BOO-ing on ANZAC Day?
Gee, some of our alcohol-fuelled behaviour is a bit rich these days.
I don’t think I’ve missed an ANZAC service in Orange for a while. Once again the march and the following service proved to be moving and appropriate experiences for all in attendance. I’m all for the ‘Aussie way’ of paying respect to those who deserve it, reverence first, then celebrating with a beer (and in the ANZAC’s case, some two-up) afterward, but the way in which some of us appear to be showing our respect for those who died for us has taken things to a level where it makes taking advantage of the ‘young and free’ thing look like a country of ungrateful yahoos, not those who live in the Lucky Country.
I remember it as clear as yesterday, the first time I booed someone on a footy field. A warm winter Sunday arvo in 1979. Sydney Sports Ground (now the soon-to-be remodelled Sydney Football Stadium). My dad was a mad Roosters supporter, and I have one blue eye and one white eye for the Doggies. With my Steve Mortimer #7 halfback jersey on, dad and I caught the train down from Woy Woy, knowing that one of us would have bragging rights on the trip home at 5pm. The old wooden benches at the Sports Ground provided about as much support as the Bulldog army could give George Peponis and the boys … we were flogged by the Tri-colours with their mercurial winger, Kerry Boustead, bagging a brace of tries and causing carnage every time he touched the ball. With the game well and truly out of our reach, Kerry hurt his leg and moved to the sideline. Doing what I thought was the right thing, I joined in the chorus of boo-ing from the other Doggies supporters nearby. My dad was very quick to not only chastise me for doing so, but he gave me a positive lecture on why it wasn’t appropriate to boo someone or to be happy when a player was injured. Lesson learned at age 12 ½. Even when the Doggies, the Wallabies, the Swans, our cricketers, or any other teams that I’m watching live have gone under, (even if I’ve got a few beers under my belt) I’m now forever appreciative of the work of the other team, it can’t always be my blokes who win. Thanks dad.
What a shame that booze gets in the way on ANZAC day and takes the real stories off the front page. We’ve had issues of alcohol-fuelled behaviour at pubs, with policemen and staff being abused and assaulted as they do their job on arguably our most important day. I don’t think that’s what our forefathers had in mind when they earned us a privileged lifestyle. It might be time for our magistrates to set a high bar in these areas if we want things to change. And then there was the boo-ing of the Collingwood player, as he accepted his man of the match award. Wow, booze, anonymity and safety in numbers is a bad combination. The match was over, the result on the scoreboard, but the boo-ing went on. A lot was made of both the alcohol rages and the boo-ing in the days following ANZAC day – with some people astonishingly finding ways to defend both of these type of actions. No excuses for either. The head coach of the poor ol’ player who got booed summed it up by saying “Shame on you for booing a champion”. I’m going further and saying “Shame on you for bringing any part of our most important day into disrepute”. I’d like to think we’ll do better next year, but …