Occasionally I have found my mind drifting idly toward the topic, but it tends to skip right over the Manly boardroom bit and settles instead on Michael Ennis. As in I start wondering what Michael Ennis makes of all this fuckery. I know the answer. He'd be fucking loving it. If anyone has a keen understanding and appreciation of primordal psychological warfare it is Michael Ennis. Bitch RESEARCHES the lives and backgrounds of players from opposing teams so as to be able to sledge them to the best of his already impressive ability. That is some shark-like gusto right there. Respect. By the by, did anyone notice how much street talk was thrown about in the 2011 season? Everyone started talking street, myself included. Exhibit A: Tim Sheens saying 'respect'. As in: "I'm really impressed with what the Storm acheive - respect." Well, I found this extremely odd. That's all I'm saying.
Deep though my respect is for Ennis and his special kind of glowering, insane resolve, I feel mild envy bordering on wild jealousy when I think of his club's culture. I mean, Jesus Christ. One minute they're embroiled in the Coffs Harbour rape scandal and the next they've got the shrewdest CEO in the league rebuilding on every level and orchestrating the coach-poach of the century, what the shit?? What the shit, yes, and also word to the Raiders, what's your excuse?! A dog blew Joel Monaghan and the photo was a social media sensation the world over - where are the reverberations and instigations of positive change from that crisis? Leave it to the Canberra club to not make an occassion of such an unfortunate incident. That's just typical of the whole flaccid and lacklustre place. It's a monument masquerading as a city. My mother just visited me. She recounted a small altercation she had with a man from Canberra on the beach in Jervis Bay recently who, as well as being something of a dickhead, was also a self-proclaimed dog whisperer who suggested in a pompous and condescending fashion that she bring her crippled whippet up to Canberra for some 'treatment'. "Oh no," she said, (with her usual force and conviction, I imagine) "I'm not going to that place. Horrible. My daughter lived there last year and had a total breakdown and as soon as she moved away she made a complete recovery - forget it." Isn't that just the last word in excellence? For all her early flirtation with senility she still has some serious form. Respect.
Where was I? Oh, right, Des Hasler. So I saw him in his new blue and white Bulldogs training shirt and found it a jarring and unsettling and altogether satisfying sight.
And then, because I am highly skilled in the art of relating everything no matter how obscure to the Raiders, I immediately thought of how jarring and unsettling and altogether unsatisfactory it will be to see Josh Dugan in a different coloured shirt when that terrible day comes. A non-lime green shirt. My god. I call this 'Looking Into The Face of Something Horrible'. It is an undertaking I try to avoid. Something else I try to avoid is anything pertaining even loosely to Brett Stewart; unless of course it affords me opportunities to bitch extravagantly about him. I thought that the talk about him exercising his Des Hasler get-out clause for 2012 would grant me this opportunity but DAMNATION the sulky bitch will be remaining at Brookvale until the end of 2014. Apparently. As Dessie just demonstrated with superb rat-like cunning, things change. And as the slippery-as-a-greased-pig Tim Moltzen proved, contracts and signings don't mean a goddamned thing. It is my Christmas wish that 2012 is the year of Brett Stewart's ultimate undoing. He's already out on the ledge. Some small episode, coupled with the fact that his mind is already snagged on the belief that the NRL and the wider world have fatally wronged him, could well combine to ensure his slow descent into hysterical paranoia kicks into overdrive and leads to full-throttle implosion. I know, I know. I do occassionally have the urge to perform acts of anarchic subversion. More common, though, is the urge to see Brett Stewart suffer in his jocks. I tend to go with my neuroses and prejudices because they stay solid when everything else is as shaky as my mother's trifle. Crumbs of comfort and such.
So, yeah, UP THE DOGS. I find it strange to be condoning the Dogs, I really do. Still, it's like Best and Less. It's not that there's anything wrong with Best and Less per se, it's the customers. With the Bulldogs it's the fans. They're grotesque. Look into a Bulldogs crowd. It looks for all the world like some very large mission or asylum has just turned everyone out for the day. I love this, of course. Also, I envy them their deranged ugly fanaticism, expecially when it intensifies to fever pitch, which is pretty much their restive state. "Unfortunately, I can't remember a thing about the game. But the police told me I had quite a good time" - words every Bulldog fan worth their salt has said on at least one occassion. L'adore.
........I wrote this and then I went to sleep and had a dream about Des Hasler. I sat next to him on a team bus and we spoke in low intense voices about important and high-risk coaching strategies which have unhelpfully eluded me upon waking. I do remember that he was seething with raw intensity and barely leashed rage. Like Brando as Stanley Kowalski, only less surly and more savvy. His eyes were kinder too. But only just. He was so intense that I got a nosebleed and had to swap seats with Steve Matai. What a guy. What a dream. What a game. Goddamn.
*Over the course of writing this my perceived lack of position on the matter has proceeded through a series of well-worn phases - hating on Brett Stewart, loving on Michael Ennis and fretting for the Raiders - which have all restored in me the reassuring sense that I am in charge of things**.
**Which I'm really not.