“Who’d have thought thirty year ago we’d all be sitting here drinking Chateau de Chasselas …!” Watching Souths ease away from the Titans on Saturday [July 27] was a little bit like a scene from the classic Monty Python sketch.
The tradition for away games is to find a pub or a warm living room at a fellow tragic’s house, mix in some beer and food and watch the game. In the “good old days” these away games always seemed to be teeth-clenching, white-knuckled, clock-watching experiences with Souths stumbling their way to more losses than victories.
So who’d have thought that in the middle of July we’d be there drinking beer (and some red wine), nibbling on cheese and casually watching yet another convincing Souths away win. Watching the game with my fellow tragics, the conversation had somehow wandered away from football. After some discussion on George Burgess’s bathroom “selfie” photo, it had segued to even more cerebral discussions of music and politics.
But my long-suffering football-watching mate wasn’t happy. “We’re losing our intensity!” he called out. “We’ve got to concentrate more!” It was hard to work out what his problem was. After all, George Burgess and Isaac Luke were in top gear and rookie Luke Keary had just scored his first try.
“It’s not the players! It’s us! We are losing our intensity. Watch the bloody game!” As Luke Keary sidestepped his way to his second try, I took another sip on my wine, reflected on my mate’s gripes and the 2013 Souths and thought, “He’s right. This is not what we’re used to … but boy could I get used to it!”
An effort was made for the remainder of the game to feign a degree of intensity even though most of that was reserved to playing our newfound and surprisingly challenging pick the twin game, “Is it Tom or George?”
Earlier in the month at another away game in Perth we had watched Souths hold strong against a very good Warriors team who led 13-6 at half time. It was the type of game that Souths of old would have lost, but this team, led by John Sutton and a stellar performance from Bryson Goodwin piled on 24 unanswered points in the second half in a convincing display.
The 15-day wait before the next game against St George seemed to do Souths no favours. The big blow was of course the knee injury to Greg Inglis at the State of Origin and the news that he would be sidelined for up to eight weeks. This was followed by a lacklustre performance against St George as Souths stumbled to their second Monday night loss of the year.
But it was heartening to see them get back on track by derailing the Coal Train (Dave Taylor) and the Titans – this non-GI team clearly demonstrating that they still have all the right ingredients to stay on top.
It might be way too early to be popping the champagne and smoking cigars; I can almost hear Souths supporters who have endured the “good old days” quietly murmuring, “Aye. Souths leading the competition in August, we used to dream about that”.