‘Down under’ Animals have always formed an important part of Australian culture. Their national ruby team are known as the ‘Wallabies’ and their football counterparts as the ‘Socceroos.’ ‘Skippy the Kangaroo’ was a well received family television series and ‘Crocodile Dundee’ achieved worldwide acclaim putting Australia on the map. Their latest obsession now seems to be the filmed exploits of the adventures of an English donkey. The said donkey is goal shy football star Emile Heskey. I use the word ‘star’ because that is exactly what Heskey is, when turning out for his new club the Newcastle Jet’s.
Heskey played 20 seasons in England’s top flight and only managed to score more than 10 goals in one of those seasons. Throughout a career that spanLeicesterCity, Liverpool, Birmingham, Wigan and Aston Villa his strike rate was a goal every 4.6 games. In short his goal scoring record was about as fruitful as trying read a ‘Where’s Wally’ book in the dark. In Australia’s ‘A League’ however Heskey has turned into a goal a game man.
The 34 year old former England forward is quite simply a phenomenon inAustralia. He top’s the goal scoring charts with 4 goals in 4 games and has already outshone Del Piero when the leagues two flagship signings faced off against one another. Demand at the Newcastle Jet’s for ‘Heskey shirts’ has been so high that they’ve even had to order 5,000 more.
Now Fox Sports have gone one step further, launching a red button service called ‘HeskyCam’ that allows viewers to follow the player for the entire game. Over the top promotional adverts has been busy employing important sounding male voices to announce, "Heskey Cam gives you it all: one camera, one hero; every pass, every run, everything Heskey does on the pitch, you'll see it first with the Heskey Cam, the dedicated broadcast providing a rare insight into what makes Heskey so good."
But it’s not just Fox Sport representatives that have been walking around with massive erections, Jet’s coach Gary Van Egmond has been quick to point out that it’s not just Heskey’s goal scoring prowess that makes him such a viewable figure, "We have a lot of really really good lieutenants but he's the one who we need as the person who really leads that line."
"With that amount of confidence and time that other players are getting, and the fact they're able to do better things with the ball, is a lot to do with what Emile does with the ball.
"He might not have as many touches as some players but his positioning and the way he attracts certain players, the other players are really benefiting from that."
Del Piero’s pointy sideburns must be tingling with jealously at the attention that his A-League rival is receiving. Heskey has been for Australia what Mick Dundee was when he first set foot in New York, a fascinatingly popular figure. If he carries on at this rate it would come as no surprise to learn of Heskey becoming the next Australian Prime minister, as well as being nominated for an Oscar in an inevitable block-busting film. I shall keep you informed.
image: © jayphen