Manly

Hating Manly is ingrained in me. I was born in 1958, a Manly-hater. I don?t know how, I just was. I popped out from where new people pop-out from and I hated Manly immediately, I guess it saved time later on. I was upside down, hanging from the doctor?s hands and I was crying just because Manly existed in the world I had just entered.

In 1967, when I was 9 and my real interest in Rugby League was just sparking, I asked my Uncle which Rugby League team he followed and why he followed them, his answer was ?Parramatta, because they?re hopeless?. ?Good enough? I figured, ?I?ll follow them? and besides, they weren?t Manly and I already hated Manly.

I was 10 when my Uncle took me to my first Parramatta match, against Manly at Cumberland Oval. I can?t recall too much about the day, or the game (other than the fact that we lost) but do I recall walking from Parramatta station to the ground with hundreds of other blue and gold bedecked supporters, the throng pierced by the odd sub-human, purple wearing, poncing nitwit whom I assumed to be ?those to be treated with disdain?, Manly supporters. I hated Manly so I automatically loathed Manly supporters.

I recall the feeling after losing that match being akin to losing a loved-one. ?Surely?, I thought to myself, ?This is what hell will be like?. I detested their supporters for smiling at me on the walk back to Parramatta station after my first game, the smug bastards. I immediately began going to church and praying regularly, scared not to because the thought of spending eternity losing to Manly was far too much for a 10 year old to accept.

Over the next decade, Parramatta lost a lot of games to Manly. But, the odd win interspersed with the losses made it almost worth it. Almost. To walk out of Cumberland Oval after beating Manly was a feeling that only God himself could bestow. I knew that my going to church would convince God to get Manly whipped occasionally. Watching the maroon-wearing (ok, I found out it was maroon, my Uncle told me they wore purple because he hated them too) human phlegm walking back to Parramatta station after my team had handed their team?s arses to them was as good as it gets. ?How does it feel you spawn-of-satan?? I?d think to myself.

But, the pain and angst I felt in those lean almost-winless-against-Manly years in the early 1970?s paled into insignificance compared to what transpired in 1976. 1976 was, is and will always be the worst Football-related year of my entire life. Making the semis was great, beating Saints in the preliminary semi was fantastic and beating Manly in the Major semi was bordering on orgasmic, but, and it?s a big but, Manly beat Canterbury in the Preliminary Final and we had to play Manly in the Grand Final. It was either going to be heaven or hell, no middle ground, no grey area. I hated them for that and I hated Canterbury for losing to them.

Parramatta lost that Grand Final to Manly and I felt like I lost my soul that day. Glover and Sulkowicz combined to lose the Grand Final in the dying moments with an ill-directed pass. As the hooter sounded and the enormity of what had just happened set in, I realised then and there that there was no God. If there were a God, there is absolutely no way he would allow anyone to suffer as I was suffering. The walk from the SCG down Foveaux Street to Central Station felt like it was over broken glass with someone beating me over the head with each step. It was the longest, most depressing trek I?ve ever made.

In the years since that day, Parramatta beat Manly in two Grand Finals but neither made up for that one September day in 1976. Nothing can ever make up for that day except possibly every Manly supporter being handed over to the rest of the population to be used as slaves.

If you follow Manly and you?re getting someone with a better than single figure IQ to read this to you, don?t be offended because although I hate Manly with every fibre of my being, there is .0000000001% per cent of me that?s glad that Manly exists for me to hate.

But I look at the table now......... and 1976 floods back.

Damn you Manly.

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