I love getting Hayfever. I love taking a stroll in the morning and being unable to smell the freshly bloomed flowers because my nose is too blocked to do anything. I love the fact that the same nose will soon become red and runny after I blow my way through an entire box of Kleenex tissues in a single day. I love the way my eyes fill up with water any time I walk past a recently mown patch of grass. And I love getting that itchy feeling at the back of my throat which makes me pull all sorts of weird and wonderful faces in between my endless bouts of sneezing.
Why is that I enjoy having to endure this annoying affliction? Am I a masochist, or do I suffer from Munchausen�s disease? Or even worse, am I perhaps just a complete and utter loony who�s a few sandwiches short of a picnic?
Alas, the answer is something much simpler than that. When my eyes turn red and my nose goes runny it suddenly hits me that we are midway through spring � and even more importantly � midway between the football and cricket seasons. Suffering from Hayfever may seem like a bummer, but it makes me realise that Test Cricket is just around the corner � and I can�t help but get excited.
All of a sudden it�s time to pull down that poster of Brad Fitter and whack up an image of Steve Waugh in its place. It�s time to wrap up my Cotton State of Origin jersey in mothballs before I slap on my canary yellow one-day shirt. It�s time to stop being concerned about having a fully pumped Steeden and instead worry endlessly about whether I�ve applied enough linseed oil to my Gunn and Moore. It�s time to empty my mind of Rugby League trivia and instead fill it with statistics and tidbits concerning Cricket, Cricket and more Cricket!
�Blasphemy!� I can here you crying out as you desperately reach for your DVD collection of classic Grand Finals from the 1980�s. �He should be in mourning for the end of the Rugby League season. And he�s completely overlooking the fact that there�s a Kangaroo Tour on in a month�s time. Jesus Christ was crucified for less!�
Well, I am aware that there is a Roo Tour on in November and I�ll be getting up at 5 am in the morning just so I can watch the Aussies and the Lions slug it out in the North of England. However when the Aussies are doing their thing at Lord�s on an Ashes Tour I�ll do exactly the same thing. It doesn�t change the fact that March to September is football season and October to February�s cricket season. And after a quick glance at my calendar, I can confirm that we are indeed in cricket season.
You see, some people wish that Rugby League was played seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. However that just doesn�t do it for me. As Prince Hal proclaimed in William Shakespeare�s Henry IV:
�If all the year were playing holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work�
I can�t think of anything worse than Rugby League becoming tedious for me to watch - or to play. It�s the epitome of a bad nightmare. It�s worse than that nightmare I had about five years ago where Parramatta led 18-2 in a Preliminary Final against Canterbury with 10 minutes to go only to lose� hold on just a second - that wasn�t a dream!
The truth is that I�m an obsessive. When I was a kid I used to imitate my heroes in the backyard. In winter I couldn�t dream of being anybody else but Peter Sterling, in summer I couldn�t dream of being anybody else but Allan Border.
However what is the point of my entire soapbox fuelled rambling? There isn�t one really. I�m just enjoying the opportunity to sit back at the end of a long season and reflect on Rugby League�s place in the whole scheme of things. I suppose it�s really just a call to all League supporters saying, "Enjoy the off-season. Don�t wish for the football season to start early� � it�s already too long as it is! Instead I suggest that you go outside and take in the smell that comes with the flowers in springtime. That is of course providing you don�t have Hayfever� In that case - go to the cricket!
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