From a rugby league perspective, there are three things I look forward to each year:
1. State of Origin (particularly if NSW win)
2. The grand final (no matter who wins) and
3. The silly season
It’s hard to say when the silly season starts and whether it ever ends. Traditionally though, it kicks off after the grand final and runs all the way through to the end of next season’s trial games.
The silly season is characterized by rumours, fake news (formerly known as lies), denials (generally, more lies), mere speculation, scandal, vitriol and parochialism.
Once upon a time, the silly season was the time when players changed clubs and new coaches were appointed, but these days these things happen on an ongoing basis, and usually when coaches, players and supporters least expect it.
There are no winners in the silly season but the perennial loser is truth itself. The good thing about it is that, unlike the grand final and origin, mere mortals like us can participate along with the players, coaches, clubs and the media.
In fact, without us, the silly season would be as meaningless as the Roosters’ salary cap. All we need is a keyboard, the internet and a forum like The Roar, and we can make stories up with the best of them, pile on to unsuspecting correspondents at will and argue until no one cares or listen any more.
In my opinion, last year’s silly season was one of the best in history and much of the credit for this should go to Latrell Mitchell, the Roosters and Souths. It seemed you couldn’t open a newspaper or turn your computer on without hearing the latest rumours and denials about Mitchell’s playing future.
Sadly, Mitchell probably won’t feature in this year’s silly season, unless he decides that he’s now a hooker and not a fullback, but don’t rule out the potential for both Souths and the Roosters to play their part again. They are two clubs who appreciate the value of the silly season.
The good news is that the silly season has started early this year and is now well underway. Fortunately, it’s not affected by lockdown, and ever-improving broadband speeds promise increased participation. With only five teams a realistic chance to win this year’s competition, it’s an ideal opportunity for the fans of the remaining eleven teams to get busy and do something meaningful in the name of rugby league.
I know that the clubs will also play their part.
Some of the early silly season highlights include:
Wayne Bennett will be coaching (insert club name here) next season.
Cameron Smith is retiring this year, not retiring, moving to the Broncos, giving up refereeing, etc.
Michael Maguire has the full support of the Wests’ board.
Benji Marshall will be joining Blake Green at the Dogs as they implement their “youth first” halves policy.
You can see that the foregoing are just the tip of the silly season iceberg. It’s up to rugby league true believers (you know who you are) to laugh in the face of the global pandemic and make this a silly season to remember.