Rabbitohs bandwagon of Olympic proportions
Dave Taylor is tackled by Gareth Ellis during the Round 21 (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)
As far as bandwagons go, the Olympics are hard to top. Grown men in pubs are getting into shouting matches over rhythmic gymnastics, and school kids discuss the country Djibouti without laughing.
Yep, it would take something pretty big to overtake the five-ring circus for its number of instantaneous supporters. Perhaps something red, green, and covered in scary neck tattoos?
I am of course talking about the South Sydney Rabbitohs, or to be more specific, the South Sydney Rabbitohs as a winning side.
Because while the Olympics might base their appeal on only popping up every four years, emotionally scarred Rabbitohs fans will tell you successful Souths seasons might arrive every fifth Olympics.
Now, perhaps that’s being too harsh. After all, Souths’ ancient history of excellence is well known in rugby league circles, despite narky Roosters officials banning their banner reminding everyone of the fact they do indeed hold the record for most premierships.
But history also shows though that since 1989, South Sydney football teams have not, on the whole, been very good. Not very good in the way that Eric the Eel Moussambani would not be a very good bloke to have sitting in the lifeguard tower at Bondi on Christmas Day.
Sure there have been a few brief moments of reasonableness during these dark ages. The 1994 Tooheys challenge. Finishing seventh in 2007. Eion Crossan’s hair-do. Well, yeah, that’s pretty much it.
To all of a sudden have South Sydney not just being competitive, but dishing out methodical, merciless drubbings of opposition teams, is like waking up one morning to find Prime Minister Paul Vautin presenting the Australian of the Year Award to Julian O’Neil. This is Sliders stuff.
Souths doing well not only throws a unique spin on the NRL, it threatens to tear at the fabric of Australian sport as we know it. There are rugby league supporters who have been born, finished school, got a job, whacked on 50kg and given up on life without ever having known anything above average South Sydney sides.
Entire movements have been built around neutral fans laughing out loud, as the younger generation would say, at South Sydney’s destiny to fail, so ingrained has it become in the club’s DNA.
It is difficult to find a team who has just plain sucked for as long as Souths before suddenly coming good, with the closest thing in recent memory being the AFL’s Sydney Swans rising from old lady knitting social club to contenders in 1996.
If the case of fat Tony and co have shown us anything, it’s that a red and green tsunami is heading our way, and if you listen carefully you can already hear the quiet rumble of confidence quickly becoming a roar. Whispers on talkback radio. Smokey ex-players chirping to the media. Little white rabbit stickers staring back at you from car windows.
A bandwagon the likes of which the game has never seen is forming, and like Greg Inglis five metres out from your try line, there isn’t anything anyone can do to stop it.
Best the rest of us get used to it too. Because unlike the Olympics and their overnight equestrian experts, the winning South Sydney side appear to plan on sticking around for a while.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious