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The Final Countdown!

By Alasdair McClintock on September 19, 2015 in Other

Photo: Maximus Decimus Meridius

Photo: Maximus Decimus Meridius

September is an exciting time for footy fans. No doubt about it. Days are getting longer and warmer, beer tastes a little better and the finals are upon us. All that messing about for twenty-odd rounds comes down to these few weeks. Games finally mean something. We get to watch a select few young men have their dreams come true while many more have theirs crushed. It makes for fantastic viewing!

It is likely, in the NRL at least and quite possibly in the AFL, that all the local teams are going to have a deep run into the finals this year. This pleases me. While I don’t actively support any of them, there is a certain pleasure in strolling the streets of a town that has just won a final. There is an optimistic buzz. More people are smiling. It’s just a good feeling.

Still, the fact that none of my teams are competing (and nor will they for some time, it seems) means there is also an underlying emptiness. I feel a little like the imposter. I sense the excitement in the air, but it is not my excitement, and this makes me anxious, like being a ‘plus one’ at the wedding of a couple I’ve never met. Do I dive head first into the free drinks and disco slide across the dance floor or behave myself and politely chat to the other outsiders? I think the former. You need to go undercover this time of year, if only to ensure your own survival.

Who knows what you wild Roosters supporters, full of pomp and cocaine (probably), are plotting? And Souths supporters, in all their prime-time-penis-exposing glory, are like the nouveau riche – with their flash new jerseys and fresh tattoos, they are capable of anything. Years of misery and then BOOM! It makes for a volatile mix.

The dark decades of days gone by ensure that Souths supporters don’t have the smug entitlement of a Roosters or Broncos fan. Behind those glimmering eyes lies a deep, ingrained insecurity that it could all disappear in an instant. What happens if Greg Inglis goes to rugby union? What do we do if Russell Crowe stops seeing UFOs and suddenly realises owning a football team is not a viable investment? It could all be taken away in a flash and, as a result, Souths fans know the time is now and they must celebrate hard.*

I do admire Souths supporters, though, and I welcome their success for this very reason. It takes a lot of loyalty to support a consistently terrible team. Can you imagine what it must be like to support the Cronulla Sharks or Melbourne Demons? Don’t do it to yourself. Life’s too full of disappointment already.

And that’s why this September I will be supporting both Souths and the Roosters. Whoever wins. Call me a bandwagoner, if you like, but I’m merely a survivalist.

*Don’t give me this “we’ve won the most premierships ever” thing. If you are under the age of fifty, those premierships mean nothing to you.