I grew up on rugby league. It flows through my veins. When I was six my mum was my first footy team manager, washing jerseys and cutting up oranges for the little devils wearing red and blue.
When I was eight I used to hand deliver letters to my housing commission neighbours to spruik a neighbourhood game of footy I was organising, my very own Figtree Suburb of Origin. These matches would always draw quite the crowd.
Mum used to buy me footy boots that would fit me for a few years. It was hard work flying down the wing in something akin to clowns shoes with steel studs – I hated the plastic ones.
Sometimes we wouldn’t make the game because our car wouldn’t start. As a bit of a sooky young fella, I wouldn’t take this too well. I cried when it rained too. Nothing worse than when footy was washed out.
Fast forward 30 years, three different country league clubs, 300 senior games of rugby league and last weekend at age 37 I finally pulled the pin. Next winter I won’t be pulling on a jersey or moulding a new mouth guard. I’ve had my last rodeo.
I’m not here to toot my own horn or beat my chest. The point of this story is to highlight how rugby league I am. Not a prodigiously talented player but somebody who has sacrificed and struggled for the Game 1 love so dearly.
That’s why I am writing this tale with so much disgust in my heart. Total and utter frustration and anger. The game’s administration has let me down – me and the many thousands just like me, who belong to rugby league. Are rugby league.
On the back of all the other ridiculous decisions the NRL has made in the last five or so years, now to top it all off, it’s decided it was appropriate to buy Cameron Smith’s wife a diamond ring worth 15K for no apparent reason.
The decision makers couldn’t think of any more appropriate way to spend that money. Just have a read through the social media commentary on this issue and you’ll get a feel for how bad this decision was.
This is an administration that finds itself so far out of touch with its biggest stakeholder, the fans, that people like me are forced to turn to amateur journalism in the hope that somebody will listen to some common sense.
Because the people leading rugby league at the moment are going worse than mum’s old Datsun 180. No doubt it’s time for an upgrade.