SATIRE

SATIRE | Warning Steve Smith and David Warner: how not to respond to crowd abuse

TAKE HEED: "I've decided to write about this dark chapter in my life as a warning to messrs Smith and Warner ..." Photo: AP/Matt Dunham

TAKE HEED: "I've decided to write about this dark chapter in my life as a warning to messrs Smith and Warner ..." Photo: AP/Matt Dunham

It was my foolhardy decision to respond to a heckler, at a Gladstone C-grade cricket match 17 years ago, that led to a downward spiral which bottomed out when I played a character at a post-apocalyptic-themed Rockhampton nightclub (think Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome).

I've decided to write about this dark chapter in my life in the hope that it reaches messrs Smith and Warner and serves as a cautionary tale of how not to react to ongoing crowd abuse.

To do that, I have to revisit a disturbing time in my hometown of Gladstone and examine the very personal consequences arising from the town's senior cricket officials banning players from fondling themselves during matches.

I had adhered to the ban. But in the preliminary final, three months after it was outlawed, I responded to the pressure of a hard-fought match by adjusting myself at first slip - in the tradition, you might say, of the great Aussie cricket tweakers.

Cricket officials warned me that another breach of the rule would result in a lengthy suspension. Gladstone's The Observer shamed me in a front-page story, which included my dear old mum wondering if the world had gone mad.

A few days later, as I stood at first slip in the grand final, a naked young man emerged at long-on and ran around the field, simulating the act which had landed me in trouble.

It was when he stopped in front of me - his bogan face distorted cartoonishly and grotesquely - that I, inexplicably, barked at him like a German Shepherd guard dog.

I'll never forget his look of horror before he ran away like he was Forrest Gump on crack.

I'll also never forget the jolting wider response to my impetuousness: the nickname Mad Dog and accompanying bark.

I copped it everywhere, and descended into a drug and booze haze - losing my job at The Observer, my girlfriend and, worst of all, my dignity: when the Wasteland nightclub opened in Rockhampton, I was what greeted patrons at the entrance.

Naked, save for a white loincloth, and smeared head to toe with white paint, I was perched high on a podium, on all fours.

Holding the leash attached to the collar around my neck was a scantily dressed young woman, whom Rockhampton's The Morning Bulletin described as a "post-apocalyptic prostitute", then apologised to her in its next edition.

And yes, I was called Mad Dog and I barked.

So please, Steve and David, make sure you don't take the bait.

Mark Bode is an ACM journalist