WELL, that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back.
Watching Manly win another grand final is like eating broccoli: you know you probably should do it, but the whole experience leaves you with a bitter taste in the mouth.
It’s easy to appreciate the Eagles’ professionalism.
It’s easy to marvel at the skills and maturity of their young halves.
It’s even easy to see why Clive Churchill medallist Glenn Stewart’s grubber kick from inside his own 30m in the dying seconds of the first half (which led to a try one tackle later) will be remembered as one of the most audacious plays in grand final history.
But it’s just so hard to like them for it.
As the New Zealand Warriors bravely tried to conjure one of the great grand final comebacks at ANZ Stadium last night, it seemed everyone in the 80,000-strong crowd (not to mention everyone watching on from home) was willing them to win.
Everyone except the Manly fans and players, of course, and that’s just the way they like it.
The Insular Peninsula thrives on an Us and Them approach to the rugby league world, and when the grand final was there to be won tonight it was that siege mentality that got them home.
But that means when Manly wins the premiership (as they’ve done twice in the past four years now), the rest of the rugby league world gives a collective shrug of “So what?” So rather than remembering a grand final that had it all, I’m left to reflect on a match that lacked so much.
First, where was the biff?
Sure, it was tough, but not a single punch was thrown (not that we advocate violence, of course).
Second, where we the big ugly front rowers?
Grand finals past were dominated by props like John “Lurch” O’Neill, Bob “Bear” O’Reilly and Glenn “Brick With Eyes” Backo – tough buggers, sure, but faces only a mother could love.
Tonight’s best known prop goes by the nickname of “Gorgeous” George Rose. Need I say more?
And what about the swearing?
When the Tigers won their premiership in 2005, the post-match interviews featured so many F-Bombs they turned the air blue and Matthew John’s face red (and we all know he’s no choirboy).
Tonight? Nothing. What’s the world coming to?
Finally, though (and most outrageously), where was the grog?
When the Warriors stepped off the team boss at the ground this afternoon, their support staff were carrying six (yes, six) litres of milk.
What the hell was that about? We know the game is different these days, but that’s just weird.
So while we all wanted a Warriors victory tonight, they’ve only got themselves to blame for the loss. Because when you bring milk, you have to expect to get creamed.
Roll on 2012.