Oh my god, look at that!

  • by gorilla
  • October 12 2004 12:00AM

When I was a little country fellah, half-time entertainment at grand finals was usually a march past, around the showground (footy field), by the junior teams closely followed by the local brownies.

Before match entertainment was do-it-yourself. Scores of cars parked around the edge of the field would sound their horns in a cacophony of blaring noise that accompanied a few bedraggled streamers and cheers from the wives and girlfriends.

It was simple and plain, ranking up there with God Save the Queen being played in cinemas before the Heckle and Jeckle or Woody Woodpecker cartoons.

I never paid much attention until the year someone thought to ride a horse in the march-past. Unused to car horns and well-lubricated shouting from the ?local legends?, the horse ran amok scattering the shrieking brownies, further scaring the horse, and with Mums racing onto the showground, the half-time entertainment went badly belly-up.

I think my perverse attraction to grand final entertainment screw-ups began that day.

My team is not going to be there on grand final day so I?ve turned my attention early to grand final ?glitch and hitch?. What can go wrong and how monumentally public a stuff-up will it be?

I?ve seen them all. Cheerleaders tumbling, little boys crying over dropped batons in the relay-sprints, even the drunken ?legend? falling out of the open-top sports car as it crawled around the SCG. Thick pungent smoke after the fireworks making it impossible to see across the field, and even a loser skydiver spiralling out of control with flares billowing behind.

One of my favourites was simple yet surreal. I remember (perhaps 1977) seeing a trampoline gymnastics display and as the cameras panned back to show the crowd, the little white wrigglers and bouncers looked just like maggots squirming around on the grass.

Singing has always been a big part of the entertainment and makes for all sorts of exciting hitches and glitches ? the most famous was one of the most recent, but more about that later. The early 1980s saw one performer (names and dates omitted to protect their negligence) forget an entire line of the national anthem, which led to a shocking balls-up with the crowd getting out of synchronisation and the anthem just dribbling off into the final shouted last line.

And if they?re not getting it wrong, how about getting it ?live?? Miming has always been something to watch for. The honourable mention goes to Tina Turner in 1993 ? not only was everything mimed and just a millisecond too different from the lips and thrusting hips, but even the saxophonist joining in for the solo piece in "Simply The Best" couldn?t properly ?time the mime?.

Looking for sponsorship has lost some of its sheen. Nowadays even the dammed ovals or game series are named after some crazy John or a fat bloke with home loans, and there?s special field signage designed to always be up your nose throughout the game. Back in 1995, Winfield reached new saturation levels. Everyone in the crowd was given and wore a Winfield cap, I think they gave out Winfield flags, and, the best moment, when the trophy was lifted, a big red Winfield sign on the bottom! Anyhow* have a sponsor ...

This is all chicken feed compared to recent events. Two monumental stuff-ups remain etched in my memory. The Optus launch in 1996 involved Jimmy Barnes singing beneath a giant TV suspended above by helicopter. This was great until the stupid TV broke apart and hung, dangling in parts and surrounded by floating balloons for about 5 ? 10 minutes until it was safe to get it away. A fabulously unmitigated disaster with the chance of the helicopter decapitating an Aussie folk-hero before millions!

Last year?s singer Meatloaf knew of the grand final curse but got away without hitch or mime. Billy Idol in 2002 wasn?t so lucky. Just after he?d called on the crowd to get ready to rock, the sound went dead, faster than a three chord Ramones song. Billy was forced to wait for about five minutes as embarrassed organisers tried to fix it but couldn?t get a peep out of the sound system. Lucky they weren?t organising the Olympics in 2000? Are you ready to rock, indeed?

Given what we?ve seen in past years, this year?s grand final has to work pretty hard to stuff up - we?ve had so many absolutely fabulous shockers.

What spectacular failure will you be watching for?

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