H.G. Nelson was in the Top End last weekend for a few days of footy, fun and a couple of fearsome flights to and from the Tiwi islands north of D-town.
I caught up with him at the wonderful Parap markets on a very wet saturday morning.
Mr Myth: Mr Nelson, is it true that you are up here in the Top End doing some local reconnaissance and scouting of local talent for the AFL?
Mr Nelson: Oh, yes, local talent Mr Myth. The Festival of the Boot (Northern Edition) that is on this weekend has lured me up from southern parts. Coming as it does in the week almost before the AFL gets under way it is no surprise to see me up here lurking around …
Mr Myth: Well, can you explain to me why the AFL is so late starting in the season? I mean the NRL has been running for weeks!
Mr Nelson: I know, what you have to remember is that the NRL runs a weight-loss program for those that want to get involved. Tonight they are playing at Dairy Farmers Stadium in Townsville and I estimate that all players will lose about 2.5 kilograms – some might even crack the 4 kilogram mark tonight. It is a weight-loss regime, playing rugby league. If people are interested in losing weight at this time of year then rugby league is the go!
Mr Myth: Ok, we’ll move onto more pressing and important matters. Front or Top loader?
Mr Nelson: Oh, no you’ve got to have a front-loader. Your Omomatic – which is your top powder – is only interested in front-loading machines.
Mr Myth: Hot wash or cold?
Mr Nelson: No, it has got to be hot. I am aware that this is an environmentally difficult topic and I’m prepared to – if I have to get rid of all the televisions, the Mixmaster, the Champion juicers – if all that stuff goes I’m still going to stick with power for the front-loader!
Mr Myth: Do you think there is any connection between the timing of the NTFL Grand Final, the Tiwi Grand Final and the start of the AFL season proper. Are there secret weapons that the AFL teams send up here for some proper pre-season training? With a bit of boot black perhaps?
Mr Nelson: Ah I don’t think so Mr Myth – they are completely separate games now – in the AFL it is all about the stoppages – it is all about having the ball not in play – often I’ll put the clock on and in a 100 minute game they will be playing the ball for about 44 minutes. Here in the Top End of course the ball goes all the time – it goes from one end to the other and it gets to the point where no matter how much the other teams scores the other team reckons it can do better!
Mr Myth: I understand that you have been doing a fair bit of sports training lately?
Mr Nelson: Yes, well Roy Slaven and I have had a bit of a go at training young Ian Thorpe. Thorpie hasn’t responded to the half house-bricks at all well. Roy has this technique where he just stands on the pool deck and throws half-house bricks – obviously trying to hit their feet – he gets incredible results using the half house-brick technique (patent pending) Thorpie hasn’t responded to those efforts at all well – he’s got bruises all over his shins and ankles and this is causing him to go a lot slower and hence the very poor results over the weekend.
MR Myth: Is it true that you have made a radical proposal to the NTFL that involves something to do with nude synchronized swimming competitions at half-time. A double bang-for-your-buck?
Mr Nelson: Well, I was shocked to be able to find that I could do laps – and I don’t mean running laps – of the Marrara oval. What I’m talking about is I swimming up and down from one end of the oval to the other end. So I thought to myself “Why not try it?” But the problem is that you need to retain the water on the oval and up here the problem is that the drainage is so good. The water just disappears in seconds. In the southern states – at your MCG, the AAMI Stadium etc – all those places could learn a lot about drainage if they came up here for an intensive workshop with the local groundskeepers.
Mr Myth: Maybe those half-house bricks could be put to different use – blocking the drains?
Mr Nelson: What a brilliant idea! Then the nude synchronized swimming could be held at half time. Brilliant! And what I’d like to see some of the important events in Territory history re-enacted – obviously I don’t know how you’d go with events like Cyclone Tracy or the Bombing of Darwin. I’d also love to see the solar-powered car race – that has captivated the world – I’d like to see that run around the oval at half-time. In the rain. In the nude!!
Mr Myth: Now to more recent events – tonight we will see the Nightcliff Tigers – minor premiers this year but a team that hasn’t won a thing in 47 or so years and whose cupboard is a bare as the bums on Darwin famous nude beach – go head to head with the Tiwi Bombers – in their first Grand Final after only five years in the NTFL. The Bombers haven’t won anything either. One of these teams is going to go away happy aren’t they?
Mr Nelson: They will indeed. And it surprises me that the Nightcliff footy club has only won one premiership in 95 or so years of playing in the competition.
It is good to see them back though. I am worried that it appears that Brain may not be running out in the Nightcliff colours tonight. No Brain – No Nightcliff! It is as simple as that! Brain is the key to the Nightcliff lineup and it does worry me that he is under an injury cloud. On the other hand for the Tiwi Bombers I think it is Braedon that is in some trouble – naturally you think Brain v Braedon – I’m coming down slightly on the Tiwi Bombers side because they are ahead in the injury stakes.
Mr Myth: Pen or pencil?
Mr Nelson: Usually I would go for pen as my favourite writing instrument. Yes, Pen! Copperplate produced the best pencil ever and Staedtler tried to improve it but couldn’t. So there isn’t much variation in your pencils.
But God, in your pens! Think of the Lamy, your Parker Pens, Paper Mate, Berol, Waterman, Rotring and Sanford. And not least the Osmoroid – that is one of your collector items. Fountain pens – not often used or seen much these days. But yes, your Osmoroid is what I’d be going for!
Mr Myth: Any truth in the rumour that the Nightcliff Tigers have approached you to come back year to manage them for next season?
Mr Nelson: Well that is a lovely thought Mr Myth but I’ve got to say that it is a very long and very demanding season and I just feel as though that our other commitments might get in the way. Next year we are looking to get our great stayer Rooting King to have a crack at the Triple Crown. We’re determined – Roy Slaven and myself – absolutely determined to get him up to have a crack at the Golden Slipper, the Cox Plate and of course the Melbourne Cup. And that for a twenty-two year old horse will be a mighty challenge!
Mr Myth: And speaking of rooting kings – it is such a shame that Brendan Fevola couldn’t make it to the NTFL Grand Final this year.
MR Nelson: I understand that he came and went a few times this year and kicked a swag of goals – 11 in one game – for the Waratahs. But sadly he wasn’t able to lift them to greatness.
Mr Myth: You are also going over to the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin to call the Tiwi Islands Football League Grand Final this weekend. The word is that you’ve put yourself though months and months of training learning how to pronounce the multitude of Tiwi names properly.
Mr Nelson: It is very interesting that you pick up on that Mr Myth. I will of course be calling with the ABC’s great man and national treasure, Charlie King. It would be quite wrong for me to usurp Charlie’s role in this – which I’d describe as the names expert. I’ll just be sitting on the sideline referring generally to the “Buffaloes are going well” or “The Tigers are going well” or “What a great goal from number 14” – numbers are very useful in that regard. And you can generally refer to teams going well or poorly as a group. Of course I’ll learn one or two names and mercifully there are one or two European names in both lineups – dead easy!
Mr Myth: Your tip for the NTFL Grand Final tonight at Marrara between the Nightcliff Tigers and the Tiwi Bombers?*
Mr Nelson: Well obviously my heart says Nightcliff – what a romance this is – they have only tasted this victory once and so few people alive can remember it – there would maybe be one or two kids in the crowd tonight who would remember being taken along by their Dad to that game – they’ll be in their late fifties now or early sixties and would love to see another victory after so long.
Then you have the Tiwi Bombers – so new and with so much to offer. It would be a great double celebration for the Tiwi people – obviously if they win at Marrara tonight and then one of their teams obviously wins to tomorrow. It is a hard call – one of these teams is the Cinderella story – the Tiwi Bombers – and one is the Rumplestiltskin – Nightcliff.
On balance I’ll think I’ll go for Cinderella story of the double Tiwi delight!
Mr Myth: And your tip for the Tiwi Islands Football League Grand Final between the Imalu Tigers and Tuyu Buffaloes.**
Mr Nelson: I am reliably informed by the ground manager Denise Officer that it will be a tip-top playing surface. I think you can throw the formbook right out the window. I am neither brave nor foolish enough to put up a tip! I’d love to see the Tuyu Buffaloes win – what I like about the Buffaloes is that they borrow the name of a team that is actually found up here. See when was the Tiger last seen in these parts? The Waratahs – what sort of name is that?
Bloody hopeless. See you need a name that means something.
Mr Myth: Now you’ve been bought up by the Tiwi Islands Shire Council which is one of the smallest – by population at least – local government authorities in Australia – if not the world.
Mr Nelson: The Tiwi Islands Shire Council – a more magnificent group of people you couldn’t find – battling away in very difficult circumstances that are trying very hard to push through the important things that communities need. People do not understand the value of kerbing! Parking! I mean they have a couple of Parking Inspectors with nothing to do! They need more cars out there!
Mr Myth: All the best for the call today and for the call over on the Tiwi islands tomorrow.
Mr Nelson: Thanks and let me tell you it is so hard to find anyone up here with any interest in football. I understand that you are the only Collingwood supporter in the whole of the Northern Territory and I must be the only Carlton supporter – apart from Charlie King from the ABC of course! Hopeless! They all seem to be sailing mad up here.
* H.G. Nelson called it 100% right! The Tiwi Bombers romped it in with a fast, tough last quarter at Marrara on Saturday night, taking the Northern Territory Football League Cup home to the Tiwi islands after beating the Nightcliff Tigers by 9.20 (74) to 9.6 (60).
** On Sunday afternoon at Nguiu Oval for the Tiwi Islands Football League Grand Final the the Tuyu Buffaloes led led from the get-go and fought off a brave challenge from the from the Imalu Tigers to take out the MJ Rioli premiership cup 12.12 (84) to 11.5 (71).