Manly vs Melbourne: choose your lesser evil
107 Have your say
Cameron Smith will need to be at his peak for the Storm against Manly. Images: (Mark Kolbe/AAP)
For rugby league fans, this weekend’s two semi-final matches can be seen as being one fought between challengers, and one between champions. Or more simply, good and evil.
For while Saturday’s Souths versus Bulldogs showdown contains a multitude of feel good storylines which league fans can live through vicariously, the game between Manly and Melbourne poses a Morton’s Fork for the impartial spectator.
Both of these clubs have enjoyed much recent success, which in the landscape of Australian sport is equal to immediate disdain.
There is no point in hating both teams equally either, as unfortunately to get maximum enjoyment out of tonight’s match you will have to cheer for someone so you can at least rant about the video ref decision that dudded you at work on Monday.
To help those struggling to decide who in fact they hate less, I’ve analysed each team in the areas of players, coach, fan-base, history and mascot.
May the less putrid win!
Whether or not you like a player is obviously completely subjective. I have a mate who has an irrational hatred of Steve Menzies. Menzies!
But as a general consensus there are some players that are clearly disliked more than others, which can be tentatively measured via my patented Woolford-Wishart scale.
Both Manly and Melbourne have a couple of nice guys mixed in with some undesirables, however with Jason Ryles not playing this weekend and Steve Matai returning from injury, Storm squeak in your popularity vote here.
When choosing a favourite coach it’s best to think of them as a perspective father-in-law at a BBQ. While the Storm’s Craig Bellamy may give you an ear bashing for over cooking his steak, I’d be more worried about Toovs continual niggling and mind games over my choice of salad dressing.
This isn’t to say Toovey shouldn’t be respected for what he’s achieved this year, it’s just that, well….he’s Geoff Toovey.
As mentioned earlier, rugby league fans hate any team better than theirs, which is an immediate black mark against both of these sides.
Furthermore, both Manly and Melbourne have had an ‘eye for talent’ over the years (i.e. other team’s talent), and have histories closely aligned to the almighty dollar.
The Storm however was successful straight off the bat, which for the Sharks and North Sydney fans out there is just grossly unfair.
At least Manly had the dignity of waiting a few years before making us feel bad about ourselves and our teams.
Perhaps a fairly childish way to choose an allegiance, but picking a side by their mascot has helped many a primary school aged child dominate their footy tipping comp.
The Manly Sea Eagle is a beloved member of the local fauna, and like all birds of prey inspires awe and wonder in anything not small enough to be eaten by it.
A storm on the other hand, as dangerous as it can be, is a moniker that seems to have been developed primarily as some sort of Sydney joke at Melbourne’s climatic expense. Also, the use of a singular may have potentially paved the way for naming atrocities like the ‘Chill’, ‘Wind’ or ‘Mostly fine’ with regards to future expansion sides.
And so the decider. It is widely known that all opposition fans are inbred, narrow minded, fat corrupt morons.
But, among which group would you rather sit clad entirely in your own team’s overpriced merchandise? Would it be the psychotic Sea Eagles’ nest, or the mean, mean Melbourne massive?
Despite the presence of an idiot with a cow bell, I award this to the Melbourne faithful.
Mostly due to the fact that if I was sitting among them, I wouldn’t have to use the toilets on the hill at Brookvale.
So there you have it Roarers, the Storm are your clear choice to cheer for tonight.
Unless of course that is you happen to go for Parramatta.
Or the Dragons.
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 since 2011. Tweet him @Vic_Arious