The Canberra Raiders’ 2016 marketing campaign started, nearly as good ones generally do, with a reasonably honest clear out.

Goodbye and thanks for the hits and reminiscences Josh McCrone, Frank-Paul Nu’uausala, David Shillington, Dane Tilse, Sisa Waqa and Joel Edwards, who went to the Wests Tigers, apparently by alternative.

Hey, sailors Aidan Sezer, Jeff Lima, Joey Leilua and Elliott Whitehead, who a mate from St Helens had warned would make candy music on the sides. He did. All of them did.

And on an excellent day in early September, I used to be watching these individuals on a giant display at Collaroy Providers Seashore Membership with my mate Darren. And we had been punting, because the saying goes, our rings out. And we had been successful. Massive.
As a result of the Wests Tigers had been tipped for victory all week.

It’s onerous to imagine, however Sydney-based media’s reasoning for tipping the Tigers was four-fold:
a) the sport was must-win for the Wests Tigers to get into the finals;
b) it could be a sell-out; with followers perched on the crimson roofs of Leichhardt;
c) Robbie Farah could be farewelled (although wouldn’t play) and so would Dene Halatau (who, sadly for him, would play);
And d) media was in Sydney and the Wests Tigers are a Sydney story and Canberra’s down the highway and journos have at all times been a bit meh about Canberra as a result of roundabouts, politicians and reminiscences of day-trip excursions to Parliament Home and Questacon and the boring-except-for-some-cool-bits Battle Memorial.

Jack Wighton

(Photograph by Matt King/Getty Pictures)

True story – as a result of Canberra’s not deemed as cool as attractive outdated Sydney city with its blinding seashores and avant-garde graffiti and silicone bosoms bouncing alongside the banks of Rushcutters Bay, Sydney sports activities journalists would write off the Raiders.

And through the years I took many a carton of Melbourne Bitter from these individuals.

And on that Sunday afternoon I took greater than – prime your finest Paul Vautin – a thousand from a company bookmaker due to them.

As a result of, might Hermes the everlasting Greek god of playing bless them, so many of those individuals, these pundits, these high specialists had stuffed mainstream and social media with the notion that the Wests Tigers would win and thus earn a spot within the finals.

And thus the Wests Tigers’ value with bookmakers was, to cite a time period, large unders.

Conversely, within the yin and yang nature of constructing a guide on a two-horse race, the Canberra Raiders’ value of $1.50 was cash for very outdated rope.

They need to’ve been $1.04. They had been Winx. And the Wests Tigers weren’t High-quality Cotton a lot much less Daring Character. They had been barely Mister Ed, a speaking horse from olden days tv.

As an alternative, noble, ill-judged, heartfelt sentiment – pricey candy noble, ill-judged, heartfelt sentiment – was with the Wests Tigers and their gnarled outdated champion Robbie Farah, a lot because it had been in 1990 when the man whose identify adorns the brick outhouse on the highest of the Leichhardt hill, Wayne Pearce, performed his final recreation at Leichhardt Oval, a 14-10 loss to the Parramatta Eels.

And stated pundits influenced bettors to neglect that the Wests Tigers had been, in 2016, not very bloody good.

The Tigers had misplaced greater than they’d received. They’d misplaced the earlier week’s recreation to the New Zealand Warriors. Farah wasn’t going to play and he was fairly good.

Robbie Farah

(Photograph by Jason McCawley/Getty Pictures)

But within the week of the Leichhardt recreation, the ‘story’, in Sydney anyway, was that one crew, the Sydney crew, had extra to play for. The outdated extra to play for. And thus they forgot, disregarded, disregarded, whatevs, the truth that the Canberra Raiders, in that superb 12 months 2016, had been smoking shit-hot.

Contemplate: in Spherical 21, Canberra beat South Sydney by 50 factors. In Spherical 22 they touched up Cronulla 30-14 on the outdated Endeavour Subject.

Every week later they beat the mighty Melbourne Storm – with all their stars – 22-Eight in Canberra and folks nudged one another within the stands and requested: my fellow Canberran, do you imagine? I say once more: do you bloody imagine?

There adopted demolitions of the Parramatta Eels (28-18) in Canberra and the Manly Sea Eagles (44-30) at Brookvale.

When the Raiders turned up at Leichhardt they’d received 9 video games straight. They hadn’t misplaced since June 9 towards the Brisbane Broncos, who had been really fairly good given that they had Corey Parker, Sam Thaiday, Josh McGuire, Ben Hunt, Anthony Milford and a fullback in Darius Boyd who appeared to provide a shit.

In the meantime, the Raiders had been with out Jack Wighton at fullback. His place was taken by Townsville child Zac Santo, who would play two video games for Canberra after which 14 for XIII Limouxin, the Limoux Grizzlies, in France’s Elite One competitors.

And so they – the dreaded they – additionally, criminally for punters who believed their forecasts, forgot or disregarded or misplaced within the mad fugue of parochial sentimentality for Sydney and the Tigers and Leichhardt and sainted, pricey departed Robbie Farah that, within the earlier assembly between the groups, in Anzac Spherical, the Canberra Raiders had overwhelmed the Wests Tigers 60-6.

I didn’t neglect. And with head and coronary heart firmly in sync, I bought on most every little thing there was attainable to get on.

I verily unloaded upon the $1.50. I created a line of 30.5 factors. I backed the Raiders to win each halves. I backed Jordan Rapana to attain two or extra tries (as a result of he’d scored 4 within the 60-6 recreation). There have been others. And all of them – tick, tick, tick, increase – bought up.

Aaron Woods

(Photograph by Jason McCawley/Getty Pictures)

By half-time Josh Papalii had a double, Jarrod Croker had kicked 5 from 5 from in every single place and it was 30-4. Rapana scored his double, together with one from a Leilua out-of-the-arse flick move it is best to YouTube at your earliest comfort. And the Raiders received 52-10.

As Chris Barrett of The Sydney Morning Herald later mused: “Maybe expectations had been ramped up too extremely, the anticipation of a attainable finals berth making the believers neglect simply how harmful a package deal Ricky Stuart has assembled in Canberra and concerning the 60-6 flogging the Raiders had handed them in April.”

Chris, I imagine we chalk our pool cue from the identical blue receptacle. Barrett additionally declared that Stuart’s crew had been “out of sight, out of thoughts now not”.

And Raiders followers – who’d seen their crew lose just one recreation within the final 14 and win ten on the trot in thrilling trend – declared: you f***in’ suppose?

But, once more, for Sydney the story of the match was Robbie Farah. At half-time he’d achieved a lap of honour. After the match he perched himself on a ledge of the maggoty outdated scoreboard and loved a second within the solar with a tinny of beer. And media took many photos of him.

In the meantime the “out of sight” Raiders headed residence buzzing. And Canberra followers did, too. And this one owned Sportsbet as so many Raiders followers hurtling metaphorically down the Hume owned so many Tiger pores and skin accoutrements.

For when Jared Maxwell blew time without work at 3:52pm and the Wests Tigers had been borderline eviscerated, I had higher than a digital gorilla within the betting account.

And Darren and I drank beer and gin and one thing else, cognac, perhaps, or Cointreau, and headed over the highway to an Indian restaurant the place we spilled crimson wine and tandoori hen on our shirt fronts and laughed like fools and tipped like company titans.

And so they had been superb instances.

After which I gave the cash again to Sportsbet.

That is an extract from Matt Cleary’s The Milk: a 40-year odyssey of fandom for rugby league’s nice enigma. Get a replica at

By 24H

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