Last one to leave, turn out the porch light!

RLW goes in­side the ju­bi­la­tion of a cel­e­bra­tion 50 years in the mak­ing

Rugby League Week - - The Mole - BY TOM SMITH

IF THERE WAS ONE BLOKE WHO dom­i­nated con­ver­sa­tion in the build-up to Sun­day’s grand fi­nal more than Paul Gallen or Cameron Smith, Mick En­nis or Cooper Cronk, it was Harold Holt. Jack Gib­son’s throw­away one-liner took on a life of its own in grand fi­nal week — #LeaveYourPorchLightOn trended on Twit­ter, one com­pany pro­duced T-shirts of Holt in the style of an old Scan­lens footy card, and Syd­ney’s Daily Tele­graph tracked down a grand­son of the dis­ap­peared PM, who now re­sides in the Shire.

There were even gi­ant cut-out posters of Holt’s smil­ing face sprin­kled around ANZ Sta­dium as Paul Gallen de­clared on the win­ner’s podium af­ter the tense 14-12 vic­tory: “To all you peo­ple in the Shire, turn your porch lights off be­cause we’re com­ing home with the tro­phy!”

The weight of the 50 years that light’s been flick­er­ing isn’t lost on back-rower Wade Gra­ham.

“I just posted a photo on my In­sta­gram say­ing some­one can turn that ****ing light off, mate. I’m bloody sick of hear­ing about it,” he grins.

“It’s some­thing that will go down in the his­tory books, and to be a part of it, I’m just so grate­ful.”

If the feel­ing in the Cow­boys sheds a year ago was a “mis­sion ac­com­plished”, the at­mos­phere among the Sharks last Sun­day was un­fet­tered joy.

The vic­tors drenched all and sundry in cham­pagne dur­ing a ren­di­tion of Up, Up

Cronulla so in­tense it en­dan­gered eardrums. Gra­ham sings with par­tic­u­lar gusto hav­ing been bit­ten harder than most by the ASADA drugs scan­dal — hung out to dry by the tabloids for rocking up to an in­ter­view in thongs and track­ies, tossed the cap­taincy aged only 23 the week Cronulla moved onto their third coach in eighth months mid­way through 2014, then be­ing one of 10 Sharks to cop a back­dated 12-month ban.

Dur­ing the post-match press con­fer­ence, Gallen de­scribes his club as one of the most re­silient brands in Aus­tralian sport – a qual­ity Cronulla’s cap­tain-in-wait­ing pos­sesses in spades.

“It just makes it more worth­while now, mate. It makes it worth it,” Gra­ham re­flects.

“You re­mem­ber what you’re there for and why you kept go­ing, why you kept bat­tling on, why you kept go­ing ev­ery week – you keep look­ing for­ward to a mo­ment right like this.”

As cel­e­bra­tions raged, there were un­sub­stan­ti­ated re­ports that Harold Holt was spot­ted swim­ming into Botany Bay be­fore mak­ing a bee­line to Nor­thies for a cel­e­bra­tory beer with the thou­sands of Sharks trag­ics who’ve been wait­ing half a cen­tury to see him re-emerge.

“Cronulla’s prob­a­bly go­ing off at the mo­ment. Aw mate, it’d be go­ing off!” says Gra­ham, stand­ing in a pud­dle of cham­pagne.

“We felt the sup­port. We felt it start­ing to build through­out the year and tonight they were un­be­liev­able and I’m just so happy we could give them some­thing to cheer about.

“I don’t even know if we’ll make it into the Shire, it’ll be chaos down there!”

LONG TIME COM­ING! If there’s ever been a louder and hap­pier ren­di­tion of a club song than what the Sharkies turned out last Sun­day night, RLW has never heard it!

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