Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Bad and mean, MEB style
Traditional Canberra food
Nothing says Canberra like the bloody Raiders. You have to say it like that. Bloody Raiders.
“Hey Steve, did you catch the footy?”
“Yeah mate. Bloody Raiders.”
“Who’d you tip for Friday night’s game?”
“Have you seen my sock?”
Bloody Raiders. For years, Canberra has placed all of their sporting hopes in these bumbling fucking idiots. But there have been a few distractions along the way, a false hope, like when you go out on the piss one night with $120 in your wallet. The next thing you remember, you’re in your bed, you’re still fully clothed and you smell like four-day-old ass. All you want is some shit greasy food and a game of cricket to watch. You struggle down to the takeaway shop, positive that there is no way on God’s lime green earth that you spent $120 last night, but when you reach into your pocket for some cash and your hand comes out empty, all you can do is cry. That’s kind of what happened briefly when the Super 12 Ruby Union competition began. For a while, the Brumbies were the best thing since Laurie Daley’s groin, but then people began to realise that the game is decided by the referee, who gives penalties for breathing too loud. I guess that’s why people with asthma don’t play rugby much. Poor little asthma sufferers. But they do get those cool little blue puffers. I always wanted one of those. The rules of union are way too confusing and watching a giant “stacks on” game isn’t as much fun as it sounds. And for some reason, the crowd dress up like they’ve just come from having a Queer Eye makeover, drink champagne and discuss the big merger that’s coming up. The real people (the punters) would probably rather spend $120 on the turps and feel like shit the next day than have to sit through another Brumbies match, and the Brumbies ‘faithful’ began to dwindle.
Among it all were the little battlers called the bloody Raiders.
The high points for the bloody Raiders came in 89 and 90, and again in 94, as they hoisted the Winfied Cup aloft (and dropped it off the back of a ute), and they would have won it again in 95 except Ricky Stuart snapped his leg and the bloody Raiders did what they always do in a time of crisis: Nothing. Absolutely nothing. They tried some young bloke from St Mary’s under 12 side, and s/he was found to be in need of a good punch in the face, which I’m sure was given by at least 16 other blokes. So they tried an Eskimo from a formerly undiscovered tribe in the important number 7 jersey. Surprisingly, Tarka’s ball handling skills were less than remarkable (good kicking game though) and he didn’t last long either. The whole team fell apart in a syndrome that has been recently diagnosed as “Joey Johns Disease”. It was sad to watch these once-mighty titans fall into a large pile of shit. It was probably hilarious for the rest of Australia, who hated the talent, the speed, the rugged good looks and of course, the beautiful lime-green jerseys of the bloody Raiders.
We were treated to some “rebuilding years” as the majority of the bloody Raiders left Canberra due to retirement, injuries and rehab commitments. These rebuilding years tested the loyalty of the fickle Canberra fans, who briefly toyed with the idea of once again going to the Brumbies, but then thought that they could sit at home, eat cold pies and be bored for a lot less effort and a lot less money. The Canberra Cosmos soccer team enjoyed a crowd (once), the Cannons fell apart in exact proportion to the amount of scalp that was showing through Phil Smythe’s hair, the Bushrangers played baseball, the Capitals are a women’s basketball team (no slam dunks, hence BORING), the Comets were under prepared for first class cricket (Merv Hughes? Under prepared? Never), and the Knights play the world’s fastest team sport in slow motion. With no sporting heroes to worship, Canberrans did the only thing they know how to do - bitch and moan about the bloody Raiders. They were a team that had been there and done that, they could take the brunt of media abuse, bottles from the crowd, death threats from me and, in the case of at least two players, no bar service in Canberra.
And they’re still going today. They might not be winning like the team of yesteryear, but they have the same spirit and pride in the lime green jersey as those troopers of 1982. Except that most of them are leaving to earn more money somewhere else. I’m looking at YOU, Shifcofske. And by the way, you have something on your cheek.
To the mighty bloody Raiders: Good luck for the rest of the season. You’ve cracked the top eight, and have the ability to upset a few of the… well, better teams.
For those Canberrans unfamiliar with exactly who plays for the bloody Raiders, next time you’re out and about in the city, look for the big bloke lying in the gutter, unable to speak coherently. Chances are, it’s the next captain of the team – he’s not drunk, he’s just a fucking spastic. I love those guys.