Sport, when played at its best, is great to watch but when it is infused with a fierce rivalry the theatre is heightened. Over the years there have been many rivalries that have caught the imagination of the spectating public. Ali and Frasier, Borg and McEnroe, Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan and of course who could forget Coyote and Road Runner.
Triathlon has only had the one significant rivalry in the form of the Dave Scott versus Mark Allen "Iron War", that is until now. This new rivalry has been building over the last few years and is as much cultural as it is sporting. However unlike the Tonya Harding/ Nancy Kerrigan rivalry this one is mostly good natured banter, given and taken in the spirit of the sport, and unlike the Coyote and Road Runner it is doubtful that any TNT or anvils will be used to enforce superiority.
Team PIS from Sydney's Western Suburbs are claiming the mantle of being the preeminent Ironman Triathlon squad in Australia's largest city. The TOSS boys from the Southern Sydney beachside enclave know either lovingly or derisively as "The Shire" are fighting back to claim that title on behalf of all the past champions who have hailed from their part of town.
I threw a few questions at the spokespersons from each squad to see if we could get to the bottom of this rivalry, how it got started and where it is heading.
So have a read, pick a side and turn up in Port Mac in either RED or BLUE, join the raucous cheer squads, support your favourite team and be part of the rekindled FUN of Ironman.
PIS –is effectively the Ironman arm of Panthers Tri Club (which is celebrating its 30th year this year!).
It kicked off in 2007.
It really is the super elite of the “Riff”. [“Riff” is bogan speak for Penrith, or Penriff depending on your level of schooling. Ed]
PIS guys are all ex footy players, eat fried food, don’t train in winter, love a beer or bourbon with their mates, sledge, love the ladies (all shapes and sizes...we don’t discriminate, and often wolf whistle when we spot a fine specimen out training) We train hard/race hard a couple of times a year...oh and we love an after party!
It was started in 2007 by:
‘The God Father’ – Stewy T-Bone Mulkern....gave himself the nickname as he is a bit of a wimp and reckons it would make him more respected, a bit like George Costanza of Seinfeld fame.
Mark ‘Big Dog’ Grady....10hr IM athlete that is always carrying a few kgs...doesn't say a lot but when the big dog barks everyone does what they are told....slowest transitions in the history of the sport, whether that be in training or racing.
Ben ‘Wild Bore’ Orr...I still don’t know if he talks. Super quiet but has won his age group in Kona.
Leigh ‘Golden Leeroy’ Chapman...little brother who is the Female Talent Acquisition Officer (FTAM)...thinks the ladies love him but I think to date we have 3 women in PIS...all married, kids and over 40yrs of age.
Corey ‘Quentin’ Chapman...older brother who is always injured thus the nickname.
PIS = Penrith Institute of Sport, was started as there was a feeling that everyone was getting a little bit serious about this IM thing. I mean, we train and race hard, but we are far, far from professionals. So, taking the PIS out of each other became mandatory. Some couldn’t handle it and this evolved in to team PIS...and the sledging only got better.
We have won a rugby league premiership...twice!
The guy in the Mimi McPherson sex tape was from "the Riff".
We exported Crowie and Michelle to the Shire...Macca & Jabba are definitely from the Shire, they always struggled at Nepean tri.
We have more McDonalds per square km then anywhere in Australia.
The first Krispy Kreme donut joint opened in Penrith.
Rednecks from Kurnell toss full beer cans at you...in the Riff they only toss empties...I mean as if you would waste good beer...Riff folk are obviously more intelligent.
Penrith Surfers (ie Mick Fanning) smash all surfers from the Shire
...the list goes on but I won't bore you.
Panthers World of Entertainment has 24hr training therefore we can get a beer any time of day.
There is more than one road to ride.
Mountain air...us mountain men love mountin' women.
Fresh water swimming is good resistance training for race day....salt water/ sea water makes it easier to float.
Safe to say both PIS & TOSS are legends in our own lunchtimes, but seriously we are very, very average when it comes to performing (on and off the race track).
Male – PIS
Female – TOSS (Hey, how you doin’ ladies)
We have "The Golden PIS Belt" – it is effectively equal to being the Heavyweight Champion of the world.
Past winners have been:
The Big Dog
The Garden Gnome/ Fat midget (Andrew Vicary who is off to Kona this year despite being vertically challenged..and fat)
Kona Bob Brace (Fat Ranga who somehow learnt to run) ...will go sub 9hrs this year...(how is that for putting the mocker on him, haha!)...he has finished 8th before at Port but never sub 9hrs.
Sean ‘Astro Boy’ Brunt – hasn’t been spotted since melting like ice cream in the energy lab a few years back...often leaves races in an astro blanket....strongest swim bike combo in IM triathlon. Period.
Dazzlar Owen –The Champ! Has worn the belt with pride all over this great land (works for QANTAS)...and not much else...loves a nude Belt night out.
These are PIS's best athletes but worth noting since 2007 PIS has either had first or second amateur at every Port IM plus approx 7 in the top 30 across the line....and always a mix of old and new athletes.
This year 50 are racing and safe money is on another 7 in the top 30.
PIS vs TOSS – this year will be easy as IM will do the count.
Previously it has been points based on where you cross the line i.e. no age group separation...plus bonus points for winning Beer Mile which PIS have now won two years running thanks to Kane ‘The Hernia’ Towns...the boy goes in balls and all!!
Golden PIS winner - All members have a 3,2,1 vote...then on our big PIS Up award night we do a Brownlows/ Dally M style countdown hosted by The Godfather & Big Dog.
No, Maybe the Trannies can make a suggestion.
TOSS - Triathletes of Sutherland Shire was formed in the summer of 2011/12. It was formed purely because we had been to Ironman Australia and seen what PIS had done. As we sat round on the cans we thought Shire Triathlon had become too serious and lost that good time vibe that it had been built on. People were no longer drinking beer race eve, they were taking supplements and wearing compression socks. Unlike the "Riff" the Shire is split into two clubs, Cronulla and Engadine so TOSS was designed to bring them together under one banner and that's what it did.
TOSS is made up only of women, just some of them have balls, deep voices and enter men's divisions. A lot of people find that strange but it really does simplify things in the change rooms and when we nude up and go pray to the Ironman Gods with Pumpkin Head out on Pipeline.
TOSS has rejected all sponsors, except for one. The Sutherland Seafood & Chinese at 41 East Pde, Sutherland. We entered into that deal with Cindy and her team, as it enables any member of Team TOSS to get a battered sav for $1.90. That is a very competitive price in a very tight market and really is a value add for being a TOSSER. Indeed, when Big Bad Pat Morris joined, he did so for the battered sav deal, he was somewhat perplexed at the thought of doing an Ironman, but gave it a crack as he really wanted the battered sav offer.
Big Bad Pat in action: http://youtu.be/9CmoIl2REXI
Well, talking Rugby League, we won the "Trophy" final of the Rugby League World Sevens in 1993. We also won the Amco Cup in 1979 and to this day, still hold that Cup, that is a 35 year title run, simply amazing and we are more than willing to defend it if that competition is ever run again.
Well the Riff may have the guy that was in the Mimi MacPherson sex tape, but we actually got Mimi Macpherson, who quite simply was an honest toiler doing her best.
We have every IM World Champion Australia has produced that I can remember the names of*, Welch, Jones, Macca and Crowie.
The Shire is the birthplace of a Modern Australia and the spiritual home of triathlon in Australia, whether that be the early races, the rich history through the likes of Jabba, the Southwells and that A'hern bloke or just producing endless world champions to master the lava fields.
We also have wonderful restaurants such as Splash Tapas and the Duck Republic owned and ran by TOSSERS where you can drink beer from glass and use a knife and fork. At the other end of the spectrum, we have a meat market known as Northies which is the envy of tinder and a place called the Vinyl Room for the older folk where you could catch almost anything without even trying.
* No disrespect!, we love PJ and Rinnie.
We have the Gazelle's fully stocked boot in the car park of Shark Park.
We have a nuclear reactor.
Well, I don't think anyone from PIS or TOSS can compete with Jim Wild's world record. He shucked 30 oysters in 2 mins and 31 seconds in 1984 and spent the next 4 days in the Vinyl Room. Quite an achievement, even in the Viagra era.
Really depends on what time of day or night you ask the question.
We have no gun athletes, we are just a bunch of simple people going about our business come race day. Everybody knows that nobody from the Shire has won IM OZ since 2012. It has been a very long drought.
What PIS said, excepting Anthony Peridis was controversially robbed in that beer mile.
We are of the Shire, the Cronulla Sharks are our birth right, is this question a gee up, it is what we do and we do it well.