LIFE without footy is the pits.
For one thing, there’s no footy on TV. That’s bad enough. Then, Australia’s awesome stadiums are used to host silly sports such as cricket and … well, mainly cricket.
It isn’t all about the actual sport though. We’ve spent the last five months yearning for these five things.
P.S. The wait is almost over for you too, AFL fans. Stay strong.
1. STUPID SUPERSTITIONS
The blood-red sky above ANZ Stadium before the season opener between South Sydney and the Roosters was definitely an omen.
The sun was quite literally setting on that lovely period between round one and the previous year’s grand final, when supporters of the reigning premiers can be maddeningly cocky without fear of retribution.
Ninety minutes later, shell-shocked Roosters fans trudged out of the stadium. If only they had read the signs.
OK, so it was probably just an ordinary sunset. But footy season gives every fan an excuse to exercise their superstitious streak.
2. SAUSAGE ROLLS THAT TASTE LIKE ROLLED UP SOCKS
Not that we’d know what rolled up socks taste like.
Sausage rolls at the footy cost a lot more than the regular, “edible” variety people buy from their local bakeries. They come with dusty pastry and packets of sauce that are impossible to open without collateral damage. In other words, they’re superior to normal food in precisely zero ways.
But there’s no point going to the footy if you’re not going to stuff your face with some sort of culinary abomination. Do the job properly, or stay at home with a bowl of foie gras.
3. DELUSIONAL FANS
Parramatta fans are desperately hoping for something better this season, having claimed consecutive wooden spoons in 2012 and 2013.
The Eels beat a truly awful Warriors side last night, and all of a sudden Parra’s supporters are convinced their team will make the finals. That’s a little optimistic, don’t you think?
The rest of the NRL is no better. Roosters fans spent the entire pre-season telling anyone who would listen that they’re destined for back-to-back premierships. Bunnies supporters have been predicting grand final victories for half a decade.
Footy season gives us all a chance to detach from reality for months on end. It’s a good feeling.
4. CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM OF THE REFS
Seven minutes and 21 seconds into the 2014 season, a pair of South Sydney fans sitting behind me at ANZ Stadium had decided the night’s referees deserved a demotion to the under-16s.
That was ridiculously premature, of course. The rest of us waited until the 30 minute mark before agreeing with them.
Judging the refs and offering them polite, considered, expletive-free advice is a crucial part of the spectator experience. The refs are never on your side. Never. They’re always part of an NRL-wide conspiracy to screw your team over. Once you realise that, your debates with other fans become much more fun.
5. LAME CHANTS
“South Sydney! South Sydney! South Sydney!”
“Warriors! Warriors! Warriors!”
“Parra! Parra! Parra!”
As a general rule, rugby league chants are horrendously one-dimensional. And uncreative. And utterly dull. But at least they’re easy to remember.
Some fans do branch out into radicalism by singing during matches (gasp!), or yelling words that aren’t simply the name of a club, but that minority could be a lot more vocal.
In the meantime … Roosters! Roosters! Roosters!