Archive for September, 2019

Sep 12 2019

Fevola faces bankruptcy over debt

Bad times: Brendan Fevola at the EJ Whitten luncheon in June. Photo: Angela Wylie Back together?: Brendan Fevola and wife Alex holidayed in Vanuatu in August. Photo: Instagram

Brendan Fevola on the field for the Casey Scorpions in 2011. Photo: Mal Fairclough

brendan fevola

Fevola tries his luck in Vanuatu

Former Carlton star Brendan Fevola faces bankruptcy over a $7200 debt to a Brisbane businessman who claims he lent the full-forward the money to help him get back on his feet.

Builder Lou Menniti said he loaned Fevola the money in 2011 after visiting the footballer in the New Farm Clinic, where he was receiving treatment for alcohol and gambling addictions.

At the time, Fevola was awaiting a payout from the Brisbane Lions, who had sacked him in February for ”serious or wilful misconduct” after a series of alcohol-related incidents.

”We got a bit friendly and talking – I said, ‘You’ve got to get back on your feet, get off the bloody drink, get back with your wife’,” Menniti said.

He said Fevola told him he needed $7000 to pay school fees for his children, who were at the time living in Melbourne with his wife Alex.

Menniti alleges that, after Fevola received his payout, the footballer left Brisbane without repaying the money.

”I’ve tried to ring his mobile since that day – he’ll never pick the phone up,” he said.

Menniti said he had tried everything to recover the money before turning to the courts.

”All he had to do was ring and apologise,” he said. ”He did nothing like that, thought he’d get away with it, and I just got upset with that so I put it in the hands of my lawyers. They’ll teach him a lesson so that he doesn’t do that again to anyone.”

Fevola said he did not know Menniti and was unaware of the proceedings, filed last month in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane.

”It’s not me,” Fevola said, then added: ”There’s not too many Brendan Fevolas around.”

Fevola entered rehab on January 2, 2011, after he was arrested on New Year’s Eve for obstructing police and being a public nuisance.

He was traded from Carlton to the Brisbane Lions in late 2009 after a series of incidents, including a drunken rampage at that year’s Brownlow Medal ceremony.

Fevola has been playing for Yarrawonga in recent seasons.

A hearing of the bankruptcy case is set for September 25 in Brisbane.

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Sep 12 2019

New order: Federer back in the pack

Roger Federer has finished his grand slam season without a finals appearance for the first time since 2002, humbled in straight sets in the fourth round of the US Open by 19th seed Tommy Robredo.

Federer aborted a recent experiment with a new racquet, and has struggled with a bad back, but it is increasingly hard to imagine this alarm will be false.

The evidence is mounting. It was Federer’s earliest US Open exit since before he won the first of his five titles in 2004. Combined with his shock second-round Wimbledon loss – his first pair of consecutive losses before the quarter-final stage of a major since 2003.

The seventh seed’s first failure against Robredo after 10 consecutive wins, coming soon after three losses to players ranked outside the top 50. And then there was the manner of his exit: not just how many errors, but by how much he was missing: plenty.

”Confidence does all these things. It takes care of all the things you don’t usually think about,” the 17-time grand slam man said after faltering 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-4. ”But I just think it’s been a difficult last three months.”

In, clearly, an altered world. One where opponents believe now. Sniff a vulnerability. Exploit it.

”Obviously Roger, when he was No.1, to the Roger right now, he’s not maybe with the same confidence,” said Robredo. ”Obviously he’s the same player and he plays unbelievable, but I knew that if right now I had a little bit more chances, maybe he will have a little bit of doubt.”

While Robredo said the sole difference was Federer’s inability to convert more than two of his 16 break points, compared with the Spaniard’s four from seven, the setting was unfamiliar too. Some schedule juggling on the second heavily rain-disrupted day at Flushing Meadows meant that Federer played not on his regular centre court home, but on Louis Armstrong Stadium, for the first time since 2006.

”I kind of feel like I beat myself … without taking any credit away from Tommy,” Federer said. ”It was up to me to make the difference and I couldn’t. I kind of self-destructed. I’ve definitely got to go back to work and come back stronger.”

As Robredo celebrated, Federer departed with his head down. Stunned, probably, like everyone. Still going, but backwards. Painful viewing for Fedophiles everywhere.

So much, then, for the first Federer v Rafael Nadal match at Flushing Meadows. Instead, that quarter-final will feature Robredo v Nadal – who is yet to drop serve in four rounds, or lose on hardcourts in 19 matches this year – and sweated past Philipp Kohlschreiber after dropping the first set.

A third Spaniard, David Ferrer, will meet France’s Richard Gasquet, who won in five marathon sets against Canadian Milos Raonic.

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Sep 12 2019

Cats myth out of the bag

The buggies get top spot at Corio Oval in 1912. Photo: Supplied Corio Oval, 1926.

The local paper on August 16, 1897, was all over the whiff of something big on the horizon. ”An event of much importance”, beamed the Geelong Advertiser front-page headline – alerting readers to a ”Geo. Rowlands clearing sale” offering everything from colonial tweed suits to toilet covers.

Elsewhere, ”A lover’s quarrel” reported the grim tale of a Bendigo miner leaving the house of ”a young lady to whom he had been paying attention” and ending it all ”with a dynamite cap placed in the mouth and exploded by some means”. Another report told of two children in Staffordshire, England perishing after eating ”alleged Australian mutton”; another warned of the danger to the young of ”that popular article” chewing gum, believed to contain 18 per cent paraffin wax.

Handy hints were offered on the uplifting chore of clothes washing, and advertisements for Prima Donna corsets – ”perfect shape, comfort and style” – sat alongside bald proclamations like: ”Diptheria – don’t let your little ones die”.

Australia was crawling out of a depression, and in the third winter of a seven-year drought. It is little wonder the Addy also reported that ”it will be gratifying news to the public of Geelong and district … to learn that, in all probability, another senior club match in connection with the Victorian Football League premiership will be played in this town this season”.

Blainey recalls

Geoffrey Blainey was seven when his father first took him to see the Cats play at Corio Oval in 1937. He was struck by how well-dressed the spectators were – ordinary, working class people who donned suits and hats to stand in the outer. He can picture a similar scene at the one and only final played in Geelong, 40 years earlier.

”Things were still depressed – thousands of households had their main breadwinner on the Western Australian goldfields, and depended on the money that would arrive by post,” the Geelong fan and renowned historian says of the VFL’s first season. The tyranny of distance puts some perspective on the concerns Fremantle fans have about the task before them this Saturday.

Col Hutchinson, whose Cats’ credentials need no further expansion than the fact that Saturday will be his 1150th Geelong game in a row, says away fans for that first final, against Essendon, would either have crossed the bay on a steamer doing the Melbourne-Portarlington-Geelong run, or if they had less time and more money, travelled by train.

The crowd was recorded as 5000, barely half of attendances common at the time, but Hutchinson has an explanation. ”The majority of the football public wouldn’t have understood the concept of finals, particularly with the round-robin version used that year,” the AFL statistician and historian says of a game that didn’t reach the anticipatory fervour of this week’s clash.

Blainey has fond memories of Corio Oval, a north-south ground situated in a hollow below the botanical gardens (where the Geelong Conference Centre now stands). A few supporters squeezed into two grandstands, but most stood on the embankment or watched from their horse and buggy. ”There’s no sign of it now whatsoever, which is astonishing. You’d think there’d be a bit of embankment or something, but it’s vanished completely.”

Humble venue

Relative to Simonds Stadium in 2014 it was a humble venue, yet far outstripped the Kardinia Park of the successful early 1950s. Bill McMaster, who jokes of 1897 that he’d ”just finished then” (but in truth was Geelong’s ruckman in that dual premiership era), says the players of his time wouldn’t have wanted a home final even if they’d been offered one.

”Everybody was pleased to get off the ground and go to Melbourne and play,” McMaster says, recalling a crowd nearing 50,000 at the last home and away game of 1952, when he reckons at least 10,000 couldn’t have even seen the game. A solitary grandstand, one row of seats behind the fence, and that was it – yet the state of the surface was far more primitive.

”The east wing of the ground, the drainage had broken down. There were potholes that were full of water, and it was green slime. At the end of ’51 we couldn’t train on the ground, we trained for the grand final out at the Grammar School. And ’52 was a record wet year – the road was closed out near Lara and nobody could get through.”

Having the benefit of a then-and-now picture fills the 83-year-old with pride. ”It’s a feeling of gratification, it’s a feeling of pride in the club,” says McMaster, who’ll be there on Saturday, ”my word I will”.

”To see it now, all the good facilities, the way the club’s being run, the sort of players who are there … the whole thing, I’m very, very proud of the way the club’s being run, the way it shows itself. It’s a great place, the footy club down here at present.”

Geelong stars

While Blainey says many of the best footballers would have been among those searching for gold in WA, Hutchinson reports that the 1897 final included many big Geelong names.

Like Peter ”The Great” Burns, hailed as the complete footballer of his day; Teddy Rankin, whose great-great grandson Gary O’Donnell would captain Essendon; three of the famous McShane brothers; Billy Pincott, who was related to Sam Newman; various men named Arthur and Archie, Jack, Jim and even Firth.

The Addy called the weather ”excellent” and the attendance ”particularly numerous”, and praised the ”warm work” of one team in front of the other’s citadel, and the ”vigorous response” of the other in breaching its opponent’s territory. After ”an adjournment for rest and refreshment”, known today as half-time, the Cats took a 12-point lead into the last quarter, immediately increased it to three goals, but were overrun as Essendon rattled home with the last four goals, capped by a Harry Wright place kick.

Contemporary football reporting has moved some distance from this simple and pure record of events, but one aspect hasn’t changed. ”The umpiring of the game was not by any means satisfactory, and the majority of the players appeared to be greatly displeased with it,” the Geelong Advertiser report concluded.

In his 1984 book Cats’ Tales, Hutchinson wrote that the main issue of contention was the umpire’s methods when throwing the ball back into play from the boundary, sometimes almost bowling it along the ground, others throwing it wildly over the head of the rucks, and firing it with frequency ”to one particular man that took up a position apart from the rest of the followers”.

It would not surprise legions of angst-ridden football fans to find that the umpire’s name was Crapp.

Home-final hopes

Blainey hopes the home-final formline doesn’t continue, but admits he’s never confident. ”I used to be when I was young, but I’m never surprised by defeat now.” Having never thought he’d see his Cats on their own ground in September, he will herald the occasion whatever the result.

His glass half-empty take gives Ross Lyon and Fremantle hope, and the many thousands who can’t wait for Saturday’s historic occasion reason to draw a calming breath. ”It’s remarkable they’ve won 48 of the last 50, but then a lot of the good teams never play at Geelong. It’s largely mythology that Geelong are unbeatable at Kardinia Park.”

Or, for that matter, at Corio Oval.

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Sep 12 2019

Cashing in on Cup, win or lose

International owners and trainers don’t have to win the Melbourne Cup to make big money, thanks to Australia’s addiction to European bloodstock, with millions of dollars to be made without even making the trip to Melbourne.

With a purse of $6.2million, the Melbourne Cup is already recognised as the world’s most lucrative staying race, and is now a cash cow for European trainers and owners keen to offload their horses in a market desperate for quality stayers, and Australians are only too happy to pay top dollar for a ticket in the Cup raffle.

Racing Victoria’s international recruitment officer, Leigh Jordon, continues to be amazed by the sheer volume of European stayers purchased by Australians each year in the hope of gaining a start in the Cup.

”The numbers of horses being bought and the prices being put on them is quite amazing and the prices only increase as we get nearer to the race,” he said.

”I have no doubt that some of the horses nominated for the race this year are only there to be sold to Australian owners – it’s definitely a big factor.”

With just about every local bloodstock agent chasing a European ”cups horse” for clients, European owners lucky enough to have a horse qualified or with the potential to qualify for the Melbourne Cup are selling their way to massive financial gain, often seven-figure sums, such is the craze to secure horses in time.

Fiorente, the 2012 Melbourne Cup runner-up, is typical of the money that can be made for European owners. On the market in May last year for a reported $US500,000, he was subsequently purchased for more than $1million by clients of Gai Waterhouse in September.

With the race itself having reached its peak as far as international exposure is concerned, Jordon said his challenge now was to recruit major owners and trainers that have been reluctant to participate in the race, citing the likelihood of European racing and breeding heavyweight the Aga Khan’s first Australian runner, French mare Varema, as a highlight of his career.

”It’s not about getting numbers now, it’s about convincing those that have not yet come that this is a race that they should be involved in,” he said.

”Convincing the Niarchos family to come, and getting a Cup win for Godolphin, are my high priorities.”

Among the final list of 135 entries for this year’s Cup are 28 overseas-trained horses.

Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has nominated three horses, including star three-year-old Leading Light, as has regular visitor Godolphin, while 2011 Cup winner Dunaden also holds an entry.

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Sep 12 2019

Inner drive keeps Gourley motoring

Australia’s Mitchell Gourley wins gold in the giant slalom at the world cup event at Thredbo on Tuesday. Photo: Jeff CrowMitchell Gourley has always had the drive to do just a bit better than the next person on the sporting field. It began to show itself with games of backyard cricket against his older brother Cameron that would end with cricket bats and balls flying at – and hitting – each other.

In hindsight, Gourley knows that it was more than sibling rivalry that caused the competitive spirit. Gourley was born without the lower part of his left arm, and always felt that he had something to prove, a conviction that drove him to play not only cricket, but football and basketball as well as travelling to the ski-fields with his family on the weekends.

“I was the standard younger brother and … I always nipping at (Cameron’s) heels and trying to do what he did and try and be better,” Gourley said.

“We had some doozies in the backyard. There were cricket balls flying, cricket bats and all kinds of (things) like that.

“Obviously I knew that I had one arm but I didn’t really think about it. You don’t start thinking about it until you get to an age when kids start pointing it out and you go, ‘Oh whatever’.

“(But) I was pretty lucky, I didn’t have too many issues. A lot people probably go through a bit of bullying at school and obviously I’d like to see it not happen to people in the future but I was pretty lucky.

“The opportunity to compete against able-bodied guys is something that you always, especially for someone who had a congenital (disability) or lost their leg really early, you’ve got more to prove at school or at footy or cricket or whatever you’re doing at the time.

“I don’t know whether that’s a chip on your shoulder or what but there’s just a little bit more drive because you’ve got something to prove so you probably compete a lot harder and try a lot harder.

“I think that is something that happened with me without me really knowing it.”

Gourley, who has been a strong performer on the world cup circuit, is one of Australia’s best medal chances at next year’s Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi. This week at a world cup event at Thredbo, the 22-year-old Victorian backed up his results from the New Zealand event late last month where he won three silver medals and one bronze medal, by winning the giant slalom races (standing classification) on Monday and Tuesday.

In albeit small fields that do not include many of the top European rivals, Australian competitors had an improved performance on the slopes on Tuesday after disappointing first-up races on Monday. In addition to Gourley’s second gold in Tuesday’s giant slalom races, retiring triple Paralympian Cameron Rahles-Rahbula (standing) and Jess Gallagher (visually impaired) won silvers while Tori Pendergast (sitting) won bronze.

The focus now moves to slalom races Wednesday and Thursday.

With Australia likely to send a team of about five alpine skiers and two snowboarders to Sochi, Gourley said he hoped that success there would translate into increased recognition for the athletes who have remained in the shadow of their summer colleagues who enjoyed great exposure at the London Paralympics.

“We probably don’t have the exposure that the summer guys do and particularly in Aust and particularly after London and that can be a tough pill to swallow sometimes,” he said.

“We probably feel like the attention should be starting to shift (to winter sports) but we’re still in this London afterglow not only in the Australian media but even with the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) which can be tough to swallow because we work just as hard.

“I think that’s probably a misconception that maybe the winter guys don’t. It’s (similar) to what people think about surfers. No one thinks surfers go to the gym but they do, the best guys in the world don’t sit around sitting smoking weed and drinking beer these days. Sport has become professional so you’ve got to work harder or you get left behind.”

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