Premiers in a spot of bother
WHAT has gone wrong with Macksville?
That was the question on everyone's lips in the 14 minute period after half time last Sunday as the four-times premiers were sunk by Orara Valley.
Just 14 minutes, that's all it was.
In that period the Axemen cut loose with four tries before as we've seen so often, the Mighty's shook the ground with some of the most exciting, exhilarating football anyone could hope to see.
And then they switched off again.
For all the first half, I thought Macksville marginally the better side and was shocked they trailed 22-14.
That's not to denigrate Orara who were pretty fantastic themselves, especially Uncle Brett who didn't miss the opportunity following the game to wind me up about my jibes of "age shall weary them."
Except for that 14 minute lapse, the Eagles looked a very tidy team indeed.
So it's mindboggling they are winless after six rounds, even with the deferred match against Gimbisi factored in.
If this were any side other than Macksville I doubt it would be the lead story in this column.
But this is not the demise of just another team.
This is Macksville, the Mighty's, the greatest of all time - the side that captured the imagination of not just the Group 2 faithful, but everywhere the game is played.
Last Sunday, the Johnny Cash song 'I walk the line' came to mind.
Walking a very thin line between safety and recklessness, flamboyance and ineptness, aggression and submission etc. won them all those premierships.
The team I saw last weekend was a hugely talented side who can still win their share of matches but are not yet walking the line between greatness and the mundane.
Can they still win this premiership?
Certainly, but as everybody is asking, do they still have the burning desire to win it?
You would have to ask Sir Paul and his players that question and I don't think they can answer it themselves.
They appear to lack confidence which is understandable, considering the ongoing blows suffered away from the paddock.
Pauly's illness and Rod Jarrett's terrible accident remind everyone life is not all about football and that other things are much more important.
Suspensions, injuries, players not fronting for training and countless other interferences must make some of them wonder if it's all worth it.
Eventually, I hope they all discover it is still worth it, if just for one more season, but they'd better get a wriggle on.
As that great man who coaches them said to me on Sunday, "I'll stick with them to the end and go down fighting."
So much for my suggestion King Paul contemplate retirement.
14 sleepy minutes last Sunday cost Macksville the game.
A year ago, they could have won the match in those few minutes and slept soundly for the other 66.
Even if they don't win even one game this year you won't find me slagging off at them, for how can you bag champions?.
Just allow me to feel a bit sad the thrill seems to have gone if only for selfish, personal reasons.
Go the Mighty's!