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In Touch: Highs and lows of an NRL fan

Leila McKinnon NRL.com Tue, Mar 27, 2012 - 10:00 AM

Leila McKinnon calls on fans to stick solid with their team through the tough times. Copyright: NRL Photos

Sometimes it’s not easy being an NRL fan. The highs are sweet when they come but boy do you have to work hard for them. Golfers and drug addicts suffer in the same way.

Golfers slice, hook, fat and shank their way around the course (fancy names for terrible shots) and sometimes they throw clubs into the bushes. But they bear it all just for the high they get when they hit that one pure shot. Ah, the glorious sound of the ping of it as it connects, the whoosh as it flies fast and true.

As for addicts, well admittedly their lows are much lower than the ones we suffer, but their synthetic highs are more frequent.

Some poor rugby league fans wait a lifetime for victory. Cronulla Sharks supporters have been yearning in vain for a premiership since being admitted to the league in 1967. Loyal Bunnies have been hopefully waving the red and green since 1971.

So when we do have cause to leap into the air and roar in delight, we hang on to that moment for all we’re worth. Like when your team snatches certain victory from their long hated rivals in the dying minutes of the first game of the season. Oh yes, I’m clinging to that feeling the way Jennifer Anniston clings to her latest boyfriend.

The thing is, despite our many years of experience with disappointment, we’re all on a high before round one. Summer has shone on the ashes of our 2011 dreams, and green shoots of hope are springing up everywhere.

But four games later that capacity for optimism begins to shrivel. The days are shorter but all too often games seem longer.

We may have been a little too optimistic in our joy at starting the season. We begin to watch the clock rather than our heroes, as they kick when they should pass, offload into thin air, and appear to doze on their own try line.

A friend of mine confessed the other day that he’s stopped watching his team play at all. And he’s not even an Eels supporter; he’s a Tigers man. It’s just that he’s happier without the frustration, suspense, and disappointment that come with the possibility of beautiful ball handling, thrilling length-of-the-field tries and ultimate glory. Don’t worry, I told him he needed to wake up to himself.

So here’s my cheerful philosophy for those suffering from the Round 5 blues: it could be worse.

Yes, even if you’re an Eel, it could be worse. You’ll win a game eventually. Only the Roosters have gone through an entire season without a win, and that was in 1966. Be glad you’re not a Titan. At least you know you’ll have a team to boo or perhaps to cheer for next year.

How does a team fight back from a $30 million debt? On the bright side, the Gold Coast seem to think they’re bullet proof, signing 125 kilos of homesick Queenslander in Dave Taylor and reportedly continuing talks with Cooper Cronk. The NRL certainly doesn’t want them to fold and leave our most populous regional area to the mercy of another sport, so maybe there is some wiggle room there.

Jharal Yow Yeh’s awful injury only added to the Round 5 blues. The hideous compound fracture and dislocation to his ankle may or may not be season ending. But it could be worse. Yow Yeh is only 22 years old and even if he is out for 2012, he’ll be back.

But the most depressing news this week was the light punishment dealt out to self-confessed girlfriend-beater Robert Lui, both by the courts and the NRL. The justice system merely fined him $2000 and gave him a two-year good behaviour bond.

He has been stood down indefinitely by the Cowboys but he is still an NRL player.

Who wants to cheer him on? I don’t think I could support my team if he was a part of it.

The NRL needs to step in and show that violence against women is completely unacceptable. Men who beat women don’t belong in the game at all.

We all need to be proud of our sport and our team. It’s not always easy, some weeks it’s downright difficult, but let’s not make it impossible.

•    The views in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of the clubs or the NRL.