There’s been an ongoing debate in my house about whether the UK or Australia is more messed up.
Grand final perennial Roy ‘Crackling’ Pork and big-game specialist Wayne ‘Spanks’ Spankle rev up for the pointy end.
CRACKLING: So, Spanks, Billy Slater? Does he get off?
SPANKS: How the **** should I know? Leave me the **** alone.
SPANKS: Sorry, Crackling. I’m a bit on edge this time of year. Grand final week does this to me every time.
CRACKLING: Still thinking about 1986?
SPANKS: Still can’t believe what happened, mate. Wazza was taking it right up the guts, Handsy grabs it just a couple of metres out, the bloke with the whistle calls play on, but right at the crucial moment Ruggsy pulls a cartilage and suddenly the ball’s up for grabs and it’s anyone’s guess.
By the end the claret’s flowing but nobody knows what happened to Watto, he’s flat on his back and the crowd’s gone mad because it’s up the other bloody end with Hamblo and Kev raffling it between themselves. Bloody ballsupathon, mate.
CRACKLING: I remember it like it was yesterday. Unbelievable scenes.
SPANKS: So every grand final week reminds me of that day.
CRACKLING: But there have been great moments on grand final day, haven’t there? For Billy Slater in particular? Remember when he won the Clive Churchill Medal? And the other one? For a bloke who’s never once been the best player in a grand final, he’s got a lot of Clive Churchill Medals, and you can’t help but respect that.
SPANKS: I’ve always said that if I had to pick one rugby league player to be next to me in the trenches, my choice would depend on which one had the biggest gun.
CRACKLING: Speaking of which, the Roosters have some big guns – Latrell Mitchell, Blake Ferguson, James Tedesco, the ghost of Brad Fittler – but they might lose Cronk, and that’s got to hurt.
SPANKS: Losing Cronk is like losing an arm. The trouble is, for Cronk, playing on Sunday might involve actually losing an arm. The thing is hanging like a thread.
CRACKLING: Ironic, isn’t it, that Cronk might miss because his shoulder is too weak to play, while Slater might miss because his shoulder was too strong?
SPANKS: I don’t think that technically fits the definition of irony, Crackles.
CRACKLING: No, but you take my point. I’m just saying: shoulders.
SPANKS: It’s not right that Billy could miss a grand final just for bumping Feki out of play. Back in the Sixties you couldn’t be suspended for a grand final unless you fatally stabbed someone, and even then you’d get off if your victim played for Manly.
CRACKLING: I look at it like this: strictly speaking the rule says you’re not allowed to shoulder charge. But strictly speaking the rules say you can’t be a referee without knowing the rules, and if they bend the rules for Ash Klein they can bend them for Billy.
SPANKS: I reckon it was a great bump. I’d give him a medal.
CRACKLING: The Churchill selectors already have, I think. If he gets suspended they’ll have to get creative about how to present it.
SPANKS: Can the Storm win two in a row?
CRACKLING: Not in one night, no.
SPANKS: It’s the AFL granny too, of course.
CRACKLING: I thought the AFL granny was Barb from Moonee Ponds.
SPANKS: The grand final, mate. Give yourself an uppercut.
CRACKLING: The Tigers will be giving themselves a lot of uppercuts after the way they blew the prelim.
SPANKS: It goes to show you can never take the Magpies lightly. I wish Dimma and the boys had taken their responsibility more seriously. When you play Collingwood in a prelim, you’re not just playing for yourself, you’re carrying the hopes and dreams of all decent Australians on your shoulders. I’ve never felt more let down.
CRACKLING: My daughter just gave birth, and I hate to think the little nipper will grow up in a world where Collingwood wins flags. Makes you want to mandate sterilisation.
SPANKS: Hopefully the West Coast can do the right thing by the rest of Australia.
SPANKS: No, in a footy sense. We’ll all be Eagles on the weekend.
CRACKLING: It’s a shame Andrew Gaff won’t be playing. If only he’d restrained his rage for a few weeks longer, he could’ve run out on the G on Saturday and broken as many jaws as he’d liked. That’s the great thing about the grand final: anything goes.
SPANKS: I still remember Alastair Lynch belting Darryl Wakelin so hard that Shane Wakelin woke up with bruises. Lynch got five weeks, but he foxed the tribunal by retiring. Billy should try that. If he retires before the grand final he can’t be suspended for it. That’d show ’em.
CRACKLING: I know from experience that getting suspended for a GF is devastating.
SPANKS: I didn’t know you were ever suspended for a GF.
CRACKLING: I wasn’t, but I once had the experience of talking to a fella who was, and he reckoned it was devastating.
SPANKS: Without Gaff I’m not sure the Weagles can win this one, I have to be honest. He’s the heart and soul of that team.
CRACKLING: Is he?
SPANKS: I don’t know, maybe, I don’t pay much attention to them. Until this week I forgot they were even in the comp.
CRACKLING: The real question is, how will West Coast stop Mason Cox?
SPANKS: As you know, my old man fought in World War Two, and he told me there was only one way to deal with a Yank muscling in on your turf: sucker-punch him from behind and chuck him in the harbour. That’ll teach the bastard to give your best girl nylons.
CRACKLING: If the Eagles want to stop Cox from giving all their girls nylons on Saturday, they’re definitely going to need to punch from behind.
SPANKS: Don’t be disgusting.
CRACKLING: I mean spoils, Spanks.
SPANKS: Sorry, Crackling. You know how it is.
CRACKLING: I’m sorry, mate. Have another frothie.
SPANKS: That’s a championship idea in my book, mate. Cheers!