News, views and abuse from Australia
Five back-to-back A League matches make for an interesting scheduling experience, says Aussie-based Anglo journo Paul Winslow
The post-Christmas apocalypse in the UK is easier to bear for football fans. Matches come thick and fast and there's plenty to do in that time between taking the tinsel down and realising that you were never going to give up booze for a whole month anyway. And crazy scheduling means there are matches on most night to keep you interested. The world may be cold and miserable, the bank balance may be alarming, but football can ease you through.
In Australia there's no such requirement for entertainment. Summer's here and Australians don't so much retreat into their shelters for January as cavort around like new-born lambs in spring time. Christmas isn't the end of the year, it's the start of the summer. Most people take the week after Christmas off and even then the Australia Day holiday on January 26 is on the horizon, helping to make the return to work more palatable.
So there's no need for sport, but God there's an overload of it in case you want to hide from the sunshine (and the locals are prone to it, considering one Aussie advert states “there's nothing healthy about a tan”). As well as waking up on most mornings to find Foxtel has recorded a new batch of Premier League games, Australia are going toe-to-toe with India in a Test match cricket series. Shane Warne has returned to grace the domestic Twenty20 Big Bash competition. And then there's, erm, Big Wednesday.
Big Wednesday is Fox Sports' equivalent of Super Sunday. Its moniker may not be quite as catchy (seriously boys and girls... 'Big' Wednesday? What's wrong with Wicked Wednesday, Wild Wednesday, Wacky Wednesday...) but they have something that Sky doesn't. Because the teams are geographically remote – Wellington must travel 3,266 miles to play a domestic game against Perth – many of them are in different time zones.
That means that even if everyone kicked off their game at 7pm local time, matches would actually be stretched over several hours in real time. And that means that if you're a bit clever and use some jiggery-pokery on the schedule you can actually arrange five back-to-back matches – a full round of league fixtures – without involving the weird kick-off times that La Liga often indulges in.
In truth, Big Wednesday – designed to mark the halfway point of the season – got a bit swallowed up in the sporting morass and a Wednesday was always going to be a tough day to make any real impression, but it was a novel concept. And the best part of it was watching the guys in the studio as Wednesday turned into Thursday and they got their heads round watching 450 minutes of football back-to-back.
I feel bad for what I'm about to say. I know I shouldn't. I know it's a serious problem. But I don't remember anything about the football, I just remember one single thought. As the panel chatted after the final game and discussed how they had managed to stay awake, I looked at Mark Bosnich and thought to myself that in the old days he had a surefire, self-admitted 10-gram-a-day way of doing that.
I'm sorry Mark, you're actually relatively good as TV pundits go and you didn't deserve my unconscious disparagement. But let's face it, people everywhere must have been thinking the same... whatever timezone they were in.
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