My interest in the NRL finals series was at an all time low due to Parramatta's insipid performances this year. Although I could take some comfort out of the early demise of the Tigers and Steelers, a Grand Final featuring the sheep shaggers from across the ditch and the tossers from across the harbour was less than inspiring. Nevertheless, I was at least hopeful of a Warriors win, which would allow me to send a massive 'suck sh#t' SMS to all of my Dee Why homies. Sadly it was not to be. So congrats to Manly, and congrats to Chip 'n' Dale, Smelly Velly, the Juggernaut, BBB and all of the other Sea Eagles fans on the Northern Beaches.
A few observations to wrap up the 2011 NRL season:
1. Can someone please call a marriage counselor to mediate the David Gallop versus Stewart Bros. break-up? This is getting ridiculous. David...show some leadership and call the club to arrange a sit down and clear the air. Brett...just get over it
2. Nice to see nine Parramatta juniors take the field for the Grand Final (thank you Batman for that statistic). Almost a third of all the players out there. It's fantastic as an Eels fan to know that we are the foundation other teams build their success on!!! Maybe the Eels should change their name to NRL Feeder Club, and that way the fans will know exactly what the club priorities are!
3. Speaking of club priorities, Parra just announced the signing of Will Hopoate. Great stuff. Throwing half a million odd at a winger is excellent value. It really is a key position. Especially when said winger will be out of the game for two years door knocking on a Morman mission. This means that any promising junior talent in the backline will by stymied because the position is effectively closed. Also, it's not like the Eels could do with a back rower who can consistently help Hindmarsh tackle, as well as bust the line and offload to his outside backs. Big thumbs up to the Eels recruitment brains trust...note to self - stop being so sarcastic
4. Such a shame that Darren Lockyer wasn't fit to face Manly in the Grand Final qualifier, but what a great way to end his career - a golden point field goal to knock out the Steelers. Awesome
Now that footy season is behind us - a shout out to Geelong on creating a new AFL dynasty and commiserations to Lujo and Kum Steve for Collingwood's demise - it's time to embrace the rest of the local sporting calendar, including my favourite sporting event of the year - Bathurst.
This iconic event has undergone several name changes over the years, aligned with the major sponsor of the time: Hardie Ferodo 500, James Hardie 1000, Tooheys 1000, Super Cheap Auto 1000 etc., but is most commonly identified simply by the name of the town where the event is held...Bathurst. I can't think of a single sporting event worldwide what has that claim to fame, other than perhaps Wimbledon. But the name of the town is the name of the event, so that doesn't count.
100,000 beers - or thereabouts
Having been up to the mountain about ten times I can say without any hyperbole - this race has it all. Muscle cars, rednecks, all day campfires, BBQ's, beers, gratuitous nudity and the occasional canine in a compromising position! No event is more Australian than Bathurst. It'll scar you for life.
On Sunday my telly will be switched onto the action from the mountain from 10.00 am when the green light signals 'they're off and racing' through to four-ish in the afternoon, when hopefully one of Henry Ford's representatives drives a blue oval across the line first. Bring it on!