Hey folks, I'm putting this up again because Wimbledon is soon to be on us and Bob Neil always gets a banner, paged or some sort of mention during the tournament. Someone mentioned him today and we marvelled at his resilience. I left in the bit about last year's cricket but it doesn't really matter. So Ladeez 'n Gennulmenz, would you please once again, welcome to the stage, Mr Bob Neil!!! (cue loud applause).
Bob Neil commenced his sporting career back in 1974 with the Adelaide University Football Club. His legend has swept the world. From bull fights in Peru to Lords Cricket Ground there have been "Bob Neil" banners fluttering proudly, invoking the spirit of the archetypal Australian amateur sportsman who lives for his club.
Wimbledon - The white banner on the left edge, half way down says Bob Neil.
Bob Neil is not a legendary football genius but a man whose value is displayed in his club ethic. He is the bloke who cooks the barbecue at club social events, talking wisely on the prospects of new recruits, charming the ladies' auxillary committee and telling slightly bawdy jokes to the children, making them squeal with laughter. He is the one who makes a last minute dash to rescue the star forward from a broken down car fifteen minutes before kick-off. He is the first one to lend his guernsey to a new player or volunteer to run the boundary during the Firsts' match. He organises the raffles, fills in on committees and always can be relied on to bring the half time oranges. As a lower grade coach he displays the true meaning of the "club man".
The Bob Neil legend began in the mid 1980's after a "Bob Neil" chant gave the Adelaide Uni football team extra legs in the '86 grand final, leading them to victory. After that effort, Bob Neil graffiti began to emerge around Adelaide. Since then there have been Bob Neil banners displayed at sporting events around the world. He even featured on the Berlin Wall shortly before it was shouted down. Having grown from a purely Adelaidean in-joke, Bob Neil strides the world. Adelaide Uni have even named their grounds Bob Neil nos 1, 2, 3 and 4. You can buy Bob Neil memorabilia (stubby holders, caps etc.) and you can have him paged at your favourite sporting event. He was the subject of an Archibal Prize portrait back in 2002, even though he doesn't really qualify under the guidelines for Prize subjects. The prize was dodgily awarded instead to Cherry Hood for her portrait of the ivory tinkler, Simon Tedeschi. Who gives a stuff about a pianist living in Boston when Bob Neil strides the world's stage? Fucking art judges, that's who! They wouldn't know a goal post from a home run and deeply resent the role sport plays in Australian life. They'd prefer we sit around gloomy galleries peering at insensible dawbs of geometrical shapes or dead cow Instalment pieces. If it were up to Bob Neil he'd have that cow carcass roasting on a spit and a keg spiked, ready for the club's annual "Busted Arse Legends v Prima Donna Firsts" Day. Does a pianist know anything about the roasting time of a two year old steer? Did Tedders have his name daubed on the Berlin Wall? No, he's too fucking busy playing "Chopsticks" and teaching posh Bostonian kiddies how to left hand a walking blues bass line while banging out a melody with the right hand. It just ain't right. Hope he choked on his spoonful of fame.
I bring up the Bob Neil legend because Australia and England face off against each other later today in the Fourth Test of the Ashes series at Headingley in Leeds in what we hope will see a resurgent Australia grab the Pom by the throat, strangle him and then dance on the body. There will no doubt be a Bob Neil banner giving voice to the legend and if you're at the ground don't be surprised to hear "Dr Bob Neil, please report to the Member's Enclosure" resounding over the p.a. And when you do hear it, have a quiet chuckle at one of the best ever ongoing sports in-jokes. With legends such as these, it only ever matters to those in the know. You are now one of this select group.