The Exodus In bush-fire season the undergrowth gets crackling dry and it only takes the slightest of sparks to start a raging fire. There is no doubt that the Oracle was not the brightest of sparks, but he entered a volatile and combustible brood of vipers at exactly the right time ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Âœ the silly season that marks the end of the anti-tampering period of 30 June. Posting under various guises, most often akarim_au or The Oracle, this squirming, ingratiating character entered the one eyed eagle (OEE) fray sometime in June 2004, just as signing speculation was beginning to murmur. LetÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s set the scene. Amongst the Alternate Eagle (AE) elite there are some characters with impeccable contacts within the club who were entirely cognisant with the internal affairs at Manly. Throw amongst their midst a fool generating ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“informationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â based on wild speculation and horoscope type guess-work and what is likely to result? Yeah well, July 2004 was quite a time. During June it had been announced that Manly had signed Ben Kennedy (dismissed by many as an injury-prone old hack searching for a superannuation pay out) and the least of the players off the Dragons forward production line ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Âœ Brent Kite. The previous Dragon golden-boy Ian Donnelly had just been consigned to the dustbin of Manly history for once too often bursting up to the opposition defensive line before flopping on his back and meekly surrendering the ball. It was presumed there was a heap of cash available (Delmege had just pumped millions into the club) and Manly were set to sign any and every available player on the market. Problem was it didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t happen. Picture it 1 July 2004, 6am and there is the lonely thread ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Âœ ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“6 hours down, noone signedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â. The thread remained silent of major signing news for a day, then another. A week passed. Nothing. You wouldnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t know it by the internet forums though. They were alive with speculation, and the Oracle set himself up as the club insider, constantly on the look out for the pop of champagne corks. Day after day he proclaimed imminent announcements that didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t arrive. Manly fans had their hopes raised and then dashed. All of this would have been bearable if the Oracle wasnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t such an insufferable, self-important prat. Each ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“proclamationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â began with great announcement and self-aggrandisement ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“I am the Oracle and I declareÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â before regurgitating the latest morningÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s signing speculation from the Daily Telegraph before signing off ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“I am the Oracle. Bow to my greatness.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â If that wasnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t enough, the nonsense would appear in thread after thread after thread. No normal conversation was possible without the Oracle inserting his uninvited piece. Thus the posters began to fight fire with fire. Special mention here must surely go to Manly Backer who, in a fit of abject frustration, tagged the Oracle ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“the OrificeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â. It was perfect: encapsulating everything that the Oracle stood for ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Âœ an ugly colon sprouting ****. Other wags decided that the Orifice was the toilet cleaner (and thus in hearing range of the champagne corks in the Board room) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Âœ a thread that went further down the spiral with speculation that the Orifice could actually be found at the Brookvale Oval toilets for reasons that I donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t need to explain to adult readers. Thus for the best part of two weeks the Orifice dominated proceedings and made a once virile forum into a slush of nonsense, inane speculation and grandstanding. But it was not the Oracle that paid the price for the descent into madness. A succession of bannings happened to those that criticised the Orifice or poo pooed his ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“inside knowledgeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â. Sue Ridgepipe and las vegas were quick to go as was s_u. Not that youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢d know it because the forums had never been busier. The breaking point was reached when the normally affable Zaphod (Danny) received his marching orders and Matabele, who had somehow survived to this point launched the following thread: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“An impassioned appeal to AaronÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â (site owner Aaron Maarkie) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“This is going to get me banned. Oh well, it's better to burn out than to fade away. It would be obvious to all that the traffic on this site increases markedly whenever the Orifice posts one of his innane missives. Long term contributors would also know that Aaron sometimes makes comments about the need for a long term sponsor of the site. The way to get a sponsor is to get the post counts up. What better way to increase the post counts than to create a character that inflames passions with his comprehensive and unprecedented stupidity. Well done Aaron, mission accomplished - I hope the sponsors are forthcoming because this is an excellent site and deserving of it. However, some cautionary words. The success of a long term message board lies with the development and nurture of a sense of community. I'm fearful that you're sacrificing that community and the loyalty it egenders for the short term spikes created by this Orifice character. In the long term people won't come back for the Orifice, they'll come back because they've made good friends here and they share a common passion - Manly. The Orifice has not once proclaimed any loyalty or love for Manly. It is clear that his only love is for himself. Our generation are used to the commercial realities overriding things that are far more important - like community and fellowship. I hope the "cash for cockhead" strategy works for you, but I hope you don't lose something far more important in the process.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â Predictably World War Three erupted. If memory serves me correctly, Matabele was not banned right at this point, but he was one of many to receive an email from computer programmer Zaphod with a link that simply said ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“see you at the site for the alternate eaglesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â. The Exodus was underway. Postscript: The Orifice did poke his head into the newly formed Alternate Eagles after it had been running for about a week. Zaphod, with control of the back end was quickly able to pinpoint his exact location and place of employment and sent an email to that effect. Suffice to say the Oracle did not come snooping back in his heinous guise. But just to make sure, the Oracle is one of only two names banned from this site. Part Three Leviticus, laying down the law.