I’m a Melbourne Storm fan, but I refused to watch the grand final against Parramatta because I’m also a coward. I have never understood supporters who say they ‘enjoy’ a grand final.
Especially those you see laughing and waving at the camera when the opposition has just scored.
No, I’m so frightened of losing that when a premiership is being played for, I disappear.
I have a history from childhood of doing this and the precedents aren’t good.
Following Collingwood as a kid meant you lost whatever you did.
I took off for the 1977 grand final against North Melbourne, and after a three hour bike ride to escape the tension, arrived one minute too early and was forced to watch Ross “Twiggy” Dunne insist on trying to save the game with the most inaccurate kick of all, the torpedo punt.
In 1980, I repeated the bike journey (I made it three and half hours to be sure) but shouldn’t have bothered as Richmond had it won by halftime.
Against the Broncos in 2006 I only lasted until the early Steve Turner try. I went for a walk on that one, only to return to see the Storm undone by Brisbane’s steely defence and four crucial, horribly incorrect ,refereeing decisions (Wayne Bennett referred to those favourable decisions as having “a bit of luck”).
People often suggested watching the next time so that my team may win.
Well, I was forced to watch the 1977 replay as my uncle had kindly bought me a ticket and we lost. I watched the last quarter of the 1979 final against Carlton because it looked like we had it won and we lost.
Oh, and the Manly game last year. I saw that one, too.
Apparently I was at the 1972 VFA grand final at the Junction Oval. My team Oakleigh won, but all I can remember is sitting behind the picket fence eating dim sim sandwiches when my mother, laughing, said: “Dim sims? Oh no, pet, you’re eating lambs brains!”
I just wanted it over with and for the Storm to establish themselves as one of the greatest by winning this grand final.
And they had to. The Roosters have been dismissed for winning only one of three.
I was so nervous I didn’t want to hear anything advantageous for Paramatta. Like a reprieve for Hayne, which was imminent after the judiciary hearing was brought forward (a courtesy not granted to Cameron and Jeremy Smith last year), and the antics of Parramatta CEO Paul Osborne, who had suddenly decided to continue the tradition of his loudmouth predecessor.
That’s not to denigrate the Cinderella story of Parramatta.
Of course, it wasn’t really a rags to riches tale because a team that rich in talent should never have found itself near the bottom of the ladder. And some may question the fortitude of a side that started to win only when it believed it couldn’t make the finals.
Did its late surge in the Grand Final come only after it thought the Premiership was out of its grasp?
The Storm had to stay four nights and then play in the heartland of rugby league – a hot and alien environment that included media commentary incapable of hiding its mortification at the prospect of a Storm try (”Oh no, there’s trouble here!”)
The exception, as usual, was Peter Sterling, a Parramatta legend and someone who could be excused for showing some favouritism or resentment.
I chose a bike path this time (no windows for the sound of Ray Warren’s “HAYNE, HAYNE!” to waft out of), and Melbourne won.
I’d like to think it was my cowardly act that won us the Premiership.
However everyone knows the victory was engineered by a great coach who had the audacity, and the courage, to say before the game: “They’ll boo us … that’s great!”