'My darkest hour': The spoon taunt which drives Anasta

Braith Anasta describes it as his darkest moment. Just hours after watching his beloved Roosters fall to their 19th loss of the season in Round 26 last year, the injured Roosters captain was mortified when a fan handed him a wooden spoon as he hobbled into Easts Leagues Club.<br><br>“It was horrible going back to the club,” he recounted to NRL.com this week as he contemplated completing the most remarkable of turnarounds in Sunday’s grand final. <br><br>“I had a fan come up to me with a wooden spoon wanting me to sign it… and I nearly threw it back in her face. It just wasn’t funny to me. It might have been funny to other people, but not to me. <br><br>“It was such a dark day and a horrible moment.”<br><br>Anasta had felt helpless that afternoon as the Roosters blew a 16-0 lead late in the first half to go down 32-16 to fellow strugglers North Queensland.<br><br>To this day he rates that loss among his worst memories… and there have been plenty – the Bulldogs salary cap scandal in 2002 and Coffs Harbour two years later among them – but it was also the catalyst for the club’s stunning revival in 2010.<br><br>“It’s hard to explain how low I felt last year,” Anasta said. “It was a horrible feeling. It was so disappointing. I’m a pretty proud person and I remember it clearly. <br><br>“It was Brad Fittler’s last game as coach and Craig Fitzgibbon’s last game for the club so we wanted to send them both out on a good note because they had been superstars of this club. <br><br>“And we were all over them in the first half, but ended up losing. Freddie was sent off on a bad note… Fitzy was sent off on a bad note… and to top it all off we were wooden-spooners. <br><br>“It was one of the darkest days not only in the club’s history but also in my life. It was so sad. <br><br>“I just couldn’t believe where we were at and that we had put ourselves in that position. I was disappointed in the playing group. <br><br>“I thought we had a better roster than to let that happen and a lot of it had to do with attitude. <br><br>“But you know what? It’s probably what got us to where we are now.”<br><br>Anasta said it was a credit to the club as a whole that they are now just 80 minutes away from the most unlikely of premierships.<br><br>“A lot of hard work has gone into it – and not even so much on the field,” he said. “More probably off the field, in keeping all the players in check – but it wasn’t that difficult. <br><br>“I think everyone felt what I felt after that last game against the Cowboys. Everyone felt the pain. <br><br>“We just felt ‘We don’t ever want to be back here again’. It was such a dark day and coming back in pre-season we were all just relieved. <br><br>“We had a new coach, new coaching staff, we were a new team and a new club. Everything was different. <br><br>“That was probably the best thing about it – we could set the tone from day one. Every player has jumped on board and it’s been such a pleasure to be captain.”<br><br>Anasta is one of only two current Roosters (along with Anthony Minichiello) to have won a premiership – with Canterbury back in 2004 – but said that if anything could top that day six years ago it would be victory over St George Illawarra this Sunday.<br><br>“The two clubs were at completely different stages,” he said. “For the Bulldogs, we had been so ridiculously successful that winning games meant nothing to me. We won every week anyway – we were just that sort of team. <br><br>“But obviously the salary cap, Coffs Harbour and all that crap – it made that win really special.<br><br>“Then&nbsp; you look at this one – it’s hard to think that it could be more special than that but I tell you what, going from there last year with some horrible days to here now and having the captaincy… I don’t think anything could top it. <br><br>“I don’t want to look too far ahead but it would be very special.”<br><br>