Tonight the NRL world revels in one of its greatest rivalries: Souths vs Easts. Chooks vs Bunnies. Latte Sippers vs Battlers.
It is a rivalry that no doubt stems from living in each others pockets, but thrives under the classic rugby league notion: Those snooty wannabes think they’re so good – we’ll show them!
So deep does it run that there has even been a turf war in recent weeks. Coogee Beach. A place so famous the Virgin Mary even visited it (as a fence post).
As a neutral who lives in undisputed Roosters territory, but close enough to No Man’s Land (Coogee), I have decided it is my place, once and for all, to write a pointless article about who I should support tonight.
Firstly, I would like to point out the Battlers tag no longer sticks when it comes to the Bunnies. As soon as Russell “Hollywood” Crowe took over and started decking out his players in Armani suits they could no longer be considered a working man’s team.
Sure, a few of their fans may still be pressing their noses to the grindstone just to get by, or shifting meth, but a team bedazzled with superstars wearing suits that cost more than the average fan’s monthly income can not be considered a working class team anymore. Thus, the battlers argument for supporting Souths is shot.
The snooty latte sippers argument against the Roosters – that absolutely must be supported by a sipping motion with the pinky raised (which would actually be an espresso, but anyway) – is also now shot.
Everyone drinks barista-made coffee these days. From east to west, north to south, we’re all enjoying our lattes, flat-whites, soy mochacinos etc. If grabbing a pawful of Nescafe and jamming into a mug of hot water each morning is your idea of keeping it real, then you’re an idiot, and you’re missing out.
It could be said this is more a suggestion that Roosters players are soft and more interested in the celebrity than playing footy, but say that to the giant walking acronyms SBW and JWH, I dare you (and then, of course, there’s the Burgess brothers…).
When it comes to the players likeability there is little to split them. Overall, from top to bottom, they actually have quite a similar feel to them (maybe because they all effectively come from the same area?).
Of course, Anthony “The Count” Minichiello, is one of the most likeable fellows in the game, and with Matt “Ropehead” King retiring at the end of last year, the Souths team lost a bit of its character. But I feel this is then counteracted by the aforementioned giant acronyms, who are inarguably great footballers, but who few would accuse of being great blokes. So we’ll call that a draw.
The coaches? Both young, ambitious, relatively cool-headed fellows who tend not to blame the referees when they lose. What’s not to like? The owners? Rich, egotistical, show-offs who won’t let anything stand in their way. What is there to like? 50/50 once again.
The history. Now this is where one might lean towards Souths. We all know about their Premiership drought and their desperate desire to get back to the glory days, but the reality is they still have more Premierships than anyone else, so do they really need any more? They can afford a drought! Talk to a Cronulla Sharks fan if you really want to know what sporting hardship is. You might be lucky to get a fully cognitive sentence out of them, but at the very least they know their team’s not very good.
I could no doubt go on, but it seems the further I try to rationalise which team I should support, the more irrational I realise the whole thing is. Best just pick one team for some innocuous reason and be done with it. Hate who you’re meant to hate without thinking too much about it and begin to accept that every referee has it in for your team and every 50/50 call goes the way of the opposition. It is the reality of the sports fan.
So, for tonight, I will be supporting Souths. Just because.
And as for who really owns Coogee Beach? Well, given you see more Gaelic football jerseys than Souths or Roosters, I’m guessing it’s the Irish.
By Alasdair McClintock