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Lockyer Farewell Tour: beyond hero worship and beyond ridiculous

M_Campbell23 Roar Guru

By M_Campbell23, M_Campbell23 is a Roar Guru

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    This weekend, Darren Lockyer will play his last ever competitive game of Rugby League. Finally. I have written that heresy, not because I’m glad Lockyer is finished, but because it brings the end to what must surely be the longest goodbye in the history of Australian sport.

    Season 2011 has been the Darren Lockyer Farewell Circus, and everybody has been queuing up for a slice of steaming hot sentimental pie.

    All year it has gone on, marketing men and commentators spruiking the next in Darren Lockyer’s ‘lasts’. There have of course, been some legitimate moments of acknowledgement: Darren Lockyer’s last State of Origin, Darren Lockyer’s last home game, Darren Lockyer’s last ever game for the Broncos.

    However, then the money men dragged us into the ridiculous. Look at Newcastle v Brisbane in Newcastle back in Round 24. That was, according to the pre match promotions: ‘Darren Lockyer’s last game for the Broncos in Newcastle.’

    You see, Newcastle hosted a Test match two weeks after the Grand Final, which meant that the Round 24 game was not Lockyer’s last game, or his last game for the Broncos, or his last game in Newcastle.

    The Knights’ promoters ran with it anyway.

    These sort of bizarre claims to a special occasion seemed to follow Lockyer all season: Lockyer’s last game at Shark Park, Lockyer’s last game in the Broncos’ away strip, Lockyer’s last game against opposition wearing blue.

    Channel Nine, as ever, were the worst offenders in this regard, as each time Brisbane graced Friday Night Football (which was more Fridays than not), the commentary would at one time or another take a few moments to eulogise the Broncos’ captain.

    Now please Broncos and Queensland fans, don’t get me wrong. Darren Lockyer has been a magnificent player. His field goal against St George in the semi-finals was one of the great pieces of theatre in Australia’s recent sporting history, and was a perfect way to summarise his career.

    But it happened without assistance from desperately grasping promoters or verbose commentators. We know a great player, a dramatic moment or a grand occasion without being bombarded with a weekly soliloquy and montage.

    The problem is not Lockyer or his retirement. The problem is that the media take these people and occasions and hijack them for their own purposes. I can only speak for myself, but for me the Lockyer show was nauseating by the end of the State of Origin series. After that it was difficult to watch the Broncos with the sound on, because the game was a sideshow to all the Lockyer hype.

    There is no doubt that if Andrew Johns had announced his retirement at the start of a season rather than suddenly and immediately, he would have had a similar, if not more overwhelming season of adulation on his way out. We saw a similar thing back in the summer of 2003/2004 when Steve Waugh played his last summer as Test captain, though it was only a six-Test, two-month tour.

    It seems this is a phenomenon which has arisen only in the last ten years or so. To me, it is too much. When the sports media take a player’s retirement and make it their own, they drag it away from the player.

    It was only with the last act of his first grade career; that Dragon-slaying field goal, that Lockyer claimed back his occasion from the foaming-at-the-mouth press.

    Simply, the media need to settle down and back off. If we spend all our time as viewers of sport hurling about terms like ‘champion’ and ‘legend’, and then creating these drawn-out retirement sagas, we cheapen true greatness, and make the player’s retirement less about the player themself and more about the coverage of them.

    All season the media has bombarded us with the fact that Darren Lockyer is retiring, and that he is a great player.

    But we already knew that.

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    The Crowd Says (5)

    • November 17th 2011 @ 8:15am
      Stu said | November 17th 2011 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      Still, I’d rather read about Darren than alcoholism, domestic abuse, substance abuse or some guy dropping nuggets in a hallway. It’s great to see nice guys finish first. I hope the Aussies win and win well. I feel for Slater for missing out on Darren’s last game and have lost a little respect for those opting not to play for Australia on this tour. How could anyone turn down an AUS jersey, ever? Really, they should take a good long look at themselves.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download The Roar’s iPhone App in the App Store here.

    • November 17th 2011 @ 10:08am
      oikee said | November 17th 2011 @ 10:08am | ! Report

      We must only bow and scrap to the likes of Tiger woods, Oprah Winfrey, the Queen and Obama, Rooney and Beckham, a mere mortal like Lockyer is not worth the effort.

    • Roar Pro

      November 17th 2011 @ 1:47pm
      ptovey01 said | November 17th 2011 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

      Thank the lord that it will be over!!

      Love him as a player, but have seen about 49 of his last games. Who cares accept for possibly all of Queensland and the Broncos

    • November 21st 2011 @ 11:04pm
      League_Coach101 said | November 21st 2011 @ 11:04pm | ! Report

      Sorry couldn’t read this article as I was busy watching the live coverage on NINE of Darren Lockyer arriving back in Australia from his last ever flight at the end of his last ever tour as Captain of the Kangaroos.

      Look! He’s about to step out of the plane!

      What a legend… I think Phil Gould is about to kiss his feet…

    • November 22nd 2011 @ 4:39pm
      Fraser said | November 22nd 2011 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

      And so what?

      Its’s too easy mate……..when you don’t like an article, turn the page over or scroll right to the very bottom like I did this one.

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