Hoggmaster in his Titans debut 749OCW
Living your fantasy
Our story begins in 2012 and I, your humble narrator, had just taken the life changing decision to move from the UK to China. I knew not a soul, and was finding it difficult to relate to 1.6 billion people who didn’t speak the same language as me. My salvation came at work where there were many Australians, and my heart swelled with joy after I was invited to go and see a ‘footie’ game with them at the pub.
Joy morphed into bafflement as I sat and watched not Newcastle United, but the Newcastle Knights. As an Englishman there was only one type of footie and this wasn’t it. Lost and alone, I retreated from the ensuing conversations, with my ears only pricking up when the conversation moved to hookers, and then swiftly losing interest again after I discovered they were talking about someone named Gidley.
The next day at work my boss [Titanic] called me into his office. He’d noticed my dearth of rugby league knowledge and suggested a way to learn the players and teams very quickly: Fantasy Footie.
‘Isn’t that addictive though?’ I enquired having heard of such competitions in the past.
‘Na ya silly drongo! All the boys do it’ came Titanic’s response.
Reassured, and slightly confused as to what the word ‘drongo’ meant, I set about creating an account.
Browsing through hundreds of unfamiliar names trying to construct a team was time consuming, and many were picked on the basis that I liked their name (‘Inglis sounds like English, that’s me!’
, I had heard their name the night before (Kurt Gidley, I had been assured by an overenthusiastic knights fan was the 2nd greatest player to ever play the game. The database found no results for Andrew Johns), and blind luck.
Much to everyone’s surprise my ragtag team did surprisingly well and I was challenging hardened league veterans within a few weeks. I started to enjoy playing fantasy, and was falling in love with watching league games. I was now popular with the lads, and the Australian ladies at the College found fantasy footy kings irresistible. Life was good, but, as with all good stories, clouds were gathering on the horizon.
I was coasting high at the top of the table when I noticed something strange happening. My rivals were slowly removing the best players from their teams. I couldn’t understand this strategy until I paid a visit to my boss and heard the three words that turned my fantasy experience on its head. ‘State of Origin’. Over the next few weeks the word ‘bye’ appeared more times on my computer screen than previous incumbent of nude-y ladies, and my season was in tatters.
I met this challenge head on though, and spent ever increasing amounts of time researching players. I created a database and a series of complex spreadsheets, all to aid my struggle to get back to the top. My social life was neglected and my work suffered all in the pursuit of that coveted first place.
I was on the ascendancy once more. Each week my team got better, the points piled up, and the lesser teams fell by the wayside. My life was falling to pieces, but my team was reaching uncharted highs. Then, as I was within striking distance of top, the season finished.
‘Finished? What do you mean it’s finished?’
‘Season’s over Hoggie, you’ll have to wait till next March.’
Next March was too far. I had built a dependency on fantasy and had to get my fix so I threw myself at any fantasy comp I could get. ‘The Canadian Women’s Curling League’, ‘The Marseille Snail Racing Championship’, to my eternal shame I even signed up for the AFL fantasy league. Nothing could fill the hole though.
My work declined further and an intervention was arranged. My boss recommended going to rehab but as he said the words ‘indefinite sabbatical’ all I could think about is that I’d have to transfer myself out of the ‘College Fantasy League’ I’d created, and I couldn’t afford the in-form Chris (Misanthrope).
This story does have a happy ending however. Time away from the internet helped rejuvenate my spirit and bolster my work ethic. Last week I even returned to work.
‘Welcome back Hoggie, ya drongo’ Titanic beamed. ‘How’re you feeling? Good? Great! Now I’d like to talk to you about something called F7’s.’
‘F7’s’ I enquired. ‘Isn’t that addictive?’
‘Na mate… all the boys do it.’