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street fighting and falling over

Impressing the young ladies.

There was a time when a small group of Rugby League players from the Bondi United Leagues Club would wander down to the beach on a Saturday night for a little entertainment after the game. Hard men all of them and none averse to belting the bejasus out of any fool who stood in their path, whicheverway it meandered.

Background is important here, and one of the reasons why the Eastern Suburbs Roosters had an early reputation of being a hard outfit was that many of their players rose through the disreputable ranks of the Bondi United RLFC as youngsters, and that is meant sincerely and as a compliment for reasons that will become apparent later on, if you get that far.

The Badge of Disreputability was an highly desired decoration in those very early and gentlemanly days of amateur rugby league, particularly given that most of the pre-match warm up, not to mention the game itself, was subject to lengthy interruptions as a substantial number of the team felt obliged to divest themselves of the previous night’s intake of Chow Mein and bulk draught pilsner.

Some of those fearsome lads also arrived at the beachfront sporting a little makeup of the type that was usually only applied during the game, when the blood flowed unhindered. Flea and Axe were such individuals, and one unfortunate night they arrived at the front door of the milk bar on the corner of Campbell Parade and Roscoe Street just in time to bump into a lad from Waverley College who was a little under the weather, pissed in fact, and heading in the same general direction.

As was his best mate

Who tried to step in

When all was too late.

Street fighting is basically an artless exercise but not one without a degree of creative culpability, shrill histrionics and very real and enduring pain, and there are several basic rules that should not be forgotten by the receiver.

Rule number one is to remember to fall over quickly, though for the sake of maintaining some dignity and reputation one should wait until the first blow has been landed (usually theirs).

Rule number two is to attempt to avoid being kicked while supine and unresisting, the results will not endear you to your employer the next time he calls you into his office, and your mother will weep bitter tears. Your father of course will want to know too much.

Rule number three is to pretend nothing much untoward has happened after the assailants have satisfied themselves and left the scene and you have regained your feet, bloodied head notwithstanding, bearings may be a problem for a short while and walls must be leant on and not walked into.

Friends, if they can be found, might be asked to help staunch the bleeding.

Rule number four is to forget the name face and phone number of that attractive girl you were following into the milk bar and were intent on winning over not ten minutes ago; witness to the degradation or not, the Bondi Bush Telegraph will reach her before the bruises colour and to the four winds of earth she will forever vanish.

Despite the recent posturing of a few professional surfers from further south together with their movies and books – and their bloodless high fashion consorts – surfers were never fighters; there is enough violence in the sea to satisfy anyone with an aggressive nature, though there was always some shady notoriety to be won in the quality of a beating.

A brutal kicking delivered by a couple of hard-knuckled footballers was always going to deliver more prestige than a schoolyard style bump and shove.

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