A long time ago, in a far-away pre-Sorry Saga era, we had a series called Blitzing the Blitzers. Each week, BB would put the spotlight on a different member. Regular readers of the Forums get a sense of the community we have here, and get some idea about what their fellow members are like, but these interviews get all that juicy info together in one package. Newer members may have seen the interview with Stargazer in the eponymous history forum. But things became a bit too busy in my life and unfortunately I got distracted from continuing the series.
Thanks to some pressure from Captain Jack, I am dusting off the dinner jacket and getting the interviews underway again.
So, Captain Jack, welcome to Blitzing the Blitzers!
Let’s start by asking about your alias. A few of us antediluvian BBers would recall when you first logged on here, you used the name “bombertonton”. What was that about, and why did you change it to Captain Jack?
At the time I joined Bomber Blitz, I had an internet café in Rayong Thailand with my Thai girlfriend. It was named Tan Tan Café, after her. So, I just changed it a little. However, it was only meant to be temporary, because it never felt Essendon enough. I changed it shortly after in honour of Jack Clarke, my first Essendon hero.
There is a wide range of avatars on BB. Some people change theirs often, but you have had yours for a long time… ever since the alias change. What message about yourself are you sending to the world with your avatar?
The picture I chose for my avatar is of Jack Clarke aged about 19. When I saw that picture in the link to our archives, I noticed that I looked a lot like him when I was about 17. Clarke was a champion of Essendon, my first favourite player and I am proud to keep his memory alive on BBlitz, even though it is only in some small way. It is the only avatar I have ever used on BBlitz and I will not change it for anything.
BBers live in many locations around the world, though most reside in Melbourne. You have mentioned posting from many exotic locations. Where do you hang your hat currently?
Currently in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. This is about 150 km west of Shanghai. I am looking to move from China after more than 9 years here as I got engaged late last November. My fiancé is from Sumatra, so I want to move somewhere closer to her. At the moment, I am looking for a new position in the English education field somewhere between Penang and Bali. Once I relocate my fiancé will move in with me.
Tell us a little about Hangzhou, and how you came to be working there. I was there a couple of years ago and the amount of development underway was astonishing… There were cranes everywhere as they were developing an area bigger than the Melbourne CBD – basically building a new city. Also, Alibaba was just starting up and its building was immense, covering an area nearly as big as a suburb.
I was working as an EFL teacher trainer at a little school in Zhuhai, which abuts the Chinese border with Macao. Almost 2 years ago, the school asked my fellow trainer and I to come to Hangzhou to run some training courses here. After 3 months, the school here, asked me to go to Baguio City in the Philippines to conduct some training for their online teachers there. I jumped at the chance, as I love Baguio. After a month I returned to Hangzhou to find the school I had worked for was slated to close in 3 days. I was offered a new position on the spot with the online school and the chance to return to Baguio. Alternately l could have returned to Zhuhai, which I consider the best place in China to live. Unfortunately, because of my age, the school in Zhuhai could not get me another visa. So, I jumped at the chance to do something new here in Hangzhou, and return to Baguio of course.
At present I live on the south side of Hangzhou across the river from the downtown area. A couple of my ex-trainees live a couple of km away. They came up here straight after their course about 4 years ago, and they said a lot of this area was basically still open farm land. You would not know it now, as it is rapidly being developed. About 8 years ago I was told that half the construction cranes in the world are in China, and I can well believe it. It is estimated that there is currently in excess of 90 million vacant apartments in China, an estimate I find entirely credible. This area south of the river is very new and there are high rise buildings in every direction for as far as you can see. So, yes it is astonishing in many ways, almost as impressive as the dedicated high speed train network, which is the single greatest investment in infrastructure of all time. It is simply brilliant. Hangzhou will host the G20 conference in September this year, which will help put this city of 8+ million on the world stage. The main venue is only about 5 km from my new office.
So your long-term stays in various Asian locations explains your byline of “Long Range Bomber”…?
Yeah. Being so far removed from what is going on back home, I do rely on BBlitz for a lot of information, yet I am always acutely aware that I am isolated to a fair extent from events in Oz and at Essendon.
When I think of the byline I usually think of a B52 from Dr. Strangelove, or a dam busting Avro Lancaster, painted black with red sashes of course.
At this year’s BB Christmas Party, what would be your “poison”?
I would start off with a couple of Snot Bombs (a gin and tonic, with a shot of crème de menthe dropped in it). I was introduced to them when a team from Singapore came to Bangkok to play the Thailand Tigers, our local team at the time. The Sunday recovery session was legendary, messy by any standards.
Then I would follow up with a bottle or few of Merlot or Beaujolais. Sounds like a lot, but a Christmas party, is a special event, so that makes it okay. Otherwise I don’t drink much.
”Snot bombs”, eh… who says BB is not educational?
The Americans call them boilermakers, or so I was told.
Care to share a strange fact about yourself? (You don’t need to limit yourself to one!)
I am a bit ambidextrous, different hands for different things, but am all mixed up. For football I kick right foot, handball either hand. Racquet sports, I am right handed, but write left handed, and I can write upside down. Cricket I bat right handed, bowl left handed over arm, but am right handed for underarm bowling like 10 pin or lawn bowls.
That is pretty strange… My brother-in-law also bats right handed and bowls left, and he’s pretty strange too!
How do you spend your non-Essendon time … occupation, other hobbies and interests?
I love to travel. These days I don’t go to so many new places, although I spent a week in England for the first time last October. I prefer instead to go back to the places I have been to before, where I have made local friends. For example, I have been to the Philippines a total of 6 times, Vietnam 7 times, and I have lost count of how many times I have visited Sumatra. I have probably spent about a year there in all, since 1977. I am looking forward to taking my lady love to Palawan in the next year or so. I also have a dirty big camera, which is strapped to my hip, and I drag around with me.
I also like to collect things. Over the years I have collected, walking sticks, pith helmets, and over 3000 albums on vinyl or CD, and a similar number of movies on DVD, so many that I have yet to listen to, or watch them all. In China most of the movies only cost $1 or so, and when I first came here, I aimed to buy 500 a year. I managed to do that for about 3 years but I was finding/buying them so quickly I couldn’t keep up, I couldn’t watch them all, even if I was watching 2 a night. When I finally settle down, I will get around to watching them, but it will be a long term project. I had to catalogue both the music and movies into their own libraries, in order to keep track of them all.
As long as you got DVDs of Essendon’s grand final wins, what more would you need?
If applicable, does your other half share your interest in EFC? If s/he follows another team, how do you get on when they beat us?
My fiancé is a local lass from Medan, in Sumatra, we only met last September. She knows nothing about AFL. However at some stage I will bring her home to Melbourne to visit family, friends and get married. A trip to see Essendon in action will also be one of my main goals, pun intended. As much for her education as for my live footy fix. One step brother’s wife is from Surabaya, and she is another dead set, fully fledged, paid up Bomber fanatic, so I will make sure the two girls get together when we go to see a game. I am also keen to introduce her to Tiffany Cherry at some stage. Our kid(s?) will be indoctrinated from birth, with red and black baby blankets. The area where we will settle, Lake Toba, already uses red, black and white in their traditional weaving, so it will be easy to accomplish. I need to get in early before all the local Batak tribe discover that the Saints have their exact same colours.
You better – we wouldn’t want St Kilda inflicted on anyone! What is the Lake Toba area like? Is that on Sumatra?
Yes, Lake Toba is in the northern part of Sumatra. It is the world’s largest volcanic crater lake, and is 900 m. above sea level, and almost 600 m deep in places. The lake is 110 km long and in the lake is an island the size of Singapore. You can’t tell these days that it was one volcano. I was told that it blew up about 40,000 years ago, and was considered the biggest volcanic eruption of all time, with some 4,000 cubic km of material ejected. It had the same effect as a nuclear winter, and according to anthropologists almost wiped out the human race, by greatly restricting the gene pool. I have been going there since 1977, and when I first went there, a room was 25 cents a night and you could live on $2 a day. Even two years ago, when I went back, it still only cost $5 a day for wonderful food and a great room on the lake front.
Sounds great, but perhaps not with the level of luxury to which Mme. Thurgood has become accustomed…
Moving along … on the BomberBlitz Pizza® what topping would you be?
Salami, and olives. Red and black again. It’s got to be. Does that sound a little bit obsessive? Gosh, I hope so.
haha! That’s the sort of obsession we like! OK, now let’s talk about Bomberblitz…
Nominate your favourite/Best thread?
I loved a series from about 10 years ago, called the Champions of Essendon, where we considered and voted for the best player for each number on the list. I think you might have even started that one. It made us not only relive some great moments, but also appreciate just how rich and successful our history is.
Yes, you’re right. I started that one. The idea was for Blitzers to vote for the best representative of each number during the Sheedy years. #5 was a killer, having to choose between Terry Daniher and James Hird…! On the other hand, Timmy Watson could be pretty confident of getting the votes for #32.
What about threads in the modern era?
These days I look forward to the various training threads, I am a big fan, especially of Jackie’s input (hi, Tiff!!!). In recent times the VFL match day threads have been mighty helpful. They have generated a lot more interest in the magoos than we ever had in the past. So a big thanks to DJR and all the others who take part in providing us with running updates and comments, and letting us know how Tippa and others have been progressing. The annual From Long Range Tipping thread is always one I look forward to. Many thanks to Mero for starting it, and to Bomber McVeigh for keeping it up and running it. I also like the Nobby Clarke vote threads, even though people usually don’t say much in them. Years ago in the Hangar I had a lot of fun starting a thread nominating song titles to describe different players in the AFL.
I am very interested in the history of the club, and I wanted to generate a bit more traffic on that part of the forum. That was how the Classic Posts thread begun, even though it has been mostly put out to pasture over the last couple of years. It started out as a thread to preserve the best one liners, but I think it was you who said one day that it should be used for more, and that it should be used to preserve the best posts. I just tootled along didn’t pay much attention to it for a while, then one day I looked up and there were over 700 posts in there, the next time I really noticed it, there were over 1500 posts. Blitz has grown, and I can’t dedicate as much time to finding those posts as I used to. The Saga has also taken its toll. There have been some great posts in those threads, but I can’t keep up these days. I also enjoyed starting a series of Head to Head comparisons, and the Mal Pascoe awards for the biggest case of foot in mouth disease anywhere in the AFL during the week, just for fun. I should resurrect the Mal Pascoe awards again, as they generated a bit more interest in the history board, and gave people plenty of scope to vent on non-Essendon topics.
On the other forums, I like to get the views of Blitzers on movies.
What’s the best thread you started?
I began the original movie thread, it has been through a few different iterations over the years, due to the crashes. I also started the black and red humour thread which appears to have died off a fair bit since the last time BBlitz crashed. All the crashes have taken their toll. I love any music trivia thread.
Best LOL moments on BB you can remember
The original Mal Pascoe thread. A Blitzer posted that his uncle Mal was a former player during the 1950’s and wanted any information about him. He said he wore number 32, only to come back later to say it might have been 34. Mero, the keeper of all things Essendon concerning the history of player numbers, pointed out the correct number. Confusion continued to reign for a long time. Mero also ran a footy trivia quiz, where the answer to question # 10 was Darren Bewick. That one just stuck and got trotted out as a stock answer to many issues. The more unlikely the link the better. Hurley forward or back - # 10 Darren Bewick. It is a bit old now, but I still like to trot that one out every now and then.
Best memory from the forums?
Getting in on the Ricky Mott phantom draft story to stooge the media, who fell for it completely. That was truly awesome Scotty. We could probably do something similar again, but on a different topic/issue. The MSM deserve nothing but our continued contempt, for the way they have slagged off the club and various Essendon people since news of the saga was first leaked to them. Besides if they are too lazy to research a topic properly, then they deserve to be taken for a little ride.
All too true!
BB provides many opportunities to sound off. Any Pet Peeves you would like to get on the record here?
Only one, the 32 (or is it 34?) times BBlitz has crashed over the years. A lot of good posts are lost each time it has crashed. Each time it crashes, it is brought back with a completely new format, and fewer features. It takes a while to get the hang of things again, find where things are, or find out what is missing. Hopefully it doesn’t crash again, nor the format change in the near future.
You’re right: it is a shame that some of those great threads have gone to cyber heaven and are no longer available. I think Mendozaaaaa once said the old posts are stored on some hard drives somewhere, and Andy once said that the National Library was keeping copies too. Nowadays, we are probably backed up by the CIA because of our name…
I remember the National Library said they were going to keep records of our posts, and I have kept that mind ever since, whenever I am on BBlitz. I am conscious that I am posting as much for future generations as I am for current commentary. I am equally sure the CIA or the NSA monitor us, every time the word ‘bomber’ is used. We must drive some poor junior clerks in a subterranean bunker to distraction, at least I hope so.
You mentioned the “#10 Darren Bewick”…. Catchphrases as posts - yay or nay?
Yay, one or a few, but not as many as I use in conversation. Like if someone asks how tall Aaron Sandilands is, I would say he is about 8 foot 15. Never used that one before on BBlitz.
How many people are on your ignore list?
None, zero, nadda. Never had anyone on it, not sure I would even know how to use it. Due to my long range status, I am mostly interested in finding out the opinions of others, whether I agree with their views or not. I seek answers and over the years have probably asked the most questions of any Blitzer on here, even though many of those questions have gone unanswered. These days I am more of an observer than an active poster. Besides, over the years, I believe I have expressed my views enough, my stances and opinions are probably well known by long time Blitzers, and there is no need to repeat myself.
One thing I will say is that over the last 3+ years that the Saga has dragged on, Blitzers have become more tolerant of the views of each other. For a forum this size, there is remarkably little sniping or flaming. Most of the time, I don’t pay so much attention to who a particular poster is, rather I focus on what they have to say, so I disregard the who, but there are a few I can recognize from their style after the first few words. I am greatly impressed by the supporters and the unity they have shown since the Saga first began. The club will be bigger and stronger as a result.
That incredible March to the MCG on the weekend, and the way the team responded by beating Melbourne is evidence of that!
The March will go down as an instant piece of Essendon folklore, along with the fantastic response of the playing group to come back in the last quarter and beat the Dees. I dips me lid to all those involved, the organizers and all who attended. The effect of that support cannot be under estimated. I have seen crowds of supporters get involved before and influence competitors, I know it works. So again, I applaud all involved.
Any suggestions as to how BB could be improved?
Some more regular features, such as the return of this series. I hope to get to know more about some other Blitzers in the future. More picture caption threads, they are always good value.
Black and Red Knight used to do a match review thread on a Monday or Tuesday. They were always in depth and a good launching place for game post mortems. Sadly he was unable to continue them, but if someone could start that particular ball rolling again, I think it would be a great idea.
Allblack’s off season team summaries in January are always something I look forward to once the calendar ticks over each new year.
More Tiff, always.
Agreed! Not only is BB Australia’s biggest sport fan forum, but it is the only one with its own comic. That comic is very impressive work by Jackie.
OK, let’s get onto what brings us all here: Essendon…!
end of part 1…[/b]