie vs Devonport is where it's at!

Miles McClagan said...

I knew Penguin and Ulverstone always had a rivalry - I don't remember Burnie and Devonport getting into it? I was at the 1992 NTFL Grand Final between Penguin and Burnie and that was massively vicious...

Burnie just had rivalries amongst itself, Burnie and Somerset, that always fun...