The dex files

Free as a bird

FOR once the sporting gods had some influence over the AFL tribunal and Sydney Swans spearhead ? don't you love that cliche ? Barry Hall was cleared to play in Saturday's grand final against West Coast.

It's rare AFL dominates the headlines in NSW, but Hall's plight featured in all mediums in the lead-up to Tuesday night's tribunal hearing.

Everyone had an opinion on the incident ? even those who normally reserve criticism for the game known in these parts as aerial ping pong ? and most agreed Hall should be allowed to play.

One local AFL supporter told TDF he would never watch another game of Aussie rules if Hall was rubbed out for the big one.

A touch over the top, perhaps, but a clear indication NSW is right behind the red and whites.

It's hard to remember a bigger pre-grand final story in recent memory.

The actual tribunal hearing was somewhat of an anti-climax ? the panel of past players took just four minutes to clear the way for big, bad bustling to take the field.

My only concern is Hall's preparation has not been ideal, which could in turn affect his performance on Saturday. However, it's unlikely.

West Coast skipper Ben Cousins, who was named as the winner of the Brownlow Medal on Monday night, would be ecstatic with the way things have panned out.

The brouhaha surrounding Hall allowed Cousins to all but escape the usual media hype which comes with winning the sport's most coveted prize.

By 5pm Saturday we'll know if it was a factor.

The world game

THE Barry Hall incident didn't just stir interest on Australian shores.

A punter in the Faroe Islands ? between Scotland and Iceland ? was closely monitoring the internet for any breaking news on Hall's tribunal hearing.

He had already put his money on the Swans with Australian bookies Centrebet because he reckoned they were great value at $2.05.

Let's hope he's a good judge.

Look out Eddie

WHILE the Swans chase premiership glory on the hallowed surface of the MCG, Grafton's own red and whites will also be aiming to taste grand final success.

It's been a while since the Grafton Redmen have played in a grand final ? 1999 to be exact ? and coach Gary Powell is to be commended for leading the blood and bandages to the decider in his first year at the helm of first grade.

Gary, along with Steve Hackett, led the Redmen second graders to the title last year.

If his lads win tomorrow, Eddie Jones might have something to worry about.

Also, good luck to Gary and his wife Natasha as they welcome another little Powell into the world some time today.

Hopefully plenty of Graftonians will make the trip north to Lismore's Oakes Oval for the game.

Yes, that's right, Grafton to play Ballina in Lismore in both first and second grades. Lismore is represented in the THIRD GRADE grand final. Oh dear.

Please, will someone in a position of authority at Far North Coast Rugby ensure the tendering process for selecting finals venues is scrapped.

Redmen prose

A REDMEN stalwart and closet poet, who said he 'doesn't sleep grand final week', provided TDF with these words of encouragement for both teams:


The break of the day, the dawn of the sun,

It's grand final day, there's a game to be won;

The tension it builds, as the morning rolls by,

The kit bag is packed, the emotions run high.

To the bus you all go, the comradeship it starts there,

For it's these mates you will battle with, the good and bad times you share;

At the ground the atmosphere will be thick and intense,

You all know that grand finals are won on defence.

In the shed you will feel it, your mates' passion and pride,

And prepare for the whistle, of rugby's ultimate ride;

The rush of adrenaline, when the game's underway,

The steel of determination, to make the opposition pay.

The pain you must go through, the tough tackles you'll cop,

Is what you must take, to finish out on top;

And courage and commitment, when you feel you are shot,

To give that bit extra, to give it everything you've got.

And when the game's over, let's hope there's a mighty victory cheer,

And sing the Redmen anthem, for everyone to hear.

Fragton Mander

Tiger for life

A READER has asked how I became a Tigers supporter.

It is a tale of a young boy who didn't have much of an idea about rugby league ? yes, I know what you are thinking, not much has changed.

I was in Year Two at St Joseph's Primary School in Gilgandra.

Tony Musgrave, a teacher at the school, was a diehard Balmain supporter, and no doubt still is.

In fact he loved the boys in orange and black so much that he hung a huge picture of a tiger above the blackboard in his classroom.

One day he showed me and my mates the picture and we all thought it was great.

Mr Musgrave was my teacher the following year, so every day of the 1987 school year I saw that picture, and another Balmain fan was born.

So as far as I can tell, Mr Musgrave owes me an apology for close to 20 years of heartache and disappointment.

A coincidence?

THERE may be nothing in this, but it's certainly interesting.

Sydney's Eastern Suburbs cricket team released its gradings this week, and there were some interesting names in the unavailable list: B Haddin, N Bracken, R Cross, B Anasta and R Stuart.

The first two names on the list are obviously Australia A reps Brad Haddin and Nathan Bracken, but it's the final three names which are intriguing.

Could it be that some of the Roosters, including coach Ricky Stuart, have turned to cricket in the off-season to keep fit?

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