2020 was both a year to remember and a year we all want to forget.
I can’t recall ever being an only child. It’s not surprising. I was just over two years old when Matt became the first of many siblings in February 1983.
From then until I went to boarding school in 1996 we shared many experiences: an army family’s million moves; Grandma’s slow battle with the brain tumour that killed her; the four schools we simultaneously attended in classes three years apart.
Like all good siblings we played sport, climbed trees and fought like Tasmanian devils locked in a small bag. After one of us farted. Him. Repeatedly.
After ’96 things changed a bit. Mum and Dad split up while I was away, leaving Matt to deal with the consequences and support the younger two brothers.
Our respective careers as journalist/tour guide and government worker took us further apart with two very different life experiences, exacerbated when Matt became father to young Lachie late last year.
All this is a way of explaining the sense of happiness as we sat next to each other at the Breakfast Creek Hotel in Brisbane.
Our team was up and would go on to record a convincing win against hated rivals – and it was the first time in years I could remember us watching a Cowboys match together.
Oh, and he’d up and married partner Danielle earlier that day.
Having eschewed a traditional wedding, family and close friends met at the famous Brisbane pub for a feed and a couple of quiet ones to celebrate with the new couple.
The game kicked off soon after we’d finished our meals but general chit-chat meant we only caught a glimpse here and there; enough though to see Ashley Graham somehow fling the ball back infield while in-touch and airborne for Matty Bowen to open the scoring.
We also caught a glimpse of Jack Reed crossing, leading the best man to break out in a bad case of premature congratulation when the try was disallowed.
Another glimpse saw Michael Morgan pick up a spilled ball for his first; later we caught the replays as he used his go-go-Gadget arms to grab the ball and help give the Cowboys an 18-0 halftime lead.
During the halftime break Matt and I had a quick chat about the pitfalls of being a Cowboys fan – that is, the feeling that disappointment lurks around the corner.
A Brisbane try soon after the restart seemed to confirm those suspicions; only to be allayed when Bowen showed the form from the Cowboys’ glory year by taking the ball 20m out, stepping past Broncos players, then passing wide for Brent Tate to race away and score.
Brisbane crossed twice more just before we left to meet some of the couple’s friends in town, leaving an anxious cab ride hitting the mobile’s refresh button. Fortunately Morgan scored his third to seal the win before Bowen coolly slotted home a field goal in his 250th NRL game.
All in all it was the perfect night: family, food and football. My brother is now a happily married man – although I don’t think Danielle was terribly happy with her beloved Broncos losing.
Here’s to that being their only worry.