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39 steps: How The Roar helped and hindered my addiction

The Melbourne Rebels' Reece Hodge. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)
Roar Guru
14th November, 2016
93
1480 Reads

I’m an addict. Yep, I suffer an addiction and this story is about my ongoing recovery.

There are many steps in this ongoing process. The first step in that recovery is not being in denial.

So here it is.

My life as an addict began in this digital cyberspace years ago when I started to make comments on the SMH’s ‘Rugby Heaven’. Although it all started harmlessly enough, I have now reached a point where I need to share this to aid my recovery.

I have always been a passionate rugby supporter so this new (then) digital space seemed like a perfect vehicle in which to participate and improve my typing skills.

Yeah, apparently my typing skills were non-existent according to my wife (who types at 140wpm). Simply put, they were crap.

So, with that stinging critique ringing in my ears, I started by signing-up to the SMH’s Rugby Heaven. Perfect combo. Passion and practice.

Now for an old bugger like myself, who didn’t Tweet or use Facebook but who preferred to actually ring people instead of texting them when I wanted to communicate, this was a little daunting at first. Therefore, the very first time I saw my ‘comment’ published, I got a wee little rush and then when I saw that I’d received a comment on the back of my comment, I was immediately hooked to that rush.

So, off I went: hook, line and sinker.

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In those early days there weren’t a lot of us online but the banter was good, the comments in general informative and luckily there was always some silly ‘Johnny’ I could take to task, basically just for the hell of it, for being a ‘Johnny’. In this endeavour I was never really nasty but tried to do so with a little humour, but, I quickly learnt that Queenslanders don’t do humour.

Then there were the Kiwis.

Anyhow, as time went further on I found myself gravitating to certain people as opposed to just taking the odd ‘Johnny’ pot shots.

It was then that the thought struck me!

I’m addicted to this and I wasn’t the only one suffering from an addiction.

Further, the site soon became a heaving haven for all sorts of rugby-dependent souls. Excellent, I thought. I’m not alone and as cost wasn’t a factor, I thought bugger the ramifications of addiction.

As things went on I felt I knew some of these people or had come to know them. We became rugby mates without ever having the pleasure of meeting each other in the flesh. What’s more not a beer was shouted. That was truly a first for me.

Without going into too much detail, Rugby Heaven, for those unaware, slowly became less and less accessible on the back of Fairfax’s financial cut, after financial cut.

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Spiro was there and I’m sure he has a good handle on all of this history.

It was then a little bell went off in my head, causing much panic to set in. I suddenly realised my addiction may be seriously curtailed by this dis-functionality at the SMH.

I most certainly did not want that or the withdrawal thingy.

Luckily for me, and others, someone had mentioned an alternative site. The Roar.

So, here I am and happily not alone, as others from those days are here also.

Muzzo, Akari, Shane D, Kirky and of late, piru to name just a few.

I apologise, in advance gentlemen, if expressing your past brings you any discomfort.

Then something really really strange happened!

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Shortly after I had arrived at The Roar, Muzzo asked me online, “would I like to meet?”

WTF? Meet? Like face to face? Like press the flesh?

Yep!

So we did.

After a few years of continuously communicating online, we made a date. A blind date.

Although there was a little awkwardness at first, it was soon as if we were old buddies.

Thankfully we still are, even to this day and I am proud to say so.

Fast forward to a few weeks or so ago and the same opportunity arose. This time it was on the back of a bet between myself and Rugby Tragic. The bet was over the last 2016 Super Rugby game between my Tahs and his Blues.

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It was a strange bet albeit strategic on my behalf as the winner shouted the loser lunch.

Now before I continue, it would be remiss of me not to mention that I’d previously been to The Roar HQ in Sydney where I met certain people.

I obtained an invite some time ago by a certain hipster dude editor to come along for, in essence, an ‘open day’ thingy. I gladly jumped at this opportunity and there I found myself after the obligatory ‘meet and greet’ in a room surrounded by Roar Guru types.

But, not so much from rugby but more from across the spectrum of all sports.

I did manage to strike up a conversation with a fellow rugby supporter like myself.

He is a Kiwi who lives in Australia (don’t they all) down in AFL country in Melbourne. He has very nice teeth.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable couple of hours and I now have a Roar golf ball to prove it which takes pride of place in my office. It’s just one golf ball mind you, but it’s now my Roar golf ball. I rub it every so often.

But, back to the bet with the tragic and myself.

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So, a lunch date was set after the game was done and dusted. For those of you who are still here, of course the Auckland Blues beat my beloved Tahs and thank the gods for that as lunch was now on the Tragic.

So with a little help of The Roar, personal details were traded as to facilitate this ‘lunch’. Call me naive but when certain people sniff out a free lunch in the oft it is funny how friendly they all of a sudden become.

Suffice to say this tragic lunch began to morph into something larger. People flew in from NZ, interstate, and one participant only had to walk up the road a bit. I came by ship as first appearances are everything.

If you could let me know how you get on. I’m a little nervous about this one as it’s not just like writing an opinion on, say, why Cheika is a clown the way he carries on.

The day was set and the venue was chosen. A trendy Surrey Hills Pub in Sydney with a ‘comfort stop’ up a flight of steps – 39 to be precise.

Disclaimer: I didn’t choose the venue.

For some it wasn’t their first time meeting, but for me, it was apart from the odd exception.

I knew the hipster editor dude and had met the guy with the nice teeth, but not the Tragic. Nor, a blow-in from across the ditch who had plenty, plenty to say.

During the course of lunch, I was super impressed by the blow-in’s ability to eat and talk at the same time.

Like all good rugby people the lunch went well into the afternoon, as all were not shy indulging in the food and drink.

So why really really share this story?

Well basically for two reasons.

Second first, I was encouraged to do so by the hipster dude editor. Something about Harry and a tuna fish and a similar bet. I’m really a little bit sketchy on the details as alcohol was involved.

First second, I needed to do something about my addiction.

For me, this Tragic lunch was like an AA meeting or if you prefer an NA meeting.

Therefore, I would encourage any Roarer to do the same and if asked, then go.

Don’t be in denial, it’s the first step to recovery. Yep, it’s uncomfortable to start with but once you’ve acknowledged your addiction among other fellow Roarers it’s most cathartic.

I am also well aware at time of writing that other meetings are being hastily organised around the globe. In Asia, in Africa, well almost across the globe. In the better parts eh? Please note I didn’t mention NZ!

So special thanks to the tragic, the ultimate addict and to others who were in attendance (you know who you are, possibly) and to the young hipster dude editor for his efforts in bringing this memorable day together.

Oh, except for the venue!

The steps. The 39 steps. The effin’ 39 steps you had to take.

Viva la Roar!

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