Punting As Part of the Sportsmans Routine

This has been one of the quieter sports weeks on the calendar although there’s always the nags, the red hots, and the dishlickers. And as we wait for the various footy codes to kick in (can you imagine playing Super rugby in this heat?) you can have a dabble on the T20 (now that is a gamble) and one day cricket and the A League, or the sport from overseas.

I’ve spent the week preparing myself for the University of Queensland Cricket Club’s Centenary Dinner on Saturday night, and it’s made me think of the sportsman’s Saturday ritual, one I was involved in, most Saturdays for many years.

One of the many things I like about the TAB is that Saturday morning pre-races rush. When, as you stand there finalising your treble, in come blokes in part cricket-kit: the Grey-Nicholls shirt, King Gee workers, and thongs. The rest of their gear is in their cricket coffin in the car. Or blokes in their bowls clobber. The white slacks and the shirts – many now have some embroidery and badges on them – the brown shoes, the hats. Or golf attire. Standing around the Eagle Farm fields trying to finalise their trebles.

This has been going on in TABs forever. It’s part of the sporting life.

The tickets, carefully filled out, go into the top pocket, and on some occasions (when your side is batting and you haven’t troubled the scorers) you might get to hear the races, while other times you might be stuck in the middle, slogging it out on a hot summer’s afternoon. At bowls the races are on somewhere, and you might even pause to see one if you’re still alive in a multiple.

Things have changed a lot in these days of phones which do everything except choose the numbers for you, but there is still a Saturday morning stream.

And it was how we got to know the TABs of Brisbane. Invariably running late you wouldn’t always have time to get to your local, so you’d be in a TAB in Lutwyche or Coorparoo as you headed in the direction of the cricket ground.

Then, after a hard day in the field, you’d come off, “Macca, didya hear any race results?”

I recall one classic day of playing footy in Adelaide. I was out injured and had put on a decent quaddie for a few of us in the club. My brother was playing. In the hurly-burly of the action he copped a whack in the scone, so fierce it lifted him off the ground and he landed flat on his back. He was out before he hit the ground. By the time the trainers got to him he was in a bit of strife. His eye was closed and the egg under it was growing observably.

They put him on the stretcher and carried him off and rolled him onto one of the slabs in the dressing sheds. We were pretty concerned, but as he started to come round he looked up at us and said, “What won race five at Morphettville?”

Thankfully cricket and bowls don’t have the same ferocity, but it’s good to know that the world over, despite all the ways we can get the money on, there’s still a steady stream of sportsmen wandering into their local on a Saturday morning to get on.

For years there have been two battles on Saturdays: against the dreaded opponent, and against the TAB.

May it continue for the next century of the UQCC.