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Foreword: I was lucky enough to have a conversation with Bulldogs teenage superstar, Sonny Bill Williams, during the infamous Coffs Harbour investigations, and a few months after the Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery Q.C, stated that there was insufficient evidence to charge any of the players. This article has been designed to show the public the mixed emotions that were felt by Sonny Bill Williams and his team-mates during the toughest time as his career.
Diary Entry: April 4th 2004 Fearful?Confusion?Perplexed The ecstasy of being a professional footballer is all but a distant reminiscence for me and the boys. I can?t even walk up the street to buy a bottle of milk. I look around? and I see the judgemental eyes of the mysterious public entity. Ogling? mocking? Whispering secrets to one another.
?What are they whispering about?? I think to myself. What are they thinking? Are they secretly labelling me a criminal, or a filthy animal? There was always the odd bystander who would make their thoughts heard by shouting out,
?Maybe they aren?t talking about me? Maybe it?s that strange guy standing next to me? Yeah right, and maybe if I eat enough coconuts, I?ll turn into one. The insensitive and unsympathetic truth smothers my hopes, and people are labelling me without truly knowing who I am.
?You Dirty Rapist!???Get back to Canterbury you filthy criminal? That?s not my name? My name is Sonny Bill Williams, and that?s not who I am. But of course, I?m a Bulldogs player. No matter where I was on the night in question, I?m automatically a rapist because I wear the blue and white jersey? I walk down to the shops, and notice the headline
And sure enough, a picture of the boys and me plastered on the front page. It doesn?t stop there though, the media continues to tarnish our names by mentioning preceding discrepancies. Why don?t they talk about our recent charity work? Why is no mention made of some of the good things we have done? All they want to do, is label us criminals and make a good headline, even if it means causing problems for innocent players such as myself. Whatever happened to ?Innocent until proven guilty??... Well thanks to the media, that clich? now appears to be ?Innocent, unless you play for the Canterbury Bulldogs?.
Liberated? Peaceful?Harmonious. This is how I used to feel as I ran onto a field to take on a fired up opposing team. Making that first step into the ecstatic and euphoric stadium? The smell of the freshly laid turf? And the illustrious sounds of your supporters cheering you on, helping us get over the line. You feel as free as a bird? But now I feel as constricted and constrained as an animal being caged and removed from their natural habitat. The constant taunting that I was subjected to on the street did not stay on the street; it was here on the field too. Fans from the opposition throwing projectiles at us, shouting the now overworked taunt of ?Filthy Rapists!?. What am I supposed to do? I try to stand tall with the rest of the boys, trying to appear as if these taunts were not affecting us. But each insult and goad being fired upon us was like a dagger stabbing into my brittle psyche and soul.
?This just isn?t cricket?It?ll all go away soon? I tell myself this everyday, hoping that we will be finally vindicated. But when will it all stop? I?ll always be characterised as the young gun for the troubled club. Sonny Bill, the criminal? Sonny Bill, the rapist? That is not who I am. All I?ve ever wanted to do is play professional football. But the past few months have made me question my ability to continue playing. I ask myself everyday, ?Is it really worth all this?? ?Why do I even bother?? But I know the answer to this?
A Team? United we stand, divided we fall. I?m in a club that has a great coach, and a great bunch of guys. We?ve never once questioned the credibility of each other, and we?ll always stand tall as a unit? a team? I am Sonny Bill Williams? We are The Canterbury Bulldogs. ?United we stand, We will NEVER Fall?
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