Walking into the 2018 grand final, a surreal optimism filled me.
Hardest-working man in sport Roy ‘Crackling’ Pork and repeat offender Wayne ‘Spanks’ Spankle sift through the ruins of the weekend.
CRACKLING: Well, Spanks, it’s all over bar the shouting.
SPANKS: I hear the shouting’s over too.
CRACKLING: That’s a shame, that’s the best bit. But you’ve got to give full credit to the Roosters.
SPANKS: The Roosters were phenomenal, and today their fan will be a happy man.
CRACKLING: A bold move playing Cronk?
SPANKS: I think it was a masterstroke. I remember back in my old hometown, the president of my cricket club was a one-armed man. He’d go in at number eleven and we’d have the longest last-wicket partnerships because nobody on the opposition wanted to bowl too hard at him – it seemed mean.
He was our secret weapon, and it was the same with Cronk for the Roosters. The Storm felt so sorry for him they couldn’t bring themselves to win.
CRACKLING: It was a great performance, but I feel the Roosters engaged in a bit of dodgy dealing. I mean, turning all the Storm’s clocks backwards so they turned up an hour after kick-off? Poor sportsmanship if you ask me. Could Melbourne have arranged an alarm call? Sure. But that doesn’t make it right.
SPANKS: I thought Dale Finucane had a good game.
CRACKLING: He did, Spanks, and it’s a lesson for us all: when Dale Finucane is your best player, you ain’t travelling well. Nobody has ever spoken the sentence, “Dale Finucane tore them apart”. On the other hand, just about everyone had a great game for the Roosters, especially Luke Keary, who played halfback and five-eighth.
SPANKS: As opposed to Cameron Munster, who played neither.
CRACKLING: There were a lot of anticipated duels that were kind of fizzers – Will Chambers was towelled up by Latrell Mitchell, for example. But I didn’t expect Munster to outplay himself quite so thoroughly. And then there was Cam Smith. This was probably his worst performance in a grand final, just edging out the 2008 game when he didn’t play.
SPANKS: Craig Bellamy would’ve had some harsh words to say at halftime, if he hadn’t already lost his voice screaming obscenities for the previous forty minutes straight. As it is I hear he spent the whole break drawing incredibly graphic portraits of what he wanted to do to each player.
CRACKLING: And it worked: the Storm really put the hard yards in in the second half and their carefully orchestrated plan of waiting for the Roosters to throw an intercept pass finally paid off.
SPANKS: It’s a sad way for Billy Slater to bow out. Maybe he wishes he’d been suspended after all.
CRACKLING: I think for most of the game he was under the impression he had been.
SPANKS: Of course the AFL grand final the day before was a much tighter affair.
CRACKLING: Heartbreaking for Collingwood fans, so that was the week’s big good news story.
SPANKS: You’ve got to admire the West Coast Eagles. Until Saturday morning I didn’t even know they played football in Perth. But despite having no background in the sport, they really stood up on the day. The Eagles are like the Mason Cox of the AFL.
CRACKLING: You’ve got to feel for Eddie McGuire, though.
SPANKS: No you don’t.
CRACKLING: No, I guess you’re right. But full credit to the Magpies, they gave it a red-hot go. They led for 105 minutes, and in the end were only foiled by the fact the game of Australian rules football lasts for slightly longer than it would if it lasted for less than that.
SPANKS: So true.
CRACKLING: It was just a classic game of footy, Spanks, and the only thing that would’ve made it better is a bigger goal square and 6-6-6 zones at bounces. As it was, everything was a bit messy and I hope the rules committee cleans it up next year.
SPANKS: You could tell that the 100,000 people in the MCG were very dissatisfied with the lack of zones. But I think the result proved that some things in football don’t change: in the end, the team that kicks the most behinds will always win.
CRACKLING: That’s a bit saucy, Spanks.
SPANKS: Well I’ve been on the meat pies since Friday night, Cracks.
CRACKLING: Was it the best grand final you’ve seen, Spanks?
SPANKS: Well I think so. I mean in the 70s I played in a few that were much better, but I was legally blind during them, so I didn’t see them.
CRACKLING: Those were the days, eh, Spanks. Ten beers before the game, another ten at halftime, go through a pack of smokes on the bench while you were getting your face stapled back together, slam down a whole bottle of rum during the post-match interview, then back to the club for some meth.
SPANKS: You don’t see that in the modern grand final, and I think that’s a shame. In both grand finals on the weekend, every player was basically stone cold sober. It robbed the crowd of a real spectacle.
CRACKLING: On the other hand, the Wallabies went to South Africa and showed that drunkenness still has a place in professional sport, if only to ease the pain of watching the Wallabies.
SPANKS: I guess on the weekend you had two teams on top of the world, and two teams in the depths of despair, but even when you lose a grand final, and you’re feeling as low as it’s possible for a man to feel, you can console yourself with one comforting thought: at least you’re not a Wallaby.
CRACKLING: Amen, Spanks.