Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Raiders are a Polite & Dignified Team Who Know Their Place in the League

Round 24 – Raiders vs Roosters.

As that strident and evocative text from G-Spaz on the frontlines in Canberra demonstrates, this was a must win game.
Brandy did his bit to build a mood before kickoff. He went as far as to orally punctuate his own sentences “They’ve gotta win. They’ve just got to win this one. Full stop. (pause) It’s a must win. Full stop.” I was tightly wound and can’t quite remember what I muttered, I think it was “alright prick, comma, we get it – dot dot dot shut up already.”

Brandy struggled to disguise his weary contempt for both teams as the game progressed. The subtext of his entire call was “ever imagined what it would be like having an orbital sander pressed to your brain? That’s what watching and having to call this game feels like. Kill me. Exclamation point. ”

I understood. But, Brandy, not all games can be pretty. Also, your stinking Panthers are engaged in a gripping  and high-stakes wooden-spoon off right now so, you know, shut the fuck up.
In the event, both teams were shabby but the Raiders a little less so.
Furner fooled them into thinking they were playing an away game again this week. Whatever. It worked.
I can see how this is going to go, though. You do something or you wear something and you win a few games and then it sticks and several years later you’re still wearing the same sagging, elastic-less support undergarments and they are fetid and rank BUT YOU HAVE TO KEEP WEARING THEM. In the Raiders case, this means that they will be bussed to some suburban hotel for home games forevermore.  
There is already a precedent for this type of superstitious behavior at the Raiders. See: Josh McCrone not taking his mouth guard out until he’s in the shower. This means that he spits and sprays his way through post-match interviews, mangling words and sounding like you do when you fit one of those voice distorters over the mouthpiece of your phone to allow you to make menacing phone calls undetected.
In any case, it is only partly to do with luck. Mostly it is an enduring legacy of him being shit-scared of his mother’s towering wrath as a child. And there is no reason more valid than this, for anything, ever.
When he was very small he played a game in Tumut and left his mouth guard behind. “I got in a lot of trouble with mum. She said ‘next time, just leave it in ‘til you’re all finished’ – and I did it ever since!” There’s something very sweet about this and I still feel vague traces of guilt from 2010 when I hated McCrone very hard so I am just going to leave this as the lovely story that it is. Bless.

Blake Ferguson is lovely too, huge fucking amphibious thing that he is. His habit of ending his post-game interviews by abruptly looming up into the camera like some kind of terrifying frogman and politely requesting whether he can “just say a quick gidday to Nan and Pop back in Welly – gidday!!” and accompanying this with a goofy wave and a stupid-sweet grin is awesome. He has had one or both eyes blacked out and a repeatedly broken nose for most of the season and his busted, broke-down visage has made this little routine all the more arresting. So bless him too.

So the game went on, it was pretty pedestrian, 4 all, 10 all, 16 all, blah blah butthole clenched blah, until **cue crashing cymbals** Minichello that fucking statesman hit Dugan with a high shot and busted his face right open above the eye with only a few minutes to go. I think he hit him twice, I think he cleaned him up again when Dugan, because he is wiry and strong and filled with young virile blood, bounced away from the first hit only to get cleaned up by a second, but I can’t be sure because I was yelping NOT THE FACE NOT THE PRETTY and anyway, a brawl had erupted, which was nice. The Raiders are a polite and dignified team who know their place in the league. As such, they rarely seem to fight, and pick their brawls carefully and sparingly. Yesterday they knew en masse and instinctively that Dugan’s face NOT THE FACE being burst open like a watermelon was cause for brawl. If not that then what? Things happened quickly from here. Mini got binned. The crowd boiled and foamed and mimed uppercuts. Dugan’s face was taped back together. I think the Roosters scored a try? Or did we? I can’t remember, such was my state, but we won and it took a good ten minutes for the tremors to pass. Twenty for the twitches! Heady times.

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