WE’VE all done desperate things for money.
One moment you’re flashing the plastic around Harvey Norman to get that sweet sofa with the leather, the next you’re on a sofa flashing a bloke called Norman Harvey for a tenner.
It’s a tough old world.
And it’s no different for footy clubs. When you’re not winning off the field, chances are you’re not winning on the field.
From changing your name for a bit of coin to snubbing years of tradition, footy clubs have an innate ability to go the extra mile when the bank statement is in the red.
—THE ORIGIN ENERGY CUP—
THERE was something missing in Geelong’s stunning win over the Bulldogs on the weekend – pointless mid-season silverware.
Back in 2004, that goblet-sized hole was filled by the Origin Energy Western Victoria Cup.
A concept sold as the battle of western Victoria – conveniently ignoring the 120,000 odd square kilometres west of Waurn Ponds – the cup meant so little that in 2005 the Cats walked off the ground before Craig Willis even had a chance to warm-up his dulcet vocal cords.
Proudly announcing “The Origin Energy Western Victoria Cup is a perpetual trophy that the Bulldogs and the Cats will play for each year beginning this Sunday” in their press release, you can’t accuse Origin of not being optimistic.
The trophy lasted two seasons.
WHILE the Origin Energy Cup was a total wank, the Cats provided the football world with the best (or worst) product placement five years earlier.
With $7 million worth of liabilities on the club books, Geelong champion Garry Hocking agreed to change his name to Whiskas in return for $100,000 from the cat food company.
The AFL wasn’t overly impressed, refusing to list Whiskas by his legal name in the Football Record, instead referring to him as “No.32”.
Whiskas changed his name back to Garry Hocking the next week, likely sparking a flurry of letters from our old mates at Origin Energy to the Port Adelaide Football Club.
IT’S difficult to rate the worst AFL jumpers in history.
Hawthorn’s diamond monstrosity is a lock at number one, but following closely behind is the kick in the nuts to tradition sponsor-backed guernseys of Carlton, North Melbourne and St Kilda.
Starting the rot in 1997, Carlton decided they weren’t cashed-up enough to say no to changing their traditional navy jumper to light blue to celebrate a new M&M colour.
Yep. A new colour. Not even a new goddamn flavour.
Following Carlton’s misguided lead, North Melbourne changed their light blue kangaroo to orange in 2000 to plug Orange Telco, assumedly sucking out the last few cents the company had before they were bought out.
And St Kilda – using a then yet to be discovered clash with Carlton’s jumper as an excuse – allowed Pura Milk to assault their jumper with a yellow paintbrush in 2001.
Funnily enough, the clash mysteriously disappeared when the Pura contract ran out in 2003.
—THE TASSIE TAX—
CLUBS these days aren’t strangers to selling their home games to weird and wonderful places.
But in the early-90s, Fitzroy found out it’s not always the guaranteed money-spinner it’s made out to be.
The cash-strapped Lions took some of their home games to North Hobart in the hope the AFL-starved locals would spend their hard-earned on watching a second-class footy team get flogged.
The Lions lost money. A lot of money. So much so that the club was forced to billet players to the homes of local fans because they couldn’t afford to pay for accommodation.
Fitzroy ended up learning their lesson, and decided that their shit was so far from together that they shouldn’t exist as a footy club anymore.
SOMEONE at Arden St came up with a great idea in 1980 to spice up match day.
“You know what we need,” they said. “A fucking elephant”.
And that’s what they got. A big, pissed off grey bastard with a need for speed.
Officially there to plug Ashton’s Circus, Dumbo decided he didn’t much like the noise of the crowd and went for a lap of honour with a child strapped to his back.
Hours later at Punt Road, a Richmond official quietly crossed off “live tigers” from his pre-game entertainment ideas list.
—SING FOR SUPPER—
COMING up with a theme song for a new club is hard.
So in 1991 Adelaide decided to go down the jingle path instead, simultaneously plugging the Toyota Camry and losing any kind of respect the league might have had for them as the new kids on the block.
Sung to the tune of “The Stars and Stripes Forever”, the lyrics feel like they were written by the runner-up in a primary school song contest:
“Here we go, here we go Camry Crows
Here we go, here we go, here we go
We’ll be there in the square nose to nose
Revvin’ hard til the siren goes
We’re the new boys with so much to show
Bringin’ greetings from ever-lovin’ Adelaide
Gonna tread on a few people’s toes
‘Cause here we go, here we go Camry Crows”
And you thought “Freo Heave-Ho” was shit.