Let's leave it to Steven Kearney and his typically neat and succinct post-game summation when he simply said his Eels were "out-enthused". To this I nodded my assent and said, also neatly and succinctly, "damn straight, Kearney". By the way, he is a good looking Polynesian man, yeh? Yeh, I thought so.
Now. Turning to more important matters and the purpose of this post - what I really want to do is extend an olive branch, a live dove held in a white glove and a formal apology to Josh McCrone for the insults and abuse I heaped on him last year. Sorry, bro. Really. I apologise. Last year was rough on all of us.
What's more; and not meaning to deflect here, but I think the entire Raiders organisation also owes the kid an apology, and probably a nice apartment over Belconnen way too. Or a speedboat, in which case they should seek Greg Inglis' expert council. Call it compensation for what I imagine was a harrowing and self-esteem shaking pre-season. In case you've forgotten, Terry Campese went down with an epic injury, Canberra was left with a gaping hole in their halves and Matt Orford was duly hustled in from the English wilderness and signed at considerable cost and to considerable fanfare before proving to be the dud buy of the 2011 season. What all this pre-season panic meant for McCrone was that a general lack of faith was shown in his ability to be at all effective in the halves.
I guess the fact that he actually was largely ineffectual in the halves had something to do with Furner's lack of faith, but I can't help but think that this was a fundamental coaching error. And yes, I am aware that coming from me this is an entirely hypocritical line of thought, given that I spent last season hating on him with the fervor of a flinty-eyed religious zealot. and followed the fight to sign Orford with breathless anticipation.
I mean, it's not like I egged his house or left burning bags of dogshit on his doorstep - try as I might I could never get a hold of his address - but I heaped hate on the boy like there was no tomorrow.Thing was, he was playing poxy football and I took a personal and somewhat irrational dislike to him. This sort of thing does happen. You could call it passion, I suppose, but there comes a point where it's easier and more accurate to just call it prejudice.
This descent from passion into prejudice was demonstrated when the Joel Monaghan With Dog scandal broke late last year. I heard the hijinks took place at a player by the name of Josh's house and immediately broke into an Iago-esque soliloquy damning Josh McCrone to the seventh circle of hell for - obviously - masterminding such a stunt, and fuming, furthermore, that wasn't he just the type to have an eager to please golden retriever / yellow lab (the picture was inconclusive, remember) as a pet?
|miss you Monaghs, not the same without you boo..|
Never mind the fact that it was actually Josh Miller's house, no, never mind that at all. I mean, you can see how those Salem witch trials got ever so slightly out of hand can't you? All it takes is someone (me, say) to not like the cut of someone else's jib (McCrone's, in this instance, although he's not Robinson Crusoe here, trust) and all sorts of expansive and imaginative ideas take root in the skull and come to fruition with alarming force.
Anyway, not to put too finer point on it but his game really was as ordinary as unbuttered toast last year, and even though he got better as the year wore on the damage was fone and the die was cast.
When my brother came from Sydney to see Alan Tongue's 200th game with me McCrone made some characteristically foolish mistake and either he or his girlfriend, both of whom it has to be said are in possession of robust 'outside' voices, hollered in response "HE CAN'T SEE - HIS EYES ARE TOO CLOSE TOGETHER". I think they followed this up with some comments of a more general nature, i.e. comparing him to a cyclops.
Still on them, somewhat inexplicably they had wound up sitting in the Chook Pen - both wearing sets of huge gold viking horns - at a Roosters Raiders match a few weeks prior and had reported gleefully that some repellant bogan-ette behind them (my brother thinks Roosters fans are the ugliest and most altogether abhorrent fans in the entire league, by the way - "They're not even FUNNY-FUCKED like Bulldog fans, they're just FUCKED") had spent most of the game screeching "SUCK-SHIT MOTHERFUHHHHHHCKERSSSSS!" at the Raiders, basically on their every play. Impressed, he brought this heckle with him down the Hume and employed it liberally in showing his appreciation of the Cowboys' cock-ups. Of which there were many. Bruce was a veritable slaughterhouse that night. A slaughterhouse with Willie Mason as overseer. Awesome.
Anyway, so McCrone's eyes are close togather. All football players have their crosses to bear. Just as Josh Dugan has to contend with being ridiculously, inexplicably good looking and Cameron Smith has to (or should) shave his shoulders twice daily, (see exhibits A and B below) so too must Josh McCrone deal with looking like some kind of cyclops. Who cares?
I can afford to be cavalier now given his remarkable and revelatory surge in form this season - who knew he had it in him; other than Joey, of course, who spent most of last year simultaneously training him and talking him up? Now? Word to opposing teams: Give the boy a mere touch of the ball or an inch of space at your peril! How many linebreaks did he make against the Eels, about a dozen? Amazing. And how well does he partner with Sam the-best-thing-out-of-Cooma Williams? Also, it seems hardly possible, but he looks to be even swifter and nippier than last year, and, best of all, he conducted a post-game interview while wearing a mouthguard. Respect.
Yes, I am impressed and humbled, well spotted.
Remorsefully and respectfully apologetic, too; so here's to you, Mr. McCrone - may the wind always be at your back, and may bitches such as myself never breathe a cruel word in your direction again.