This Saturday the pride of the League, South Sydney, will play their last game for 2009.

That old familiar feeling

No finals for the men in Cardinal Red & Myrtle Green.

Again.

Indeed, Souths have only made the finals once since 1989. Just once.

Tragically, it’s a case of what might have been as Souths are likely to finish just one game short.

What if the referee had allowed the scrum to pack 15 metres out from Parramatta’s line, with the scores level in Round 11? What if the referee had not awarded Canterbury a benefit-of-the-doubt try in Round 5? Or Gold Coast, two of these, in Round 23? Or what if Rhys Wesser or Roy Asotasi had not got injured?

Or countless other permutations.

Looking back in frustration at what might have been is an annual therapy for Souths fans. It helps us deal with our grief at watching the Final series as an academic exercise.

The truth is however, that this year we were brilliant at times, but just not consistent enough, and therefore have only ourselves to blame.

Last Saturday’s record win over competition leaders St. George showed what South Sydney were capable of. The forwards lead by Luke Stuart making yards, Sandow and Sutton revelling in the space that was created, and Isaac Luke and Nathan Merritt showing how exciting they can be. And how can a centre with a name like Junior Vaivai not be a future star?

This win was up there with beating Easts twice and almost as good as the win against Manly – but nothing beats smashing Manly at Brookvale!

It might have been easier to cope with defeat had expectations not been raised only to be dashed.

Such is the lot of a sports tragic. We loyally follow our team, regardless of how they may try our patience.

Hope triumphs over experience. Again.

For Souths fans, the long time between drinks has just made us thirsty for success. Parched even.

Before this year’s competition is over, we have once again turned our attention to next year.

Over the summer months we will look forward with increasing optimism to the 2010 season. We will declare confidently and loudly just how good Dave Taylor is. We will convince ourselves that Sam Burgess is the best prop in the world after Roy Asotasi, even though we’ve never seen him.

Our pack of Asotasi, Luke, Burgess, Stuart, Taylor and Crocker, with Geddes, Pettybourne and Tyrell off the bench looks pretty awesome on paper.

We will convince ourselves that it will translate to be just as good on the field and John Sutton will show the consistent dominance we know he is capable of.

We will remind those non believers who dare to question our optimism that the mighty Souths have won 20 Premierships – Rugby League’s most successful Club.

In 1971, as an 8 year old, my mum took me to the SCG, to see Souths’ last Premiership victory when they defeated St. George 16-10. We sat on the Hill and I loved every minute of it.

Passionately supporting a team that has endured a 38 year drought is not just about the result. It’s about a sense of belonging and identity which is why 80,000 marched to Sydney Town Hall when that was taken away.

In a world that is moving faster than ever we need to have some consistency in our lives and barracking for our team, whoever that is, provides us with a reference point to our family, our community and our culture.

Canterbury’s send off of Hazem El Masri – a great player on the field and a great man off it – was a marvellous and deserved celebration that those young Bulldogs fans present will carry with them forever.

One of my cherished moments was when my son told me that he was a South Sydney supporter.

He has stayed loyal, in spite of disappointment. High fiving Nathan Merritt after the memorable last minute field goal victory against the Tigers has helped.

I was hoping that, just as I did, he would get to watch a Souths Premiership victory at age 8.

He turns 9 in December.

Another South Sydney plan dashed.

2010 looks promising from a distance – I just hope that this time it looks just as promising next September.

Anthony Albanese is a former Director of South Sydney Rugby League Football Club.

Most commented

14 comments

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    • ihmn says:

      08:28am | 02/09/09

      It could be worse.

      I am a Cronulla supporter.

    • Jim says:

      08:30am | 02/09/09

      I’m with you, brother Albo. At lest you married a Sharks girl and set her straight (Carmel’s a Rabbitoh now… isn’t she?).

    • Matt H says:

      09:17am | 02/09/09

      Albo, this is why Souths are my SECOND team. (although if someone’s beating Manly they’ll temporarily take over. Or beating St George).
      It’s much more fun to support the Broncos. We’ve NEVER missed a finals series.

    • Tim says:

      09:31am | 02/09/09

      Albo,

      You spend enough time in Canberra, you should switch your allegiance to the mighty Raiders. We are the team on the up for next year.

    • Michael says:

      09:45am | 02/09/09

      Bring back the Steelers.

    • Graham of Malvern says:

      10:28am | 02/09/09

      As a Melbourne person born and bred I wouldn’t cross the street to watch rugby and if a game was played in my backyard I’d be mowing the front lawn. But South Sydney is one of my favourite sporting clubs. As a young National Serviceman in Sydney in 1971 & before going overseas, South Sydney being close to Vic Barracks welcomed nashos and made them feel at home, more so than that other eastern suburbs club. I still have a red & green jumper from that year and bought a membership a few years back when they were in trouble. A truly great club with great people

    • Steve says:

      10:34am | 02/09/09

      “Passionately supporting a team that has endured a 38 year drought is not just about the result. It’s about a sense of belonging and identity which is why 80,000 marched to Sydney Town Hall when that was taken away.”

      If the 80,000 so-called passionate supporters had actually turned up to games they would never have been excluded from the comp.

    • Mr Subramanian says:

      12:09pm | 02/09/09

      Nick: as chairman of the club, you should brush up on your South Sydney history ~ It’s all on Wikipedia wink

      My father has been a Souths supporter all his life. He used to climb over (or under?) the fence to get into Rabbitohs games at Redfern oval when he was a young ‘un. He said all through the 80s that it was the only decade they hadn’t won a premiership, and then the 90s hit, and now the noughties have gone the same way. He’s not been to a game that I can remember (apart from a few Charity Shield matches recently, and that only because his niece-in-law works for the Dragons) nor has he ever bought membership, nor did he march to Town Hall, but he’s not done any of those things for any club in any sport ~ that’s not how he supports his team.

      He knows that Souths isn’t a protected species, and doesn’t think they should be, no matter what the size of their achievements in the dim, dark past - but even though he’s been living on the border of Canterbury and St George territory for the last 40 years, Souths will always be his team.

    • Mark McGrath says:

      02:33pm | 02/09/09

      Nick,

      They’re The Pride of the League because they are the most successful rugby league club in the world. They’ve won the most premierships in 1st grade and all grades, produced the most Australian players and the most Australian captains.

      But most important of all, Souths are the only sporting club to have taken on the might of News Ltd and won when they were victorious in their campaign for reinstatement in the NRL.

      Quite a few clubs over the years have been kicked out of the NRL/NSWRL and AFL/VFL but only one has risen from the dead through the sheer passion of their supporters; South Sydney RLFC.

    • ANDIKA says:

      02:50pm | 02/09/09

      Titans been in the comp for 3yrs and we’ll finish 3rd on the ladder.

      While everyone else seems to say it will be the Dragon’s or the Bulldogs or even Manly who’ll win the comp no one it seems is giving the Titans any chance to win it!

      Titans to Win the NRL 2009 Comp!

      Re South’s. It could be a lot worse – just ask Rooster’s supporters!

      Go Titans!

    • Honest John says:

      03:17pm | 02/09/09

      True Albo - pragmatism with a dash of principle for flavour.

      Just like Albo now says privatisation is OK, he now admits Souths are trying to buy a premiership.

      Whatever ...

    • Ben says:

      03:55pm | 02/09/09

      Albo - why dont you use some of the Building & Infrastructure Fund (aka re-election slush fund) to buy more players for South Sydney? Would not surprise me…...particularly in NSW!!

    • Nick Pappas says:

      12:29pm | 03/09/09

      Mark McGrath - always the same old response from a Souths supporter. The fact that Souths have won 20 premierships means nothing when you consider that only 6 of those were won after 1953 when grand finals were introduced. If winning premierships is the yard stick for being the pride of the league then it would be St George. And I’m not a Dragons fan. And when you consider that more premierships have been decided by grand finals than not since 1908 its very relavant.

      And here we go again with the sob story of the big bad News Ltd kicking poor little Souths out of the comp. The fact is that Souths put themselves in that position with years of backwards thinking and bad management. They were still being run like a park footy club from the 60’s when all other clubs had realised that running a club is like running a business. The competition was changing and the weakest had to go. The weakest happened to be Souths.

      So Mark, get that chip off your shoulder, do a bit of research and forget the cliches about Souths. The fact is they’re no different from any other club and they do not deserve the pride of the league tag.

    • Hitchy says:

      03:04pm | 04/09/09

      I feel your pain!....but it could be worse, you could follow the AFL & be a St.Kilda supporter…1 premiership in 85 years!....& 25 ‘wooden spoons’ (colloquial for ‘stone mother less last’)...but this year….this year,....  this year the saints are going all the way!.....maybe

 

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