Imran Gashkori | Sports Journalist | CONTACT
28 January, 2015. 11:30
In a day and age where Australian youth are able to access a range of music, film, photography and television at the click of a button – it would seem that the cultural elite in this country are spoiled for choice when it comes to the arts. However, according to Newtown resident, Banjo Clementé – this isn’t enough.
“Most open-minded youth in this country are disillusioned by the homegrown arts scene. We listen to shit from overseas nowadays. There’s a few big hitters but the days of The Whitlams and Silverchair are dead… we’ve been looking for something new for a while. I didn’t expect to end up where we are.”
Clementé, a former musician himself, has come a long way since his comfortable childhood in Sydney’s suburban Hills District. After moving to the inner-West fifteen years ago, his rise through an array of niche creative communities has seen him work as drummer, drag queen, guerilla street artist and more recently a craft-beer microbrewer.
After all of this ‘trial and error’ in the vibrant streets of Newtown, Clementé has landed where he least expected – watching Rugby League.
“I never, ever enjoyed sport as a baby ‘Banj’. My dad used to support the North Sydney Bears in the NSWRL when I was a kid. He was a panel-beater from Ryde, every friday night he would come home from work and yell at the TV… he used to put away at least twenty silver bullets (Reschs Pilsener) and he loved every minute of it. I thought it was lame”
But as they say, the apple never falls far from the tree. On October 5th last year, Banjo was present in the streets of Redfern for the 2014 South Sydney premiership celebrations. It was this community atmosphere that triggered his new found love for contact sport.
“It was on Regent street when I saw the most amazing display of community spirit… everyone came out to support the Bunnie-O’s: adorable old women in tears, little kids running around and waving flags, drunk die-hard fans dancing on cars. I realised Rugby League isn’t just for the culturally inept… it’s actually for the underclass. I think that’s pretty cool,”
“The next day I purchased a life membership for the Newtown Jets, my local NSWRL side. I reckon it’s even cooler to support a team that isn’t in the national comp… particularly a team that doesn’t win games.”
The rise of popularity for contact sports in Australia’s artistic communities is not limited to the streets of Sydney’s inner-west. Earlier this year, platinum-selling musician, triple J Hottest 100 winner and hipster icon, Chet Faker was seen wearing a homemade T-shirt with the Melbourne Demon’s FC logo to a pre-album launch interview.
Supporting the ‘Shittest team in the AFL’ was something that Faker found to be quite cool as well.
“I mean, supporting the AFL only became cool when people like me started doing it. Me and my boys made an executive decision: Either be ostracized for not enjoying sport, or follow the shittest team in the AFL… because it’s only cool if no one else does it,”
Rising Australian rock band Sticky Fingers were also seen playing a gig at the now defunct Balmain Leagues club, their way of paying homage to yet another dwindling Rugby League community. Sticky Fingers have also been seenn on numerous occassions performing at music festivals in their vintage Balmain Rugby League jerseys. Chet Faker believes that ‘cool’ people like him and the boys in Sticky Fingers are also partial to other sports:
“It’s not just AFL and and Rugby League, I mean we love cricket and horse-racing too… we love the greyhounds the most. It’s all about not caring. I mean, if the baggie greens keeps slipping the way they have been, this could be quite an ‘indie’ summer for Australian cricket!”