Almanac Rugby League – The Cronulla Curse

If there was ever a moment that typified life as a Cronulla supporter, one only had to look at the Sydney Football Stadium last Saturday night in the Sharks’ seemingly meaningless Round 24 encounter with the Headless Chooks.

After playing some of their better football in recent weeks, the Sharks had managed to open up a 25-18 lead with 8 minutes left on the clock in what had been a somewhat spiteful encounter.

To most neutral observers, it appeared as though the Sharks were cruising towards victory. However, these observers had overlooked the impact of the dreaded Cronulla Curse.

This grave disease can hit players, coaches and officials alike to create strange and unusual circumstances that eventually result in a shattering Sharks defeat.

The origins of the curse have remained a mystery for decades. Some have theorised that inaugural Rothmans Medallist Terry Hughes was responsible. It is a little known fact that early Rothmans Medals were awarded not on the basis of the recipient’s footballing exploits, but on the number of children they could convert to the Rothmans brand.

I was hit by another theory when I attended a concert by The Beards last Thursday night. For those of you unaware, The Beards are a band of bearded men who only play songs about beards.

As the band were regaling me with compelling reasons why having a beard was better than having a woman, I started thinking about the Sharks and in particular former Sharks legend Gregory Bird.

What if Greg Bird had a beard instead of an American girlfriend? I couldn’t have imagined Bird becoming involved in an altercation with his beard. In essence, the entire recent history of the Cronulla Sharks can be put down to one erroneous decision by Bird to choose a girl ahead of a beard.

This got me thinking about beards and the Cronulla Sharks more broadly. Off the top of my head I couldn’t think of one Cronulla player in history with a full healthy beard.

Now I’m aware that people have different religious ideals and beliefs, but i think we can all agree that God, or at least the God that watches over rugby league, has a beard. Now is it possible that God, as a bearded man, has resented the lack of beards present in the Sharks football team and has placed a curse on the team until this situation is rectified?

The evidence is hard to argue against.

Look at the successful teams in recent history: the Sea Eagles have got the Wolfman, the Storm Adam Woolnough and Cam Smith, who has a full beard even though he shaves at half-time. The Tigers season was completely on the rack, until they decided to start growing beards and they haven’t been beaten since.

So, having this knowledge at my disposal, you could imagine my delight when I was watching the game and out of the corner of my eye I came across a rather stocky, unimpressive looking bearded man coming off the interchange bench. Josh Cordoba had begun to grow a beard. I was certain that the curse had been shattered.

This confidence was reinforced moments later when the NRL’s answer to Edward Scissorhands, Ben Pomeroy, took a clean intercept and managed to control the ball all the way to the tryline.

On a sidenote, I’ve had this idea for a new tv show called Master Waiter in which Pomeroy and Brett Morris compete to see who can break the least crockery in one hour. Although I’m afraid even a show of this length would render any restaurant involved bankrupt.

Anyway, as noted above, my feeling that the curse had been broken was short-lived. With 8 minutes to go, Mitchell Pearce put in an ineffectual grubber kick which Nathan Gardner simply had to dive on to basically remove any chance the Roosters had of snatching a late victory. But then the curse struck.

Possessed by an overpowering urge to create chaos, Gardner inexplicably kicked the ball directly across the ground into the waiting arms of Jake Friend, who crashed over next to the posts.

I was in a complete state of disbelief, as I suffered flashbacks to Russell Richardson dropping the ball over the line and Greg Hartley awarding tries on the seventh tackle. I was barely able to watch as the Roosters ran away with the game, as the shattered Sharks failed to come to terms with the ferocity of the curse.

So it appears my beard theory was unfounded. Although it could also be argued that having one bearded man on the bench is not enough to overcome the curse. Perhaps it would take the presence of a bearded Captain Gal to finally extinguish this life threatening affliction.

SYDNEY ROOSTERS 36 (Tries: Jake Friend (2), Brad Taikairangi, Anthony Minichiello, Jared Waerea-Hargraves, Frank-Paul Nuuausala Goals: Braith Anasta 6/6 Field Goals: Mitchell Pearce 0/1)

CRONULLA 25 (Tries: John Williams (2), Ben Pomeroy Wade Graham Goals: Nathan Stapleton 4/5 Field Goals: Wade Graham 1/1, Chad Townsend 0/1)

Venue: Sydney Football Stadium
Crowd: 8,761
3-Jake Friend (Roo), 2-Wade Graham (Cro), 1-Paul Gallen

Nathan Boss

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