The whole thing has left me looking something like this...
- The Raiders won. This was their first win at the SFS since 1995. That's a long time between drinks.
- Croker washing the last traces of the blonde, Shane Warne-circa-1997 tips out of his hair. Vast improvement.
- Croker's nose bleeding for most of the 80 minutes. At one stage he kicked a goal with what looked to be half a tampon stuffed up one nostril.
- Greg Alexander cracking a funny. Don't believe me? Cop this: "Here comes Massey! Can he get it to Ferguson? They'd really be ploughing up the field then! Loz? Loz....?"
- Brett White throwing a punch at some ex-Storm teammate and leering at him through a busted mouthful of blood. I don't know what it is with this guy and his frequently bleeding mouth but I find it to be one of the hottest things in the game. It's inexplicable.
- Brett White taking his teeth out - I know, I had no idea either, and this may go some way toward explaining his propensity for dishing out and taking punches in the mouth - on the sideline, grinning into the camera and kicking his legs happily like some kind of deranged, heavily bandaged lunatic who spends their days at train stations because they're not quite ready to be institutionalised.
- Tom Learoyd Lars' huge, galloping goose-step.
- Josh McCrone having another blinder, getting Man of the Match for the second week running and revealing that he leaves his mouthguard in for interviews for superstitious reasons: "I don't take it out 'til I've had me shower". Amazing.
Last week when he conducted his post-match interview through his mouthguard I didn't realise at first and thought he just had a really really retarded voice. I won't lie, the first thing I thought was "Oh my GOD he has the voice David Shillington is supposed to have - if Shilly had Bells Palsy or something...". Y'know, because Shilly has the sweetest, softest voice in the entire NRL, which is somewhat at odds with his hulking 110 kg frame and brutal on-field antics.
- The locker room footage of Blake Ferguson doing a victory dance surrounded by a circle of shirtless, shouting Raiders banging on eskies and locker doors and wotnot. Stirring stuff.
-Brian Smith being his usual jibbering, delusional self in the post-game press conference. The man is a space cadet of the highest order. Imagine for a moment what it's going to be like when Matt Elliot joins him as assistant coach next year. it's gonna be levitation and astral travel and Deepak Chopra and The Art of War at every turn. I can't wait.
- Lars ripping his bicep tendon late in the second half and ending his season. Dang.
- Knowing that, had things gone differently, that totally would have been Joel Monaghan centre-stage and dancing like a clown in the post-game celebration. Double dang.
- Braith Anasta sitting next to Brian Smith at the press conference, wearing a towel and being forced to listen to the public ramblings of his useless fool of a coach. Braith is way too bitchin' to be subject to that kind of rubbish and I squirmed through the whole thing on his behalf.
- I've been avioiding it, because it's terribly sad, but obviously the worst thing about this game was that it brought the whole Todd Carney 'What Could Have Been' thing into rude focus. Just seeing him on the field wearing the Roosters tri-colours among Raiders was jolting, frankly, and I'm resigned to the fact that it always will be. I kind of wanted him to have a fuck-off incredible game, because god knows the boy could do with a bit of a boost. Put it this way, I recognise an unravelling mind when I see one.
As it was, he had another average game and as it was I felt awful for him. The really bitter part of the night came when he was bailed up at the end of the game and made to talk about the Roosters' woeful season thus far and the fact that the possibility of making the finals had just slid completely off their horizon. He managed to string together a few cliches but he was so shaken that he forgot himself for a moment and actually referred specifically to himself. I KNOW. STOP THE PRESSES. If what he said hadn't been so sad I would have clapped my hands in delight. Like how seals clap their flippers at SeaWorld, you know? That's my natural reaction when JT laughs, when Gal fobs off a compliment, or when Ennis does anything at all, really. Here's what he said: "It's gonna be tough but........ I won't surrender yet." Note that there is no mention of 'the boys' in that sentence? Toddy is totally blazing a trail. Either that or he's having a breakdown.
When he said "all credit to Canberra" and mumbled something about them being a very special team I kind of came unglued.
This is the guy who said openly, pre-string-of-scandals, that he never wanted to leave Canberra and the Raiders and harboured no aspirations to ever do so. Goddamn.
So, anyway, the Raiders owned it, the Roosters blew it, and the whole thing left me wrung out and overwrought.
Then I got a look at the ladder and saw that we'd leap-frogged not only the Roosters but the Eels too and that jolted me back to my senses; by which I mean I hissed and did a Hewitt-style starting-the-mower move and generally forgot the night's bitter bits. Sometimes it pays to be a pin head.