Rejoice, losers, for you’re the greatest winners of all
Australia cricketer Michael Hussey. AFP PHOTO / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI
Well, that showed ‘em, eh? We smashed those Irish jokers, didn’t we? Yeah! Take THAT, Ireland! That wiped the grin off your face, didn’t it, begorrah? You won’t be lording it over Australia any more, will you?
You have been SERVED! Don’t come around here again, boys, or we’ll teach you another lesson. Australia one, Ireland zero. Guys, we absolutely CRUSHED them!
There was a time, I remember, when a cricketing victory over Ireland didn’t feel quite so satisfying. There was a time when it would pass practically unremarked.
I remember the days when a cricket match between Australia and Ireland wasn’t really an occasion for taking notice of results, it was mainly just a way to give Mike Veletta some exercise between the Tests he wouldn’t be playing in.
But that time is not now. Now, we defeat Ireland in the Twenty20 and we roar it to the heavens like a mighty Viking warrior after burning down a church. For these are not the days when victory is expected against all-comers, and games against minnows like Ireland a mere formality.
These are the days when victory is a relief under any circumstances, and every triumph must be fought for tooth and nail.
And this, of course, is the attraction of following a struggling team, like the Australian T20 side or the Wallabies or the Labor Party. Sure, you don’t get sustained excellence, but you don’t get jaded by sustained excellence either.
Every game carries the frisson of the unknown, and every victory that comes along feels wonderful.
As long as you’re not confident in your team, you’ll never react to a win with just a bored nod and vague sense of satisfaction – winning is a marvel to be savoured.
And at this time of year, this is a lesson that should be well absorbed.
There is a tendency, in finals periods, for supporters of clubs not involved with the finals to mope about, to watch the big games and yearn to be a fan of one of the competing teams. One can easily slip into self-pity in this way.
But think of it this way: most of the supporters of football teams still alive in 2012 are about to suffer desperate disappointment. At this stage, nothing short of a premiership will satisfy the faithful, and defeat will bring a bitter taste indeed.
But those whose teams have crashed and burned this year are in the blissful situation of having no disappointment looming.
And those whose teams are dwelling in the cellar are happiest of all, for they spent the whole season with low expectations.
Imagine being a fan of the Melbourne Demons. People imagine they are the most depressed punters of all, but how could they be? Every week they get to watch their team turn out, with no chance of being disappointed.
If they lose, well they’re Melbourne, of course they lost. That will hardly sting. If they win… ah, sweet ambrosia it will be! The Demons win! So unexpected! So euphoric! What a joyous occasion!
Yes, for a fan of losers, every win is like Christmas. For a fan of the superb, all but one win is merely another grim stepping stone to the end. And if the end is not a grand final victory, those fans will be crushed beneath the weight of their chosen tribe’s excellence.
Imagine being a Hawthorn fan. Every time they’ve won this season, the only proper reaction has been, “And so they should have”. Every time they’re lost it’s been, “What is WRONG with this lumbering bunch of forest apes?” How unhappy. How be-gloomed must the world of a premiership contender’s supporter be.
Remember when the Wallabies used to sweep all before them? The World Cup wins? The Bledisloe victories? Happy days, right? But back then, could we ever have derived such simple joy from a come-from-behind four-point win over Argentina?
Back then, the very thought of losing to the Pumas was roughly equivalent to considering the possibility that a dead ant might leap off the sole of our shoe and strangle us. But today, having acquired a pleasing numbness to defeats to New Zealand, we are free to glory in the guts and determination of our plucky men in gold, sticking it up those Latin brutes. Feels good, doesn’t it?
So if you are one of that silent majority who has nothing in particular to cheer for at this time of year, cheer for yourself. You are blessed, for you know not the devastation of a dream denied, and you live forever with the warm hope of unlikely glory.
Rejoice, losers, for you’re the greatest winners of all. And up yours, Ireland.
Ben Pobjie is a writer and comedian writing weekly on The Age, New Matilda and The Roar, whose promising rugby career was tragically cut short the day he stopped playing rugby and had a pizza instead. The most he has ever cried was the day Balmain lost the 1989 grand final. Today he enjoys the frolics of Wallabies, Swans, baggy greens, and Storms. Ben is also the author of the books Surveying the Wreckage, Superchef, and his latest, The Book of Bloke, available from Momentum Books.