' ... I'm looking for passion, truth and a window to the infinite. Literally anything can be a window to the infinite of course, but soccer is my preferred path just now... a good sequence of passes which befuddles a defence, a sharp and timely throughball or a clever, witty goal can always lift my heart.... ' Hamish 2008My interview with Hamish from Football Down Under and Beyond and Archives Fine Books
John: Hi Hamish, how have you been?
Hamish: Busy, but pretty good I guess.
John: I have seen you leave a few comments around cyberspace, but few blogs if you include that hen joke.
Hamish: Indeed. Truth is I'm not just getting as much time to watch soccer, let alone write about it. I'm sure I'll write bits and pieces occasionally, and I follow the football media, including the blogscape, pretty regularly.
John: You now own Brisbane's best 2nd hand bookshop. A big change for you?
Hamish: Yes is the short answer. It's what's made me much busier than I was of course. I never thought I'd be a businessman, and if it wasn't books I guess I never would have been. It's a lifestyle change, even a spiritual change. Owning and being responsible for your own economy, with debts to pay of course, is a huge responsibility. Maybe a snappy description of the change is that working to live has changed to living to work. The distinction between living and working is no longer very helpful actually.
John: Is it going to feature football?
Hamish: It's a huge shop with sections on just about everything, including sport of course, and there is a soccer section (there is no alternative to the word 'soccer' in this context incidentally, as if I called it a 'football section' it would be poor communication as people wouldn't immediately know what I meant). I'm very proud of my personal soccer library which keeps expanding, and I think sometimes I could just put the whole thing in the shop (as I have with other parts of my private library) but I'm very reluctant to say goodbye to them. I got a lot of them from this shop after all (which is reflected in the smallness of the section left). The tension doesn't disappear if I just consider buying new stock for the shop, as I'll just want to buy the books myself, which isn't necessarilly good business.
I know I haven't answered your question. Of course I want to have a good and growing section on soccer, but the shop will not 'feature' it as such, as it would sort of be contrary to the spirit of the shop, which is to be very broad and cater for pretty much anyone. Difficult as it is for me, for example, we also stock books on baseball and American football, which I frankly see as pretty silly games. Not to mention cricket, which is a huge section.
John: What is your favourite football book and why?
Hamish: There's a few. For pop-fan literature, which is probably my favourite genre, Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch is heaps of fun, as is Tim Parks' A Season With Verona. An American book, Soccerhead is a great read as well, from the point of view of a genuinely new soccer not-even-fan, who ends up coaching his lads team and becoming fanatical. It might have rung a bell. Biographies? Probably Johnnie Warren's book. Mia Hamm's biog/memoir/soccer self-help book is right up there too - can't remember the title. I like collecting everything from coaching and refereeing books, fiction, childrens, history, books on hooliganism and even books on football injuries, but the ones I enjoy most are biographies and fan's books. In a good soccer book, like in any good book, I'm looking for passion, truth and a window to the infinite. Literally anything can be a window to the infinite of course, but soccer is my preferred path just now.
John: Actually Hamish you have quite a background. One of Brisbane's first bloggers?
Hamish: That's not a claim I'd make, but perhaps it's true. Maybe in the first few hundred or something. My sister Margo Kingston is credited with being a real pioneer in blogging.
John: You introduced me to the concept of getting joy from watching football. Do you still get joy?
Hamish: Whenever and wherever I can. It is a struggle to get joy, as you know, when you percieve all sorts of wrongness in the institutions of the game, but yep, a good sequence of passes which befuddles a defence, a sharp and timely throughball or a clever, witty goal can always lift my heart. Form and function in motion. Poetry even. Love it. I get more consistent joy probably from playing myself or watching my son play. Watching the lad pop a goal or do some really clever play? You know it yourself mate - that is joy.
John: How much A-League do you watch?
Hamish: Honestly this season I've been to one live match and watched one other at the pub (Jacob and I generally go to Richlands for this). I'm often working when the game's on.
John: You seemed pretty cheesed off with Frank's latest fine?
Hamish: It's appalling that there is such little transparency and then officials are institutionally protected from criticism, even when it's a) pointing out something that is bleeding obvious, and b) pretty light really. I have no evidence that the A-League is corrupt, but my point is that it might as well be, as noone would know or be able to find out, and with billionares and high stakes running around it inevitably WILL be corrupt. As a long-term student of history and politics, there is no maybe about this in my opinion. Corruption is 100% inevitable in the A-League if the current institutional arrangement continues. Here's a question for you... Do you think the A-League could even survive a match-fixing scandal?
Note from John: Readers are encouraged to comment on Hamish's question.
John: I see it as a lack of professionalism. The ref standard just isn't up to the job, keeping up with the pace. Look at Perth, their coach's job is on the line and Adelaide beat them 2-1, yet the replays showed that Adelaide's first goal was offside and the second was an out of the box tackle and not a penalty. Former Socceroo and sports journalist Robbie Slater said that the FFA risks creating a boring league by fining people that complain, and the fans actually come to see controversy - particularly if their team loses. Do you agree?
Hamish: Yes. It's another point but yes, I do agree. Controversy and the banter between coaches is fun, and most certainly part of the entertainment and indeed news-worthiness of the ongoing game. I guess fining coaches for speaking their minds is contoversial and newsworthy too, but it makes the game look stupid and anti-liberal. This final point is not small either in my view. Sepp Blatter makes lots of noise about how football can help the world move to a better place. Well, if that doesn't include the basic liberties of social democracy then I'm very skeptical.
John: Last week the FFA banned the Eureka flag and a few hours later rescinded and said it was Ok. Mixed messages?
Hamish: See last question. Freedom of speech is our most valuable liberty. That sort of shit doesn't help our game or our world. I was just glad they saw sense but you're right - it was too late for them to not look like tools anyway.
John: What do you think of the Roar squad now? Your favourite players?
Hamish: Well I'm a little behind of course. Moore is outstanding every time I see him play. Yeah, Moore I guess. I don't really feel qualified to say what I think overall. Last season I loved, for different reasons, Matty, Tiatto and Seo, as well as Reinaldo, Zullo and Kruse. But from reading various commentaries on these guys' games, I think I need to watch some games to reassess my opinion.
John: Still can't win at home?
Hamish: Simple. I have to start going to games and wear a franjipani behind my ear. I had a high success rate with that technique last season. QLD Roar should sponsor me to do so.
John: Your prognosis for the A-League?
Hamish: Honestly I'm worried for the medium term. Being dependent on FOX, which is now the main bottleneck of any increasing of the fan-base, is a dangerous risk. Having the superficial appearance of corruption also doesn't help. Adding to what is discussed above, Frank Lowy being an owner of Sydney FC is as good as satire. Clearly the A-League needs to keep growing its fan base, and these things just don't help. I'm guessing that THOUSANDS of people were either put off by Farina's fine for speaking the truth, or merely had their disinterest in soccer reinforced. I mean it - thousands I reckon. Great timing guys.