Local News - Victoria

Tired of takeaway, Ocean Grove’s cafes prepare to plate up again

Under the new rules, the Driftwood Cafe will accommodate 20 people inside and 12 outdoors.

Mr Simons said the numbers would need to increase to about 50 per cent of normal capacity – which is about 100 patrons – for the venue to be financially viable without the support of JobKeeper.

But he is still excited to serve food on plates again.

“We’ve gone through an extraordinary amount of takeaway containers,” he said. “We want to use our plates again. We want people to sit down and enjoy themselves.”

Mr Simons, who is also president of the Ocean Grove Business Association, said he was working with traders and the council on a compromise arrangement to use some car parking and more footpath space for hospitality businesses in The Terrace shopping strip.


But Ocean Grove Cellars manager Isaac Fryar took issue with the prospect of losing parking spots, fearing it may deter customers.

“We don’t want to lose access to our businesses,” he said.

Mr Fryar said parking on The Terrace was particularly important during the summer influx of visitors.

The Premier said on Wednesday that hospitality businesses would receive support to expand their outdoor capacity.

But concerns about parking access for retailers loom as a challenge that may need to be managed.

In the White Hart cafe, nestled in an arcade off The Terrace, owner Alisha Cogan was trying to determine whether her walkway tables were considered outdoors. She hoped restrictions would be eased further so she could open her tiny cafe at full capacity in coming months.

“Summer’s coming. We definitely hope to be at full capacity by then,” she said.

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NRL 2020 season return shows AFL that tired players make for a less tiresome game

The phoney war between NRL and AFL acolytes over their respective restart dates has been as tiresome as the now ritual sledging between rival tabloid newspapers that precedes rugby league’s State of Origin.

Leagueys pounded their chests because their game was back on the park first, thus beating the AFL to the lucrative Ugandan market.

AFL heavyweights put their parochial ignorance on the public record by declaring they never watched the NRL — “But it’s rubbish anyway!”

Newspaper columnists on either side of the Barassi Line called each other “sycophants” for championing NRL guru Pugnacious Pete V’landys’s audacious plans or AFL boss Gillon McLachlan’s more cautious approach.

The canned background noise: “Nyah, nyah, nyah. My game’s better than yours!”

Upon the return of the NRL, however, there was one relevant point of comparison that suggested the northern game might indeed be showing the way.

During its much-anticipated third round the NRL quickly got tired — but in a good way.

This was the result of “V’landysball”, the ballistic new rugby league where ruck infringements are waived away with “six again” by the single referee and the inevitable fatigue created by repeat sets leaves defences gasping for air.

There was no time for tacklers to apply wrestling holds or for a third defender to jump in off the turnbuckle and create the kind of ugly scrimmage that takes seconds to untangle and gives hulking props a brief reprieve.

An NRL player plants the ball down in the corner while mid-air as defenders try in vain to stop him.
More tries were scored on average per match in round three than the opening two rounds.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

Instead, as they sucked in the oxygen, defences had to weigh the risks of wasting vital energy by rushing into a tackle against the possibility of leaving a gaping hole as the ball flew from the ruck. Risk and reward for both players and spectators.

The return of the weary defensive line in the NRL has obvious resonance for AFL fans, as their competition uses the COVID-19 lockdown season to tinker with rules — admittedly, something the AFL does most seasons without such a compelling alibi.

For years a philosophical war has been waged over the merits of increasing fatigue to reduce the two aspects of the game that are seen by older viewers, particularly, as eyesores.

The ability of now fitter and stronger players, refreshed by stints on the bench, to flood areas of the field has created rolling mauls where repeated stoppages are used to thwart opposition momentum and implement set plays.

At the same time, re-energised players run back into zoned defences and use an area vacated by now wandering forwards to control the ball with chip kicks until space opens before them or the ball is switched across the ground.

The result is a game that can — but certainly does not always — alternate between claustrophobic intensity, where basic skills are hard to execute, and uncontested possession, which is anathema to those brought up on the fierce one-on-one contests of the original game.

Slower can be better

Having watched replays of old matches used to fill airtime during the AFL lockdown, The Age’s respected chief football writer Jake Niall observed: “Players were slower, but the ball moved faster. There were more positions, higher scores and marks, one-on-one contests and if the skills were a little scrubbier, this was offset by an abundance of space.”

AFL player grips ball in one hand while sticking his arm out to keep away from an opposition tackle.
Debate continues about whether the modern game is superior to other eras in the AFL.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

The response from younger fans, particularly, is that the players are simply fitter, faster and better now, and that skills displayed despite suffocating defensive pressure merely accentuates their talent and strength.

Mostly true. Yet, as Niall contended, producing better athletes and more sophisticated game plans does not necessarily create a better spectacle.

Indeed, you could argue the AFL’s constant rule tinkering is an admission the administration is not as confident about the game’s aesthetics as those myopic acolytes who reflexively condemn other sports such as rugby league.

Yet with the AFL’s football brains trust wedded to the idea that bigger, faster and stronger is better, recent rules changes seem the work of a man stuck in a ditch, who thinks the best way out is to keep digging.

The first change this season was a reaction to an anticipated problem, with shorter quarters (reduced from 20 minutes plus time-on to 16 plus time-on) imposed to help players cope with the shorter periods between matches that seemed likely when the season tentatively commenced.

There is now a push to increase the interchange bench from four to six players to give match time to squad members unable to compete in postponed second-tier competitions, something that would result in more breaks and even less fatigue.

Essendon assistant coach James Kelly told News Corp the expansion was worth considering because the theory that fitter players caused more congestion had been “debunked”.

But as scoring diminishes season on season, this debunking is not immediately apparent to those of us who still see rolling mauls and long periods of uncontested football in the defensive ends of teams hesitant to kick the ball into crowded attacks.

On the other hand, the ecumenical fan will have watched the NRL restart and observed with interest a game that had two distinct and equally entertaining phases: the ballistic beginning when players were fresh and the battle of attrition when fatigue set in.

Those, such as Richmond stalwart Kevin Bartlett, who advocate the radical reduction of interchange rotations in the AFL and even bench numbers have been cast as being part of an ageing “lunatic fringe” by the empowered media advocates of sophisticated modern coaching and game-day analysis.

But, upon the NRL’s return, tired players made for a less tiresome game.

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