Grand Final week 2005, and 11 years on it still puzzles me that Wigan fans, after winning "yet another Challenge Cup", sat miserably on their trains waiting to go home.|
We Leeds fans had reached our first Wembley final for 16 years. Not just that, but we ran the all-conquering Wigan side close, losing by just ten points. We were happy. Yet the Wigan fans on the next train were just sat, arms folded, reading a paper or the programme, instead of dancing in the aisles.
It's something that has worried me all week, that the winning feeling just fades away and after five, six and seven victories like that it becomes routine. I've tried not to think about the Grand Final too much, but the reminders are always there; when driving, making a cuppa at work and hearing the question 'big week for Leeds eh' or just talking at home to my girlfriend, a Bulls fan. Yes, a Woolly Bully. A Bradfordian. I expect my Rhinos 2000 membership to be terminated within days, and to be banned from ever setting foot in the South Stand again.
Apart from my inevitable excommunication, it's actually not been too bad living with her this year. After all, I got the bragging rights back last October, after her previous taunts of "losers", "bottlers" and "failures" finally had reason to end. But should I be this excited 12 months on?
Perhaps it's because I know how it felt to see the skipper lift the trophy at Old Trafford last October. Maybe it's because, for the first time, we've had two weeks to wait before the Grand Final. I mean, what with queuing to buy tickets, sort out travel arrangements and such-like there was no time to actually think about the game last year.
This time, it was sorted nice and early, and suddenly we're wondering who we will play at Old Trafford, then what team Tony Smith will pick and probably even which shirt we'll wear. It's getting too much, and with three days to go all I want to be doing is sitting down at Old Trafford and seeing the teams walk out.
Then I remember the sight of Danny McGuire diving between two players to score the winning try 12 months ago - the final confirmation that Leeds were the best around.
I'll never get tired of that feeling. I promise.