Once upon a time there lived a raven haired young girl, whose obsession for all things Rugby League knew no bounds. From the age of 10 she made it her mission to be an encyclopaedia of The Greatest Game Of All, regularly outsmarting the boys when it came to talking footy.
Her bedroom walls were testament to this football fixation. Floor to ceiling they were plastered with posters, pictures and various paraphernalia of her favourites – with a very special space set aside acting as a shrine to her all time preoccupation – Dragons player Brad Mackay.
She could converse with ease on this cherished subject, mainly because she never missed watching a game, always read her “bible” Big League, and watched on regular repeat her lovingly self-made montages of footy games, interviews and clips she’d tape on TV. She’d sit with her darling Dad – who in fact fostered this fascination from the age of 18 months old, when he taught her to name every team by their symbol – and ask him to regale her with tales of the League days of old, and then discuss the modern day. She lived by the Bill Shankly creed “football isnt a matter of life and death – it is much more important than that”. It brought her both dizzy happiness and devastation (the darkness of Grand Finals lost in 92, 93, 96 & 99) and she could not imagine living in a world where footy didn’t dominate her every thought.
But as she found herself heading off to bed at half time during the biggest game of the season last night, it hit her with all the force of Laurie Daley’s bonerattling tackle on Andrew Gee back in 1996 – her passion for the game played with the pig skin ball had passed away.
Maybe she could blame the busy-ness of life on her early exit to bed last night; or perhaps she could pinpoint that as she’d already witnessed the pinnacle of her passion, when her beloved Dragons took out their long overdue Premiership in 2010, there was no use trying to match that moment?
But I think the Death Certificate will just read footy fatigue. After an intense obsession borne from the age of 10, lasting long into her late teens, petering off ever so slightly into her 20’s before final sputtering to a halt once she hit her 30’s, she’d simply just had her fill of football.
She’ll never forget the first time she saw a NRL match live as a fresh faced 10 year old when the Bulldogs took on Cronulla in Port Macquarie, screaming and standing on her seat as Darren Albert raced down the sideline in front of her in the 1997 Grand Final, being in full voice as the Kangaroos took out the World Cup against the Brits in Wigan in 2001, or the ultimate highlight, being in the crowd to witness a long overdue Dragons Grand Final win with her hubby and Dad (one of the happiest memories she’ll ever have). But alas, the gloss has now gone.
And while she is sure the tingle will resurface the next time she attends a League match, looking around at the fans, ferocious in the love of their chosen team for now it’s time to hang up her footy loving boots.