Barmy Army faces bankruptcy if Ashes cancelled: co-founder

The Barmy Army celebrate the fall of a wicket at the SCG during the Ashes Series in 2007. Photo: Dallas KilponenOne of the co-founders of England’s Barmy Army has pleaded for the two sides in Australia’s cricket war to resolve their corrosive pay dispute amid fears that the famous supporters’ group could be bankrupted if the Ashes Test series is cancelled.
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“We could go bust if this isn’t sorted out,” Dave Peacock said.

“There are 30,000-plus fans travelling to Australia this year, and they’ve already booked their flights, hotels, tickets and tours.”

A cancellation of the Ashes series could cost the Australian tourism industry $400 million in revenue with tens of thousands of English and Australian fans having booked accommodation and ticket packages for cricket’s most coveted contest.

“[The Ashes] is on the bucket list of so many sports fans who’ve shelled out between £15,000 [$25,000] and £20,000 for the 51 days [of the series],” Mr Peacock said.

“It’s a huge investment and now there’s an element of concern over whether an agreement will be found.”

The Barmy Army has evolved into a professional limited company while still dedicated to making cricket “more fun” with chants, songs and banners.

It was appointed a licensed travel operator of Cricket Australia, the sport’s local ruling body, via its Barmy Travel arm, for the Ashes series.

Sort it out: Co-founder of the Barmy Army, Dave Peacock. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

“We’re already committed to paying for all of this, as well as things like Christmas dinner for 800 to 1000 at the Crown casino in Melbourne, all our merchandising and T-shirts, and plans for a massive New Year’s Eve party in Sydney.

“From a logistical point of view, we would go bust if it didn’t go ahead.”

John O’Sullivan, the managing director of Tourism Australia, said that the always hotly contested Ashes series was a guaranteed winner not just for cricket fans but invariably the Australian tourism industry.

RELATED READINGEmergency meeting: Cricketers warned of Ashes threat”No country supports their cricket team overseas more passionately than the English,” he said.

“With overall honours tied at 32 wins all, this series is all about bragging rights.

“Tickets are already selling faster in the UK than for the last Ashes series held here in Australia and we’re expecting another huge turnout and lots of noise from the Barmy Army.

“The average UK holidaymaker spends around $6200 when they come Down Under but sporting events such as the Ashes attract visitors who stay longer and disperse more widely, so the tourism impacts are much bigger.”

Tourism Australia has been hugely successful in selling the 2017-18 Ashes tour, which starts in Brisbane on November 23and then moves on to Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and finally Sydney.

The pay dispute between Cricket Australia and scores of the game’s leading Australian players has already led to thecancellation of the Australia A tour of South Africaand put thetwo-Test tour of Bangladeshin doubt. It might also scotch the one-day internationals against India and this summer’s Ashes.

David Fleming, Steve Weekes and Clint Bell warm up for Barmy Army action in New Zealand. Photo: Kevin Stent

The bitter dispute is over the revenue-share model that Cricket Australia wants to change to a profit-share system, and that players want to retain.

Mr Peacock said that England fans were incredulous that the impasse between Cricket Australia and the players’ union, the Australian Cricketers’ Association, had not already been resolved.

“Why can’t they get on and talk together and negotiate together and thrash out a deal so we can all get on and plan ahead?” Mr Peacock said.

“In England, the PCA [Professional Cricketers’ Association] meets with the board on a regular basis, so we can’t believe that isn’t happening in Australia and they’re not having sensible dialogue to sort it out.

“All this bad publicity is bad for fans, bad for sponsors, bad for the game. We’ve already got 1100 people booked on our official tour, which is double the number from 2013, and then there’s a huge number of independent fans. No one’s winning from this.”

A Cricket Australia submission to an inquiry into Australia’s trade relationship with Britain in March last year said that the 2006-7 Ashes and one-day international series against England generated $317 million in direct expenditure in the Australian economy.

It contributed an additional $54 million in GDP, produced increased regional direct spending of $48 million and created an additional 793 jobs. The 37,000 international visitors spent an average of $10,425 during their stay, over $2000 more than the typical holidaying Chinese visitor to Australia.

Charities would also suffer if the Ashes did not go ahead, Mr Peacock said. This year, the Barmy Army planned to raise more than £50,000 for the PCABenevolent Fund during the Ashes, having raised the same amount four years ago for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. In 2010, it raised £25,000 for the McGrath Foundation.

“From a charity perspective, it will also have a huge impact,” he said.

“We don’t really have a view on who’s right and who’s wrong as we’re so far removed. It’s not our problem. We just want them to find a solution and we do believe it will eventually all settle down and the Ashes will go ahead.”

Running marathons for a million dollars

Running marathons for a million dollars Superhero: Andrew Biszczak has sold his house and business for sick kids.
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TweetFacebookCelebrity Encounters Maureen O’Hara.

Geoff Hassall, of Birmingham Gardens, contacted Topics to add toour series onbrushes with fame.

“My celebrity encounter relates to a late friend of mine, Alan Elvin, a long-time Newcastle resident. Back then, most films made here were Hollywood productionswith Hollywood stars, even if the theme was Australian.”

One of these films wascalled Kangaroo, which starredIrish-American actress Maureen O’Hara. It was released in 1952.

“The outback scenes were meant to be filmed in the Hunter, so screen-struck young Alan decided he wanted to try to get into the business. He got a job as a runner,” Geoff said.

“As often happens in these situations, the location was changed.”

The production was moved tooutback South Australia. Alan went along.

“When he got there, he was assigned to ‘look after’ Miss O’Hara. Heended up driving Miss O’Hara, even taking her on picnics and outings. Naturally, Alan retained souvenirs of his lucky break, including an actual script of the movie given to him by Miss O’Hara.”

When Alan died a few years ago, Geoffinherited the memories, with “the aim of finding a suitable institution to which they could be dedicated”.

“Still looking,” he said.

Fear not Geoff, those memories will now be preserved forever in cyberspace.

As forO’Hara, shedied in 2015 at age 95. She was remembered asone of the stars oftheGolden Age of Hollywood. She worked on films includingHow Green Was My Valley,The Black Swan,Sinbad the Sailor and Miracle on 34th Street.

He co-starsincludedErrol Flynn, John Wayne, Henry Fonda andTyrone Power.She didn’t likeFlynn’s alcoholism.

“Ifthe director prohibited alcohol on the set, then Errol would inject oranges with booze and eat them during breaks,” she said.

Power out in heart of the city

Frustrated: Rowie’s Liquor licensee Shannyn Robards says he stands to lose about $2500 worth of trade on Saturday. Picture: Simone De PeakVaccines on ice in blackoutEIGHTY businesses and homes in the Newcastle CBD will lose power for eight hours on Saturday as the city prepares for the Supercars race.
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Ausgrid will switch off the supply to part of Hunter Street and Watt Street between 8.30am and 4.30pm so street lightscan be replaced ahead of the Newcastle 500in November.

It means some businesses face a day of lost trade if they can’t find an alternative electricity supply. Residents and business owners were notified late last week.

Shannyn Robards said he expected the outage to cost his business more than six hours trade and about$2500.

Mr Robards, who has been the licensee of Rowie’s Liquor for 20 years, saidSaturday was one of the business’ busiest days of the week. He said the business couldn’topen until power was restoredbecause electronic EFTPOS payments made up as much as 80 per cent of sales at the store.

“It’s just a shame to have someone just come and drop it on you and say ‘Supercars are coming’,” Mr Robards said. “They just say ‘bad luck’. That’s tough and I think it sends a bad message. I’m one of the few that’s [usually] open, so bad luck for me.”

“It’s not just lost trade –it’s trade that goes elsewhere and might not come back.”

Newcastle 500 event manager Kurt Sakzewski saida door-knock of businesses and homes expected to be affected took place on July 5.

“This outage is to allow for the disconnection and removal of street lighting for footpath upgrades,” he said.

“While the disruption is unfortunate, it is unavoidable.”

OliviaO’Brien, acting executive manager of business advocacy group Newcastle Now, said the outage should have been planned for night work or “another suitable off-peak period”.

An Ausgrid spokesperson said the outage had been scheduled for a Saturday to coordinate work and traffic control with“extensive ongoing construction” in the area.

“Crews will be disconnecting the lights from the low voltage network,” the spokesperson said. “Once they have been safely disconnected, Newcastle City Council will replace them with privately-owned poles and a dedicated power supply. Preparatory work is already underway to make sure the outage on the 15thruns as smoothly as possible.”

Businesses were notified about the disruption the same weekasthe announcement ofplans to close part of Watt Streetfrom this week until August 26.

The closure is expected to shave two months off the construction schedule.

Truffle-mania at Sokyo, Sydney

Chase toro toro … a delicious Sokyo version of tuna belly.You don’t need to be much of a foodie to know that we’re right in the middle of the truffle season in colder parts of Australia.
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In Launceston, the Tasmanian Truffle Festival is luring keen punters with degustation dinners, cooking classes and harvesting workshops. It’s the same in Canberra and the surrounding area, and no doubt in Victoria and other cooler Australian climes.

On the outskirts of Orange, Borrodale Vineyard is running weekend truffle hunts, accompanied by truffle-inspired lunches of course, and early in the month held its annual Black Tie and Gumboot Truffle Hunt and Dinner.

Leading restaurants — both regional and metropolitan — obviously aren’t going to be left out of the excitement and it’s partly for that reason we were recently drawn to Sokyo, in Sydney’s Star.

The Executive Chef, Chase Kojima, is offering a special truffle menu until August 6, including Chase toro toro (tuna belly and sea urchin served with crispy nori and truffle), which we were served as a delicious start to our meal.

Star’s Sokyo … a buzzing place where Tokyo meets Sydney.

The idea of eating sea urchin immediately took the Woman with Altitude out of her comfort zone, but she adjusted quickly and absolutely adored the scintillating, yet quite subtle, blend of unusual savoury flavours. They certainly worked well with the Bannochburn Riesling from Geelong.

But truffles weren’t the only reason – indeed not even major reason — we had been drawn to Sokyo.

That was Sokyo’s reputation as one of Sydney’s premier Japanese dining venues, especially in the sushi/sashimi end of the menu.

Yes, I finally know who’s paying the zillion dollars a kilo for prime cuts of tuna, kingfish, etc at the Sydney Fish Market.

Sashimi platter … a Sokyo specialty.

It’s the likes of Chase Kojima and he’s doing them full justice with a series of clever combinations and absolutely stunning presentation.

I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Japan, so I’m not sure what awaits me in the top sashimi palaces of Tokyo, but I do nominate Sansei, on the Hawaiian island of Maui, as the only equal I’ve come across to Sokyo.

They do know their fish in that part of the world and have access to some of the very best. And they do have the chefs to make the ultimate best use of it, and certainly put to bed America’s reputation for rather ordinary, would you like to upsize that, cuisine.

Chase learnt his craft in his birthplace, San Francisco, and has also worked in Japanese restaurants for the renowned Nobu group in Dubai, London, Los Angeles and the Bahamas.

It’s a Friday evening and Sokyo is fairly buzzing. I’m glad we have a booked table because we’d have no chance otherwise.

Chase Kojima … offering a special truffle menu at Sokyo.

The crowd is on the younger side, a mix of couples and groups, many of them women. All seem fascinated by the food being served and are relishing the experience.

So do we as our waitress guides us through a range of Chase’s selections: skewers of the most tender wagyu beef, interspersed with caremalised eschallots and served with a lipspacking BBQ teriyaki sauce; wonderful tempura of red snapper with a bity chilli vinegar; ocean trout with yakari-and-wasabi salsa, yuzu soy and garlic chips; tai goma nori (another dish based on red snapper, this time served with miso cream cheese, roasted goma nori and white shiso dressing; and Kokkaido scallops, served with aomomo, tomato and yusu honey.

The highlight, though, is a remarkably textured and flavoured sashimi set featuring tuna, kingfish, red snapper and scampi, some of them just slightly seared, and all beautifully presented on the most perfectly cooked portions of rice.

It really is a sensory overload, right on the culinary edge — and food to savour, appreciate and talk about. Thank you Chase, it was a marvellous experience.

John Rozentalsis a freelance writer whose passions aretravel, food and wine. He lives at Molong in the Central West of NSW, from where he hostsOz Baby Boomers, a lifestyle-resource for mature Australians, and Molong Online.

Smolda at home in Hunter

FAMILY AFFAIR: Marcus Kirkwood, right, with his son, Harry, wife, Sharon, and Smolda after their Inter Dominion victory in Perth last year. MARCUS Kirkwood wasn’t sure on Monday if Smolda wouldmake the trip from New Zealand to spend his retirement with him in Singleton.
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There was no doubt, though, that the Kirkwoods would always have a special place reserved for the nine-time group 1 winner, which was retired on Sunday.

Trainer Mark Purdon, along with Marcus Kirkwood and his fellow owners, decided the reigning Inter Dominion champion’s career was over after scans revealed a damaged tendon.

The eight-year-old gelding, a $53,000 yearling, finished with 32 wins and more than $2.5 million in prizemoneyin a career highlighted by his fighting spirit.

After his son, Tom, 17, lost his battle with cancer in 2009, Kirkwood bought a third of Smolda, which became an equine ambassador for theChildren’s Cancer Institute Australia.

When driving Smolda, Purdon wore the CCIAlogo on his silks and the words ‘Our Mate Tom’ on his sleeve. Kirkwood said Smolda had helped keep strong memories ofTom.

“He was a good story Smolda, with all different parts,” Kirkwood said. “The role as ambassador of the Children’sCancer Institute,and he was a horse who managed to overcome adversity himself. He was a very gritty horse and he reminded me of The Man From Snowy River’s pony.”

Purdon said Smolda was likely to come to Australia to live with the Kirkwoods. Marcus said that was undecided butSmolda“was sure to have a nice retirement”.

“It has been a marvellous ride, meeting new people and visiting new places,”Kirkwood said.

“He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse. It’s just been a great experience.

“It’s a bit sad that journey’s over, but you can’t complain at all.”

“He’s won $2.5 million, so he’s among the top echelon of money winners. He’s been a remarkable horse.”

”As a four and five year old he had a setback with leg and respiratoryproblems and I suppose it was always up in the air whether he would reach that level, but fortunately he did and he was able to have a great career.

“Mark always said he was able to maintain a high cruising speed, and that was his strength and he was a real warrior-type of horse.

“I suppose a lot of people have a good horse and think, it could have or should have, but he was good enough to achieve so many group 1 wins. He’s been an amazing horse.”

He also hoped Smolda helped other families dealing with cancer.

“Other people might have shared their own cancer stories because of him,” he said.

“It was good to hear and share other people’s stories as well.”