That Raiders guy – an NRL dream on the cusp of being realised
Canberra Raiders. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)
Every group of mates has one. He’s that bloke who for most of the footy season doesn’t have a lot to say.
Generally quite affable, but forever with the faraway look in his eye of a man who is suffering a great pain in silence.
Yep, he’s that Raiders guy.
Raiders fans are an unusual subset of the rugby league community, somewhat neither here nor there in a way that personifies their own Territory’s existence.
Aged in his late twenties to mid-thirties, the Raider fan is unfortunate enough to vaguely recall the sweet scent of success, a memory which has grown fainter with each following year of mediocrity.
As a kid he was one of the cool crowd, but whereas his peers drifted away to follow the Brumbies or become Storm fans he now finds himself clinging onto his lime green dreams.
Like a grown man with his Super Nintendo, it is a childhood reminder of better times.
With this devotion comes ridicule, and the Raiders guy bears the brunt of much mockery in the watering hole or work place.
Outside of his bush capital he is easily isolated once identified, and his team’s ignominy for the last fifteen years is fantastic fodder.
While those who follow South Sydney and Cronulla have received some sort of sympathy, if not bizarre Chicago Cub style ironic coolness for their team’s lack of recent premiership success. However, Raider fan is spared such leniency due to his team’s lasting legacy.
Everywhere you look in the NRL there are reminders of better raider times. Ruddy faced rep coaches, stumbling commentators, endless Brett Mullins replays on The Sunday Roast.
These only exist to tease the Raiders fans hunger for relevance, leaving him famished each finals series.
Every couple of years though, the starving man gets thrown a bone.
The Raiders Saturday night match against South Sydney is such an occasion. Sure they were here not that long ago, but an age transpires between seasons in the NRL.
On top of this they are not playing a battle hardened Tigers team this time round, but a South Sydney side that are perhaps the most cheerful losers in Australian sport.
Canberra has a real chance of going deep into the post season, and chances are you’ve noticed a change in your Raider guy.
Usually someone who only gets riled up when people label the Broncos the best team of the 90s or by mentioning the super Macs unfulfilled potential, suddenly Raider guy has a spring in his step.
He’s walking around the office high fiving people, shouting you schooners at the pub and heading down to Video Ezy to stock up on some lime milk for the trip to Sydney.
Yes, he truly is living for the moment, knowing full well that at any second his fullback could do his knee getting out of the shower or the club will sign a 37-year-old outside centre.
Come Saturday night there’s every chance Greg Inglis may palm his dreams cruelly into touch yet again, starting Raider guy’s cycle of misery all over.
However for this week at least, I’ll admit to being a little bit jealous of my Raider guy.
Any room left on that bandwagon boys?
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