He’s putting on a clinic!
Through my recent study I have become very interested in the idea of creating history and legacy.
In sport creating legacy is what separates the all time great players or the all time moments from the others.
In the rugby league there are two arenas where legends are made: Origin and the finals.
Some of my fondest NRL memories take place during the finals period. For a player to stand up on the biggest stage they can cement themselves into the history books.
Perhaps my earliest league memory is the 97 ARL grand final of Manly vs Newcastle. That game created so many legendary players as well as moments for me.
Adam Macdougall stamping on Geoff Toovey’s face, Toovey playing on, Chief and Spud fighting for supremacy in the forwards, John Hopoate kissing the forehead of a Knights player after scoring the first try, Robbie O’Davis spinning around then being slung to the ground then seeing his arm over the try line scoring a great try.
Then there was the truly iconic moment of Darren Albert racing away to score with seconds to go to win the game for the Knights with Ray Warren at his peak calling it to this day sends shivers through me.
That game has stuck with me for the rest of my life and I remember so many moments from it.
Darren Albert is a player I know really nothing about I don’t know if he was much good, I don’t know if he had a long or short career if he played rep footy or not but he is still clear in my memory jumping up and down hands in the air celebrating then being mobbed by his teammates.
Albert was lucky enough to be part of a moment that will live in our game forever, it is something I will tell my kids about and something I will remember from when I was 7 years old.
The 2001 Eels team was an incredible team they seemed to win every week with a great deal of ease and I remember the week leading into the grand final talking to my dad about the game, I was convinced that the Eels were going to win it was the only result possible in my young mind.
My dad was less convinced he kept saying that Andrew Johns was the key and would decide who would win the game for either team, safe to say I thought he was being an idiot and also safe to say by half time I had figured out how wrong I was.
Johns was amazing. I am not sure if I had seen as dominant game from one person before that game he was everywhere and everything to his team. (It was also the first time I have laughed at the Eels).
2002 I got to see my beloved team the Roosters romp home to a grand final win on the back of Brad Fittler. For me the moment I remember most from that game was Richard Villasanti running the ball after heading butting Brad Fittler and Adrian Morley flying out of the line trying to kill Villasanti it was amazing to watch and the happiness I felt for my team was something I hadn’t felt before.
The almost public push in 2005 for Benji and the Tigers was amazing all these fans of other clubs wanting to see one club do well was something I didn’t expect. The idea of a fairy tale in the NRL to me is still a stupid idea which implies a player or team deserves something instead of earning it, but the flick pass from Marshall to Pat Richards ending with a huge fend was truly magical and a special moment that will have cemented both players into the folk lore of rugby league.
2009 the year the Roosters decided to play as poorly as possible was the most boring year of league for me ever. I watched every Roosters game I could and saw them lose plenty.
The Storm were amazing there was little to care about for me. Then one of the greatest run of forms I have ever seen from Jarryd Hayne started, the games against the Dragons and the Tigers were amazing, the Eels were must watch in the second half of the year the swell of support was palpable and special to see.
The 2014 and 2016 were games I had nothing on, in all honesty seeing all four teams lose would have made me happy but the supporters made those games, while I was still going for the Bulldogs because I couldn’t deal with my smug dad the outpouring of emotion by Souths fans was pretty special and made it very clear what made the game what it is.
The passion of the fans are what gives the game its legends, its moments, its hate and the love that binds fans to the game. While I just went for the Dogs I cannot begrudge the scenes of Souths fans after 40 odd years of failure and being kicked out of the comp.
Players like Shane Webcke playing with a broken arm or Sam Burgess with a busted face or most recently Cooper Cronk and his shattered arm created a legend a almost mythical legend of toughness that in 30 yrs will be spoken about with disbelief as John Sattler is today. These men were able to go beyond them self and win. To contribute to a team that reached the heights of their sport.
Legends and moments are what people remember, they remember where they were, who they were with and how the felt. James Tedesco at just 26 is putting himself to became a legend of origin and if he can win another GF he may be an all time great.
Legends can be created at this time of the year. Who can stand up and cement them self in history can the Roosters put them in the books with the greatest teams in history such as the early 90 Broncos or the 75 Roosters will we see something unexpected from a player we don’t expect it from.
This is a great time of the year and I look forward to a team or an individual creating their own legend and legacy.
I would love to hear about your finals memories especially from the readers who might be older than me seen as I never got to see those games live.