'Got this wrong': Larrikin priest's message to Sydney Kings

·3-min read
Manly fan Father Robbo in Church.
Manly fan Father Robbo does not think sport should be played on Christmas Day. (Image: Yahoo Sport Australia)

If the Vatican could mould Jack 'Robbo' Robson and place him in parishes around Australia, churches would have the 'house full' sign up every Sunday.

He's a stand-up comedian in cassock, knocking congregations dead in the aisles for a quarter of a century with his unique take on religion and life.

"The knockabout priest – that's me," he proudly declared.

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Father Robbo is no less devoted to his faith than any other man in cloth, but it's not only at the pulpit where he differs.

He loves nothing more than a beer or two over a long lunch with mates, a bet, a risqué joke and a catch-up on the latest gossip about town.

And the subject, when Robbo's in your shout, more often than not turns to sport.

Name a sport and there's every chance the good Father has played it, followed it, coached it or watched it.

Water sports top his list but close behind are the two rugby codes – he once wore a Manly jumper to church to pray for a Sea Eagles victory - football (he's a Central Coast Mariners fan), ice hockey (he follows Wayne Gretzky's old mob, the Edmonton Oilers), golf, cricket and on and on.

Father Robbo could watch sport all year round – with the exception of one special day.

"Not Christmas Day…nope. Christmas Day is a day to be spent with family," he told Yahoo Sport Australia.

Not if Paul Smith gets his way.

The Sydney Kings owner wants the NBL to own December 25, proposing basketball becomes the first sport in Australia to stage a match on Christmas Day, starting next year.

Sydney Kings coach Chase Buford talks to his players.
The Sydney Kings owner has proposed the NBL play on Christmas Day. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Smith argues Christmas Day can be lonely for some and holding a sport fixture may attract the casual fan "because there is absolutely nothing else to do".

"It’s one of the last bits of uncharted territory in Australian sport," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"The world has changed. When I grew up, Christmas Day was holier than holy.

"Now pubs, restaurants, clubs, there are people dining out on Christmas Day, it’s a big thing."

Father Robbo says Sydney Kings have it wrong

Don’t dare suggest to Father Robbo there is nothing else to do on Christmas Day.

He will be conducting Christmas Eve mass at a parish on the NSW Central Coast and then be up again early the next morning to conduct a Christmas Day mass before driving back to Manly, where he grew up, for Christmas lunch with family and friends.

Sport will be spoken at the dinner table but not watched, not that there's any live stuff on anyway.

And that's the way Father Robbo wants to keep it.

"Christmas Day is to be spent with family. It's sacrosanct. Let's not cloud the day with something else," he said.

"We’ve given up so much in the name of sport, let’s not surrender this one as well!

"We have 364 other days to play and watch, can't we have this one day free?

"I will be flicking between the MCG Test and the Sydney to Hobart on Boxing Day, but sport doesn’t belong on Christmas Day.

"As for the suggestion there is nothing to do, there are plenty of charities around Australian putting lunches for those who are vulnerable or lonely."

Asked if he had a message for Smith and the Kings, Father Robbo replied: "I love my basketball but the Kings have got this wrong.

"I hope they rethink it."

Plenty will say amen to that.

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