A weekend without football is like food without salt: shithouse.
Strictly speaking, this is not entirely true, because I actually had a very nice weekend. Garage sales and my best friend and vegie burgers and Bendigo and kittens and the twinkling lights of Castlemaine by night and riding around in a stylin' Statesman all featured heavily.
Still, there was a void.
There always is, of course, but there is definately a space in my subconscious allocated to football of a Saturday and Sunday afternoon, just like, in my mind at least, the seven o'clock weeknight slot on Channel Ten belongs to Seinfeld, always and forever.
Along with the football shaped void, I was also feeling a little down after the carnage of last week. What's that, you don't remember what happened last week and you want to be reminded? Sweet Jesus. Okay; if you must know, it was the game that the Telegraph recapped in an article entitled 'Wheels Fall Off The Green Machine'.
Enough said, right? Wrong. That headline in no way captures all that was weird and cruel about that game.
Canberra led the Cowboys 22-0 after as many minutes.
Anyone who knows the Raiders know that they can taste blood and whip themselves into a try-scoring frenzy like no other team. They slaughtered the Cowboys in round 25 last year in this way and it was truly a sight to behold. I was there with my brother and in between telling his girlfriend that she smelt like cheap wine/a cheap hooker he spent the entire game frothing at the mouth and probably barred-up over the sight of David Shillington running right over the top of every Cowboy out there. Bear in mind that this was back when Shilly was playing like a fucking demon. You know, when the Raiders forward pack actually went forward and not only made metres but munched them up like big hungry pac-men, remember those days? Good times.
Anyway, back to last week.
First, that massive and angry looking young Cowboy from Gerringong Tariq Sims tackled Dugan - who'd already set up two tries and was looking to be at his most dangerous and destructive best - and ended his afternoon by way of an ankle injury.
I know there's some bad shit to be seen in the world but is there anything worse than seeing Dugan being led off the field clutching at some part of himself and wincing in pain? I think not. Not unless it's Terry Campese being led off seven minutes later, also wincing in pain, and grabbing at his groin. After that the Raiders went all to pieces and it ended up being their blood in the water at Bruce because the Cowboys took it to 40-24.
It was a cruel, cruel day that saw me thank the universe that I no longer lived in Canberra and so was spared the anguish of actually being at the game and having to walk along that bike path out the back of the stadium afterwards feeling shell-shocked and shattered and then driving home in the dark without my lights on, or conversely, with my handbrake on because I was so rattled. Neither of these outcomes were unfamiliar to me after a loss.
Also; as a quick aside, am I the only one who thinks that Josh Dugan's legs may be a tiny bit too thin to take all the trauma that big lumpy bastards like Sims dish out? I mean, his thighs don't even look like they rub together and chaff and rash-up when he walks, what the hell? I am of the understanding that for the modern day footballer this is almost unacceptable. Compared to most players he's basically Bambi out there. Still, we all know that his willowy frame is a big part of why he's so hot, uh, I mean fast, so it's kinda Catch-22. It's a similar dilema to the one faced when he was hiding his Hot under headgear: risk brain damage or release the Hot?
My advice? Stay nimble. Everybody loves Bambi.
So I was in a dim frame of mind ragarding the Broncos Raiders game, frankly. I thought maybe I could do with the break of being away from football, although I always think that after a bad loss and I'm always back on the horse and all over that saddle come the following week with all the enthusiasm of a chronic amnesiac. IT'S WHAT FANS DO, RIGHT?
Unable to watch, I instead received a series of texts - man texts; the unembellished and unemotional kind - from my Bronco hating, Knights loving mate who was at the game. This is how they went:
-14 nil mate. Half time. Broncs up.
-Close finish here. 24-22, 6 mins to go.
-Extra time. 24 all.
-Was great to be there. Tension + LOLs was outta control.
-In pub gettin shitfaced. Lata mate. x
I got these all at once when I stepped out of a reception black hole for a minute, so I had what was essentially an eighty plus minute game condensced into a thirty-second rollercoaster ride of high emotion, at the end of which I felt like falling to the ground and gasping like a fish flopping around dying on the end of a line. All this and I hadn't even watched the game? Fuck therapy, football releases pent up emotion like nothing else. Five stars!
Yesterday I got home and saw the second half of the game, which was convienient because by all accounts the first forty was riddled with Raiders' mistakes and was an all-round bad time to be a Raider or a Raider fan. It's okay though babies, we're used to it and we still love you. Also, there's nothing like some silly school-boy errors to make whatever follows it look really shit-hot good, so even if all they'd managed to do was hold Brisbane scoreless for the second half I would have felt my heart go BangBang for the boys. I'm easy like that.
Still, despite everything, this game will hereby be referred to as THE MOST COURAGEOUS AND UNEXPECTED COMEBACK OF THE SEASON THUS FAR.
-Raiders behind 24 nil with fifteen minutes to go? Check.
-Raiders all of a sudden run in four unanswered tries in nine minutes? Check.
-Awesome rookie Josh Papali scores his first and then his second first-grade try? Check.
-Blake Ferguson inexplicably takes over the role of goal kicker for the first time in his career and casually kicks four from four with those long and froggy legs of his? Check.
-Bronco fans sit like stunned mullets in the stands after sixty minutes of shit-eating smugness? Check.
-Raiders lock it up at 24 all and take it into golden point ? Check.
-Don't want to talk about what happened next? CHECK.