It’s been a year everyone of you will never forget, in much the same way those from the 60’s will never forget the first time they heard The Beatles, or bogans will never forget their first reverse Kanga in a hotel bathroom on their first road trip. It’s exactly the same.
It didn’t look like a memorable year as early as February, when ASADA made its grand entrance into our lives and seemingly never left; it also seemed less likely when the Roosters were implicated prior to their game against the Knights to qualify for the Grand Final (even though they weren’t being investigated, a fact not revealed in the initial news item on the topic — but whatever).
Regardless, the year ended on the highest of notes with a Grand Final that will go down as one of the greatest in memory.
Along the way we saw exceptional journalism, deplorable bias, cantankerous behaviour and superlative-straining performances from the NRL community, and what better way to celebrate the year about to pass with a revision of it?
So here are the debut 26R 2013 awards brought to you from the hard-working staff here at 26 Rounds. Enjoy.
The “what the FUCK just happened?” award for the try of the year.
With all due respect to David Nofoaluma and David Williams, the best try of the year, hands down, just happened to be the last one:
To be able to squeeze through a crack that size, dive, control the ball and put it down is freakish enough. To do it in a Grand Final is freakier; to do it to clinch a Grand Final is unbeatable on a freakishness scale.
So good was the try that even the Americans loved it. To wit, US sports site Deadspin was blown away by the play, saying:
I have next to no idea what is happening here, but it is beautifully athletic. This particular try from Michael Jennings came in the NRL Grand Final, which is like the Super Bowl of rugby league.
When Maloney added the extras the Roosters were in front 20-18, but the result remained in doubt until seven minutes from time, when a grubber into the in-goal from the five-eighth was sensationally touched down by an airborne Michael Jennings.
See, Jennings did…something sensationally. Plus, Australia’s National Rugby League has awesome team names like the Sydney Roosters, Manly Sea Eagles and the Perth Cocks Of The Walk.
One of those is made up.
So not only was it the try of the year, it was the perfect advertisement of Rugby League to a world that has no fucking clue about it. Oh, and it happened to seal a premiership, and was so beautiful it became the new attraction at the Louvre:
Fuck yeah, Jenko.
The Ozstriker “You Don’t Score Until You Score” award for the best game of 2013.
This is a Roosters site, and as such you’re probably bound to expect the majority of these awards to contain a hint of Roosters bias. You know, kind of like how the Tele has a hint of Bunny brown-nosing going on.
There were some great games over the course of the year but I dare anyone to come up with a better, more enthralling game in 2013 than the Manly-Roosters semi-final, won 4-0 by the Roosters.
This game had everything. Well, except for heaps of tries.
Traditionalists loved it for its throwback-to-the-80s grind-em-out style and physical toughness. Both sets of fans found new respect for the opposition, and it led to one of the better build-ups to a GF in recent times when they met again three weeks later.
It lasted the full 80 and then some, with the result not confirmed until Shaun Kenny-Dowall managed to latch onto a George Rose pass a full 20 seconds after the siren. It became the sixth time the Roosters had held a team scoreless, an NRL record, but that felt more of a side note to the sheer relief at the siren sounding and the “what did I just witness?” feeling that lasted the rest of the week.
I can’t recall seeing a game quite like this one, and with 10 minutes to go, this Roosters fan told the Manly fan he was watching the game with that there would be no shame in losing to Manly after the 70 minutes we’d just witnessed.
It was simply an incredible game, one this writer and fans of both clubs will likely never forget.
The “Octomom Sex Tape” award for the best individual performance of 2013.
I’m breaking rank here. Many would expect the staff here at 26 Rounds to pick one of the many SBW pearlers we saw, or perhaps even Mitchell Pearce’s game against Cronulla just a few days after the embarrassment and derision headed his way thanks to a sub-par (at best) State of Origin III.
But the standout performance for mine was the debut of Luke Brooks against the Dragons.
There was a heap of pressure placed on this kid, from Tigers fans yearning for something better than Benji Marshall’s woeful performances throughout the year to the media that had already begun calling him the saviour of Wests.
And granted, his debut came against the hapless, hopeless Dragons, but you can’t deny that the future looks incredibly bright for the Leichardt and Concord faithful after the performance he put in as an 18-year-old.
He scored a try and set up two more in a complete decimation of the fellow mergers, leading his club to a 34-18 win at the SCG. But more than that, he played a true halfback’s game — something Wests Tigers fans have been crying out for since Scott Prince left.
He is poised and not afraid to bark his troops around. He plays direct but can also seemingly ad-lib with angled runs. He can defend and has size. He knows when to kick, and what kick to use. He can pass both ways with ease.
This writer hopes — as a fan of rugby league — that the hype doesn’t slow him down or create unrealistic expectations in much the same way it did with Braith “next Freddy” Anasta. But he seemingly has all the tools to excel at the sport.
It’s very rare to get the product to match the hype — LeBron James and the iPhone 4 are the two most notable that spring to mind — but I hope for rugby league that we get to see this kid match whatever comparisons are thrown his way. As a league fan I’m giddy, but as a Roosters fan I’m frightened.
The Shawshank “hope is a good thing” award for exceptional journalism.
Andy Dufresne once wrote in a letter to Red that “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things”. I hope every day, flicking through the SMH tablet app, that I will find a beacon that good, solid journalism still exists in this god-forsaken media world, a world in which traditional journalism is dying and with it, in-depth feature articles that can tie you to a screen/page for longer than 10 seconds.
Those were the good old days: sitting down with a cuppa, knowing that within all the crap there was bound to be an article that left you satisfied, like a good 10 minute shit — you don’t worry how long it takes, as long as you enjoy it, and you leave the dunny with no regrets and no wishes to get that 10 minutes of your life back.
Those days are seemingly numbered, with long form features seemingly replaced by click-bait headlines, AAP syndications and articles that are designed to inflame.
But Andrew Webster is my Andy Dufresne. He gave me the willpower to not hang myself Brooks-style in a halfway house, thanks to his superb piece a month out from the Grand Final: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/gladiator-and-godfather-add-spice-to-rivalry-already-boiling-20130905-2t84i.html
Webby’s feature for the SMH on Russell Crowe and Nick Politis was as beautifully written, well researched and expertly interviewed as any article that appeared in sports media this year.
From beginning to end, it was a quality read and gave an insight into both club owners/chiefs that we probably have never really seen. For a born-and-bred Roosters supporter, coming out of that article with a healthy respect for Russell Crowe was something I didn’t see coming.
Don’t worry, that respect faded after about 20 minutes of reflection and a beer, but even Roosters fans can acknowledge he does his best for his club, in the same way Uncle Nick does for the Roosters.
This article was superb, contrasting both honchos and finding that they aren’t so different, yet maintaining that they are unique in rugby league. It was almost enough for this writer to forget the Book of Feuds and Broken City.
Thank you, Andrew Webster. What a cracking read.
The Flaming Dog Turd award for worst article of 2013.
Red once told Andy that “hope is a dangerous thing”, and even with the above article, I am inclined to agree. You spend your whole year hoping for an article like Webby’s above, yet more often than not you are left disappointed by lousy, biased nonsense.
Most notably, the Daily Telegraph served up the following dribble which rendered this writer gobsmacked, destitute, disillusioned and just plain fucking sad: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/nrl/legends-say-bring-back-the-biff-in-the-wake-of-the-squirrel-grip-controversy/story-fni3fbgz-1226695788794
In case you can’t be bothered reading it, and fuck, I can hardly blame you if you don’t, the article followed Sam Burgess’ infamous squirrel grip on Will Chambers and goes on to essentially blame the NRL because it outlawed the biff, and Burgess simply had no other recourse than to grab the nuts of an opposing centre because he couldn’t lash out in the normal, masculine way i.e. with a punch to the head.
It interviewed former Rabbitohs for the most part save for Noel Kelly, players made famous for their propensity to biff. It led to these unbelievable quotes:
“Mate, you’ve got to remember the old punch in the nose has been driven out of the game. When you get yourself that angry you’ve just got to do something. They’ve driven it all underground, you can’t get away with anything now. I mean, the sooner they bring back the punch in the nose the better. You’ll get rid of all this other stuff.” — Noel Kelly
“Souths were the favourites and they are getting beat and the frustration comes out. You know what I mean, unless he is a repeat offender. You put your hand on the inside of his legs and if it slides up and his nuts are at the end of it, well, what do you do? God strike me dead. There is no common sense with the bastards.” — George Piggins.
Yes, George, there is no common sense. You hit the nail right on the fuckin’ head.
In short, in case you missed it: The NRL is to blame for a player grabbing and twisting the testicles of another player because they outlawed punching.
This article was simply, unimaginably, horrendous. It was almost so bad it was brilliant, but either way it was certainly memorable.
Hope fucking sucks.