'The Scum', The Skunk and some Dunlop Volley footy boots
Because he wanted to see how they would go as footy boots, Clinton Rule sewed the upper of some Dunlop volleys onto the sole of a footy boot. Bonus to podcast episode 37 with Premier Malinauskas.
I loved making a Speakola podcast episode this year about Peter Malinauskas, the South Australian premier. It mainly focused on his excellent victory night speech in March, lauded by literary critic Peter Craven as one of the finest speeches in recent Australian political history.
I wrote a related story for my ‘Good one, Wilson’ newsletter about the fact that a sitting premier of an Australian state is still playing local footy for his beloved Adelaide University Blacks — in the bottom team, the 7ths, affectionately known as ‘The Scum’.
My spy within the Adelaide University Football Club ranks for that story was Clinton Rule (Nickname; “Clinton Rules OK”, “Frogman Trolley”, “Rule-Eye”) who reported in on Malinauskas and his ‘lean telescopic legs that are semi translucent like uncooked spaghetti’.
I was excited to see that Clinton Rule has popped up in someone else’s book about local footy. This time it’s a beautiful coffee table book called ‘The Footy Jumper Book — Vintage Football Guernsey’s of Australia’.
How good is this entry for the jumper Clinton wears for ‘The Scum’
Adelaide University FC, South Australian Amateur Football League (SA) 1988, Clint Rule
Given his team – the ‘bottom’ side at Adelaide University – is affectionately known as The Scum, Clint Rule decided to get the AUFC Scum Top-Up Player badge made up for a laugh. Then he added ‘the bird badge’, because ‘from a distance it looks like I have SA state credibility’.
But it’s what Rule has done in the past by way of innovation around the game’s equipment that has captured the attention of many. After having what he calls ‘a lucky experience with a skunk when I drove across the US many years ago’, he hit upon the idea of emulating the repelling nature of the skunk’s odour on a football jumper! Why? Rule says: ‘Well I’m old and need some cunning leg-ups. If I stand upwind from my opponent, if the opposition don’t want to go near me, or, let me go when tackling me, then “advantage old man”.’
‘So I soaked it in a mixture of baby poo, chicken poo, rotted compost, garlic and – worst of all – fish sauce, then left in plastic bag in the sun for a week.’
The result was a smell worse than anyone could have anticipated: ‘My precious teammates turned against me in the small change rooms, but out on the field I enjoyed the sweet smell of success!’
And because he wanted to see how a pair of Dunlop Volleys would go as footy boots, he sewed the upper of the Volleys onto the base of a pair of boots. “They lasted half a season!”
One of the best sports equipment photos ever. Truly ridiculous.
The are 320 footy jumpers that get a photo and a vignette like this in The Footy Jumper Book. It is published by Tim Rath at Sporting Nation, who specialise in gifts for sports lovers. It’s such a great book, well done Tim, who just happens to also be my brother-in-law.
He’s offering free express post to make sure it gets to you by Christmas.
My books are also available, and I’ve grouped them in age brackets in the post below, from 0yrs-adult. Use offer code UPR4TU2 to get 10% off. If you become a paid Speakola or Good one, Wilson subscriber, you get a code for 20% off.
For those with some time, here is the blog story as it originally ran. Reply yes to this email if you’d like me to sign you up for free to that newsletter. Or you can do it yourself.
The Premier and The Scum
This is Adrian ‘Howie’ Howard being chaired off after his 400th game. I think it’s a beautiful photo, not just because Howie is hoisted and smiling, a totem to everything that is great about settling into a middle-aged girth while still chasing a footy. What’s also beautiful, and what made this moment newsworthy, is that it’s the Premier of South Australia holding him up.
Yes, Premier Peter Malinauskas, who led Labor to victory in March, has played three games for the Adelaide University Blacks sevenths, affectionately known as ‘The Scum’, since he rose to power. That’s him on the left with some seriously electable bicep definition.
What a credit to this country, to Australian democracy, that a forty one year-old leader of a government can pull on boots and play a contact sport on a suburban field, without worrying about security details or special arrangements or lunatics in the crowd. What a credit to the Premier that he’s the chair rather than the chaired.
I discovered that Peter Malinauskas was still playing footy when I interviewed him for my Speakola podcast a few weeks ago. I knew he had played for Adelaide University Blacks, but I didn’t know he still played for them. This is how we started the interview:
TW: I believe we have a small thing in common, we both played for and love University Blacks football clubs. I played for the Melbourne version, and you’re Adelaide University Blacks, through and through?
Peter Malinauskas: Absolutely, and we of course claim the title of the greatest football club anywhere in the universe — it’s a self claimed title — but I think it’s justified … yeah I love my footy, and I love The Blacks, and it’s been a big part of my life.
TW: And you were still playing in your forties? Almost up to the time you were a sitting member?
PM: [aghast that I’ve retired him] Oh no, I’ve played a few games this year! I’ve snuck in three games since the election. Not as many as I’d normally like. Obviously work makes it pretty hard these days, but I do try and sneak in a game where I can.
TW: And is there a half back flanker who takes exception to some of the Labor policies and gives you an elbow?
PM: [laughs] The physical contact has been all pretty standard, but I’ve copped some sensational sledges, particularly when I missed a shot when I was 15-20 metres out the other week. But it’s all fair and good fun.
TW: And your team is The Scum, is that right?
PM: The Scum, that’s right. Every team’s got an unusual name — The Bastards, The Chardonnay Socialists, a few that I probably can’t repeat, and then there’s The Scum — it’s the team that struggles towards the bottom of the club. But that’s something we’re proud of, and we really enjoy it.
The rest of our chat was about Peter Malinauskas’s election night speech, which was rightly praised at the time as being a superb victory speech. The sometimes crusty literary critic Peter Craven gushed about the ‘mastery of technique’ and ‘political intelligence’ in his column in The Australian.
But for this newsletter, I wanted to find out more about Malinauskas the footballer. So I asked my friend at AUFC, Clinton Rule, to describe him:
For our 2013 Scum premiership Mali made a pre-game speech that would have inspired any one of us to win the flag on our own — one against eighteen — let alone as a team. It was almost too morally inspirational, it made footy evaporate away. I nearly stripped naked and wandered off into the forest.
After an extended premiership celebration at a classy pub, by late Sunday our coach was fully cooked ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ style. His partner picked him up, but as she was driving off, Mali talked her into stopping and pulling over for a chat. He managed to negotiate with her, then the bouncers, and then yes, from nowhere, found himself back inside with the team! There’s your future premier.
He can take a big pack mark launching from his long, lean telescopic legs that are semi translucent like uncooked spaghetti, yet some chest marks can pass through him like he’s a ghost.
He rarely misses a goal with his robot kicking style. Robots are reliable.
The extraordinary time he takes over a set shot is agony for both sides, but we endure our pain because we see the way it deeply annoys the opposition. A sort of silent filibustering. One time he was even pinged by an ump for taking too long with a quarter time after-siren kick. This caused chaos until their captain stylishly crossed the floor and talked the ump into letting him take his kick.
He’s a passionate player and can give an on-field bellow that would wake the yabbies in the creek beds. He’s also the type who doesn’t like being dragged to the backbenches. A cartoon grey cloud hovers above his Lithuanian head.
Regardless of his career trajectory, he has always remained the same person to us — a great club man and more importantly a great mate. He even took the risky move of having The Scum team dinner at his house and even more so — in Parliament House. His love for us projected into his campaign where he inserted his AUFC life into it.
The Adelaide University Blacks is an extraordinary club. There are seven men’s teams, three women’s, 340 players, 116 years of history, 104 premierships. Peter Malinauskas may play for the least credentialed men’s team in the club, but for football ability he is Scum that rises to the top. He’s kicked seven goals in a game, he regularly boots two or more. ‘It’s fair to say he’s dominant’ Rule says. ‘A focal point.’
Clinton Rule himself is part of the fabric of Adelaide University Blacks, and he introduced me to one of the the great inside jokes in the history of footy clubs. We met during the Final Frontier cricket tour of India in 2001, two travelling Aussies enjoying what would become perhaps the greatest three test series in the history of the game.
Clinton stood out from some of the other travelling fans because he’d dress up each morning in a white jumpsuit with black speedos on the outside, white sunglasses, white cape, and a white moustache painted on with zinc cream, and whip Indian fans into a frenzy by running from bay to bay, holding up homemade signs.
He called himself ‘Captain SAPSASA’ (South Australian Primary School Amateur Sport Association) and every day he’d make a new sign saluting a Uni Blacks stalwart named Bob Neil.
The question countless Indians had was, ‘Who is Bob Neil?’ It’s the question we all had. It turns out R.H. (Bob) Neil is an unassuming legend of Adelaide University Blacks. He wore the number 130 guernsey in the 1970s, played a whopping 236 games, many at lower levels. He served on the committee for more than ten years. He coached multiple teams. He’s one of those quiet, dependable footy club types who give so much of themselves, but never ask for kudos or fanfare.
And so many years ago, to salute their quiet legend, the Adelaide University Blacks football club went super-size on fanfare. How the Bob Neil thing happened is documented on the club website:
It was during the SAAFL 1986 Division A1 Grand Final that his name first achieved legend status, when a chant of “Bob Neil, Bob Neil”, was used to spur the Blacks on to victory. Soon his name began appearing all over Adelaide-in graffiti, on banners, and over the loudspeakers at Adelaide Oval. When a Bob Neil banner was spotted at an Aussie Rules match at The Oval, London, he had ceased being a cult figure and had transformed into a phenomenon. His name even appeared on the Berlin Wall just before it was demolished in 1990.
These days Bob Neil is known as the only man in Adelaide who gets away with wearing grey shorts during the footy season (so that he doesn’t need to change between black for home games, or white for away). He bears the number 130 on his football jersey used to teach his opponents skills in mathematics as well as football.
In India, Captain SAPSASA’s dashes across the seats of the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, with hundreds in pursuit, caught the camera’s eye, as intended, and Clinton delivered one more instalment to the Bob Neil legend. Bob Neil’s been painted for the Archibald, he’s been nominated in an ABC Adelaide poll as a living legend. On one occasion, two players were caught spray-painting Bob Neil’s name on a bus stop. In court, they got off. The judge was AUFC too.
So that’s the the South Australian Premier’s football club, a place of history and humour. I don’t know if Peter Malinauskas has ever been caught up in Bob Neil shenanigans — for our interview, I didn’t have the courage to ask. I do know that he has a rare public platform should he choose to use it.
Has Bob Neil ever appeared in Hansard?
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