Former greats find that coaching grates

29/03/2019 // by admin

COACHING does strange things to usually sane men. The highs are high, the lows low. Frustration builds, excitement boils over. The sacrifices are great, the satisfaction is short. There’s always the next game to prepare for. Here’s some recent observations.


Saturday, August 18, Etihad Stadium: The Roos are doing a job on the Pies. It’s the same old story for Collingwood’s big forwards. Chris Dawes is dropping chest marks and Travis Cloke leads up, doesn’t mark, returns to the goal square. The coach is once again frustrated, but maybe it’s time things were done differently. There are other options.

It should be noted that the Hawks without Lance Franklin are kicking more goals than when he is there. Cloke could be played more as a centre half-forward than full-forward. Dawes could be dropped. Ben Reid or even Nick Maxwell could go forward. There’s no doubt that if Scott Pendlebury was played as a permanent forward, he would kick and create heaps of goals. Time is starting to run out on a problem that needs to be fixed.


Saturday, August 18, 10.45am, MCG: The sky is grey, the drizzle steady. No one is on the ground but the Essendon coach and a trusted sidekick. Hird is oblivious to the rain. He walks the ground, football in hand. He goes from wing to goal square, bouncing the ball and getting a feel for the conditions. From 70 metres out on the half-forward flank, dressed in street clothes, he takes one step and launches a torpedo. The connection between ball and shoe is perfect. The ball spirals 55 metres, lands outside the goal square, skids towards the goal post and curls a metre over the goal line. It’s impressive, but not surprising.

5pm: Hird faces the media. He is flushed and visibly shaken. Carlton has beaten the Bombers by 96 points. It’s the biggest defeat Hird has encountered as a coach. His players played with little, if any, heart. He knows it. The coach apologises to the Essendon members. It must be eating him. For years Hird controlled his own destiny. As a player, businessman, media performer and family man, it was all up to him. And he rarely let himself down. But coaching is different. You can do your job really well, but any one of the 100 players and staff you are responsible for can muck it up and bring the rest down. I always wondered whether Hird, the perfectionist, would be able to cope with that. Time will tell.


Sunday, August 12, 8.30am, Melbourne airport: The Brisbane Lions coach boards a plane at Melbourne Airport for Launceston, where the Hawks are to take on Port Adelaide. He offers his trademark smile to all the footy people on board. I look at the footy fixture and realise he is going to have a close look at the Power, who the Lions play in Adelaide tomorrow. I wonder how he is feeling. The Lions lost the night before to Carlton. It was their fifth loss in six weeks. Voss is coaching for his future. He won’t get home to Brisbane until late Sunday. That’s three clear days since he has seen his wife and kids, and the next opponent will be the high-flying Crows.

Saturday, August 18, Brisbane: After being 38 points down at quarter-time at the Gabba, the Lions have fought back to lead by four points with 30 seconds left. Voss is in the coach’s box, tight and tense. The ball spills to Tom Rockliff. He kicks truly from outside 50, and the Lions will win. Voss can’t contain himself. He shakes hands and hugs his assistants. If they can beat Port Adelaide and then the Western Bulldogs, it will be 10 wins for the season. That’s six more than last year. Real progress will have been made.


Saturday, August 18, Brisbane: The final siren sounds at the Gabba and the Crows coach and his loyal mate Darren Milburn are ashen-faced. They have just lost the unloseable game. Hot favourites and six goals up at quarter-time, the Crows relaxed and got rolled. But perhaps the coach hadn’t helped. Perhaps the coach sowed the seed for the loss the week before, when his team tossed Fremantle at home to chalk up its 15th win for the season, and climb to second spot. Back then, the novice coach was pumped, he was all about talking up his players. He was saying Scott Thompson and Patrick Dangerfield had to be Brownlow Medal chances, and that young centre half-back Daniel Talia was a good thing for the Rising Star. Hold on, Brenton! It’s not the time to talk about individual awards when team success is all that matters.


Saturday, August 18, Perth: Richmond, for the 10th time this season, has lost a game by fewer than four goals. The coach is angry and frustrated – again. So he has a crack at Fremantle for bringing in the emergency ruckman, Aaron Sandilands, and taking out selected ruckman Jonathon Griffin. Hardwick says what the Dockers did was OK by the rules, but was it a ruse? Did the Dockers always plan this? Was it in the spirit of the game? Well, Damien, it really doesn’t matter. It’s no big deal. It’s replacing one ruckman with another.

The Richmond coach says they planned for one thing and got another. Please, Damien, get over it. If the Tigers are so fragile that they let something like that throw them, no wonder they lose the close contests.


Sunday, August 19, Adelaide: It’s late in the third quarter at AAMI Stadium. Port Adelaide’s caretaker coach is down on the boundary line, itching to get on the field. His team, after kicking one goal in the first half, has kicked three goals to the Eagles’ one in the third term.

The coach is excited. Too excited. The siren ends the quarter, and Hocking sprints on to the field waving his arms. He wants his players to follow him to the outer wing. He plans to take the players to the rank-and-file fans. It’s the old-school Mark Williams trick and Hocking, in just his second game, is going to pull it. But there’s a problem. When they arrive, there’s scarcely anybody there. The crowd was 13,683, the smallest crowd ever to attend an AFL game at AAMI Stadium.

Man questioned over PM security scare

29/03/2019 // by admin

FEDERAL police were last night considering whether to lay charges against a man who breached security at Parliament House and entered a room where Prime Minister Julia Gillard was holding a press conference.

Ms Gillard was briefing journalists  with Immigration Minister Chris Bowen in a room in Parliament’s ministerial wing yesterday afternoon when the man, 35, approached and placed a piece of paper on Ms Gillard’s lectern.

The man then left the room, followed by television cameramen. A security guard confronted the man in a corridor and asked him to leave the building. Outside, federal police took his details.

The man told media his child had been abducted, but police had not responded to his requests for assistance.

Carol Mills, the Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services, which is responsible for security in Parliament House, said officials had viewed security footage which showed the man entering the building through the public entrance.

Ms Mills said the man crossed from the public to private area of Parliament House through a committee hearing room on the first floor. She said a security guard normally prevented people from moving from committee hearing rooms to the private areas of Parliament House, but confusion about whether a hearing was taking place yesterday had resulted in no security person being placed in the relevant position.

Ms Mills said the department was investigating what else the man did while he was in the building and how he was able to breach security.

“I think the potential is there that it could have been a serious breach and therefore I want to explore that it could not occur again,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Federal Police said it was aware of the incident, and confirmed police had spoken to him outside Parliament House.

“The matter is now subject of further inquiries,” the spokeswoman said.

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said she did not comment on security matters.

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Surprise: Callow does Dickens

29/03/2019 // by admin

Simon Callow, who is making the keynote address at the Melbourne Writers Festival.LAST time I saw Simon Callow was in December and he was making a hasty exit from the stage of the Arts Theatre in London. He was in the middle of his one-man version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but not long after he had conjured up the Ghost of Christmas Past, a fire alarm went off.

The audience trooped out into the slush and lingered for 20 chilly minutes until we got the call to return. Callow wandered back on stage and mused, ”Now where was I?” before deftly explaining what had happened and reprising the plot to that point.

”I love those incidents in a way,” he says now, ”though it does require an immense amount of concentration to bring yourself and the audience back to where we were before. It’s very tiring, so after that performance I was absolutely exhausted.”

He doesn’t want anything like that to happen tonight when he delivers the keynote address at the opening of the Melbourne Writers Festival. His subject is – what else? – Dickens. More particularly, Dickens and the theatre, the theme of his new biography of the great 19th-century novelist.

Dickens was obsessed with the theatre as a child and wrote his first play when he was seven. He carried on writing plays, some of which were performed in the West End. They weren’t disasters, Callow says, but he was a terrible playwright.

”They were shocking. The thing that is so bad is that they have no trace of Dickens’ voice about them. There is not a thing he did or wrote – a note to his butcher or a brief note to his subeditor – which doesn’t contain some Dickensian touch. But because he was so completely stagestruck he just imitated the theatre of his time and did a completely lifeless facsimile.”

Callow is an actor, writer and director. He trod the stage as Mozart in Amadeus, in Peter Pan and Waiting for Godot with Ian McKellen; on screen he has been seen in such films as Four Weddings and a Funeral, in which he played the flamboyant Gareth, who memorably danced himself to the solitary funeral, and A Room With a View, in which he frolicked naked as the Reverend Mr Beebe. He has written 13 book, including two volumes on the life of Orson Welles – the third is looming – as well as a biography of Charles Laughton and a memoir of his own life in the theatre.

And then there’s Dickens. He has played the great man on television in Dr Who, on stage in Peter Ackroyd’s The Mystery of Charles Dickens, which enjoyed a run at the Athenaeum Theatre 10 years ago, and is relishing a return season in A Christmas Carol this year.

But A Christmas Carol hasn’t always been a pleasant experience. Callow was taken as a little boy and was terrified. He avoided Dickens after that. But later, when ill with chickenpox, his grandmother gave him The Pickwick Papers and he was hooked. ”I just fell into that world of Dickens with such delight. In a way the prevailing feeling I have about Dickens is the joyous celebration of language, of character, of Englishness of a particular kind. Of course, the later novels become much more sophisticated, much darker in many cases, but they remain bursting with life. That’s the essence of Dickens, the vitality.”

He discovered Dickens the man when he was asked to re-create his public readings. ”There’s nobody like him. I love his restlessness, his vitality, his compassion, his unending reserves of concentration, his mad passion for just letting off steam.” But he draws the line at Dickens’ treatment of his wife, Catherine, who bore him 10 children but who was cast aside in favour of the young actress Ellen Ternan. That, Callow says, was shocking.

It’s a curious fact that there is a memorial to Dickens in Sydney’s Centennial Park, but none in Britain. Two of his great-great-grandsons this week are re-creating the walk of Nicholas and Smike from London to Portsmouth in Nicholas Nickleby to raise funds. Callow, a patron of the campaign, is amazed there is a statue in Australia. Dickens, whose 200th anniversary is this year, expressly forbade one in Britain.

”But now it’s a bit coy,” says Callow. ”It would be a wonderful sculpture for a sculptor to create.”

Simon Callow: Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World is at the Melbourne Town Hall tonight at 7 and at the Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts, Ballarat, on Saturday at 7pm. mwf南京夜网.au; wcpa南京夜网.au

Europe shares hop on Fed bandwagon

29/03/2019 // by admin

European shares rose in early trade, with upgraded Dutch brewer Heineken among the top performers, as hints of new stimulus measures from the US Federal Reserve outweighed worries over the eurozone debt crisis.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.4 per cent to 1100.58 points, bouncing back from a 1.2 per cent fall on Wednesday. The Euro STOXX 50 index was up 0.7 per cent at 2469.12 points.

Minutes from the latest Fed meeting, released on Wednesday after European markets closed, showed the U.S. central bank was likely to deliver another round of monetary stimulus ‘fairly soon’ unless the economy improved considerably.

“The market seems more interested in more prospects of stimulus from the Fed than worries over the euro crisis. In the short term, the market could get back up to the highs which we’ve seen in the last few weeks,” said Darren Easton, director of trading at London-based Logic Investments.

Easton recommended that investors stick with positions on expectations that signs of new intervention from the Fed or European Central Bank could lift equities over the next couple of weeks or so.

Other investors were more cautious, since previous rallies that have been driven on expectations of monetary stimulus have petered out as pledges by policymakers have failed to lead to action.

Worries that Greece may have to leave the euro zone as it struggles to meet the conditions of its sovereign bailout, and that the eurozone crisis may increasingly impact Spain and Italy, have also caused abrupt ends to previous equity rallies.

“I am a little cautious here. It has become more difficult to find good investments ideas and I tend to feel that the market has priced in favourable action by central banks,” said Don Fitzgerald, a fund manager at Tocqueville Finance.

Heineken rose 2.6 per cent, making it one of the best-performing stocks on the FTSEurofirst 300 index, as it benefited from a wave of upgrades from brokers.

The brewer reported on Wednesday a 4 per cent fall in first-half net profit but it also forecast a better second half. SocGen raised its rating to “buy” from “hold”, and Nomura upgraded to “neutral” from “reduce”.

SocGen said Heineken should eventually benefit from its planned acquisition of Asia Pacific Breweries.

“The acquisition will give Heineken control over its Asian strategy, which was previously lacking, and should allow some synergies as the business is fully integrated,” SocGen said in a research note.

The STOXX European bank sector, which tends to either underperform a falling market or outperform a rising market, rose 1.3 per cent after falling sharply on Wednesday.

Technical trading firm FuturesTechs said in a research note that it would stick with expectations of a further rise in equity markets, and would favour using any dips to buy up stocks on the cheap.

“For the most part the light volume and tight ranges suggest market participants are still in limbo at current levels, caught between the potential for central bank action and the failure of Greece to restructure it’s bailout terms. For now our skew remains bullish with a dip buying stance,” it said.


Round 22 AFL teams

29/03/2019 // by admin

Ins and outs.RICHMOND v ESSENDON, MCG, 7.50pm, Friday 24 August


B: Morris Rance PostHB: Batchelor Newman HouliC: Grigg Cotchin Deledio HF: White Edwards JacksonF: McGuane Riewoldt NahasFoll: Maric Martin TuckI/C: Astbury Dea Helbig O’HanlonEmg: Derickx Ellis A MaricIn: Astbury Dea BatchelorOut: King (foot) Griffiths (concussion) Ellis


B: Dempsey Hooker BaguleyHB: Pears Hardingham Lovett-MurrayC: Jetta Watson StantonHF: Gumbleton Hurley ZaharakisF: Heppell Crameri O’BrienFoll: Bellchambers Browne DaveyI/C: Hocking Monfries Melksham HibberdEmg: Lonergan Colyer KavanaghIn: Lovett-Murray Gumbleton Pears O’Brien BaguleyOut: Fletcher (hip) Lonergan Ryder (knee) Carlile (ankle) LeeNew: Nicholas O’Brien (North Ballarat Rebels)

ST KILDA v GWS, Etihad Stadium,1.45pm, Saturday 25 August


B: Gilbert Gwilt SimpkinHB: Cripps Dempster NewnesC: Ray Hayes GoddardHF: Siposs Stanley MileraF: Milne Wilkes SaadFoll: McEvoy Ross LedgerI/C: Dal Santo Montagna Geary StevenEmg: Gram Markworth DunnellIn: Ledger Siposs Milera Ross NewnesOut: Fisher (toe) Koschitzke (soreness) Armitage (soreness) Schneider (foot) GramNew: Sebastian Ross (North Ballarat Rebels)


B: Power Davis KennedyHB: Darley Cornes HamptonC: Hoskin-Elliott Ward McDonaldHF: Tomlinson Haynes TysonF: Wilson Giles SmithFoll: Phillips Treloar GreeneI/C: Bugg Cooyou Palmer AdamsEmg: Hombsch Miles BuntineIn: Bugg Cooyou Treloar Wilson Ward Palmer TomlinsonOut: Clifton Edwards Folau (back) Golds Miles Scully (back) BuntineNew: Rhys Cooyou (East Fremantle)

PORT ADELAIDE v BRISBANE, AAMI STADIUM, 2.10pm, Saturday 25 August


B: Blee Carlile LoganHB: Jonas Trengove CassisiC: Cornes Ebert PfeifferHF: Broadbent Westhoff PearceF: Stewart Schulz EbertFoll: Lobbe Boak RodanI/C: Thomas Young Wingard McCarthyEmg: Salopek Redden PhillipsIn: Boak LoganOut: D Stewart Moore (hamstring)


B: Lester Merrett HarwoodHB: Adcock Patfull HanleyC: Polkinghorne Rich BewickHF: Zorko Brown ReddenF: Green Lisle RockliffFoll: Hudson Black RainesI/C: Drummond Hawksley Beams CrispEmg: Longer Docherty YeoIn: Drummond HawksleyOut: Maguire (foot) Yeo

SYDNEY v HAWTHORN, SCG, 4.40pm, Saturday 25 August


B: Smith Richards JohnsonHB: McVeigh Grundy MattnerC: Shaw Jack JettaHF: Hanneberry Roberts-Thomson O’KeefeF: McGlynn Reid GoodesFoll: Mumford Kennedy ParkerI/C: Malceski Bird Pyke Emg: Gordon Everitt WalshNo change


B: Stratton Gibson GuerraHB: Birchall Schoenmakers BurgoyneC: Young Mitchell SmithHF: Shiels Franklin WhitecrossF: Puopolo Roughead BreustFoll: Hale Hodge SewellI/C: Ellis Lewis Suckling GunstonEmg: Bailey Savage HillIn: Franklin Mitchell GibsonOut: Bateman Gilham Savage

WEST COAST v COLLINGWOOD, Patersons Stadium, 7.40pm, Saturday 25 August


B: Waters Glass ButlerHB: Hurn McKenzie SchofieldC: Rosa Priddis GaffHF: Hill Darling McGinnityF: Masten Kennedy NaitanuiFoll: Cox S Selwood ShueyI/C: Embley Kerr Lynch A SelwoodEmg: Strijk Hams BrennanIn: Butler Rosa KennedyOut: Dalziell Hams Brennan


B: Brown O’Brien TarrantHB: Toovey Reid JohnsonC: Blair Swan WellinghamHF: Shaw Dawes PendleburyF: Sidebottom Cloke ThomasFoll: Wood Sinclair BeamsI/C: Didak Golsdack FasoloEmg: Clarke Thomas UgleIn: Swan Goldsack Toovey Johnson Wood Out: Maxwell (groin) Jolly (soreness) Elliott (groin) Mooney (ankle) Clarke

GOLD COAST v CARLTON, Metricon Stadium, 7.40pm, Saturday 25 August


B: HB: C: HF: F: Foll: I/C: Emg: In: Out:


B: HB: C: HF: F: Foll: I/C: Emg: In: Out:

GEELONG v WESTERN BULLDOGS, Simonds Stadium, 1.10pm, Sunday 26 August


B: Scarlett Lonergan HuntHB: Mackie Taylor EnrightC: Duncan Christensen CoreyHF: Chapman Podsiadly MotlopF: Stokes Hawkins BartelFoll: West Johnson KellyI/C: From: Varcoe Simpkin T Hunt Smedts Guthrie Walker MurdochEmg: In: Varcoe Christensen Smedts GuthrieOut: Joel Selwood (soreness)


B: Wood Lake MurphyHB: Lin Jong Markovic HowardC: Johannisen Boyd PickenHF: Higgins Dickson AddisonF: Roughead Jones Giansiracusa Foll: Minson Griffen WallisI/C: From Cooney Grant Djerrkura Skinner Smith Talia CampbellEmg: In: Grant Jones Howard Talia CampbellOut: Cordy (back) Roberts

NORTH MELBOURNE v FREMANTLE, Etihad Stadium, 3.15pm, Sunday 26 August


B: HB: C: HF: F: Foll: I/C: Emg: In: Out:


B: HB: C: HF: F: Foll: I/C: Emg: In: Out:

MELBOURNE v ADELAIDE, MCG, 4.40pm, Sunday 19 August


B: HB: C: HF: F: Foll: I/C: Emg: In: Out:


B: HB: C: HF: F: Foll: I/C: Emg: In: Out:

‘He was a great mate who loved a beer and loved to be around his teammates.’

01/03/2019 // by admin


MERV Neagle played 147 games for Essendon over nine seasons, a fair innings yet not enough to put him among the all-time greats of the club in terms of service or status.

Yet for many Essendon fans of middle-age, Neagle, 54, tragically killed today in a truck accident near Griffith, in New South Wales, will always occupy a special place in their hearts and memories, a pivotal part of long-time coach Kevin Sheedy’s first batch of “Baby Bombers”, and in the breaking of a 19-year premiership drought.

The most definitive memory of an at-times underrated player surely remains the final goal of the famous 1984 flag win, when Essendon turned around a 23-point three-quarter-time deficit against bitter rival Hawthorn after having been belted by a record margin by the Hawks the previous year.

A then-record nine-goal final term delivered the long-suffering Bomber hordes their promised land. Deep into time-on, and with Essendon leading by 18 points came the symbolic exclamation mark, Neagle taking the ball on the outer wing, taking off on a run and delivering the coup de gras with a 55-metre bomb.

Neagle, from Dimboola, like teammate Tim Watson, was a product of the club’s successful country recruiting zone. A saddened Watson said tonight he’d known Neagle his entire life and would always remember him as a “likeable, loveable larrikin”. Watson recalled when they were both paperboys in Dimboola, sitting outside the newsagent waiting to begin their rounds, eagerly scanning the VFL teams, Watson a Richmond supporter, Neagle a Bomber.

As a footballer, even at junior level, Watson recalled a “fiery, volatile” player, “who played his sport with a real edge”. Yet Watson also paid tribute to Neagle’s natural talent. “Because Essendon had such a good side, it was often overlooked how good he was,” he said. “He was a real power athlete, he was quick, and for his size pretty strong overhead.”

Captain of that 1984 premiership team, Terry Daniher was similarly stunned on hearing the news. “He was a terrific hard running player on the wing for us, who gave us his all and had the tenacity to run all day without a spell,” Daniher said. “He was a great mate who loved a beer and loved to be around his teammates. He was just a good bloke.”

Neagle debuted in 1977, but blossomed under the coaching of Barry Davis, his long-striding, distinctive gait matched with some silky delivery into the forward line. By 1980, Neagle had hit peak form on a wing. Playing every game, he racked up an average 25 disposals. Watson was a popular favourite to win the Brownlow Medal that year, but it was Neagle who finished runner-up in the count to Footscray’s Kelvin Templeton.

When Sheedy arrived as coach in 1981, Neagle quickly became a favourite for his mix of skill and an uncompromising, hard-nosed attack on the ball in a side still young, and in the coach’s view in sore need of some toughening up.

The wingman was never slow to fly the flag during a tough era, memorably in 1983 at Princes Park when Robert DiPierdomenico ironed out Essendon’s Alan Stoneham right on the half-time siren. Neagle, almost inevitably, was the first Bomber on the scene to remonstrate.

Neagle was unfortunate to miss out on the second leg of the back-to-back Essendon premierships in 1985, part of the second semi-final win over Hawthorn but a late withdrawal on grand final day through injury.

He then became part of the Geoffrey Edelsten-driven Sydney Swans’ recruiting push, and left the Bombers on big money, offering more of the same value he’d given his original club in another 56 games over five years despite often being hampered by injury, retiring at 32.

Neagle’s son, Jay, played 28 games for Essendon between 2007 and the end of last year, and is now playing in Queensland. Another son, Jydon, plays in the TAC under-18 competition with the Murray Bushrangers, and is a potential father-son recruit in this year’s national draft.

Neagle had this year been coaching Hume Football League club Walla, about 40 kilometres north of Wagga Wagga, after moving his family back to the outpost where his wife, Donna, had grown up.

Winless and bottom of the ladder last season, Walla had risen to the cusp of the finals under his stewardship, despite life on the road making his task a logistical nightmare. “They’ve been getting me home on Thursday nights for training, and I get all my weekends off, but during the week I can end up anywhere,” Neagle told The Sunday Age in a recent interview.

“It’s a terrific little club, mate, and the social side is really strong. We play the game, and I yell at them if we get beat, then we all walk over to the pub, forget about it and have a beer. It’s as simple as that.”

Old school and in many ways a rough diamond, that comment is evidence Neagle simply continued his playing philosophy into his coaching. As sad as was today’s news, he could be certain tonight plenty of old Bomber fans will be, while sharing a beer, determined not to forget about one of their favourites.

Animating the discussion

01/03/2019 // by admin

A scene from The Ricky Gervais Show – with Karl Pilkington on the right.KARL Pilkington is the gift that just keeps on giving for Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.

They always portray him as a kind of adopted idiot nephew – a ”little round-headed buffoon”, as Gervais describes him with typical lack of charity in the intro to each episode – but Pilkington has become a small industry and mid-size pop-culture phenomenon in his own right.

Brits were first introduced to Pilkington’s offbeat, grumpy and frequently bizarre way of looking at the world several years ago when he was producing Gervais’ and Merchant’s London radio show, and became an increasingly integral part of it on air.

Later, Pilkington’s verbal meanderings – a never-predictable blend of homespun wisdom, quotidian anecdotes and obstinate clinging to bone-headed misconceptions – were the entire basis of Gervais’ astonishingly successful podcast, which has been downloaded more than 300 million times.

And Pilkington has since starred in two series of An Idiot Abroad (a third is on the way) and penned a bunch of books.

But it is the podcast that has been recycled for the past three years (with an animated veneer) as this show. And the oddball, taciturn Pilkington remains the star.

Each of the ”pointless conversations” begins with Gervais and Merchant asking Pilkington a question, drawing him out, goading him on and mocking him relentlessly.

Tonight, they begin by asking him to provide some words of inspiration for British troops abroad. Pilkington can think of none to give, and veers off instead to talk about how his older brother was in the army and how he got kicked out. There were various reasons for the discharge, Pilkington explains, including the fact that he borrowed a tank to go to buy cigarettes, and the fact that Pilkington’s mother wrote a letter to his brother’s sergeant asking that he be excused from deployment to Northern Ireland on the grounds that he was new to the army and hadn’t had enough practice.

It might sound like a tall story but, as always, there’s something about Pilkington’s po-faced matter-of-factness and apparently guileless conviction that makes you believe it – or at least want to believe it.

Perhaps the best part of the episode comes when Gervais and Merchant ask Pilkington to recall a time when he showed real courage, and the best he can come up with is the time he dragged a drunken neighbour off the street.

It’s not all comedy gold, but Pilkington fans won’t care. The Hanna-Barbera-style animation is clever and charming and highlights the absurdity of the stories he tells. No self-respecting Pilkington fan should miss it.

Australia Network tender beset by costly delays: committee

01/03/2019 // by admin

A parliamentary inquiry has criticised the waste of more than $1 million in taxpayers’ money by the Gillard government in its botched tender for Australia’s television service into Asia.

The Australia Network saga last year saw public broadcaster the ABC pitted against rival station Sky News, part-owned by News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch, in a contest over a $223 million contract to run the service.

An Auditor-General report in March found the episode had raised doubts over the government’s ability to run a fair tender after Sky News was over-ruled as the winner and the Australia Network handed permanently to the ABC.

A parliamentary inquiry into the report by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit released today criticised the ”substantial” costs of terminating the tender, “both in dollar terms and in reputational terms”.

The tender became embroiled in Labor’s leadership battle between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and former foreign minister Kevin Rudd.

Tensions over the prospect of a private media company with links to Mr Murdoch running Australia’s official public diplomacy channel with reach into more than 40 countries also fuelled controversy – especially following the phone hacking scandal that last year engulfed News Corporation tabloids in Britain.

Despite a cabinet decision to put the rights to run Australia Network out to tender – with Mr Rudd nominating his departmental chief to decide the winner – the government later changed the rules and rejected the findings of an independent panel that twice recommended Sky News be awarded the contract.

Approval for the tender was then shifted to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, despite the risk of a perceived conflict of interest as his department has responsibility for the ABC.

Senator Conroy later terminated the tender blaming media leaks – including to The Age – but only after it was again recommended Sky News run the service.

The committee said “it was unfortunate” the government took nearly five months from the time it called for tenders to a final decision being reached between ministers and departments about who would approve the outcome.

“Disagreement about the approver, and the amendments to the tender that resulted from it, contributed to lengthy delays in the process, which, as the Auditor-General noted in his evidence, increased the risk of the process being compromised,” the committee found.

The committee also raised concern that government agencies had not ”well received” the findings of the auditor’s report.

The committee recommend lessons from the episode include the need to make clear decision makers, ensure better handling of confidential information, and full disclosure of criteria for decisions.

“Public disclosure of the approval process at the outset of a tender process would reduce the risk of uncertainty even further,” the committee found.

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Police heavy-handed at football violence: witness

01/03/2019 // by admin

Police officers have been accused of heavy-handedness as violence marred a pre-season soccer match involving an A-League side in Sydney’s west.

One spectator was arrested and 13 others were thrown out from last night’s game at Edensor Park, in west Sydney, between new A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney United FC, which plays in the NSW Premier League, police said.

The trouble started when a firecracker was thrown into the crowd, a police spokesman said.

When up to six officers tried to get to the man who threw it, about 60 people pushed forward and became aggressive, trying to stop the arrest, police said.

Police said one officer used capsicum spray during the scuffle. The game continued, but with a strong police presence.

A 27-year-old man was arrested and later given a court attendance notice for offences including assaulting police and resisting arrest.

Accusations of police brutality have further inflamed tensions.

However, witnesses have claimed the police officers were heavy-handed with one saying he saw “scenes I’ve never seen before”.

The witness said that security officers had pointed out the man accused of lighting the flare but, instead of approaching him and taking him away, the police “started pushing and spraying anyone within a 20-metre radius”.

“Behind the grandstand … a bloke was on the ground [with] three policemen on top of him and a little cadet policewomen kicking him on the floor while he was already detained.”

The witness said he was sprayed with capsicum spray from five metres away and when he asked the officer why, “he then pushed me to the floor and took me away”.

“I don’t condone the lighting of the firecracker … but what followed was disgraceful by our police,” he said.

The game continued, but with a strong police presence.

A police spokesman said no comment would be made regarding police conduct.

Several soccer fans supported the police action saying firecrackers were a banned item and the crowd was badly behaved.

A 27-year-old man was arrested and later given a court attendance notice for offences including assaulting police and resisting arrest.

Another witness said the surrounding Sydney United fans were not to blame.

“[The] bunga was lit and went off, five to six cops came running over, they then tried to push through the crowd to get to one guy. But couldn’t get to him, that’s when it all turned ugly. Out came the pepper spray, in came the reinforcements.”

“Football at all levels will spend whatever time and effort is required to ensure matches are played in a family-friendly atmosphere where people can enjoy football,” outgoing FFA chief executive Ben Buckley said.

Previous violence

The incident comes a week after violence marred a warm-up game between A-League club Sydney FC and the Macarthur Rams, a NSW League side.

During that game a flare was let off, a man was knocked out and a young boy was hit on the head with a rock at Campbelltown Stadium.

Fans of the Western Sydney Wanderers quickly established that those who incited the trouble belonged to a group called the Sin City Crew – a clan formerly aligned with Sydney FC’s main supporter group, The Cove.

The group then threw a flare towards a group of Sydney FC fans who in turn hurled it back, which then sparked the scuffle.

Witnesses said a bin was thrown and a Wanderers fan was kicked in the head and had to be taken to Campbelltown Hospital. Police said a six-year-old boy was also hurt by a rock in the melee which took place in front of 2300 fans.

After that incident Sydney FC chief Tony Pignata was outraged, saying “it’s just not acceptable”.

Two men at the centre of the violent scenes face five-year bans from matches authorised by the Football Federation Australia.- with AAP and smh南京夜网.au

‘He could still walk’: Ivy bouncer

01/03/2019 // by admin

A bouncer accused of assaulting a young man at the fashionable Ivy nightclub says he kicked him in an act of self-defence after the patron spat on him.

Menelaus Hendra has pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm over the violent attack on Nicholas Barsoum on August 28 last year.

Under cross-examination in the Downing Centre District Court today, Mr Hendra said he used his martial arts skills to ensure the kick was a measured blow.

”I didn’t want to be spat at again, it’s disgusting,” Mr Hendra, who was the second in charge of security on the night, told the jury.

The Crown Prosecutor, Craig Patrick, suggested to Mr Hendra that he was not acting in self-defence because he had ”no fear at all that this man was going to hurt you”.

”You wanted Mr Barsoum to suffer harm as a result of what you perceived was an attack he made on Ivy security,” Mr Patrick said.

Mr Hendra, who is representing himself in the trial, said: ”That’s far from the truth”.

However, he admitted that as 2IC he had the power to instruct the other security guards to stop their assault on the then 19-year-old.

He also said CCTV footage from the club’s basement appeared to show him standing by watching as the other bouncers delivered a series of blows.

”It looks like I’m looking in their direction,” he said.

However, he denied that Mr Barsoum was ”disabled” by the guards, saying ”he could still walk”.

Mr Barsoum was thrown out of the George Street nightspot after an early-morning altercation with his ex-girlfriend, Gabriella Libertini.

Earlier this week, Mr Barsoum told the court he came back to the club after an alleged assault by security in an alley to confront the bouncers and ”find out who hit me”.

The prosecution says the teenager was then dragged to nightclub’s basement where he was placed on a stool before being punched and kicked. He suffered a broken nose, perforated ear drum and cuts to his face and head.

The trial before Judge Peter Berman continues.