I was programmed early on to hate Manly.
“Do you go for Manly?” “No!” “OK, so you hate them.” “But I don’t hate all the teams that I don’t support. Why do I hate Manly?”
“You just do, ok?! We all do! It’s us against them. Don’t question it!”
I’m sure many of you reading this now had the same upbringing.
As the years went on, my hate for Manly grew. Thankfully, they made it very easy for me. The ‘silvertails’ just had this arrogance about them that made it simple to despise them. My team ended up having a huge rivalry with them, so the fate of my hatred was secured.
Buying anyone and everyone, that Greg ‘Hollywood’ Hartley incident, The Northern Eagles debacle – there has just always been something to get angry about.
If you weren’t from the Northern Beaches, you more than likely had the shirt that said, “I support (insert team here) and whoever is playing Manly.” And if you did live there, your shirt read “And we hate you back!”
My family and friends who go for Manly know that I love them just a little bit differently to everyone else. It’s still love, it’s just love with a mix of pity in it.
Over the years, clubs like the Storm, Panthers and Roosters may have overtaken Manly for most-hated team for some, but the Sea Eagles have always remained in the mix.
Along with hating the club, you also hated anyone associated with them. Names like Geoff Toovey, the Stewart brothers, Ken Arthurson, Bob Fulton, Craig Field, Steve Matai, Dylan Walker – once again, they made it very easy for me.
My world was simple, my loathing was strong, and everything was how it should be.
And then, Tom and Jake Trbojevic showed up.
What absolute out-of-this-world talents these guys are.
When Tommy ‘Turbo’ gets the ball, you just know something magical is going to happen. Many have rightly described him as a ‘freak’ – so good under the highball, super-fast and scores tries at will.
Then we have Jake. While not as flashy as his brother, Jake is an understated workhorse. A talent in his own right, always plays tough, gives his all and leaves everything out on the field.
It is a different Manly side when the brothers are on the field. They bring out the best in each other and their teammates, and have such an effect to the outcome of any game. They are just that good.
The boys have both represented NSW in Origin. Turbo played to his usual amazing standard this year and was rightfully awarded the Wally Lewis Medal for Man of the Series.
Ok, so the brothers are good. There are many talented footy players going around. Surely, they are just another two players with a whole lot of talent, and even more ego and attitude?
Sadly not. They are apparently two of the nicest guys in the NRL.
You can just tell in their interviews they are so polite, eloquent, take the time to speak to everyone and are extremely respectful and modest.
They are adored by the Manly fans, loved by their team-mates, highly respected by their opponents, and liked by fans from other clubs.
A lot of their good qualities have come from their upbringing. Their parents John and Melissa – who also seem like lovely people – have made sure that the boys have grown up to become kind, humble and caring.
“I think the most important thing isn’t the footy,” Melissa said. “It’s great that they can play and that’s their dream which is great. But you want your kids….you want them to be nice people.”
Turbo adds, “The values they have instilled in us is to be humble, and be nice, and to treat others the way you want to be treated.”
Dad John told his sons what they must do now they are big NRL stars. “Someone had to run the club for you to play football, so it’s your turn now, if you get a chance to help out, you help out.”
And the boys do just that. They get out on the BBQ, get involved with coaching, even help out with the ground announcements at their local club.
“One of the main things we love to do is give back to the community,” Jake adds. “The Mona Vale Raiders are a big part of our upbringing….whenever we can we try to get down there”.
So just to recap, Tom and Jake Trbojevic are part both superstars in the NRL, they are loved by all, they are polite and smart, and despite fame and fortune are still well grounded and humble young men who give back and help their junior club when they can. And. They. Play. For. Manly.
When you have hated Manly and all those who have played for them for so long, this new realisation just feels weird. Those who know me well will understand how difficult this is for me to admit.
My name is Lady League, and I am a fan of the Trbojevic brothers.
Now if you will excuse me, I’m just going to go and sit by myself for a while and ponder how it all went so wrong.