Sunday, 13 December 2015

DID JOEL MONAGHAN GET A FAIR GO?

  DID JOEL MONAGHAN GET A FAIR GO?
by Dave Wheeler
   Rugby league is a part of Canberra and district's history, and of course the Canberra Raiders are therefore obviously a part of Canberra and district's contemporary history. And whenever an event that involves the Raiders has occurred that is of a controversial nature it is seen to be of importance to some people, be they Raiders fans or simply those who like to see everyone get a fair go. Isn't that the Aussie value we are supposed to all adhere to? It is for those reasons the details and implications of such controversial events should be clarified prior to them being lost in the mists of time.
   This post goes beyond the historic and current behaviour of the Raiders administrators, the NRL and the Raiders' sponsors. It also shows the power large corporations in general are continuing to gain over governments, small business and individuals, and how, as corporate power increases, we are getting further and further away from democratic values and the "fair go." This was predicted many years ago and things will only get worse as the economy becomes more privatised, more corporatised, less regulated and more global. 
     One such controversial event occurred in 2010. It involved a Raiders player, now an ex Raiders player, Joel Monaghan, having a photograph of him performing a simulated sexual act with his mate's dog being posted on social media. The event occurred in what Joel thought was the privacy of a non-public place. Joel confessed to being guilty of the simulated act but he was obviously not guilty of posting the photo.
   What occurred divided some of the Canberra and districts community, including some people who have no interest in rugby league, as many people believe Joel did not get a fair go. 

    Some however, called for Joel's sacking, and the NRL CEO at the time, David Gallop, who was quoted as being "shocked and appalled" by the incident, apparently warned Raiders officials that the NRL expected the Raiders to take appropriate action and to report the outcome back to the NRL. 
    To me that was tantamount to Gallop saying that although Joel is contracted to the Raiders, the Raiders are required to do what the NRL expect them to do. If that was the case why was Joel not dealt with directly by the NRL? It would seem that when the Raiders were seen to deal with the issue it was a charade, as it would seem the NRL had already decided what should be done with Joel and the Raiders' Board of Directors were their puppets.
    If the NRL Board of Directors has that sort of authority over clubs today it means the clubs may continue to believe they have very limited rights as employers in regard to dealing with their employees. If the NRL or the Raiders' Board believe I am wrong they are welcome to get back to me. If they do I will publish exactly what they state.
    On top of that, apparently several of the Raiders or NRL sponsors threatened to withdraw funding if Joel was not sacked. If this was the case Joel may have thought that pleading his case before a judiciary or the Raiders' Board of Directors would be pointless. 
     This is what I'm talking about when I refer to the amount of power and control big business has over the lives of others. I remember one very vocal Canberra person associated with a sponsor at the time of the Joel controversy making known their opinion about what Joel had done. I also remember that same person selling dope to an acquaintance at the Canberra Rex in or around 1971. It is very hard to hide one's past in the Berra or the Beyan. Although I have never sold drugs I also have many skeletons in my closet, but fortunately I'm semi-retired and I don't need to have an unblemished past.
    As it turned out Joel was released from his contract in 2010 at his own request. But was it really of his own request? Most people I have spoken to believe that the Raiders' Board of Directors, which apparently met to discuss Joel's situation, had no choice but to tell Joel that he must ask to have his contract terminated or they would be forced to terminate it for him. If this did occur, I reiterate, in my opinion it was probably because they felt they were virtually under orders from the NRL to do so, and they may also have believed sponsors would pull-the-pin if Joel remained with the club. If that is what happened Joel in-effect got the sack. 
   The way I see it however, is that unless the Raiders' Board had guns pointed at their heads at the time they did have a choice. I will elaborate on why in due course. If I am wrong any of the parties involved are welcome to contact me and I will publish exactly what they state.
   Okay, so what has prompted me to write about the Joel controversy now, considering the event occurred in 2010?    Part of the reason is because it was just a matter of my getting around to it. I have always believed that Joel was a victim of what occurred at the time and that he did not act immorally. I say this because the actions with the dog in 2010 resulted in there being no victims, as no sentient being, including the said dog, suffered at the hands of Joel. Had Joel physically hurt or stressed the dog I would have been calling for his castration, (Joel's; not the dog's), but nobody has suggested the dog was damaged physically or psychologically. Again, I will go over my assertion that nobody suffered as a result of Joel's actions in greater detail in due course. 
    Secondly, if Joel did not get a fair go in 2010, and it seems nothing has changed in regard to how the NRL sets the rules and the Raiders and other clubs seem to be required to obey them, it could easily happen again. And if revisiting the Joel controversy can motivate club boards, the NRL and sponsors to come up with a rational and fair way of dealing with  players they suspect of doing the wrong thing when the issue is not clear cut and causes division, this essay may be useful. Again, I will suggest how this could be done in due course.
    However, the main reason I was prompted to write about the Joel controversy now is because it was not actually me who resurrected the issue. The Joel controversy was resurrected recently as a result of a link which leads to a 16/9/1963 article from the Canberra Times circulating around the net via email and social media. It would seem the circulation of the link began after it was announced that the ex Raiders CEO and ex Chairman of the Raiders Board of Directors and current Raiders Patron, John McIntyre, was to be inducted in some way into the ACT Sport Hall of Fame. 
    The 1963 article describes how a 22 year old person named John McIntyre, in 1963, was judged and punished by the local rugby league Group 8 judiciary of the day for punching in the nose a referee named Bruce Chapman. 
    The article tells of how the judiciary of the day decided that McIntyre was to be banned from playing Group 8 rugby league for the rest of his life. The incident happened on the 8/9/1963, at Manuka Oval after the game had finished. The game was between the Queanbeyan Blues and Goulburn United. Why the police did not become involved considering the game was over when the assault occurred I do not know.  
   In that era the biff was well and truly in the game, but in the words of one forum poster discussing the event, ref's were a "protected species" and were rarely assaulted.
     It was reported in the said article that John McIntyre sent a letter to the Group 8 judiciary proclaiming his innocence, and that he was absent at the inquiry. And as he was not found guilty of the act in a real court of law for legal reasons I cannot say he was definitely guilty of that act. It can therefore only remain an allegation, even though the fact that the ref was punched cannot be disputed. Also, although I firmly believe the John McIntyre in the article is the same John McIntyre who is the current Raiders Patron and a former chairman and CEO of the Raiders, I cannot say for a fact he is. Maybe there was another John McIntyre around at the time. Possibly his cousin? 
    The article does not clarify whether McIntyre was playing for the Blues or whether he was a spectator. I am however, led to believe he was a spectator at the time even though he is described in the article as being a rugby league player. If I am wrong and he did play in the game someone may wish to   contact me to let me know. 
The McIntyre article is on the following link: 
   In going beyond what the article says about the incident, I was a couple of weeks short of my 11'th birthday when it occurred, and I remember hearing about it at the time. I also know the event was witnessed by the ref's son, Bill Chapman, who would have just turned 11 when the incident occurred. Bill was a ball-boy during the game. He was also in my class at North Ainslie Primary School and captained my rugby team. I can remember at the time trying to imagine how I would feel if I saw my dad being bashed. 
    I am still in contact with Bill, who is now a partner in a law firm in Sydney, and I communicated with him about the incident while writing this post.
 I think the above photo of my North Ainslie rugby team was taken in 1964, which would have meant we were playing under 12's. Bill Chapman, Bruce Chapman's son, who captained our team, is in the front row holding the ball. The photo, taken at Hawdon Oval, would have been shot a year after Bill's dad was assaulted at Manuka Oval. Clem Hodgkins is in the back row. 
    Bill told me certain things which leads me to believe that after the game at Manuka Oval had finished he was walking right beside his dad towards the ref's dressing room when a person emerged from the crowd and belted his dad in the head. It caused Mr Chapman to drop immediately, and as he was struck on the nose he suffered immediate physical damage, as described in the article. I do not know if it was a "coward's punch," in which Mr Chapman was punched without warning. Watching it happen must have been an horrific experience for a kid so young. 
     Although I regard Bill Chapman as an old mate considering our connection goes way back to 1961, I must stress that the opinions I am expressing on this post are my own and not necessarily Bill's. 
    Bill and I were classmates at North Ainslie Primary and teammates for our North Ainslie Saturday rugby team, which Bill captained. We were the first team to play on Hawdon Oval, which was in 1961. We marched down Hawdon Street prior to the game to mark the occasion. Bill captained our team right through to under 17's in 1969. Our team played for Ainslie after we began high school. I also represented Dickson High with Bill in both rugby and league, and from memory Bill also captained us on those occasions. 
      Bruce Chapman, the ref who was assaulted in 1963, turns 90 next year (in 2016). He has had two hip replacements and only gave away coaching rugby league referees 7 or 8 years ago. He was still refereeing school kids when he was aged beyond 70. He has had almost 50 years involvement in rugby league and has mentored dozens of referees, a couple of whom are presently refereeing NRL 1st grade.
    Bruce achieved a lot in the sporting field. He opened the batting for the ACT (with ex Judge John Gallop) and umpired 3 PM's XI matches in the 1960's. Maybe the Raiders should consider nominating Bruce Chapman for inclusion within the ACT Sports Hall of Fame for his contribution to sport in the ACT. I can remember Bruce training our rugby team on several occasions when our coaches could not make it.
      I can recall, in 1961, Bruce Chapman pulling me out of the Murrumbidgee River when I was caught in rapids, and I remain grateful for what he did. Fortunately, when I called out for help he was nearby. Our families were having a feed and swim at Uriarra Crossing at the time. I don't know if I would have been swept down the river only a few metres to a bank had he not pulled me out, but for all I know I may have drowned and become yabby food, as there have been several drownings in that exact spot. What I do know is that being rescued felt really good at the time, as I recall feeling overpowered and helpless because of the strength of the current. The above photo, taken on that very day in 1961, shows the Chapmans and the Wheelers, minus my dad, the late Roy Wheeler, who was taking the photo, plus the late Mick Neil. Bruce Chapman is the adult male on the left of the photo. 
    Okay, what has the 1963 episode involving a John McIntyre  got to do with the Joel Monaghan controversy if we presume for argument's sake the McIntyre in the article is the same John McIntyre who held office with the Canberra Raiders and is its current Patron and that he was guilty of the assault? Why did it lead to the resurrection of the Joel Monaghan controversy after the said link was posted? 
   It has a lot to do with the Joel controversy because many people, rightly or wrongly, believe the McIntyre in the article is the Raiders' McIntyre; myself included. They also believe he was guilty of assaulting Mr Chapman, as described in the article. And as a result of the link to the said article circulating on the net there have been heated debates on forums and private emails regarding whether John McIntyre was fit to hold office with the Raiders (and to be its current patron), or to possibly assist in making judgements on players like Joel, should McIntyre have been guilty of assaulting a ref, even if it was back in 1963.  
   And of course the debates on the matter compare the immorality of punching a ref in the head in front of his 11 year old son after a game had finished with the immorality of committing a simulated sex act on a dog.
    Personally speaking, I think that if the McIntyre in the article did what he is alleged to have done in 1963 he should be judged on the sort of person he is now. I am not going to condemn anyone his age for what he did when he was 22. I did some very immoral things as a young man, and science tells us the frontal lobes of humans do not mature until they are in their late twenties. Insurance companies have always known that, which is why car insurance is so expensive for persons under the age of 25. Governments have always known that, which is why they take advantage of young men by using them to fight wars. 
     Said another way, I would not like to be judged today because of something I did as a 22 year old, because, metaphorically speaking, the bloke I was when I was 22 is dead, and the young bloke, whoever he was, who punched Bruce Chapman in the head in 1963, may also be dead in a metaphorical sort of way. And it just may be he deeply regrets assaulting Bruce Chapman in 1963, he may have apologised to Bruce Chapman for what he did and he may have tried to make up for it over the years by helping the sporting community with many hours of unpaid labour. I don't know what sort of life that person has lived since the assault occurred.
    In branching out from the last paragraph, I have never agreed with persons having formal honours bestowed upon them, such as being inducted into the ACT Sport Hall of Fame for promoting sport, unless the work they have done has been unpaid or unless they have received a subsistence wage or salary. I know one bloke who donates many hours a week helping St Vinnies and nobody appears to give a rat's arse. I also know my dentist, Colin Seaniger, donates his labour regularly to assist the poor and disadvantaged, but I am not aware of either of the latter people being given formal honours. Yet we often see people who are paid enormous salaries for doing good work have formal honours bestowed upon them. Those people who clean toilets and hospital floors also do good work given that without their labour there would be many deaths through disease. Their only reward is to be paid a pittance! If we are going to bestow honours upon people who get paid for their labour we should start with cleaners.
    David Gallop, the same bloke who expressed his opinion about Joel, was appointed a member of the Order of Australia in the 2016 Australia day awards in the General Division for his "services" to sports administration. He's a real Bertrand Russell, a man of tremendous depth and integrity and I'm sure he was paid nothing for his work. Pardon me if I vomit!
     What I will say however, is that if the McIntyre in the article is the same McIntyre associated with the Raiders and he is guilty of the assault in 1963, (and as I have said, I for one believe he is guilty on both counts even though I cannot state that for a fact), maybe the Raiders as a body should have made more of an effort to make it publicly-known. I say that because sometimes not making a reasonable effort to declare certain types of facts can be seen as concealment.
   Again, if it is the same McIntyre, and he is guilty of the allegation, and the Raiders Board has made public statements regarding the 1963 event, the Raiders are welcome to contact me and I will make the appropriate alterations. As of yet I do not believe they have, and if that is the case and it is the same McIntyre their inaction is bringing their whole organisation into disrepute and advertising their hypocricy.
    Okay, having established why the 1963 ref-punching event has led to some disappointed Raiders fans comparing it with the Joel Monaghan event, let's examine the event that led to Joel Monaghan resigning from the Raiders in more detail based on what is publicly known about the incident. And in order to do so we must first examine in greater detail whether or not Joel's mate's dog suffered in any way as a result of the simulated sex act. 
   From the perspective of a person who hates to see any sentient being suffer, and from the perspective of a person who for a 3 year period during the 1980's was the ACT RSPCA inspector, I do not see any evidence of the dog suffering at all. 
   I realise an RSPCA spokesman was irate when he heard of the incident, but it would seem he was misinformed and believed that Joel actually performed an act of bestiality on the dog, which he did not do given the fact that he made no physical contact with the dog in a sexual manner. I am also strongly opposed to bestiality as non-human animals can be physically endangered by the act and it could also be psychologically damaging for them as such acts could cause them considerable stress. I reiterate however, it is not relevant to Joels situation because his action was simulated and a simulated sex act does not involve making physical contact of a sexual nature. Dogs are simple creatures that give you unconditional love, and I prefer the company of most dogs over the company of most humans.
   The dog, by being picked up and placed near Joel's groin, would not have been physically hurt and would have just thought Joel was having some sort of harmless game with him, which he was. If such an act was done to a human, the human would have been humiliated as he or she would have known what was going on, but to think a dog would suffer humiliation from a simulated action like that is pure anthropomorphism. Dogs are not four legged humans.
    So, if the dog didn't suffer did anyone who witnessed the simulated act suffer? I don't think so, as from my understanding the only people there at the time were Joel's rough drunken mates, and I strongly doubt they would have been offended by what they saw.
    Did some members of the public suffer when they saw the image posted on social media? Yes, many people found it disgusting, but Joel was not in a public place when the action was performed and it was not Joel who posted the photo. For those reasons those who saw the photo did not suffer at the hands of Joel; they suffered at the hands of the person who posted the photo, and as such Joel cannot be condemned for doing anything of an immoral nature.
    Some however may disagree. They may believe that because it has been established that Joel did something which in their opinion was a disgusting act he is guilty of immorality, even though the act was not done in a public place, no sentient being suffered and it was not Joel who posted the photo of the act on social media. 
   This is why philosophy should be taught in schools! Dictionaries are vague when it comes to defining immorality. I however, have always regarded an immoral act as "an act perpetrated by someone who knowingly causes unnecessary pain or death to a sentient being, directly or indirectly." (Immorality also incorporates non-actions, such as occurs if someone neglects their child, but that is not relevant to what we are discussing). 
   What I mean by "indirectly" in the second last sentence is "knowingly performing an action which will indirectly hurt others," such as occurs if a person hires a hit-man. In Joel's situation he did not believe a photo of his action was going to be posted on social media, and for that reason he did not knowingly choose to cause others to suffer through disgust, either directly or indirectly.
    I can't see how immorality could be defined in any other way, and I challenge anyone to tell me why the definition should be extended to incorporate what one finds disgusting, which, like beauty or ugliness, is entirely subjective. 
    At risk of labouring the point by using a metaphor, as a non-homosexual I cannot help finding photos of men having sex with other men disgusting. But, if men engage in safe homosexual practice behind closed doors it is victimless. And as long as I am not forced to view photos of men having sex with other men I will defend anyone’s right to have homosexual sex behind closed doors. 
  I am not "homophobic." I have had several gay workmates who became mates outside of work and I also support gay marriage. Some people feel like vomiting when they change a baby's nappy and there is nothing they can do about it, and by the same token I can't help the fact that I feel like vomiting when I see blokes making physical contact with each other of a sexual nature.
   In the same way safe homosexual sex behind closed doors hurts nobody, a simulated sexual act with a dog that would not have suffered also hurts nobody unless one is forced to see images of the act. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, Joel did not post the photo on social media, and for that reason Joel was not responsible for imposing the image on anyone.
    If a homosexual Raiders player was photographed by a mate having sex with another male in what he thought was the privacy of a non-public place, and his photographer mate, without the player's permission, betrayed him by posting the photo on social media, would the Raiders sack the player because someone like me found the photo disgusting? I would love to hear their answer to that question, but I will not hold my breath waiting. 
      Was Joel guilty of poor judgement by trusting his mates? Maybe, with the wisdom of hindsight, but if we can't trust our mates who can we trust? And again, being let down by a mate should not be a sackable offence, and it would seem Joel was in-effect sacked, even if he did resign.
      Can we say Joel was a victim? Of course he was. Most of us have sympathy for people who have posted photos of their privates to their girlfriends or boyfriends, thinking the photos would go no further, when they find the boyfriend or girlfriend has betrayed them by posting the photos on social media. Some victims of such betrayal have topped themselves.
     If, hypothetically, the Raiders' Board of Directors gave a female a place on their Board, and if that female got drunk and naked in the privacy of a non-public place, and if that female's boyfriend took a photo of her privates and posted it on social media without her permission, would the Raiders' Board sack her for trusting her boyfriend?
   I really hope not, because to me she would have every right to get drunk and naked in the privacy of a non-public place, and if she did not post the photo she would have been guilty of doing nothing of an immoral nature.
     Readers may believe that sort of hypothetical cannot be compared to having simulated sex with a dog. But, as I have previously argued in great detail, there were no victims at the hands of Joel, although Joel was a victim of his mate who betrayed him, and the very same could be said for the hypothetical female Raiders' Board member. 
     All I am saying is that although I cannot see myself ever wanting to drink alcohol, have photos of my privates taken, perform a simulated sex act with an animal, etc, if I were to choose to do any of those ridiculous activities in the privacy of a non-public place that should be my right, as they are all legal acts that produce no victims as long as nobody photographs the acts and posts the photos on the net. And if someone did post photos of me engaging in any of those activities on social media I should be regarded as a victim and not punished for being one. 
   Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case with Joel. From his interviews it was obvious to me Joel was made to feel extreme guilt over what he did, even though he should have felt like a victim. He should have felt like a victim because he was a victim. How would the Raiders' Board and the NRL have felt if Joel had topped himself?
    To sum things up so far, I don’t think Joel got a fair go, and although the Raiders' Board may have felt the NRL and their sponsors were directing the Board to ask Joel to resign, the Raiders' Board chose to go along with it even if they felt they had no choice. 
   If this is what occurred the club owes Joel something, and I would like to suggest the Raiders' Board offer him a job when he retires. It may appease some disappointed fans.
   Although young professional rugby league players are bursting with good health it must be remembered they also have undeveloped brains and a lack of life experience. On top of that they have been partly selected for their aggression. Obviously they are not going to behave like choir boys in their own time, yet the NRL expects them to be role models for the whole of their waking lives? If you want a passive dog you buy a labrador; not a Pit Bull. Maybe the NRL should start an advertising campaign advising young fans why they should admire players for their skills but not necessarily anything else. 
     I would now like to suggest a way clubs can deal with situations such as Joel's in future, and in doing so they would have a greater chance of appeasing most fans and sponsors.
    To explain, should a player walk off the field after a game and punch the ref in the head one does not need to be a great philosopher to conclude there is nothing to discuss and the player's contract should be ripped up, as the immorality as well as the illegality of that sort of action is obvious. 
    If however, situations occur where the public are divided in regard to whether a player's (legal) behaviour could be described as immoral, as occurred with Joel, clubs should consider purchasing the services of a good philosopher who could examine the situation in detail from an ethical perspective, and thus ensure the player receives a "fair go." 
   Why I say this, is because when it came to Joel's case it seems obvious to me the NRL and possibly the Raiders' Board of Directors were way, way out of their depth. As I have said, David Gallop, the NRL CEO at the time, was quoted as saying he was "shocked and appalled" at what Joel did, but I strongly doubt he examined the event in the detail I have. 
   Did anyone on the NRL Board or the Raiders' Board examine the morality of what Joel did like I have, taking into account that what he did was victimless and that Joel was not the person who posted the photo on the net? I doubt it.
    If clubs were to hire the services of a good philosopher under circumstances where opinion is divided in regard to the morality or immorality of a legal action a player has engaged in, such as occurred with Joel, the philosopher would be required to give a written opinion, with accompanying reasoning, as to whether the player's action should be deemed moral, immoral or anything in between. In some ways it would be a similar exercise to hiring a solicitor to give a written legal opinion on a matter.
   The philosopher's written opinion, with, accompanying reasoning, could then be given to the club Board and also viewed by fans. Had this been done for Joel I am sure a good philosopher would have determined that Joel did not act immorally. And if the Raiders' Board had used the arguments such a philosopher would produce to justify keeping Joel on without taking any disciplinary action, fans, the general public, the NRL and the sponsors would probably have accepted the verdict.
    In Joel's situation, they could have employed someone like the famous philosopher, Peter Singer, to examine the facts and to write out an opinion with accompanying arguments in regard to what should or should not have been done with Joel. 
    Peter has campaigned most of his life for animal rights and is a vegetarian. He also gives away a sizeable proportion of his salary to charity. With his background I would predict he would probably have wanted Joel dismissed if he thought Joel's mate's dog had suffered in any way. But as the dog did not suffer in any way I believe Peter Singer would not have deduce that Joel acted immorally and he would have argued that Joel, being a victim, should have retained his position without any disciplinary action being taken.
    For those who are not familiar with the philosopher, Peter Singer, he is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne. He specialises in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a secular, utilitarian perspective. He wrote the famous book, "Animal Liberation" in 1975 and is credited as having started the Animal Liberation movement. If Peter ever reads this post I would love to publish his opinion on the matter.    
     To minimise the chances of player misbehaviour occurring the Raiders may also consider encouraging their players, (and young people in general), to abstain totally from the consumption of alcohol. If a player, possibly someone like Todd Carney, is genetically predisposed to being a problem drinker, he will never have a problem with alcohol if it never touches his lips. 
   If however, players are determined to pour a drug down their throats, which is of course their right, maybe the Raiders' Board should suggest they use unadulterated kava instead of piss, irrespective of whether the players have a Polynesian or Melanesian background. Kava, although not a health tonic, by itself does not adversely affect behaviour. Would all their corporate sponsors be pleased with them taking such a stance? Am I asking a rhetorical question?

   I received a visit from the late Russ Hinze last night, who is pictured above. He often visits me as he is now an angel because he became a really good bloke just before he died. Had he not become a good bloke just before he died he would have been punished by having to spend eternity in Mt Druitt. He told me he thought Joel Monaghan did not get a fair go and he thinks the Raiders should do something to make up for it. He also told me he has kept an eye on the Raiders' coaching and training staff and he believes most are nice blokes who do a good job, particularly those who look after the juniors.

    If any of the parties I have  mentioned in this essay, ie John McIntyre, the Raiders' Board, etc, would like to contact me to make statements or to dispute what I have said I am happy to publish what they have to say unless it is libellous. If they hit the "Contact" button above they can email me. Anyone can leave a comment in the comments section as long as it is not libellous. 

    IT IS WORTH HITTING THE COMMENTS BUTTON BELOW TO READ THE REACTIONS I HAVE RECEIVED TO THIS ESSAY 

UPDATE 15/12/15 
   I did not expect to receive the response I have had so quickly. I have also had quite a few comments via my email. If I am to paraphrase one of them, the writer says he hopes the Raiders historian, Dr David Headon, will not prostitute himself by focussing only on the good the Raiders have achieved and ignore the mistakes they may have made, such as the way they handled the Joel issue. The same has been relayed on a lecture he recorded on his youtube video.   
    In my paraphrasing words, what the person who contacted me seems to be saying is that if Headon only focuses on the positives of Raiders history he will be held in contempt by those with a regard for history, as we now hold in contempt previous generations of Australian historians who tried to distort our history by omitting to cover such issues as the frontier wars, Aboriginal massacres and the theft of Aboriginal land and Aboriginal children. 
    Having said what I have said in the last paragraph, obviously if a club historian attempts to conceal the behaviour of a past Board of Directors by way of omitting to state what occurred in the club's official history, such an act seems trivial compared to how the dirty history of Australian state and federal governments has been concealed, but the principle is identical.
    Other than that, I am not going to condemn Headon when he has not completed is work as the Raiders historian. Like Joel, we all deserve a fair go.
   I have had several comments criticising me for dragging up what the writers believe to be ancient and irrelevant history. I believe I have successfully argued in the body of this post why what I have brought up is relevant today.
  UPDATE 18/12/15
   I have received many more emails regarding this essay since my last update. Some are about John McIntyre, which I will not go into as they are not relevant to the subject. Others are in regard to the past and present behaviour of the NRL, and NRL clubs in general.
    As far as the latter is concerned, if I am to paraphrase what was said in most of those emails, they  claim the NRL and the NRL clubs should not worry about whether or not the off-field behaviour of players brings the NRL and their clubs into disrepute, as the NRL and their clubs have brought themselves into disrepute. They refer of course to them accepting sponsorship money from corporations that sell alcohol and gambling
   I realise the NRL and the clubs will claim they only promote responsible drinking and gambling, which is correct if we are to go only by what they state and say. They should however, know full well that the sort of person who has the odd beer on a hot day or who puts $5 on a horse occasionally for a bit of fun is not the sort of person those sponsors make most of their profits from. 
  Most of the money the large alcohol-pushing and gambling corporations make comes from people with varying degrees of addiction; which also includes persons with a variety of other serious mental health problems. Some also have very low IQ's, and although adults have the brains of 10 year olds. 
  How many men and women who have viewed advertisements for alcohol and gambling have come home intoxicated and assaulted their husbands, wives or children because they were in bad moods having gambled away their grocery money?
     Some say selling piss or gambling is blatantly immoral and others say that if they don't sell it somebody else will, and if they can sell it with a message to not overdo it, it lessens the damage. Others just say that it is not the job of business to protect people from themselves, as long as business does not encourage people to behave outside the law.
     Either way, unlike bottle shops and supermarkets that sell piss, and bookmakers that sell gambling, the Raiders obviously don't just take the stance of just wanting their players to not break the law of our land. They go far further in restricting the behaviour of their players in their own time. They make a big thing out of trying to make the public believe they are a club with nice wholesome family values that will not tolerate antisocial behaviour by their players even if such behaviour is not illegal. 
    If they really want the public to believe that, they should, as a matter of urgency, clean up their own act before they try and control the legal off-field behaviour of their players. I say this because the bottom line is that by selling piss and gambling they are profiting by way of other people's misery, and unlike supermarkets and bottle shops that only maintain they abide by the law, the NRL, the Raiders and other clubs make themselves look like prize hypocrites by going beyond that in a way that is blatantly inconsistent and hypocritical. 
     If they are not prepared to cease taking the sponsorship money of those who sell piss and gambling in order to no longer be labelled hypocrites they will need to put no restrictions on their players in regard to their off field behaviour, as long as it does not violate the laws of our land.
      When I think of it, supermarkets and bookmakers come out of this looking a lot better than the Raiders and other clubs that attempt to control so much of their player's off-field behaviour. Unlike the latter most of the former do not pretend to be anything but law-abiding businesses. If I was employed at a bottle shop and I worked well and behaved myself at work my employer could not sack me for any activities I became involved in outside of my working hours if what I was doing was not illegal, and even then it may not be easy. NRL players have all sorts of restrictions placed on their legal behaviour as shown in the Joel episode. 
UPDATE 29/3/16
    In regard to one email I received regarding John McIntyre, I could not publish it as it was libellous, but the basic message was one of taking issue with me for saying people should be forgiven for what they do as 22 year olds, as I have with the ref-bashing incident, providing the person is genuinely repentant and unlikely to repeat that sort of behaviour.
     The poster argued that we prosecute paedophiles for what they did 60 or more years ago so we should not forgive persons who bash ref's in front of their 11 year old sons, as such incidents would be so traumatic for kids it is obvious child abuse and on a par with some forms of child sexual abuse.
     The poster, himself a victim of non-sexual child abuse, believes that anyone who perpetrates any serious form of child abuse on kids should be locked away for the rest of their lives, and he regards bashing a ref in front of his 11 year old son as a serious form of child abuse.
    I will respond to this criticism of the stance I have taken when I get the time, as it raises complex philosophical questions that will need a lot of time and space if I am to address them properly.
UPDATE 22/12/16
   I was made aware that John McIntyre, the former Raiders' CEO and patron, was recently honoured by the Canberra Raiders by being given life membership. If he was guilty of assaulting a ref when he was 22 it should not have prevented him getting that honour, because as I have said, some of us change over time, and most of us, including me, are guilty of perpetrating acts of immorality, particularly when we were young. And as I have also said, John McIntyre may have done many hours of selfless unpaid work for the Raiders, although I don't know for a fact that has happened. And if he did bash Bruce Chapman he may have apologised to him personally.
   What does reflect badly on the Canberra Raiders Board however, is that they have failed to address the issue and assure us that an apology was made by John McIntyre, (should it be the same John McIntyre), so it makes them look, in the eyes of some, as if they are deliberately concealing what occurred, or even condoning what occurred in the eyes of others. Considering the event has been discussed on social media for some time, and considering my contact within the Raiders assures me that the Raiders Board are definitely aware of this essay existing, I am surprised by their silence.
    Did the Raiders ever consider awarding Bruce Chapman with life membership?
     
   As I can screen comments before they are posted, readers may post comments regarding this essay, below, as long as they are not libellous. To comment you are probably better off choosing the "google unknown" option.  You can then choose whatever name you want to use for the purpose of publication should you not want to use your own.

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Monday, 26 October 2015

THE FUNERAL OF ALAN “SCOTTIE” SUTHERLAND, AND CANBERRA’S OLD ROLLERS

 "THE FUNERAL OF ALAN “SCOTTIE” SUTHERLAND" AND "CANBERRA’S OLD ROLLERS"
   by Dave Wheeler   
  In late 2014 or early 2015 I gave my friends Dave (who I went to school with) and Margaret Yarra, of Captains Flat, a visit. While there Dave showed me an old tennis court roller he bought from the O’Connor Methodist Church several years ago. It was surplus to their requirements. Dave uses his roller to flatten sand, which Margaret uses to perform activities with her horse.
    If you think this post is just about tennis court rollers be patient. It gets far more interesting.
  Dave is not sure how old his roller is because it does not have a maker's plate. If it was purchased new when the church was built it would be an early 1950's model, but I suspect it is much older than that.
  Ancient tennis court rollers are not uncommon because they don’t wear out, they are bulky and hard to dispose of and they are rarely stolen. They are not the sorts of things that are sold on the black market. Also, unlike owning a flash motorcar, owning a flash tennis court roller is unlikely to assist young men become sheila magnets.

  Pictured above is Dave and Margaret Yarra's roller, which is a family heirloom. 
   When I returned to the Berra I mentioned to another mate, Graeme “Rosy” Rossiter, (who I also went to school with) that Dave Yarra owns an old roller and that I thought it was made in the early 20th century. Graeme was thrilled to hear this as he is very enthusiastic about classic cars, and I deliberately did not make it clear I was talking about a tennis court roller. I let him think that Dave had bought an old Rolls Royce.
  Eventually Graeme discovered that Dave owns a tennis court roller; not a Rolls Royce. It must have made him feel a bit let down. But, as Graeme is an enthusiastic tennis player he told me it just so happens he also owns an antique tennis court roller. Graeme got his roller from the Weston Creek tennis club when they decided it should be thrown out. The Weston Creek tennis club got the said roller from a farm clearance sale. I suspect Graeme's roller would be no younger than 1930 and it may be much older.
   Graeme's roller was made by "Metters," the same Australian company that became famous for making fuel cooking stoves, such as the well-known "Beacon Light." 
  Although Fred Metters and Henry Spring focussed mainly on making fuel cooking stoves, they also made at their Adelaide and Perth foundries a variety of other products, including water tanks. They supplied some for the troops in WW1 with the latter and as such were a competitor for the famous "Furphy" water tank. They of course also made tennis court rollers like Graeme's.
 Pictured above is Graeme behind his Metters tennis court roller. Below is a close up of the wrought iron on the same roller which spells out the famous Metters brand.

   Let’s fast forward to the 15/10/15. On that day I attended the funeral of an old workmate, Alan “Scottie” Sutherland (5/5/47-10/10/15). To get there I first parked my car at my sister’s place in Ainslie then walked into Braddon to St Columbo's Church where the service was to take place. I did not want to drive there as parking anywhere near Civic is painful.
  In regard to my old mate Scottie, he was a wonderful bloke and always good for creating laughter. I worked with him as a chainman in 1972 and accompanied him, several other chainmen and two surveyors on a field trip to an area about 100 miles NE of Alice Springs in 1973. We worked there for a couple of months.
Pictured above, many miles outside of Alice Springs, are from left to right, my former workmates, the late Scottie Sutherland, the late Possum Painter the younger, Bob Utting and Laurie McCauley. Robert Law is squatting at the front. Possum the younger was found dead at the bottom of a cliff about 30 years ago. He was also a good bloke. I am unsure of the circumstances surrounding Possum the younger's death. 
   On the night before I was to return to the Berra, Scottie, Robert Law (who I also went to school with) and I were bashed by a large gang in the main street of Alice Springs. Scottie was knocked unconscious. I was not knocked unconscious but I had a really good look at every star in the Milky Way and my bruising was extensive. Robert didn't get off too lightly. He was also assaulted by the gang at the same time Scottie and I got it, but Robert had also been assaulted earlier on that evening by the same gang. Twice in one night! It was straight out favouritism!
   I describe our bashing and what led to it in "Tales of a Canberra Boy," which can be downloaded free of charge by hitting the button above with that title written on it. Within the book, which is a series of anecdotes, the story of the bashing comes under the heading, "The night I was bashed in Alice Springs."It is on page 94.
   Scottie was a short, stocky and powerful bloke. He had the perfect wrestler’s build and excelled at the sport during his youth. He received a NSW and possibly an Australian title at one stage. When I first knew him he was aged 27, and unfortunately by that stage his sporting activities were over, as he'd been involved in a bad car accident.
   Scottie’s build would not be considered unusual within Polynesia, but he was a Scotsman, having come here from Inverness as an 11 year old. Yet I could never detect any trace of a Scottish accent. 
  Scottie had his share of scraps as a youth and from what I understand he did well in them. He was involved in a famous brawl on a Friday or Saturday night in the early sixties between Canberra and Queanbeyan lads outside the Golden Fleece service station in Braddon. Scottie starred for the Canberra boys, and the incident made the Canberra Times.
   There were several ex chainmen and retired and practising surveyors at the funeral, which meant I ran into people I had not seen for many years. As a result I experienced mixed emotions.
   As to the funeral, I could see how devastated Scottie's family were, which is a sure sign he had been a much loved dad and a good provider. 
   This is in stark contrast to a funeral I attended several years ago of a mate's dad. My mate said he did not want to add anything to the eulogy because he couldn't think of anything to say about his dad that was of a positive nature.
   After the funeral I walked into Civic. I walked past Northbourne Oval, where I played many games of rugby as a lad as well as a few league games. While playing on that field I have vivid memories of being unable to tackle large numbers of opponents and failing to score a larger number of tries. 
   Still, I have an attachment to the place because I associate it with having good times, and I hope they don't destroy too much of it while it is being "developed." My maternal uncle played on that oval as a kid prior to WW2 and I knew one now deceased bloke who played on it in 1929 when it first opened.
   Even the smelly old concrete toilets that were built on Northbourne oval back in 1929 bring back memories of nervous and euphoric anticipation prior to my games. I hope they don't get the bulldozer. 
 The top photo was taken in 1961 inside Northbourne Oval. It is of the under 10 Northside rep team. I can't recall if we won. I should have played under 9's that year. The photo below is of Ainslie under 17's. It was also taken inside Northbourne Oval, but in 1969 after we lost our grand final to Royals by one point.  

    As I continued my walk into Civic I could see that it looks nothing like it did when I worked there with Scottie at the chainies depot in 1972/73. The chainies depot was located in Bunda Street Alley, and within the Griffin Centre. The Griffin centre was razed with the authority of government vandals several years ago.
  There were around 60 or 70 other chainmen working with me in the Bunda Street Alley depot. If we were not painting pegs in the mornings we would congregate in the yard prior to being called out by the surveyors we were assigned to. Sometimes a particular young lady aged about 20 would walk past us, and in doing so she would receive a chorus or wolf whistles. Some readers will say such pastimes are sexist, but I could tell by the look on her face she loved it, and she would go back for more. I would refer to her as "the belle of Bunda Street Alley."
   If Bunda Street Alley still exists it is unrecognisable and must have had a name change. There is another building today in that area which is also called the Griffin Centre.
  I only went into Civic that day because I needed to buy something I could not get elsewhere. Since the place became so overcrowded and its buildings became very dense and tall I avoid it like the plague. I have heard Civic described as "Hell without the fire."
   After making my purchase I walked back towards my sister's place where I had parked my car via St Columbo's Church where the funeral had taken place. I then cut through a nearby alley that went past a day care centre and emerged next to the bowling club opposite Ainslie Primary. On my way through, to the right of me, I noticed some tennis courts. And what did I see within the tennis courts? An old roller! 
  I am guessing the bulldozers will in time demolish the tennis courts and the bowling club, and multi storied flats will be built on the blocks.
   It had a brass plaque on it stating it was made by "W.N. Stone, Sydney, Municipal Appliance Manufacturer."
   Being a twisted wretch I took some photos of the said roller and emailed them to Dave Yarra and Graeme, accompanied by the following message.
Gooday you mongrels,
I went to a funeral at an Anglican church in Braddon today, and after it finished I walked to Civic then walked back towards Lou's place, where I left my car. I was at the rear of the bowling club opposite Ainslie Primary when I noticed an old roller. And as you two are proud owners of old rollers I knew you'd be interested, so I took some shots. 
It has a brass plaque on it stating it was made by "WN Stone," "Sydney," "Municipal Appliance Manufacturer." I'm sure he'd still be in business, working out the back of a small factory in the western suburbs, wearing a Jackie Howe singlet. 
You two should drop around and have a cup of tea with him. You could show him photos of your rollers and discuss rolling technique. I tried to look him up in the yellow pages but I had no luck. I'm sure he'd be in there somewhere.
Yours cobberly,
Pictured above is an ancient tennis court roller parked in Braddon, made by W.N. Stone of Sydney. Below is a close-up of the maker's brass plate.

  I received replies, and the reply I received from Graeme was one of amazement. He informed me that he and Russell Smalley, (another lad we went to school with), used to drive the "W.N. Stone" roller on Saturdays in preparation for pennant tennis. 
   As Graeme is aged 63 it must have been marvellous for him realising that while Braddon is being destroyed there is still a remnant of his youth, waiting there for him to see in all its majesty, as if time around it had stood still.
  Pictured above is Graeme with several of his tennis-playing mates sometime in the mid sixties, about the same time he regularly used W.N. Stone's roller to prepare the Braddon tennis court for pennant tennis. Graeme is the tallest lad in the photo.
   I had also forwarded what I had sent to Dave and Graeme to my mate, Jan Aamodt, (who we also went to school with). Jan, and his wife Julie, now live in Clare, SA. I knew Jan would be delighted with the photos of the roller and he responded by saying:
  "My fascination with rollers remains undimmed.Thank you for this fascinating communication.  I will forward this to Lloyd as I know he shares my love of rollers."
   The Lloyd he was referring to is Barry Lloyd, a fellow ratbag (who we went to school with at North Ainslie Primary and Dickson High). Barry became famous at school for using his massive IQ to assist him partake in disruptive behaviour and to needle teachers. 
   In "Tales of a Canberra boy" I tell a story about Barry in regard to how he was able to use lateral thought to benefit a bloke he was minding when he worked as a psych nurse. It is at the bottom of page 15 (in red italics).
  After my email and photos had been forwarded to Barry, who is currently living in Sydney, he, as I expected, did some research on "W.N. Stone," (William Nelson Stone) and responded to us all with the following email. I was able to verify the accuracy of Barry's research; not that I doubted him.
  Fellows,
"Good to see that due respect is still paid to the articles manufactured by good old William Nelson Stone. In his 24 years of  business at Ultimo he was a contractor to Sydney City Council and other public bodies as well as manufacturing his own branded  municipal appliances, ah there's a phrase that rolls off the tongue...... municipal appliances."
   "The quality of his goods were so well known that in 1922 his horse drawn road rollers were used by the Queensland Commissioner of Main Roads for their works. Although one would assume that his son and business partner took over after W.N's death in 1933, he obviously didn't have the magic touch that made the family name a byword in municipal appliances as evidenced by the fact that I have never seen a W. N. Stone horse drawn roller at even the busiest of road sites."
Historically and cobberly,
  By writing up the death of Scottie and discussing Canberra rollers, all in one post, I mean no disrepect to Scottie or to trivialise his life and death. To begin to explain my reason for combining the topics I....
MY SECOND PERSONALITY,"PERSONALITY 2," RUDELY INTERRUPTS ME
  "Hold on Wheeler! Here we go again. You had to spoil it didn't you? Because I can read you like a book I'm preempting you. You were going to say that after attending Scottie's funeral to celebrate his life and mourn his death you really knew his life was over, but because of where the church was located you also became reminded that the Berra's past and a better Australia is also vanishing, even though it has yet to vanish entirely.
  You were also going to say that after seeing W.N. Stone's roller and the densification of the Civic area you were reminded of the fact that you do not like Australia becoming overpopulated and having a continual emphasis on economic growth. And you object to our having become so much a part of the global economy, and as such getting further and further away from self-sufficiency and socialism.
   What's next you whinger? Are you going to ask readers if we will ever see Australians manufacturing items like W.N. Stone's roller again? Are you going to ask them if we will ever return to the sort of semi self-sufficiency we once had?  
   After that your rave would have reminded us that when another depression hits we will really be in Shit Street because of our lack of self-sufficiency and our being totally reliant on selling what we dig up and grow to the unstable global economy. Who are you Wheeler, Happy Jack the hangman? Just get over it! And you said at the bottom of your last post you were no longer going to be overtly political in future posts?
MY THIRD PERSONALITY,"PERSONALITY 3," RESPONDS TO "PERSONALITY 2"
   You know he's right in regard to what he raves on about 2, but he seems to be having problems accepting the reality of the situation. 
   He goes on about humans not having contra causal free will, yet if he really believed that he would not keep moaning about the idiotic politicians Australians continue to elect. You'd think he'd just accept the reality of the situation and get on with his life instead of bringing it up in every post he does. I think he's becoming a bit obsessive.
MY RESPONSE TO PERSONALITIES 2 AND 3
   Talk about jumping the gun! I'm really sick of you two know-it-all bastards! I wasn't going to say any of what you have guessed I was going to say 2
   And as for you 3, I accept the fact that the universe is in constant motion and therefore, to say the obvious, nothing can be permanent, and I really don't believe we have contra causal free will. 
   I could also however, accept the reality and pain of being kicked in the nuts, but that doesn't mean I would be able to enjoy it. Nor would I remain silent about it. 
   It's okay for you blokes; you just sit in our brain doing nothing but criticise. I'm the one who has to actually live in this world and make decisions (I use the word "decisions" loosely considering we don't have contra causal free will) for all 3 of us!
    Although it wasn't my original intention, just to piss you blokes off I'm going to upload a few photos of items Australia once produced when we were not overpopulated, were more self-sufficient and did not decide to export so many jobs to the Third World. If you two don't like it that's your problem. Get over it!
The Tarrant, as shown above, was one of Australia's first Australian owned and Australian made motorcars. The Australian Six, shown coming off the assembly line below was another. I wonder if W.N. Stone owned a Tarrant or an Australian Six.

  The photo directly above was shot at the end of my bed today. In the left of the photo is my foot,  which is inside a sock. My foot was made in Coonamble, NSW, over a 9 month period in 1952, along with the rest of my body. In the centre is a small can of "Power Plus" valve-grinding paste my late dad bought many years ago. It was made in Australia by Norman ? (couldn't read his last name) and sold from his shop, which was located at 229-231 Castlereigh Street, Sydney. The pure woollen blanket to the right of the photo was made in Australia in 1942 from sheep that bleated with loud, nasal Australian accents. The army ordered Australian made woollen blankets in bulk during WW2 and sold the unwanted surplus very cheaply after the war. My parents bought several woollen blankets in 1946 at an army disposal shop, including the one in the photo. The blankets have had constant use since they were purchased and are still in perfect condition.
  Above are several Australian made items that have been passed down to me ranging in age from a 19th century pint pot to a 1950-60's eggbeater. Australian manufacturing is currently near death and similar items are now imported from China. Once Bluescope Steel closes that will be the end of it. My foot, which also features in the photo, was passed down to me via DNA.
The above roller was photographed recently at the Yarralumla Tennis Club by a mate, Bob Calaby, who is one of Australia's many connoisseurs of tennis court rollers. The Yarralumla roller is missing a maker's plate, but it does look to be quite old. probably pre WW2. It was probably Australian made.  
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