The Bizarre Case of the Mystery Team From Hell

Friday, 08 November 2013 Tony Crook

A vague re-writing of an episode from Australia's rich Jugger history


Back in the days of old, when Brisbane Jugger stood as the only ray of hope in the entire southern hemisphere, the group once had some strange and mysterious visitors. Back in those days we played on ratty soccer fields in Mitchelton, where passers–by consisted of the odd dog-walker or flasher, and the toilets were a half-day’s hike away.


Having prepared for a typical afternoon of Jugger, with the centre circle gouged out of the earth by an industrial brushcutter and the oak-cored weapons padded up just enough not to shatter kneecaps on the first strike, a few carloads of quiet strangers arrived with serious, dark intent.


Aloof, the black-clad mystery men weighed up their opponents (that was us, in case you’re not quite following things so far) and uttered the strange guttural tongue that betrayed their origins in the Southern wastes (Acacia Ridge, as it turned out). They wielded a full set of colour-coordinated weapons, built to spec, and they knew the rules of Jugger better than I (never much of an accomplishment, to be honest). None of the Brisbane group so much as knew or had heard of a single one of them. Not even Adam, and he was in Genesis (i.e. the bible chapter, not UK’s 80”s synthpop group).


After heroic efforts of translation we determined that these strange raiders wanted to challenge us to Jugger. To the death. Or at least until 4.00pm, when they were heading off to Mick’s place for a barbie.


So anyhow, we played. And it was an onslaught of nightmare proportions: Their teamwork was wickedly formidable (they were used to playing together in one of those weird lesser “sports”, like rugby league  or ultimate frisbee). Their weapons-handling was ferocious and brutal (they were conditioned by years of thoughtful debates with Southside bouncers) and their qwick was a juggernaught who mercilessly broke bones and snapped the tendons of his opponents (that was just during the drinks breaks).


Things were looking grim for the Brisbanites: The strangers were beginning to rack up point after point with their numerous skills and boundless energy. But the Brisbane players hung in there like a pit-bull locked onto a leg of ham that’s still attached to its owner; battered, not beaten they played on…


Fortunately, as always the Brisbane players won the day and upheld honour and dignity by cheating. I won’t go into details, because that would require making more stuff up, but the Brisbane players won and that’s all you need to damn well know, for the purposes of this historically accurate recollection. When the dust finally cleared the strangers turned with barely a word and left the field of battle. With grudging respect the strangers swept back to their cars and tore out of the place like dark banshees, never to be seen or heard of ever again.


Actually they came back the next week, played again and seemed like nice enough blokes, however that doesn’t add to the story so I’ll have to remember to delete this bit before posting. They were, however, still reticent about their mysterious origins and never explained why they had a  full set of purpose-built Jugger weapons and were familiar with the intricacies of the game. And after that second day’s turn-out we never saw or heard from them again. For real this time.


So, out there somewhere there possibly exists a mystery kick-ass Jugger team that appeared one day out of nowhere (and stunned the Jugger community, who had thought they were alone and unique in the scheme of things). A team that then disappeared into the void again, as if they had never existed.


Occasionally over a few drinks the mystery team emerges as a topic of conversation in hushed tones amongst the old hands of Brisbane Jugger. Most often not, though, because while it’s all a bit odd, it’s not exactly the Bermuda Triangle  mystery is it ? Or even the the sighting of Big Foot on Mars controversy, for that matter. Still, it does form part of Australian Jugger folklore and that’s why I’ve written about it here, rather than, say, an article about growing sweet potatoes in garden pots.


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