You don’t need me to tell you just how badly it’s gone for the Bulldogs since they played their last game in Round 25 against the Cronulla Sharks.
The Dogs spent the end of the season on the up, with some encouraging performances being put in against the Warriors and the Dragons. They had the opportunity to blood new talents such as Rhyse Martin, Reimis Smith and Lachlan Lewis.
Promise was being shown for 2019, things were up at Belmore.
Then came the disaster of the Mad Monday celebrations on the terrace of the Harbour View Hotel. Whether you view it as indecent from the players, or intrusive from the media, it cannot be denied that the club suffered as a result of the event.
They were fined, and the reputation of the club was damaged incredibly. The rugby league spotlight was drawn away from the closest finals series in history, and towards the disrepute the Bulldogs players had brought to the game.
Then came the dark cloud over their new signing Dylan Napa. The ‘Big Papi’ story has been reported to death, and believe me I don’t want to write it up any more than you want to read it again, so I’ll spare us both the trouble.
But what’s constantly missed out on by the media is the good that clubs such as the Bulldogs do, and have been doing throughout both ‘scandals’.
One example is that of Nabeel Malik, who is a Bulldogs fan who had been diagnosed with a life threatening disease in late August. Understandably, Nabeel was struggling at the time.
He contacted Josh Jackson in the small hope that he might get a reply to cheer him up.
What Jackson did afterwards was above and beyond a simple reply.
He invited Nabeel to training leading up to their final game of the season, where he was able to meet all the players and grab some photo opportunities. Five-Eighth Josh Cleeland even wrote Nabeel’s name on his arm, dedicating his Round 25 game to him.
This is just one instance of Jackson’s positive actions.
In the days after the Napa videos were released, the negative media surrounding the club didn’t stop Jackson from getting out and making the fans happy.
Jackson and club great Terry Lamb paid a surprise visit to Trevor McCarren in hospital, who’d just been diagnosed with a severe cardiac issue.
Trevor has been a Canterbury supporter since birth, and has held Jackson as his favourite player for years, due to their shared selflessness and determined work ethic.
Patrina McCarren (a family member) wrote a letter of thanks to the club the following day, stating the following:
“On behalf of Trevor, and our family, I want to say a big thank you for making yesterday afternoon happen […] It is a memory our family will cherish, on a day that Trev was probably feeling at his lowest!”
Obviously, feel-good stories don’t sell papers. That always has been and always will be the case. The negative ‘crisis’ events will gain all the publicity, and portray the game in a much more dire state than it is.
But actions such as those of Josh Jackson show the nature of the vast majority of rugby league players, which is an encouraging thought as we endure what has been by far and away the most damaging off-season in the sport’s history.
It may only be two people, but the effects on Nabeel and Trevor have influenced many others throughout the rugby league world. Nabeel himself has since beaten the disease and is healthy again, whilst Trevor continues to battle on tirelessly.
These stories show the reality of our game, and the power it has. No matter how small the action, the effects it has can be literally, life-changing.