Oh when the Saints

I am a Wests Tigers supporter and I used to be a Parramatta supporter. My allegiances changed when I had a few years of not following Rugby League due to having a young family. I moved with my family to the Campbelltown area the same year that the Wests Magpies moved to Campbelltown and my interest was re-ignited. Over a couple of years, I became a firm Wests supporter and have been ever since.

Not big news and hardly a secret, but I do have a secret regarding my allegiances, a deep, dark, foreboding secret that at times concerns me; it feels right but at the same time awkward. Fortunately, I have always kept it in check and I always will. But its time for me to out myself, metaphorically speaking.

I like Saints. I like to watch Saints and if they?re playing anyone but the Tigers, I cheer for Saints.

There, I said it. I feel better already.

The reason for the soft spot for Saints runs much deeper than just watching Football itself or enjoying the brand of Football offered up by the Saints.....

Many years ago when I first met my wife-to-be, the usual baggage i.e. ?Her family?, came as part of the bargain. My wife?s sister was married to a gentleman named Peter. Peter was a great bloke but he had one particular failing; he was a rabid Saints supporter. I mean this guy was as mean and cantankerous when it came to talking about Saints as anyone you can imagine. Skull was a pussy Saints supporter compared to Peter.

Walking into his home at any time was akin to walking into Saints Leagues Club. Bloody red and white everywhere. The walls were painted white with a red border, posters and streamers hung from the roof and he had even painted a red V on all his household appliances. Christmas time was a nightmare for anyone that ventured into Peter?s abode around that time, twice the normal red and white and the tacky bastard even had a cheap-arsed white K-Mart Christmas tree adorned in nothing but red ornaments and red tinsel.

At that time, I was a Parramatta supporter and Parramatta were in their glory era of the early 1980?s. This was very difficult for Peter to accept. From day one, whenever we got together for a family barbecue and the discussions invariably ended up about Football, I would laud it over him like a complete prat. He hated it but took it with reasonable good humour and would chant repeatedly in answer to my taunting, ?It doesn?t last forever?. And he was right, Parramatta faltered later in the 1980?s but Peter always knew that Saints would be back on top again soon. For Peter, it was always just a matter of time.

Over the years, Peter and I became best mates and Football galvanised that friendship. Even though were not supporters of the same team, we both loved Rugby League. We went to many matches together and a heap of Saints v Parramatta matches together. Saints won a few, Parramatta won a few and later on with Wests and Saints we kept the rivalry going. We had a standing bet that the loser would wear the other team?s colours out of the ground. I hated wearing his hat and scarf and I wore them a lot.

Saints time almost came again in 1992 and 1993, but they were bounced in the final match of the season, much to Peter?s chagrin and my relief. He was unbearable when Saints were losing; I couldn?t bear the thought of what he?d be like if they actually won the competition considering what I?d done to him when Parramatta won the comp. His revenge would be very uncomfortable.

But Peter never got to see Saints merge, and he never got to see them almost grab League?s Holy Grail again in 1999. Peter passed away in late 1994.

Which brings me back to my original point, my soft spot for Saints. Ever since Peter?s passing, I have missed him terribly. I miss the arguments, I miss Peter?s blind red and white worship, and I miss Peter like someone would miss their own brother. And although I could never dismiss my beloved Wests Tigers for Saints; watching, enjoying and even cheering for Saints dulls the pain of losing my best mate if only for a couple of hours each week of the season.

Go marchin' in.....

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