It's the business end of the season, the climax of a gruelling season, *insert other clichés here*.
To celebrate today's NRL Grand Final, here are a few of my random rugby league memories from when I was a kid growing up in Sydney.
*Getting splinters in your arse from those wooden seats at Cumberland Oval. The exuberant Eels fans who torched it after the 1981 premiership win did us all a favour.
*Running onto the ground as the full-time siren sounded to try and grab the black and white striped cardboard corner post. I was successful a few times.
*Listening to the great Frank Hyde on 2SM. When people still listened to 2SM.
*The halftime entertainment malfunctions that have plagued Grand Finals — the busted TV allegedly to promote Optus Vision (which was actually quite prophetic), the cast of "42nd Street" standing forlornly in the centre of the ground waiting in vain for their music to start, and Billy Idol's hovercraft cutting the power, which was a good thing. I also recall John Williamson serenading an inflatable tree.
*The sensational prizes bestowed on guests of Channel Seven's "Controversy Corner" — including a Pelaco shirt, vouchers for a Viking Sauna and Kevin Junee's Run For Your Life sports store and the pièce de résistance — a bottle of Patra orange juice.
*The "Theme From Shaft" used over the credits of Channel Seven's Sunday night footy coverage with Rex Mossop. I'm not sure what a "blaxploitation" film had to do with footy, but there's probably a parallel. "Chips and eggs" was the standard Sunday night fare in the Williams household.
*The Chook Army (diehard supporters of Eastern Suburbs -- aka Sydney Roosters) singing "We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / we are the Ray Price haters". Okay, it was rather lyrically challenged.
*The "sand boy" running on with a small bucket of sand for the ball to sit on before conversions and penalty shots at goal.
*Scanlen's footy cards — that sweet smell of the thin pink strip of bubble gum lingering on the cards... still lingers with me. Some bastard kid knocking the cards out of another kid's hands in the school playground yelling "Scramble!!!" which meant a mad free-for-all.
*Having a birthday party with a few mates when I was about ten at Lidcombe Oval for the Chooks v the Magpies, we were sitting behind the try line and were captured in mid-try celebration mode in a photo on the back page of the next day's Daily Mirror.
*The arse falling out of your meat pie at a brass monkey-inducing Sydney Sports Ground.
*The trainer scurrying on to the field with his "magic sponge" dunked in a bucket of water, mopping up a horrific head gash, then redunking it in the same bucket, primed for the next injury.
*One of my most prized possessions — the autographs of the entire victorious Roosters 1975 side (on an Easts Leagues Club wine list no less — thanks Uncle Pete).
For all its faults — and there are a few, it's still a great game.