Hello Again, Sydney

One Sydney-sider's experiences moving back to Sydney after a long absence overseas.

Monday, September 08, 2008

May the best mascot win

It's footy finals time again here, for both the AFL and NRL. That would be the Aussie Rules and the Rugby League for those who don't care for acronyms. (Those who don't care for sport, you can probably stop here.) The clear favourites are the Geelong Cats and the Melbourne Storm respectively, and those two teams sum up what I've been pondering lately: mascots.

Geelong have been around for about 150 years now, and for most of that time they've been the cats. It's actually pretty interesting how they got the name, but I'm sure you don't need directions to wikipedia. The point I want to make is that they're not lions, tigers, cheetahs, pumas, leopards, panthers, cougars or even lynxs - they're ordinary house cats. This was their emblem when I was young:

Intimidating eh? We're gonna come out and moult all over you, man. We're gonna kick you to the curb, then scavenge some food scraps while we're at it. Nowadays they're looking a bit more serious.

Could the revamped emblem be behind their recent upturn in form? I mean, there is an argument that names and mascots are self-fulfilling prophecies. Would Usain Bolt be the god of speed that he is today if he'd been christened Ronny Toddlebottom? U Bolt. You couldn't make it up, could you?

Onto the NRL where the favourites are... the Melbourne Storm. Yes, to NSW's shame, the best team in Australia hails from the city which doesn't really give a rat's arse about Rugby League, and they can still get more people to a game than we can in Sydney. What about that name - awe-inspiring, isn't it? You can imagine the thunderous tackles, the lightning runs, splitting the opposition defense apart. There would have been some hefty pats on the back for the person who came up with that name. It also subverts the jibe Sydneysiders always trot out about Melbourne: it rains all the time. No man, it storms. Plus it's great for headlines. We're going to rain on your parade. Hail storm. Storm warning. Etc etc. It's a copywriter's (wet) dream.

My team is the eels and this is the logo I grew up with and still prefer. Slipperyness is a useful quality in football, but we lack backbone and grit. In the late '80s they changed the mascot to make it an electric eel, but that was a bit naff, and I feel it marked a period where we lost touch with our roots.

Most people's second team (and the usual choice of celebrity visitors) is Souths, aka the Rabbitohs. How can you not like a bunny? Though I do wonder what colourblind people make of the jersey. "Bit plain, isn't it?"

My second team is probably St George, as that's where I grew up. However the team has a serious identity issue to resolve before they can expect to win the premiership: are they St George, or the dragon? Given that the Saint slew the dragon, I don't believe you can be both; or to put it another way, you can't have your lance and eat it too.