Archive for June, 2019

Jun 10 2019

Name, colours swap mooted during Swans’ tough times

The Sydney Swans could have become the Sydney Redbacks or even the Two Blues of Sydney, and the club’s famous red-and-white colours changed had ideas developed to breathe life into the then struggling club in the early 1990s come to fruition.

And there were even suggestions of a merger with North Melbourne, who were also facing financial struggles during that period.

The Swans are about to play in their 15th finals series in 18 season and have a record membership approaching 37,000 but the outlook was far from rosy when chairman Richard Colless joined the club’s board in 1993.

The Swans won just one game that season and completed a 26-game losing streak while they also struggled off the field where they had just 3097 members and were facing financial ruin.

Colless, whose 20-year reign will finish next February, told Fox Footy’s On The Couch program on Monday night the club had contemplated changing its name and colours and redesigning its jumper in 1993, and also revealed talk of a possible merger with North Melbourne.

Asked by Fairfax Media on Tuesday to elaborate on some of the moves being considered, Colless said there was even a mock design for a jumper drawn up though he stressed talks had never stretched beyond an unofficial capacity.

One design involved a predominantly light blue jumper with a waratah logo to ”play the NSW card”, Colless said.

Colless said the Swans moniker, which is now synonymous with the code in Sydney, was also in danger of dying with a Redback (spider) among those in contention to come in.

”But there could have been other names that were linked to Sydney and NSW,” Colless said. ”What’s important to understand is this was all unofficial. I had no mandate from the club to do it.”

The name Two Blues was also being considered, according to former North Melbourne chief executive Ron Joseph, who was sent to Sydney by the AFL in 1993 to help identify why the code was struggling in NSW. ”When I was in Sydney there were some blokes there on the board that thought the club should be the Two Blues of Sydney,” Joseph said.

”I didn’t believe that and said so and was told I was a typical Victorian who didn’t understand how Sydney worked.”

Colless said former North Melbourne powerbroker Mark Dawson had initiated the merger discussions, which were soon abandoned after about five or six meetings. The talks were so secret some key North officials from the early 1990s were not aware of them when contacted by Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

Under the proposal, North would have played their home games in Melbourne and their away matches in Sydney, which would have allowed the AFL to retain its place in the city.

Colless and Dawson both agreed it was more a takeover than a merger.

Discussions did not move as far as a team name being canvassed though Dawson said North were keen to be rebranded the Kangaroos with no geographical ties. The team’s colours would have been blue and white.

”Kangaroos gave us flexibility,” Dawson said. ”Where we trained and played didn’t really matter.”

Colless does not regret engaging in merger talks but is happy the Swans retained their links with South Melbourne.

”We didn’t have a committee which we’d set up to look at all this change,” Colless said.

”These were changes that were delivered to us and we thought it was worth looking at. Very quickly most of them, for whatever reason, were not going to work.

”If we changed the colours we would have killed the South Melbourne end of the relationship which would have made us a far less potent and far less passionate football club.”

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Jun 10 2019

Timana Tahu, cage fighter: video  

Timana Tahu shows his style against Jason Nightingale of the Dragons last year. Picture GETTY IMAGES PUNCHY: Timana Tahu in the gym.

HE has played both rugby codes at the highest level, and now Timana Tahu is ready for an even more daunting challenge as a professional cage fighter.

Promoters of the Combat 8 series, a hybrid of boxing and mixed martial arts, will hold a press conference today to announce signing the veteran Newcastle Knights centre to a two-fight deal.

The 32-year-old’s contract with the Knights expires at the end of this season, but he is considering an offer to re-sign.

His manager, Warwick Wright, said last night that his client had the club’s blessing to pursue this new venture.

‘‘We’re just working through things with the Knights, but both parties are keen for him to go around again,’’ Wright said.

‘‘Timana loves the club and has a really good relationship with [coach] Wayne Bennett and [chief executive] Matt Gidley.

‘‘Football is still his priority, but this opportunity has come up and it’s something he’s always wanted to do.’’

While Sonny Bill Williams, Quade Cooper and Paul Gallen have followed the trail blazed by Anthony Mundine from the football field to the boxing ring, Tahu will become the first high-profile footballer to test himself in the brutal arena of cage fighting.

And Combat 8 chief executive Nathan Swadling believes the former Kangaroos and Wallabies flyer has the ability to make cage fighting a new career path.

‘‘Oh, definitely,’’ Swadling said yesterday.

‘‘He’s just an athletic guy … in terms of strength. At Penrith, Parramatta and the Knights, Timana has always been one of the top three in the gym.

‘‘He’s got all the attributes that if he wants to take it on full-time, he’s certainly going to turn a lot of heads.’’

Tahu will not be diving into the unknown. He is close friends with Sydney-based Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor James Te Huna.

And in 2011 he travelled to Colorado for a fortnight of intense training with former UFC light-heavyweight world champion Quinton ‘‘Rampage’’ Jackson.

‘‘The difference between Timana and other footballers is that he’s been training for the past 2 years with James Te Huna,’’ Swadling said.

‘‘When James is getting ready for his fights, he actually does a lot of heavy sparring with Timana.

‘‘And when he flew over to America to train, they couldn’t believe he was a rugby league footballer. They just assumed he was another fighter.’’

Swadling said Tahu would fight in the under-93-kilogram light-heavyweight division and should know his first opponents by the end of the week.

Another such fighter is former England cricketer Adam Hollioake.

Tahu’s debut bout will be at Newcastle Panthers on November9 and his second on March1, the week before the 2014 NRL season kicks off, at a venue to be decided.

‘‘I’ve known for a while that Timana had a strong interest in mixed martial arts, and I just asked him how serious he was about it,’’ Swadling said.

‘‘He said, ‘I’d love to. It’s one of those things that I’d like to tick off after my football career,’ and he started to seriously consider it.

‘‘We met up for coffee and agreed to start looking for an opponent.’’

Combat 8 non-title fights are contested over three three-minute rounds.

Unlike in UFC, kicking, elbowing and kneeing are not permitted.

Jun 10 2019

Matt Hilder keen to play: Buderus

RETIRING Knights veteran Danny Buderus believes fellow elder statesman Matt Hilder would revel in the atmosphere of Old Boys’ Day if given the chance to play against Parramatta at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.

Injuries to captain Kurt Gidley (foot) and Craig Gower (neck) have left the Knights without a back-up hooker for the game against the wooden-spooners, which Newcastle will almost certainly have to win to secure seventh spot and a place in the finals.

In the only personnel change to the team that rallied to beat Brisbane 26-18 at Suncorp Stadium on Friday, coach Wayne Bennett named Jeremy Smith to return from fractured ribs at lock, pushing Alex McKinnon back to the bench.

In Gidley’s absence, Tyrone Roberts will resume his position as starting halfback.

Bennett did not name Hilder yesterday, but the 31-year-old workhorse trained at dummy-half and Buderus suggested he could spend time there on Sunday.

Utility forward Neville Costigan, named on the bench alongside McKinnon, Chris Houston and David Fa’alogo, has occasionally filled in at dummy-half with varying degrees of success, and fullback Darius Boyd could slot in during attacking sets while Buderus takes a breather.

But Buderus would not be surprised to see Hilder, who has switched between hooker and lock for most of his 11-year NRL career, included in the final 17-man squad for the Once-A-Knight Old Boys’ annual reunion game.

‘‘There’s all different things you can do to lighten the workload. You can put Darius in there for a couple of sets, different things like that,’’ Buderus said.

‘‘We’ve got Matty Hilder there, who’s very versatile, and he’s a great club man.

‘‘It’s pretty ironic if he was get to play in front of the Old Boys, because he’s an Old Boys sort of player, and if he does play, then I’m sure he’ll do a good job, Matty Hilder.’’

Voted Players’ Player of the Year in 2010 and 2011, Hilder has played just two NRL games this season, spending most of the year at lock for Newcastle’s finals-bound NSW Cup team.

Having joined the Knights in 2008, Hilder has played 97 NRL games for the club, taking his career tally to 197, and has signed a one-year second-tier deal to stay in Newcastle next season.

Buderus, who played 58 minutes against the Broncos, did not anticipate playing a full game against the Eels but said he would do whatever it took in his last game on home soil.

‘‘I’m looking forward to that. I don’t have to hold anything back, because this is my last hurrah, and I’ll do anything for the team leading into the run home,’’ he said.

‘‘I want to finish on a good note, and if that means playing as many minutes as I can, then so be it.

‘‘We haven’t got too many hookers in the club at the moment, so we’ll have to manufacture something.

‘‘We’re playing for something. We’re playing for a semi-final series, and that’s what this group has been working towards for 18 months now, so you’d like to think it will be a really good performance.’’

The Cowboys, Warriors and Titans (all 26 points) are within one of the seventh-placed Knights (27) and they all play on Saturday.

If at least two of those teams win, the Knights would have to beat the Eels to make the finals, but Buderus said they were treating it as a must-win game regardless.

‘‘I was under the impression that it was going to be two games that we had to win anyway, so that’s the mentality we’ve always had,’’ he said.

‘‘The performance will hopefully be semi-final intensity from our side of things, and we need to play well to get to the semi-finals. If we don’t win, we don’t deserve to be there, so at the end of the day we have to play well.’’

Buderus was a spectator for what was supposed to have been his last home game in 2008 after suffering a ruptured biceps a week earlier, so he experienced bittersweet feelings during laps of honour before and after that match, a 17-16 victory over defending premiers Melbourne.

‘‘I’m sure once you’re walking around there, and you see the fans and the familiar faces, you’ll probably get a bit emotional, but that’s for Sunday,’’ he said.

‘‘At the moment, it’s a game we’re building up towards, and I’m excited about playing in front of the Old Boys, because it’s a game I’ve always loved and always cherished.

‘‘I’ve said it before. I’ve said my goodbyes … back in 2008 and I was highly emotional back then, thinking I’d never play for the Knights [again].

‘‘But to think I’ve come back here again and I’ve been well received by all the fans, and the crowd’s been great, so to say goodbye one last time, I’m very lucky and privileged.’’

Matt Hilder in training on Tuesday. Picture Anita Jones

Jun 10 2019

Academics accuse Abbott of politicising curriculum

Educators have responded to Tony Abbott’s attack on the national history curriculum by accusing him of planning to put a political stamp on the subject if he wins office.

In an address to the National Press Club on Monday, Mr Abbott bemoaned the national history curriculum’s “focus on issues which are the predominant concern of one side of politics”.

“I think the unions are mentioned far more than business,” he said. “I think there are a couple of Labor prime ministers who get a mention, from memory, not a single Coalition prime minister”.

An HSC-level unit in the curriculum on Australian history from 1919 to the World War II explicitly refers to former Liberal prime minister Robert Menzies.

Students do study labour movements, in topics on the industrial revolution, conscription and the emergence of political parties.

Louise Zarmati Wood, from the University of Western Sydney, one of the authors of the national curriculum, defended it against Mr Abbott’s criticism: “They need to sit down and read it before they make these statements because that is factually incorrect,” she said. “[The labour movement] is one of the foundational points in our country, but we look at the Menzies era too.

“It’s an attempt to put his own political stamp on [history].”

Labor said Mr Abbott was planning to intervene in the curriculum and reignite the so-called “history wars”.

“Disregarding the years of work by curricula experts and months of consultation, Mr Abbott foreshadowed his intention to insert lessons on Coalition prime ministers,” the Minister for Education, Bill Shorten, said.

Mr Shorten said the curriculum had been developed independently and approved by all state governments.

But Mr Abbott ruled out dictating any changes.

The so-called history wars flared up under former prime minister John Howard, with fiery debates between liberal and conservative thinkers about how to accurately characterise Australia’s colonial past. Disputes arose between historians including over the treatment of the stolen generations and the extent of white killing of Aboriginal people.

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Jun 10 2019

Ford workers face bleak Christmas

Trouble: Ford Falcon sales have dipped to their lowest in 53 years. Photo: Luis Enrique AscuiFord Australia workers could be forced to take crucial pay cuts heading into Christmas after sales of the company’s locally made Falcon and Territory variants failed to improve during August.

Monthly figures released on Wednesday by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries will confirm that Falcon sales have dipped to their lowest levels in 53 years, with about 580 vehicles sold during August. Preliminary numbers also show the Falcon’s SUV sibling, the Territory, fell to about 800 sales during the same month.

The performances contributed to a 20 per cent drop in overall sales for the Blue Oval brand compared with the corresponding period last year.

Ford Australia is halfway through a 12-day shutdown spread across August and September. Of Ford’s 1200 manufacturing employees, 750 have been stood down on half-wages, with the option of topping up their salaries using annual leave entitlements.

The August sales result followed a previous record low of 594 Falcons sales during July. Ford will now consider whether to schedule more down days at its Broadmeadows plant in the approach to Christmas. It is understood the federal election result on Saturday will be a key consideration.

Ford spokeswoman Sinead Phipps said six of the 12 shutdown days already flagged were directly attributable to recent changes to the fringe benefits tax. The controversial FBT adjustments, labelled by the car industry a $1.8 billion rort, have become an important policy issue.

”The 12 days that we currently have are spread equally across August and September, and we’ll see what happens in September before we decide if we need to do any more or not,” she said.

”The [August] figures are in line with what our dealers were reporting back when the FBT changes were implemented, so there was no great surprise.”

Dave Smith, the national secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union vehicle division, disputed the significance of the recent FBT changes.

”To be quite honest, I’m pretty dirty,” he said of Ford Australia’s reaction to the changes.

”The government announced the changes to the FBT and it was only a matter of days that the company was out announcing more down days. Ford have made a decision to pull the pin on manufacturing in Australia – it’s no coincidence that there’s been a massive drop in their sales. It’s a direct result of that decision.

Ford arch-rival Holden mostly weathered the so-called effects of FBT changes in August by posting about 2800 sales of its new VF Commodore, an increase of 400 cars compared with August 2012.

The Mazda3 was the top-selling car in August with 4180 sales, ahead of the Toyota Corolla (3680), which remains the highest seller for the first eight months of the year.

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