A Manly boy in the City of Churches

Residing in a ‘non-league’ state means you have to go the extra mile to get your fix of the Greatest Game of All. It’s not in the papers, it’s not on the news and it’s certainly not talked about in the pub or around the watercooler on a Monday morning.

Living in Adelaide for the best part of a decade has been tough on my life-long love affair with Rugby League. Most of my football watching moments have been spent alone, with the couch my companion as I watch (or in some cases, listen to) my teams Manly and Queensland do battle with their respective opponents.

There’s certain sacrifices a league fan has to make in the City of Churches to catch up on the game and watch his team play. It took me eight years to find a local newsagent that stocks Rugby League Week. He now sells a single copy every Wednesday. As much as I’ve tried to convert mates to League, they wouldn’t know a Steeden from a sausage roll. Besides there’s only so many times you can explain the rules, or worse still, hear the unspeakable words ‘I much prefer Union’.

Even with the necessity that is Foxtel, you can’t be satisfied. Thanks to Channel Nine, Adelaide is ignorant of anything that isn’t Crows or Power, Friday night football isn’t screened until the early hours of Saturday and to see live Origin in A-town, you have to venture to one of the city’s dodgiest pubs to get a broadcast bootlegged in from Alice Springs.

This season however, I’ve been lucky enough to discover the wonder of live internet streaming. God bless the internet. First porn, now live Rugby League. Enjoyment knows no boundaries. Now I’m able to see the Eagles run around every week and my oh my, what entertainment they have provided!

So it was on Friday, cutting short my post-golf beers to get home in front of the computer for some pleasure on my own. Thanks to some slow service at my local Chinese take-away, by the time I booted up the game was seven minutes old. I noticed two things – firstly, Manly were 6-0 up. Secondly, the Brookie hill was jam packed. The fact a final cannot be played there is a travesty to the game.

Joe Galuvao has been a warrior for Manly this year and when he stumbled back to the defensive line groggily after a head clash, I knew he’d be OK. Thirty seconds later he put a shot on Bryan Norrie forcing an error. Two minutes later, he put a kick in forcing a line drop out. Had he been hypnotised?

Manly had all the ball in the first 20 minutes. Sterlo is talking about how many lucky bounces they’ve had. He’s obviously backed Melbourne. So has Gus. The Wolfman put his body on the line and suffered a neck injury that caused great concern. Billy Slater showed his class as a human being by not moving from under the Manly winger until medical help arrived.

With the Eagles attack in full flight and the Storm defence just keeping them at bay, something had to give. It was Adam Blair’s brain. Closely followed by Glenn Stewart’s. You’ll have read thousands of words on the subject of the stink by the time you get to this piece – so I’ll say just this: I loved it.

The ensuing penalty goal put Manly ahead 8-0 and when Shane Rodney busted the Storm’s line a couple of minutes later, I got the feeling that good things were going to happen. Jamie Lyon’s vision and Matt Ballin’s basketball skills combined to put Tony Williams over for a 14-0 interval lead and during the break I got to see the opening try to Kieran Foran, which was a great example of staying alive on the ball.

Manly’s ladder position has flattered them all year, but by half-time I had gained the confidence that they can win the comp. A lot has been said about Daly Cherry-Evans this year, but his defence is just as good as his work with ball in hand, a trysaver just before the hooter as testament.

Melbourne were always going to come out strong in the second half but couldn’t break through and when Lyon put Williams in again following a Darcy Lussick offload, the game was over as a contest at 18-0. Both teams appeared to realise this and the last 20 minutes of the game was 12 tired bodies on 12. Slater deserved his last minute try as he was typically hard working for 80 minutes, but the night belonged to Manly.

The real battles for the title will be fought in two weeks time, but what a great game this was for fans of the Maroon and White.

I certainly clicked on ‘Shutdown’ a very happy man.

MANLY 18 (Tony Williams 2, Kieran Foran tries; Jamie Lyon 3 goals) defeated
MELBOURNE 4 (Billy Slater try)

Crowd: 20,414 at Brookvale Oval
Votes:
3-Jamie Lyon (Man), 2-Shane Rodney (Man), 1-Michael Robertson (Man)

Sam McNally

 

 

 

 

About Nick Tedeschi

Nick Tedeschi was the chief rugby league writer at Punting Ace for five years after a career in politics and bookmaking. He has written freelance for a number of organisations including Back Page Lead, Crikey and Betfair and now runs his own website. He writes an annual NRL betting preview and is a diehard Canterbury fan who lists Craig Polla-Mounter, David Stagg, Tony Grimaldi and Daryl Halligan as his favourite players.

Comments

  1. Ian Hauser says:

    Nick,

    I can identify with a few of your points. I lived in Adelaide for 14 years through the 70s and early 80s and experienced a similar dearth of rugby league. I do recall that we used to get a Sydney Saturday afternoon game on the ABC (?) for a while, but that was about it. Yes, dear readers, there used to be Saturday afternoon NSWRL games in a previous millenium, often the match of the round from the SCG. And, yes, Billy Slater and Gareth Widdop were a class act supporting the Wolfman until the medicos arrived – it may be a brutal game but that doesn’t mean there isn’t also some humanity amongst it all. A final observation – in the brawl, have you ever seen so much energy expended for so few blows landed? Maybe it’s because the skills guys have been teaching too many wrestling techniques in recent years. Greg Dowling, your status is secure.

  2. Mulcaster says:

    Nick,
    Do you remember the stink in the Manly- Newtown semi final in the early eighties? Now, that was a proper blue. My deepest sympathy to you living in South Australia.

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