Let me get this straight: Ricky Stuart and lots of Canberra fans are getting upset that Mick Ennis acted like a grub after the Sharks’ hard fought victory over the Raiders.
Ennis acted like a classless grub? No shit Sherlock. That’s what he does. He’s made a career of it. It’s his trademark. And on this occasion it was his right.
So he baited some Raiders fans. From the footage I’ve seen they were giving it to him both barrels and Mick just responded by ironically doing the ‘Viking Clap’ at them.
To the victor goes the spoils, people. And Mick won. Suck it up. (Click to Tweet)
His action has its mirror in a similar event, after the Battle of Agincourt on October 25, 1415. The French forces were overwhelmingly superior to those of the British forces of Henry V. The story goes that the introduction of the Welsh long-bow was quite a game changer. This weapon could conceivably take the superiority in the field of battle from the knights in armour and deliver it to the archers.
The French king said that when the fight was over he would cut the bow finger from every Englishman in France.
Of course, when the fight was over, the English had won a famous victory and the French monarch was unable to carry out his threat.
The English soldiers, reveling in their victory, turned en masse towards the French noblemen that were gathered on the nearby hill and as one showed them that they still all had that finger by holding it aloft. And thus ‘giving the bird’ (something to do with feathers on the arrow) was born.
All Ennis did was give those he defeated the equivalent salute.
Ricky’s words of indignation were mostly there to wind his own supporters up. He needs them to turn back up in numbers and be passionate – more passionate – if the Raiders are to beat the surging Panthers this weekend. Ricky needs a full-80 minute, mouth-foaming, decibel-booming, totally parochial effort from his fans, and he is rightly trying to arc them up.
However, Ricky is right: it wasn’t classy or respectful. But we are talking about Mick Ennis here.
To Ennis’ credit he has never claimed to possess either attribute. And now at the very end of his 14-year career, he ain’t about to start.
Say what you will about the head-geared grub, there is no subtext or hypocrisy about him. He is what he is, and he owns it.
And there is a reason he owns it: it’s all he has.
He has never been the best at anything except being a grub.
The boy from Coffs Harbour left the Knights because he was never going to dislodge Danny Buderus, who was clearly a better hooker.
While he then left the Dragons for the greener fields of Brisbane, a ruptured ACL ended his season in just Round 5 of 2006, and he had to sit on the sidelines and watch his replacement, Shaun Berrigan, win the Clive Churchill Medal.
From that point, Ennis was again down the pecking order, and in 2009 he went to the Bulldogs.
He was so close to winning the title in 2012 – his only grand final appearance – but had to settle for being the bridesmaid. In 2014 his side again made the grand final, but he was injured once more and missed the game.
His luck hasn’t been great in the representative arena. While he has played eight games in sky blue, he has only chalked up three wins and not played in a winning series, with Cam Smith having constantly bested him.
After State of Origin 3 in 2010, there were calls for him never to play for NSW ever again after he punched Nate Myles, giving away a penalty that led to Queensland’s winning try. This season he was overlooked in favour of Robbie Farah.
He has never won a grand final. He has never won a series with NSW, and he has never played for Australia.
What Ennis does have is a competitive fire that burns bright and hot. Sure, it means he harasses, and niggles and cheats (Ennis has conceded 72 penalties in the last three seasons, only James Maloney is worse, with 73), but try and find a club that wouldn’t happily have him back.
He is heart and soul. You never have to wonder if he’s going to give his all. He will.
Then-Bulldogs coach Kevin Moore said of Ennis, “Mick is the kind of player that any head coach would love to have in his side. He leaves nothing to chance, he’s a natural leader, is about the fittest bloke in the team and he gives us outstanding direction on and off the field.”
Now Ennis stands on the precipice of possible glory at the very end of his career. Will he once more be the bridesmaid? Will he cruelly miss another decider? Will he finally break through for a last-gasp victory?
However, this is for sure: Ennis will fight it out until the very end, and the great majority of fans will call him a grub, boo him every time he goes near the ball, and bay for his blood.
But if you do all that to Ennis, before and during the game, if he gives it back to you after he triumphs, take your medicine and suck it up, Princess.