It’s time to revamp the Dally M Awards
Billy Slater, the 2011 Dally M award winner (Image: AAP)
With the regular NRL season quickly fading into a haze of Mad Monday-induced tomfoolery, it’s time to shift our attention to what really matters.
The big prize. The main event. The Piece de resistance. Yes that’s right, it’s the Dally M awards!
Forget about the thrilling semi-finals race with an elimination system people can now actually understand, the event on everyone’s mind this week is rugby league players sitting around tables looking uncomfortable in suits and sipping on the waters.
For those not in the know, the Dally M awards play out a lot like your local footy club’s presentation nights, with a few important differences.
Firstly, while the Condobolin Unicorns or Thirroul Butchers will go to great lengths to publicise their big night down at the local bowlo, the NRL prefers to wedge their do in between Mad Monday and Woeful Wednesday.
Tuesday, funnily enough being the only day of the week that doesn’t have any actual football played on it throughout the year.
But y’know, it is schnitzel night and probably easier for everyone to get a park, so fair enough.
Secondly player involvement in the ceremony, the cornerstone of your local footy club’s awards night, is reduced to ‘sit there and look at the stage’ for the Dally Ms.
Or, in the Cowboys case, just stay at home and make sure you don’t tweet about Greys Anatomy during the ceremony timeslot.
Perhaps the most obvious difference between the two though is that no one at the NRL’s awards actually appears to be enjoying themselves.
Think back to your last park football presentation night. Chances are there was some hopelessly ill-prepared ex professional sportsman as MC padding out the evening with his bawdy locker room stories.
An emotional senior official who had to be taken outside for some fresh air after tearing up handing out the under 18 team’s most improved award.
Perhaps even a musical number with the reserve grade forward pack dressed up in ill-fitting wigs singing an ABBA number.
Hilarious stuff, everyone’s having a ball. Compare this to the grim ordeal that the Dally Ms have become and you’d start to wonder why Jamie Lyon ever left the Wee Waa Panthers.
I’m not sure who or what’s to blame for this lack of fun at the Ms, but you can start with the awards themselves.
Of course you needs the staple best second rower, top try scorer, best and fairest etc, but surely there’s some room for a gag award or two. Who wouldn’t love to see a ‘Most ghastly injury’, ‘Goose of the year’ or ‘Greatest post footy career threatening tattoo’ being handed out by the judges.
Or maybe they could mix up the table seatings a bit, have players mix-and-match with others they’ve never met before and swap places every twenty minutes.
You could even get really sneaky with this, and have Phil Gould seated next to Phil Rothfield or Ricky Stuart sit at the referees table.
As for entertainment nothing tops a roast, and having John Grant wielded out on stage on an oversized throne while players took the mic to make fun of his beard or take a swipe at the salary cap would be a riot!
Extra Dally M points could be awarded for the best zingers to make sure everyone bought their A-game.
Alas, I can’t see any of these ideas happening anytime soon, and perhaps I’m expecting too much.
But is it completely unreasonable to ask that the awards night for the players who entertain us all season are a little bit more, y’know, entertaining?
I live in hope.
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