Fainting Goats

Why in God?s name does it happen every year?

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Ok, that?s a bit over-kill, but when you spend the last three weeks of the season watching your team butcher the opportunity to play in the semi-finals for the fifth straight time, you?ve earned the right to a little artistic licence. The disappointment is palpable but the expectations were in reality, equalled. To expect better than mid-table is a recipe for disaster for a Wests Tigers supporter and is in essence a mild form of masochism.

The season started off in spectacular fashion. The first trophy for the Joint-Venture team, the World 7?s, now sits proudly in the Trophy cabinet. Sure, it?s a bit rich to claim the 7?s as a meaningful trophy, it doesn?t really compare to the big prize, but even if the 7?s is a Mickey Mouse trophy, it?s our Mickey Mouse trophy, not yours. If you were in our position, you?d decry any attempt to downgrade its importance too.

Season 2004 proper started promisingly enough, it usually does. Then a mid-season slump including two heart-breaking 50 point shellackings brought us back down to earth with a thud. We dragged ourselves off the canvas at that juncture and started punching again to the point that with three weeks to go, we needed one win to ensure a place in the playoffs. One lousy, stinking win.

A gut-wrenching loss to the Broncos later, which ended with the familiar pattern of us attacking the line at the death for no result, and it was one lousy stinking win from two required; we were still optimistic.

The day of the Cowboys match began well enough but ended the way it was always destined to end, with the two competition points heading north. I guess we should have worked that out for ourselves when the team-sheet came out and there was a back-rower at 5/8 and an ageing 5/8 at centre. Optimism had been replaced by d?j? vu; which now had an angry hold and was preparing to incinerate another season. One lousy stinking win from one required.

It was pre-ordained however. Despite having it there in front of us in Newcastle, we capitulated like a fainting goat that had just been confronted by a large member of the Feline family, probably a Tiger. How ironic, how predictably ironic.

Crap.

The third worst part for me isn?t the constant feeling of having your insides ripped out and made into interesting shapes like a mime does with balloon animals, it?s the ignominious send off of players who deserved better. To Scott Sattler, Darren Senter and the others, thank you for your efforts and I?m sorry your playing days ended as they did.

Number two on the ?The worst thing about season 2004? list is reserved for my son, also a Wests Tiger supporter. I felt for him because I saw it coming and he didn?t, he wasn?t as accustomed to this as I was. ?Why is this happening?? he cried over and over again during the final match of the season. After he?d said it four or 5 times I turned to him and said bluntly ?We?re the Wests Tigers son, it?s what we do. Get used to it?. I hate myself.

Number one is that most of what you?re reading here was written the day before the Cowboys game. I really hate myself now.

All is not lost for us though, we?ve signed well for next year and we have a few young blokes coming through that should see us improve. Wait a minute; we say that every damn year!

Face facts, we strive for a mid-table finish. We dream of finishing eighth, and if that?s not the single most pathetic excuse for a dream ever, I?m the Emir of Bhutan.

Feel sorry for me you bastards; I?m a Wests Tigers supporter.

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