The Newcastle Cup: Finals Day - Bert and Mugatu
In the interests of Ding Alley’s personal safety, we must first thank Baz Cornell for filling in for us yesterday. Ding Alley took a call from a tired and emotional Baz late last night. We had some trouble making out what Baz was saying – hoarse and yelling to be heard above the hubbub of the Toona Tavern just before stumps – but we think it was something about Carissa Moore’s quarter-final performance: “Got a head like Bert Newton, surfs like Larry Bertlemann… gotta go, some caarnt’s lookin’ at me funny”. Or words to that effect.
We’re not sure about the Bert Newton/Larry Bertlemann thing but if Baz insists… Anyway, Riss’s whizzy last night was an absolute treat, captured as it was in the studio-like conditions of the golden dusk shorey, with Johanne Defay as gracious and stoked as you like.
Sure, the Woz ain’t perfect, and the comps can be tedious sometimes, but maybe you need the grind to deliver those kinds of moments – where pro surfing’s just ace.
Yet another different face reveals itself for Merewether this morning. Gotta admit it’s turned out to be a perfectly serviceable Woz location, with its B-grade idiosyncracies rewarding those with sharp surf IQ.
That said, today day took a while to ignite, with the first few heats more of a lottery than usual: some south back in the swell, running wide, petering out, rippy, grey and ornery.
But it’s a Saturday, it’s finals day, and there’s waves, so it’s a win for the Woz!
ADS versus Gabby. Maybe the veteran could have pushed harder through his turns and squeezed through, given Gabs never linked up a big score, but easily the most remarkable thing about this heat was to witness these two promenading back up the beach, practically hand in hand, laughing, talking like a couple of regular chums!
Watching post-heat-presser-Gabby (gracious and on point), your correspondent had a terrifying thought: what if Happy Gabby’s more dangerous than Brooding Gabby? Fark!
It’s still junky when Morgs and R-Cal paddle out for their much-anticipated heat. Like most of us, Ding Alley found itself wanting both fellas to win. If anything, a progressing R-Cal might have more firepower to match Gabs in the Semi, but Morgs’ inclination to hunt the insiders (whether by strategy or grommet instinct) sent the resulting draw his way. I guess we got our wish, both surfers posting a winning score. Technically. Kind of. Sorta.
Unmerited cheap shots at Woz honcho Erik Logan have been conspicuously absent from Ding Alley’s five days of Newy reporting, and we’ve only got some VERY flimsy material to work with here, so feel free to skim through to the next paragraph, and apologies in advance to anyone under, say, fifty. For some reason, we can vividly picture Elo, back home, regarding handsome young Morgs in his post heat pressers the same way the predatorial Dr Zachary Smith used to leer at young William-dear-boy in ‘Lost In Space’ – the black and white Seppo sci-fi series that used to replay all the time on tele back in the day.
So there you go, ridiculous and baffling Elo takedown box ticked. Fucken hell. Sad really.
Anyway, regardless of Elo’s hypothetical unwanted attention, Morgs is less Cheshire-cat and more solemn in his post-heat presser. But fucken hell, Stace, ease up on the hyperbole, fella. (Ding Alley has to ask why the Woz overlooks Binnsy for this role. BTW)
Italo Ferreira – who we’re glad to see sporting his default Mugatu hairstyle – goes freesurfing on the left against Vetea Deivid Silvana. Occasionally, more as a courtesy, the camera pans back up the beach to Deivid, who gives it a shake, but Italo throws enough mud for a sick whizzie to stick.
Good thing the Woz don’t run the NRL or AFL’s concussion protocols, given Mugatu’s fondness for smacking the board into his head to celebrate a successful Whizz – or there’d be a trainer running down the beach to escort a protesting Brazillian down into the rooms.
Filipe ToldYaSo versus Conner ‘Alexander Supertramp’ (look it up) Coffin. Supertramp on the outside as the tide drops, ToldYaSo on the inside.
ToldaYaSo’s undergone quite the metamorphosis: gone is his shrill-whistling old fella, gone the whippety physique, gone the attention of favouritism. Due perhaps to his portly appearance in Hawaii, (where we harrumphed and tut-tutted like middle aged luvvies in the hair salon flipping through Who magazine), Fil will most likely fly under the radar all the way to Trestles, hey.
Despite a great, critical turn out the back, and a late rally, Coffin was left starved of what he needed, (much like the real Supertramp character in the wilderness of Alaska, just look it up will ya).
Cut to ToldYaSo. Screaming like a mad bear back in the competitor area, Stace asking him how it feels. How does it fucken look like it feels?
The sun pops, the tide drops. It all turns on. Some gorgeous waves start coming through. Well played, Woz. Paradoxically, the most handsome waves of the event make for a slightly less engaging spectacle – we’re back to longer lulls and fill-in warbling by the gang.
Actually, before we get to the pointy end, let’s assess our mic’d up friends. Overall, good going by the team – and when you’re doing good commentary, it usually goes by un-noticed – but a few notes, if I may.
Bugs and Ronnie, best by far. Stace, ya gotta take it down a notch. Ease up on the hyperbole, son. You described R-Cal – to his face – as one of the ‘Best characters in the world’ – and Morgs – to his face – as a ‘National hero’ and ‘Gentleman of the highest order’. This kind of OTT praise can only be appropriate when about fifty beers in with a Best Mate. Another point off for ‘consumate professional’.
Richie should beware the ghost of Pottz in the booth infecting his inflecting, and stringing together meaningless phrases. To wit: “She’s done the work in the off season, she’s solid on her board, solid on her feet, she’s ironed out the bugs.” Not exactly a crime against language, sure, but it tends to wear the listener out.
Much like this fucking article, really.
Gals semis, Bella Nicholls over Keely Dan Andrews. Caroline Marks – she of the Occy thighs and Morticia Adams hairdo – no chance against a peaking Riss Moore. Ding Alley admires the surfing of Steph, Sal, Courtney, Tyler etc very much, but Moore’s got to be the most incredible and epic of the lot.
Speaking of epic. Gabs phenomenal halfcourt throw whizzy puts the result out of doubt against Morgs in semi one, and Mugatu adapts to the outside bank to end ToldYaSo’s run.
Moore rightly take out a fairly anticlimactic final. What a treasure.
A real highlight for Ding Alley here is Richie – clearly overcome with emotion and excitement – pulling out the ‘Natural Ampitheatre’ line as Carissa comes up the beach!
Honestly, just when the day couldn’t get any better!
The men’s final is an intense, worthy boost-off. Gabs looks unstoppable at the start, as in deference to Bells, Merewether does a decent facsimile of a waning Easter swell in The Bowl (feat. lefthanders). As expected though, Mugatu starts throwing whizzy mud pies and celebrates sticking one with a by-now-regulation crotch-grab. These two absolute beasts swing at each other as the swell dies like a slow puncture, and Mugatu gets the nod.
Cue aggressively-joyful beach mob.
Nobody can be in any way surprised at the Italo/Gabs final. Five of the eight quarteries were Zillas BTW. When it comes to the Brazillian Storm, it’s more climate than weather event.
To the presso: one last note on Gabby. Remember when he would be in tears on the podium if he didn’t get first place? He was so happy and easy going up there today.
I do believe I’m a fan.
Final consolation for disappointed Aussie patriots: The Zillas might have it all over the rest of the world on the ratings and the scoreboard, but no-one sells soy milk or camping gear better than our Oz lads. Owen’s heartfelt testimonial about his desire for a ‘product’ that would allow him to whisk his tow-headed child away for an overnighter is some next-level shill. So we lead the field in this respect. And much as Ding Alley enjoyed watching the Newy Pro, we‘ll appreciate the downtime between now and Narra.
Sincerely though, as Baz’d say, well played Woz, ya caarnts.
// DING ALLEY