Monday, 10 October 2011


Two days ago I had another of those birthday things. I got another year older. Another year without succumbing to chronic kidney failure or my neurosis. Can you die of neurosis? Anyway, seems like kind of a moot point since I'm not dead.

It was supposed to be a celebration. It happened to coincide with the Super League Grand Final, an event which saw the Super Mighty Saints (they're officially called that, you know?) take on Dirty Leeds Rhinos for the fourth time in five years. We'd lost all of the previous three, aswell as last year's Grand Final against the even dirtier, downright filthy Wigan Warriors. Surely this would be our year, and what with it being my birthday and all?

Well no actually. We lost again. Stunningly and explicably, given that we were eight points up and cruising with about 20 minutes left. Well, maybe not cruising. Chugging along in a half way satisfactory fashion. Rumour has it that when Michael Shenton scored in the corner to give us a bit of breathing space I actually smiled. May even have punched the air. These reports are of course unconfirmed, and in the cold light of day I should like to deny them strenuously.

In light of what followed in the 20 or so minutes after Shenton's try I would like to request to the RFL and Super League that they do not schedule any more Grand Finals for October 8. Instead, I propose that next time October 8 falls on a Saturday that, should the SMS's be involved, the Grand Final be cancelled and the trophy just be handed to our opponents. Even if it's Wigan or Leeds. Especially if it's Wigan or Leeds. But in secret, in a discreet manner so we don't have to witness it. It's going to happen again in 2016 and, quite frankly, I'm not sure this is far enough into the future for comfort. I'll only be 41 then, and even on this most pessimistic of Mondays I am still reasonably confident that I will still be here to have to bear it. At the current rate, I could be sat there watching us lose our 10th successive Grand Final. All of which really is too awful a thought to even entertain. Honestly, it was like watching your wife sleep with your worst enemy. Ok, it was like watching your mistress sleep with your worst enemy. Excruciating. And all made worse by consuming the kind of quantities of lager normally reserved for Wayne and Waynetta.

Now it is just possible that some people (mostly men) take their sport too seriously. It really is only a game. Except it's not. Not really. At this point, under this kind of stress and pumped full of that amount of alcohol you start posting your every thought on Facebook. Everything shy of 'I'm going for a poo now.' found it's way on to the screens of over 200 unfortunate souls. So if you are one of them let me apologise. All I can say in mitigation is that you have no idea what it feels like to watch your team lose it's fifth consecutive Grand Final on your birthday. It really does put a dampener on things. The champagne, had we had any, would have gone decidedly flat. Even our hysterically drunk rendition of Oasis's Slide Away couldn't really cheer the soul too much, and as for the lady with the mullet who I am quite certain was chatting me up well........Christ. I can tell you it makes you think twice about bringing out Uncle Kracker, or at least it would do if you weren't monumentally pissed and entering a period of mourning for your team's loss. So I carried on regardless, and then the microphone broke, which was probably a sign but I went through the whole rigmarole again anyway. As rubbish as things get, I never bloody give up. Like Saints. Keep trying, maybe you'll get the chance to lose again next year, boys? Brilliant. Saints are becoming a metaphor for my life and I love them for it. Wasn't it rubbish when we used to win Grand Finals? Hmm.

So it was a pretty traumatic birthday, all in all. My mate wrote on his Facebook yesterday that I fell asleep in the pub. I don't remember this, but then I wouldn't, I was asleep. It was probably the only time after about 3.00 in the afternoon that day that I was genuinely at peace with the world. He should have just left me there. Instead what I do remember is rolling home in the rain and thinking, isn't being 36 crap so far? I could have stayed in and watched Russell Grant on Strictly slo-mo, or listened to another desperate wannabe pop star whail their way through another Damien Rice gem.

But it wasn't all bad. I confess to being rather overwhelmed by the number of birthday messages I received. I took the time to reply to each and every one of them (I hope). If you are one of those people then can I just thank you again for thinking of me, especially at what turned out to be such a desperate and dismal time.

Being 36 is crap. So far.

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