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Will the South Sydney flags be flying proudly next week or are Rabbitohs fans in for another heartbreaking end to a season?
I want to purposefully stride in to my local butcher on Monday morning and order 24 red and green sausages.

I want the chance to buy a '2014 Grand Finalists' T-shirt even though I may never wear it.

I want the paint guy at Bunnings to do his best to colour-match cardinal and myrtle so that I can paint the palings on my front fence in alternate colours.

But, more than anything this week, I desperately want to beat the Roosters.

Indoctrinated into a South Sydney family at a young age after a brief flirtation with every little boy's favourite team, the Sharks, the past 25 years of waiting to get within reach of a grand final has become all the more heartbreaking the closer we have come to getting a mere glimpse of the Holy Grail.

When you regularly run 14th on the ladder any emotional attachment to the result of the premiership decider has long since dissipated by that first Sunday in October and by and large you can impartially watch the two best teams of the season fight it out for ultimate supremacy.

But any sense of jealousy that permeates Grand Final Day doesn't stem from that lap of honour by the victors at the end of 80 minutes. No, more than winning a grand final itself, I want to revel in the festivities and ride the emotional high of merely having the chance to play in the premiership decider.

I want to wear my jersey to work every day without fear of reprisal from my boss; I want to organise beers with fellow South Sydney fans simply because it's Grand Final Week and it seems like something fans of other teams would have done; and I want to go to bed anxious every night for a week knowing that when I wake up in the morning we'll be one day closer to learning our ultimate fate.

For fans of the Sea Eagles, Storm and Roosters, this has been such a regular part of their journey as a footy fan over the past 15 years that anything less is a failure, but spare a thought for this 38-year-old South Sydney tragic who has never once hopped out of bed on Grand Final Day like a freshly-inflated Steeden bouncing off concrete, trembling with the possibilities of what may be to follow.

And it's not like we haven't come close.

In 1987 we muscled our way past Balmain but then succumbed to the emerging might of Canberra in a game that will be forever remembered for Steve Mavin's 16 minutes of infamy.

And then two years later, in a grand final widely considered the greatest of all time, all I could think as Raiders prop Steve Jackson carried half the Balmain team across the try-line in extra time was, That should have been Les Davidson.

It should have been Graham Lyons who jinked back inside to scamper across next to the posts and it should have been Bronko Djura who toe-poked the conversion to level things up at full-time.

But no, the dreams of a 13-year-old kid from Coffs Harbour had been shattered some seven days prior when my minor premiers became the latest casualties of a rampant and premiership-bound Green Machine.

That year didn't start too well with a 14-0 loss to those infernal Roosters but as the wins mounted up my workbook detailing all the magnificent deeds of the Rabbitohs of 1989 soon became my most prized possession.

Every rampaging Ross Harrington run, every sublime piece of Phil Blake skill, every bone-rattling Ian Roberts tackle was stored into my memory bank as consecutive wins turned into three on the trot and remained unbroken on their way to a club record 12 consecutive wins.

I was scolded by my mother for using the 'bushman's hanky' during a game of footy on the front lawn with my two brothers despite my reasoning that "Craig Coleman does it" so why shouldn't I.

We did screen printing at school and my white T-shirt was proudly emblazoned with the South Sydney logo, a No.7 on the back and a free plug for Smith's Crisps on the front. Given how good my team was that season I thought I would get years of wear out of it but 12 months later we crashed to the bottom of the ladder and it's been a downtrodden existence ever since.

The look on Sam Burgess's face when he bravely fronted the media after last year's Preliminary Final capitulation to Manly must have mirrored that of mine 24 years earlier, although in fairness I think I probably shed more tears than the big Englishman.

Which brings us to tonight and the most important game of the past 25 years for the 'Pride of the League'.

Almost worse than being called losers is being referred to as chokers – particularly from our snooty rivals next door – so to lose a third Preliminary Final in consecutive seasons would be almost crippling.

When we lost to the Bulldogs in 2012 we had the ascendancy when our halfback tore his hamstring and last year, with a 14-0 lead in as many minutes, the bright lights of the game's biggest stage brought on a bout of bunny blindness.

But this, this is the one.

This is the game that can bury more than four decades of heartache and seasons ending prematurely and, for 12 months at least, give us something to hold over those frappuccino-drinking, Bikram yoga-partaking, wannabe hipsters from the Eastern Suburbs who pack an overnight bag as soon as they venture west of South Dowling Street.

The Roosters are the defending premiers, the minor premiers and boast the best rugby league roster that $6.1 million can buy but somehow, some way, we have to beat them.

I don't care if we blow them off the park, squeeze by with a wobbly Greg Inglis field goal or accept a dubious penalty to win the game after the siren; we simply have to find a way to get past them.

Then, and only then, will the 13-year-old inside of me receive the gift of Grand Final Week that he has been craving so desperately for the past 25 years.

C'arn the Bunnies!!!
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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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