St George Illawarra fullback Ben Hornby had just dived over the line in the 79th minute to assure victory for the Dragons in their final match of the 2002 regular season against Newcastle. But the size of the victory meant that for the first time, the Warriors had finished as minor premiers.
As soon as that final try was scored, I lost it. I hadn?t cried so hard since ? well, actually a few weeks earlier when we achieved a magical double over the Bulldogs and Broncos in successive weekends. But in comparison, that was a small tear in the eye. This was different, and so much more enjoyable.
Still shaking, I managed to slip Dave Dobbyn?s Warriors theme song ?Loyal? into the CD player and cranked it up to an impossibly loud level. Neighbours were probably yelling at me ? but who cares? This was complete bliss ? and it took me a LONG time to come back down again.
This was the stuff dreams were made of ? the Warriors were a team to be proud of, and suddenly tickets to the first playoff match in New Zealand were in hot demand. And I was going to be there. History was going to be made, and I was going to see it first hand. Could it get any better than this??
Of course it could ?
Next Sunday, the Warriors ran out in front of 25,799 screaming fans and one LeagueNut - completely overawed and still shaking a little bit from the previous week! The noise of the crowd, especially as we rose as one and chanted ?Ali ? Ali ?? will never be forgotten. After the game was won though, I felt empty ? the finals run had only just started and I felt like I was being left behind as the team travelled to Sydney in search of the Holy Grail.
So I wrote a poem ?
I?ve lead a good life here so far For many fun-filled years But something happened just weeks ago That brought me down to tears.
It wasn?t a family tragedy Or a run-in with a cop It was those Mighty Warriors Finishing on the top.
I watched them beat the Raiders We?ve got a week off now! But when the game had finished I started to wonder ? ?How??
How can I get to Sydney?? I?ll do whatever it takes! I?d swim or row or fly In a crate of poisonous snakes.
If only I had the dollars To make my dream come true I could sell my worldly possessions :) For eight dollars fifty two ? :(
I?ll have to leave it to the Gods To grant my final request ?Cause once we make the Grand Final I?m bound to have a cardiac arrest.
Amazingly enough, the Gods answered my plea ? although the God in this case took on the unlikely form of my boss. It seems as though everyone at work was thoroughly sick of my fanatical rantings and once a few calls were made, a solution had been found. I was leaving for Sydney!
But first, I had a small problem ? I needed to find someone to look after my four-year-old while I took this trip of a lifetime! A quick call to my sister should do the trick - and she gladly agreed to keep him at her house for a few days. But what?s even more remarkable is that she was actually in labour while I was talking to her!! She understood ? and the Gods had conspired to make this trip a reality.
Telstra Stadium, Sydney. What a truly sensational day. The atmosphere, the occasion, the unique feeling of supporting your team in their biggest test to date, and the elation when John Carlaw scored under the bar. For approximately an hour after the match I was wandering around in a daze ? circling the magnificent Stadium, smiling like an idiot at everyone, and generally soaking up the buzz. The next day I ended up wandering around Parramatta ? still smiling like an idiot, and still wearing my Warriors jersey. A shout came from an office block, and I turned around to see a ?thumbs up? protruding from an open window. A car drove past, and someone yelled ?Get that shirt off you idiot!? ? and I still couldn?t stop smiling!
Thank you Gods ? whoever you are. And remember - it?s just a matter of faith!
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