Forum Sevens: Stuck in Neutral

In early March of this year I was reasonably clear in understanding what I wanted from football in Season 2003. That was for the Parramatta Eels to win the Premiership. Come the second last week of September it is patently clear that the Parramatta Eels are not going to win the Premiership. I think I truly realised this when I looked in the Big League magazine this week and notices that they hadn?t included a playing list for the Parramatta Eels. Put simply, no matter how hard I try to deny it, they aren?t taking any further part in the competition.

With this in mind I decided to go to my backup plan ? in the case that Parramatta should not make the finals I will support my mother?s team St.George-Illawarra. To my shock horror I noticed that Big League had failed to post a playing list for the Dragons this week as well. Quite clearly my plan had hit a snag. For most of the 90?s it was a pretty successful formula. Parramatta would hover about for the Wooden Spoon while the Dragons charged on in September to four Grand Finals. However this year both teams failed to make the playoffs ? leaving me in the position of not knowing who to barrack for in the last four weeks of the comp.

Being unsure of who to pledge your support to can see you make some incredibly horrendous decisions come this time of year. Take for instance 1995 ? a year in the 90?s when my formula came unstuck. By the second week of the finals both my main team and my backup team had bitten the dust. I avoided aligning myself with another team until the Grand Final. The choice was either Manly or Canterbury. I then went and did the unthinkable and chose the Sea Eagles. In all my years as a Rugby League fan I had never ever ever gone for the men from the Peninsula ? not even with my fingers crossed.

You see, desperate times called for desperate measures and it needs to be pointed out that we were in the middle of a war. The other three teams had all aligned themselves to Super League ? I chose what I thought was the lesser of two evils. Unfortunately I can?t help but feel guilty about going for the Silvertails when I look back on the situation with a clear mind. It hurts even more when I look at the result ? I had supported Manly and they didn?t even win. I had to feel sorry for them losing.

I shouldn?t have been surprised that Canterbury won that match however. I?ve managed to support a losing Grand Finalist every year for the past decade. In 1997 I went for the Knights however that was cancelled out with the fact that I also barracked for the Sharks in the Super League decider. Perhaps this curse stems from the fact I?m wont to lend my support to the underdog. It?s only natural that the result is going to go against me. However there?s been years when I?ve gone for the favourite only for it to come back and hit me in the face. Parramatta in 2001, St.George-Illawarra in 1999, Canterbury-Bankstown in 1994. You?d swear I had a bigger hex on me than the North Sydney Bears!

So this week I?m left as a neutral supporter trying to choose between the four remaining teams. I don?t really want to go for the Roosters because they won it last year and are the raging hot favourites for this year?s title. Their Eastern Suburbs cappuccino sipping ways don?t particularly appeal to me either. However I do want them to beat the Bulldogs because I couldn?t stand to see the Doggies winning with the same team that got punted out of the comp for cheating last year. Then again, I don?t particularly want to lend my support to the Warriors either. I just know too many annoying Kiwis for me to want to jump on the Shaky Isles bandwagon. So through a process of elimination I am left with the Penrith Panthers. However I don?t know if I want to openly lend my support to them ? surely that will see them doomed by the curse of Hass! Then again, the last winning Grand Finalist I barracked for was Penrith in 1991.

Has anybody else suddenly got this strange sense of de ja vu?

It?s as good a reason as any I suppose?

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