Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
The other day whilst shaving, a small patch of shaving cream dropped right onto this 33 year old scar that I have on my left arm, which reminded me....
Way back in the early 1970?s, in my first season playing Rugby League, the team all the other teams feared in our grade was from the Fairfield (Sydney)area (the actual team name escapes me). The reason for the fear was that in their side they had a lad named Ross, apparently the gun player of the competition. After discussing Ross with the players who had seen him play, I assumed that he was a cross between Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster.
At training in the week prior to our match with Ross? undefeated side, we decided that action had to be taken to get Ross out of the game early, to even up the scales. The concocted plan was that one player, yet to be decided, would take Ross out with a high shot. That involved one or two players tackling Ross low and the chosen player coming over the top with a stiff arm, the weapon of choice back then.
But the question was who would do the deed?
Whether it was the exuberance of youth or the stupidity that comes with being 13 years old and feeling bullet-proof, I volunteered to commit the heinous act. My reasoning at the time was that I was a useless player so I?d be safer on the sideline as against spending the full match being run over by that genetic mutant.
Game-day came and prior to the match we shook hands with the opposing players, not one of my team mates looked anywhere but at Ross. He stood a full head above the next tallest player from either team, he was huge.
My first, and thankfully last, exchange with Ross occurred in my fourth ever game of Rugby League; at which time I was ill-equipped to play against people my own size, let alone this monster. But it wasn?t until I shook hands with him and looked up into his dead, black eyes that it actually dawned on me what I?d got myself into.
The game commenced, we kicked off and immediately the ball went to Ross who sauntered up field as though on his way to a tea party. It didn?t take long for me to realise why he could amble up-field, his massive arm pushed out in front of him was like a Bulldozer?s shovel and players were thrust aside at will. When he finally put his foot down it looked like Chewbacca being chased by a dozen or so Oompa Loompas as he careened downfield to score under the posts.
Whilst we were standing under the posts awaiting the kick at goal, a pointed finger in my direction from our captain signaled that our plan would be implemented from the ensuing kick-off.
The kick-off went to Ross and he immediately went into his trademark stroll up-field. I stealthily moved infield from my wing just as two of our forwards launched themselves at him, but even with the players hanging off him, he just kept motoring. As he palmed one player after another off with his left hand I circled around, launched myself at him and hit him flush in the face.
There was pandemonium for a few seconds afterward. I was surrounded by an angry mob of players from the opposing team and my own team mates who were trying desperately to prevent the opposition players from killing me.
The Ref regained control of the match and called me over. He began to berate me when suddenly I felt a stinging pain in my left arm and raised it to see what the problem was. There, embedded in my arm was one of Ross? teeth. The arrogant bastard hadn?t even bothered to wear a mouth guard. The Ref looked at me, looked at my arm and then called Ross over to join in the fun.
After a lengthy chat whilst I was being tended to by our Coach I was sent from the field for the stiff-arm, closely followed by Ross, tooth in hand, for biting.
I sheepishly apologised to Ross as we made our way off the field but he seemed distinctly unperturbed by the incident, he was more concerned that he?d lost a tooth and had to explain to his mother why he didn?t wear his mouth-guard.
That bloody scar still itches occasionally....
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