I REMEMBER it like it was yesterday.
I was walking off the 8th green on the West at Coolangatta Tweed with all the swagger of a man who just drained a clutch twelve foot birdie when my friend, ghostly white, staggered over to me with his Iphone in hand.
“Aaaah, guys, you are not going to believe this…”
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It was a Wednesday I think, around midday, there was a winter chill that had fallen over the Coast just the day before.
“He’s not coming.”
I didn’t even need to ask who he was talking about.
No one did.
Somehow we all just knew.
No more birdies were made that day.
The normally jovial post-golf beverages and associated sports banter were replaced by a group of four grown men staring blankly into their schooner glasses, battling feelings of loss, shock, anger, betrayal and confusion.
Why did he do it? Was he ever really coming or was it all just a game for self-interest? I thought going to the Titans was what he did for his family, now he is saying staying at Manly is? How could the NRL be so stupid, so inept? How royally screwed is Gold Coast Rugby League now?
For me, it was loss.
From the second I heard those three words, a part of me was just, gone.
For Joey’s sake this was Daly Cherry-Evans, the heir apparent to almost every throne in the land.
He was the shining example that dads across the country used when their partners started with the irrational ‘There is no way my son is playing that thugs game’ speak.
DCE was no thug. He was the Harvey Dent of Rugby League!
But the jokers in their suits and smiles had got to even him, turning him into little Harvey Two-Face.
The constant reminder that sport is no longer sport but a soulless business still living in and trading off the husk of something great and pure.
The constant reminder that no one in footy can be trusted.
Driving home from golf that day, I turned on the radio as Mellencamp’s Cherry Bomb began playing.
“That’s when a sport was a sport,
And grooving was grooving”
I thought the irony cruel at first.
But listening to the words as if for the first time, I realised that just as the Cougar had done of his beloved childhood, I could package away the memories of purity, innocence and goodness I had once had for my beloved sport and every so often, remember them with fondness.
These days, if I’m being truly honest, it still hurts to talk about it.
The day the Cherry Bomb was dropped.
I still watch footy. I probably always will.
But now when I watch a part of me is not really watching, it is looking through the screen to a better time.
Say Yeah Yeah Yeah.
Say Yeah Yeah Yeah.
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