NAB Cup, Round 1: We need more opportunity to dream

By Dan O’Sullivan

For supporters of the competition’s strugglers, the lead-up to the NAB Cup is like the brief few seconds when you wake from a heavy night but your brain has yet to kick into gear. All you have is the warm static of a good night’s sleep to cloud your memory, so for a magnificent instant there are no recollections of drunken misdemeanours, dodgy kebabs or last season’s 10-goal thrashing at Etihad Stadium.

Over the summer months your club’s pre-season publicity drive has made the bottom of the dung heap feel like a kingdom in the clouds.  That speculative second-round pick has apparently bulked up while the classy small forward has developed an engine and looks set for a successful move into the midfield.

Opposition supporters may not think you’re not worth a dollar but for a few dreamy weeks you feel like a millionaire.

And then comes the sudden blinding rush of recognition when reality hits and you realise you have a splitting headache, you’re sleeping nude on the couch and you’re tall forwards couldn’t out-mark Rove McManus.

It’s the dictionary definition of ‘a rude awakening’ and the Tigers got it last week in the form of a shellacking by the Hawks.  Such a demoralising loss in the early rounds of the NAB Cup can be shattering for the supporter with a preference for glasses half-full.  It usually means you’ll end up watching Round 1 of the regular season from underneath a kitchen table with your thumb in your mouth.

My preference is for the pre-season competition to be scrapped completely. Clubs then have to continue to train behind close doors and drip-feed their supporters glowing reports on everyone from the skipper to the last rookie-listed player.  Stuff like ‘Player A has been busy benchpressing Hyundai Swifts’ and ‘Player B has the endurance capacity of Yiannis Kouros’. And occasionally we’ll get short, highly-stylised video clips sent straight to our inbox that show our boys going through their paces in brilliant technicolour to the soundtrack of Chariots of Fire. Each specimen more finely tuned than the last. Kicks hitting their targets, goals being scored from impossible angles. It will be soft-core porn for the cellar-dwellers. Much better than being spanked by a superior team in front of a national television audience.

With no Mickey Mouse pre-season competition your team won’t have to face the reality check of an opposition side until they stride out for the real stuff in Round 1. Sure, every team will be massively under-prepared for the intensive hustle of home and away footy, but at least it will give the tormented supporters of the lowly clubs a chance to press snooze, roll over and dream a little longer.


  1. John Butler says


    Is Rove any good crumbing the packs?

Leave a Comment