2 days ago
In 2002 a soccer match was organised between Bhutan and Montserrat to determine who was officially the worst team in the world. The whole thing acted as a giant 'up yours' to the increasingly corporate world of professional sport and as a contest oozed goodwill and sportsmanship.
Anyone that is expecting such harmonious feelings in Saturday night's wooden spoon play off between the Gold Coast and Parramatta is likely to be left extremely disappointed, as the two desperate teams are set to battle like a pair of starving honey badgers over an impala carcass for the right to be crowned second worst team in the comp.
Whilst this is by no means a vaunted achievement, especially considering recent season placings, when the alternative is a place in rugby league's annals of ineptitude you can be sure both sides will be prepared to win good, bad or ugly.
The specter of the spoon holds different consequences for the two cellar dwellers. For the Titans a sixteenth placing would bring back a tsunami of bad memories and uncomfortable comparisons with some of the not so golden Coast teams of yesteryear, memories rugby league fans on the glitter strip have been trying to bury for a decade along with Captain Charger and Cararra stadium.
For the Eels one more heart breaking loss would be just the extra ammunition needed for Parra's numerous wannabe political powerbrokers to slither out of the woodwork and try to topple Osborne's empire. It would also be a damning dent on coach Kearney's remarkable coaching resume, not something particularly pleasant at a club that has shown impatience with coaches.
But back to the match. Whilst some neutral spectators may take a morbid interest in the game I'm guessing it will be for their Fantasy League team rather than pure entertainment. Like two punch drunk, increasingly flabby senior boxers both sides have all of a sudden appeared to age overnight and look like they might prefer a Bex and a good lie down to an 80min hit out. Poor recruiting for 2011 has hurt both badly as has a lack of conviction in the halves and it's hard to see the clash rising above 5 hit-ups and a bomb to the corners.
You never know though, and with players like Jarryd Hayne, Nathan Hindmarsh, Greg Bird and David Milne all on show there's some chance that the shackles will be thrown off and both teams will play an open, entertaining brand of footy to payback their suffering fans...after all, I hear Bhutan and Montserrat put on an absolute blinder in 2002.