Being a fan of the South Sydney Rabbitohs is tougher than one might imagine.
I have been a fan of the team since I can remember, and so has most of my family, as my father grew up in the area. He even played for the team's lower grade sides back in the era of tough men, playing along the likes of club legends George Piggins and Ron Coote before they made grade.
The team has a proud history and even call themselves the Pride of the League, with the general rule of thumb: if Souths are going well, the League is going well.
But that proud history is little more than a joke at the moment to a generation of fans. The team has not won a Premiership since 1971, only made the finals once since 1989, and at one point were even kicked out of the competition.
We haven't been going well for a number of years, and the League is doing business that is better than ever. Even if it is mired by a few indiscretions by various players.
So why do fans of the Rabbitohs continue to hold onto this notion that the team is heart and soul of Rugby League? Especially younger fans who haven't even seen the team be a successful entity in their lifetime?
Because the culture of South Sydney fandom is ingrained in you from a young age. Like I said, i can't ever remember not being a fan of the club. And this is true for most of the fans around today.
The grandson of the club's founder is still a fan of the side, going so far as to sponsor the club through his electrical business. But growing up in losing times has made him quite pessimistic.
Once at a game, sitting with a large group of die-hard fans, we were in an odd position as we were beating one of the top teams in the competition at the time.
We were ahead by 20 points, with about ten minutes left on the clock. He was still running about saying we were going to screw it up and lose. Some of the fans we sat with, began assuring him that we weren't going to lose, he then snapped at them:
"They do it all the time, and until the final whistle, they can lose. You don't know what it is like being me. You guys chose to be a fan, I was BORN into this club! I have no choice!"
Shortly after his little outburst, he put on a Richard Nixon mask and ran around the entire interior of the stadium until he got back to where he started from. No exaggeration whatsoever.
His passion, and his hatred for the club is unparalleled. He doesn't hate the club, don't get me wrong. It is just the emotion that the team can bring out.
As of writing, the club has just finally broken a non-winning streak of six games. Before this win, they had been beaten by roughly 30 points in the previous game, playing so badly I vowed to never watch another game.
I have vowed this a number of times, but somehow I always go back to them. I love the club. I hate losing all the time.
It is a marriage that being a fan of this club, you learn to live with.
I am in essence, Al Bundy. Caught in a marriage, with someone I despise on occasion, but ultimately will always love. And no matter what the other, younger clubs may do on and off the field, Souths will always be for me.