Sunday, 9 September 2012

Paul Gallen & Graciousness

Yesterday I had to suspend my feelings for Paul Gallen. I thought this was going to be a problem. I thought I would be emotionally conflicted and in turmoil. The reasons for this are manifold but the basic thrust of it is that Gallen is more than just a player. Gallen is an ideology.
But when the Raiders ran out into ALL THAT GREEN I dismissed him entirely. In any case, I was busy shedding some polite tears. They were the type of tears that the Raiders, who are a gracious and dignified team, would have approved of. Just like them, they were nothing hysterical or showy or too overwrought. Just a quick weep and a series of small, full-body shudders punctuated by an abrupt re-gather.
Histrionics in general are met with quiet but pointed disapproval in Canberra. You have to understand that the whole city is a monument to failed ambition. This lends it its unique air of bleak, burnt out wistfulness. Drive around civic on a Sunday afternoon when all that stirs are the falling leaves. It’s the most melancholy place in Australia and probably, excluding certain cities of Eastern Europe, the world.  
The general tone and ambience is one of faded down-trodden dignity.  
Inside of course I was frothing with nervous hysteria and a churning, roiling nausea (who wasn’t?) even though I knew that they would win and would win well. Which they did.
See the gracious way I mentioned that? That’s how it’s done.
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There was also Todd Carney to put out of my mind. I didn’t know how I would handle having Josh Dugan and Todd Carney -  two players of impeccable deportment and lethal elegance -  on the field together but in the event Carney didn’t prove any trouble at all, either to me or the Raiders. Which is sad, in hindsight.

Fittler’s sideline interview with Carney after he was carried off injured and reappeared iced and strapped and bundled into a parachute jacket and altogether devastated didn’t go very well. Hushed tones and overt sympathy that verges on pity make even the most stoic person feel like crying lavishly Fittler you fuck!! Carney kept his composure though. He maintained a steadiness of voice and gaze common to someone who knows their way around a disappointment or two.
Here are Carney and Freddy in happier times:

And after the game, Gallen’s face! Grim! Like something you would see at a Serbian truck stop. Also, he called Josh Papalli “the boy”. It wasn’t like when Bert Newton said it to Muhammad Ali but fucking hell it was patronising but that’s okay Gal I know you were in a good deal of psychological distress at the time so I will excuse you your chilling air of restrained and toxic menace and in any case I kind of liked it actually I totally loved it DON’T EVER CHANGE GAL.

And, because I am graciousness personified I’m not even going to dwell on the fact that Josh ‘The Boy’ Papalli totally won the spiteful battle he had going on with Paul ‘He’s got me twice I’m gonna get him back there’s nothing you can do about it’ Gallen suffice to say that it was deeply satisfying.
And if Papalli gets a NZ jersey which he totally will him and Gallen will get to go at it all over again next month and I will be under no obligation to be polite and Papalli won’t either and is rugby league awesome or what?

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Here are my friends J-bo and GavSpaz on the big screen yesterday. They are unspeakably cool, it doesn’t surprise me they showed up on the stadium screen. J-bo is the one down front left doing the huge full-body upward fist drive while her other hand is furnished with a can of beer. Awesome.

And here is J-bo’s thigh this morning, bruised from being slapped yesterday:

I don’t know, maybe I was wrong about Canberrans keeping a lid on things. There was that game in the first round of semifinals in 2010 when the Raiders beat the Panthers at Penrith and the travelling Raider fans were so overwrought they surged forward and collapsed the stadium barrier and fell all over the Raider players they were trying to congratulate, that was pretty wild…

In any case and as you can probably appreciate, after the game was won the string that holds my emotional baggage together came undone entirely. The last seven minutes of play I spent sobbing. Rugby league. What a great game.


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