Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Raiders are a Russian Novel

Last Sunday, my god.
That Raiders Roosters game was full of abominations too monstrous to describe or even name.

A week has passed. The immediate, astonished horror has worn off, but everyday objects still have the sharp angry edges they took on shortly after kick-off. I mean, MY GOD. I legit started thinking some kind of extraterrestrial invasion was underway. If I hadn’t been so transfixed by the suffocatingly slow unfolding of scenes on my television screen I would have been down on my hands and knees searching for hidden microphones in the kitty litter or something.   
As it happened, part way through the diabolical second half a tiny muscle under my right eye leaped and began to twitch and for the rest of the game the erratic behaviour of my face perfectly reflected the erratic behaviour of both teams. Once the rotten stinking curtain was rung down on the game my face stopped jerking but a kind of soupy, confused mist seethed into my brain and settled over things. Everything pretty much as usual for the week that followed, then, except for the grimmer than usual drive of blood in my skull and a great sense of foreboding – perversely gripping -  regarding Monday night’s Raiders Tigers game.  Football. Jesus God.
The thing about the Raiders is that they’re so unpredictable, so unknowable. And not in a good way. I believe, generally speaking, that if you can’t do it well then it’s not worth doing. Clearly not everyone agrees. As the damage to my nerves mount there are many alarming signs that the Raiders may not be entirely on top of matters. This is all very familiar.
Last week, before we both went cold on the entire organisation my brother and I decided that the Raiders need to buy someone, since every other club seems to be buying people in a frenzy of spending (whatup Titans) and signing. But who? I suggested Willie Mason, and my brother unexpectedly became very excited. Who knew?  
1.“I like him. We should go for it. ! Can’t see him moving to Canberra though, he would hate it worse than you!”  
2. “Going cheap isn’t he? I heard he might end up playing for the Toowoomba Pythons and work in the tomato factory there during the week!”
I looked into this and the offer, as reported back in December 2011, was actually to play for the Guyra (population 2500) Superspuds, who have won four of the past nine Group 19 grand finals and pay $250 per game.  Club official Terry Vidler said “We’d take him. He would cause a lot of interest in our town. We’ve got a tomato farm out here, it’s a big deal. He could work there.”  As rustic and charming and fuckoff-hilarious as this all sounds, I much prefer the idea of Willie getting an NRL start. If the skeleton of Matt Orford’s soul can be resurrected and made to dance and sing and drop balls and bungle kicks then Mason more than deserves the same opportunity. Also, he’s got mad game! He’s awesome! So what if he talks a lot of smack? It’s “refreshing”. I heard Daly Cherry Evans interviewed the other day and every line uttered was flat and robotic and entirely devoid of humanity and humour. It was horrible. I want boorish hooligans rearing up through the mist and blurting out robust and original opinions of the “everyone’s entitled to have one” variety. Decorum and decency are terribly over-rated.

Anyway. On the Raiders, I plan on rounding the corner and fully overcoming my crippling sense of resentment sometime today, in preparation for what will probably be more of the same tomorrow evening. This, people, is the way of the world.

One of the worst parts of the whole thing last week was that I got so goddamn excited after their win over the Titans. I convinced myself that some kind of seismic shift had occurred; that it was different to their first win of last season, when they annihilated the hapless Sharks in that unseemly opening match. There wasn’t much element of skill involved then and absolutely no pretense of two equally matched teams. The whole thing resembled hyenas tearing open a gazelle much more than it did a traditional game. It was terrific. God it was a good time. Really great.  What wasn’t so great was the fact that it was pretty much the only joy Raiders fans got to experience. For the season. That’s, like, months. Long, bleak months. Russian novel months.
After last week, the implications are profound and distressing:  Perhaps we are standing on that same threshold. Perhaps we have always been there.

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