The Castle in the Swamp

“All the kings said I was daft to build a castle in a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show ‘em…and it sank into the swamp. SO, I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third one. That burned down, fell over then sank into the swamp but the fourth one stayed up!”

As the Broncos were embarrassing the Titans 54-0 on Saturday evening, I received this Monty Python scene from a good mate via facebook;


As much as it hurt to watch, I could not help but acknowledge its relevance.

I had no witty retort, no great comeback.

I texted back ‘touché’ but in the back of my mind I was nervously asking myself the question – are the Gold Coast Titans the third castle, or the fourth?

As a footy-loving kid growing up south of the Tweed, I have such fond memories of going with dad to watch the Giants play.

When they changed to the Seagulls I didn’t care one bit – I was so young and loved footy too much to let a mascot change stop me from going.

One vivid memory I had was on one of the final games at Seagulls Stadium when the Gulls (as they did all too often) were getting flogged and parts of the crowd started streaming out.

“Hey Dad, why are all those people leaving, the game isn’t even over yet?”

I remember he had this strange expression on his face, one which my 10 year old self took as confusion but which my adult self now understands to be a mixture of anger, frustration and sadness.

All he managed was, “Yes it is son.”

That childhood memory came flashing back to me on Saturday night.

It was triggered by my four year old daughter as she made an observation identical to the one her dad had made decades ago.

“Daddy, why are those people going home?”

Taking a page out of my father’s book, I opted for the truth, or at least a version of it she would understand.

“They are leaving because they are tired darling. They’re just really, really tired.”

A beautiful lie on one level and yet pure truth on a deeper one, my sharp bit of parenting (if I do say so myself) also proved a great segue for bedtime and so minutes after the actual game was officially over, I went outside to the bar fridge in search of answers.

Why do we keep sinking into the swamp?

How is it that the young footy fans of the Gold Coast are learning the same lessons of mediocrity and underachievement that their mothers and fathers endured in the early 90s?

It’s not even like we are coming off a huge dynasty and suffering from a salary cap squeeze or superstar retirements.

There has never been a high to come down off.

2017 was meant to be different, yet once again we find our team and our hopes sunk into the swamp.

As I re-watched that Monty Python scene from The Holy Grail, I could not help but be jealous of the fact that their fourth castle stayed up.