Blow that whistle ref

This year we all start equal.
Kids paint signs.
And I am seven again.
I know I will see my heroes soon.
I feel the excitement.
I have hope in March,
and I might share the glory in September.

Blow that whistle ref!
Send that ball soaring!
Blow that whistle ref!

-Thomas Keneally, NRL TV ad campaign, 1999

Less than an hour till the kickoff in the Festival of the Boot Part Two. Good to see yet another all-Sydney NRL grand final for once, but please, not another nighttime grand final, and why does it have to be on the long weekend?

As is well documented, I haven't been following the NRL closely this year, preferring the grassroots entertainment of the Newtown Jets in the Premier League, which was taken out this afternoon by Eastern Suburbs.

The Roosters are looking to a clean sweep of grand final day. They beat Cronulla 14-13 in the Jersey Flegg with a field goal in sudden death extra-time, then flogged St George 30-8.

For a preview of the big game, there's only one person to go to - Tom Keneally in Friday's Sydney Morning Herald.

For the Roosters, it's the farewell appearance of Brad "Adolf" Fittler, with a lot resting on the shoulders of chick magnets Anthony Minichello and Craig Wing. Chick Magnet Emeritus Luke Ricketson is suspended and, it seems, doing expert commentary for Channel Nein.

The Bulldogs have overcome another horrific year off the field. Willie Mason will be there, so will Hazem el-Masri, the only player to score 300 points in a NRL/ARL/NSWRL season, and a role model for the Mission of Hope, run by the Islamic community in Bulldogs country. And on the bench is Sonny Bill Williams. How many baby boys will be named Sonny Bill in July 2005?

For all my misgivings about their off-field travails, I am going for the Doggies tonight by seven points. Current prices at SportingBet.com.au at 6.27pm: Canterbury 1.62, Easts 2.35.

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