Whose fairy tale will come true?

Class should live hap­pily ever af­ter, writes Tony Durkin

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - NEWS -

I HAVE read – and writ­ten – the words fairy tale so reg­u­larly this past month that I ac­tu­ally asked my good friend Google the de­fin­i­tive mean­ing.

What­ever the out­come of to­mor­row’s grand fi­nal, those two words could be fit­tingly used to de­scribe the re­sult.

A fairy tale is gener­i­cally de­fined as a myth­i­cal story. It is a fic­tion, a leg­end, a ro­mance and a fan­tasy. A fairy tale can be some­thing mag­i­cal, ide­alised or ex­tremely happy, but also a fab­ri­cated story, of­ten in­tended to de­ceive.

Just about all those de­scrip­tions fit the sce­nario for the 2017 NRL grand fi­nal, but the most cap­ti­vat­ing has been the jour­ney of the Cow­boys to the big game. Paul Green’s men have dis­played in­cred­i­ble de­sire, self-be­lief and courage just to get there.

The fact the Cow­boys scraped into the fi­nals on a last-round up­set by the Bull­dogs over the Dragons is grounds alone for a fairy tale.

But con­sid­er­ing they lost five of their fi­nal six pre­mier­ship matches be­fore that ex­em­pli­fies just how or­di­nary they were trav­el­ling.

Yet, if they can pull it off to­mor­row night they will be the first team in NRL his­tory to win from eighth. And to achieve that feat con­sid­er­ing their ail­ing fin­ish to the sea­son, with­out ar­guably their two most in­flu­en­tial play­ers, would be myth­i­cal.

Other rea­sons to men­tion the word un­be­liev­able and the Cow­boys in the same breath is the stat that seven Cow­boys – Bolton, Feldt, Hamp­ton, Hess, Mor­gan, Jensen and Granville – are gen­uine, home-grown prod­ucts.

And War­wick-born Justin O’Neill – who has won two pre­mier­ships with the Storm – moved north as a kid.

In to­day’s fully pro­fes­sional game where the dol­lar is king that says much about the cul­ture ex­ist­ing at this un­pre­ten­tious club.

Then there’s the Hamp­tonJor­dan McLean con­nec­tion. Hamp­ton played for the Storm in last year’s grand fi­nal loss along­side his best mate McLean, who will be mov­ing to the Cow­boys in 2018 – at the prompt­ing of Hamp­ton.

And just fi­nally on the Cow­boys, two guys who trans­ferred in mid-sea­son – Shaun Fen­som and Te Maire Martin

– will go from the out­house to the pen­t­house with a grand fi­nal win. That’s a fairy tale.

As far as the Storm is con­cerned, the most-hyped fic­tion of all may be dis­closed should they win.

Two mod­ern-day marvels, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk, are re­fus­ing to deny re­tire­ment at sea­son’s end.

And while nei­ther has al­lowed a hint of in­ten­tion to slip, a win would be a fab­u­lous note on which both could exit mag­nif­i­cent ca­reers.

Then there is skip­per Cameron Smith, in an­other mag­i­cal – al­most myth­i­cal – place in his mag­nif­i­cent career.

Three weeks ago he be­came the most-capped player in the game and on Wed­nes­day night was gonged three times at the Dally Ms.

If Mel­bourne win to­mor­row it will be the fourth time the 34-year-old has raised the

tro­phy, a cap­tain’s mark bet­tered only by Jack Rayner and Ken Kear­ney.

Yet there’s more. Have a look at the in­cred­i­ble 2017 sea­son of the Dally M player, hooker and cap­tain of the year:

Round 2: The first for­ward in the his­tory of the pre­mier­ship to score 2000 points.

Round 5: Broke the record for most wins in pre­mier­ship his­tory, eclips­ing Dar­ren Lock­yer (237 wins).

Round 9: Bet­tered Ja­son Tay­lor’s record for most goals kicked (942).

Rep round: The sec­ond Aus­tralian to ap­pear in 50 Tests. Lock­yer’s record is 59.

Ori­gin I: The first to play 40 Ori­gin games.

Ori­gin III: His 20th Ori­gin ap­pear­ance at Sun­corp Sta­dium equalled the Wally Lewis record. Round 21: Third to play 350 pre­mier­ship games.

Round 24: First to cap­tain in 250 games. Round 25: First in pre­mier­ship his­tory to notch 250 wins. Fi­nals, week 1: Broke Lock­yer’s ap­pear­ance record of 355 NRL games.

Fi­nals, week 3: First pre­mier­ship player to kick 1000 goals.

Grand Fi­nal: Needs two points to­mor­row to be sec­ond on the list of pre­mier­ship point scor­ers. On 2175 points, Smith is one be­hind An­drew Johns, with Hazem El Masri (2,418) in his sights.

That re­mark­able list of achieve­ments is not fic­tion, nor is it in­tended to de­ceive. And while fairy tales such as those re­lat­ing to the Cow­boys war­rant a happy end­ing, Smith and his team have been the bench­mark all sea­son and un­re­servedly de­serve to reap the fruits of their mar­vel­lous labour.

Let class dic­tate, not fairies.


PRIZE: Storm cap­tain Cameron Smith and Cow­boys cap­tain Gavin Cooper with the tro­phy at Luna Park in Syd­ney.


DREAM TIME: New boy Te Maire Martin and Cow­boys magic man Michael Mor­gan

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