Recognition for the master of the Storm
WONDERFULLY, this is a reward for consistency. Or more precisely, consistent excellence.
For how else would you describe Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy?
Aka Bellyache. Or the Window Spitter.
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Now too, 2019 Dally M Coach of the Year. The fifth time he has won the award.
Which isn't who most of you would have picked, right?
No, down at my local, the front bar tip was Sticky. Or Dessie.
A couple of 50-something coaches who, while not quite so old as Lazarus of Bethany, have certainly enjoyed a similar resurrection this year.
Take Hasler, for example.
A fella who not so long ago, looked deader than disco.
A mad scientist whose Frankenstein, after years of causing absolute carnage, was now falling apart at the stitching - think an oversized teddy bear slumped over by your neighbour's trash can.
And Ricky Stuart?
Well, in recent years his critics haven't so much questioned how well he can coach - but if at all?
An argument which surely ends for all time this Sunday at ANZ Stadium, when his Canberra Raiders enjoy the most unlikely of grand final appearance since officials jagged Tina Turner.
Which is why Sticky was thought to be even money for the Dally M gong.
Or slightly shorter than Hasler, who after being punted by the Canterbury Bulldogs, then spending a year doing whatever Dessie does when there isn't a footy team to coach, came back this winter with a side that was the worst team not named Parramatta.
But Hasler, he lifted the Manly Sea Eagles from 15th into sixth, then within one sin binning of a preliminary final.
Incredibly, without several injured stars including Tom Trbojevic.
All of which had him right in the betting for that Dally M, too.
Same deal Parramatta coach Brad Arthur, whose team went from last to fifth. While Dean Pay, too, did far more than anyone thought possible with a Canterbury mob that eventually finished just three measly points outside the playoffs.
All he did was go win another minor premiership.
With Cameron Smith, sure.
But also players like Justin Olam, Ryan Papenhuyzen, even a revived Sandor Earl.
Without Billy Slater, this was supposed to be the year Storm crumbled.
Just like a season earlier, when Cooper Cronk departed for love.
And good luck finding anyone who wanted to back them after that salary cap scandal stripped the club of more than just Greg Inglis and his speedboat.
Yet Bellyache, he simply went into the market with whatever pocket change remained and signed Adam Woolnough, backpacking overseas.
Then Bryan Norrie, who was lifted from the front bar of a pub. The ageing prop signed shortly after signing a bush footy contract in Wagga.
Then, after bagging a few more bargain buys like Jaiman Lowe, the coach went and won a minor premiership with that team too.
So say what you like about his celebrating those two stripped titles for cap rorting.
Or the wrasslin' tactics so often derided.
For in an age where nobody is supposed to stay atop the NRL heap, Bellamy does. Over and over.
LISTEN! In the season finale, Matty Johns is joined by James Hooper and Paul Kent to go over this Sunday's grand final, plus how the build-up to the NRL's biggest weekend can weigh on the favoured team (and how the Roosters are counteracting it).
Yet his 17 years at Storm, they aren't simply all premiership rings, grand final appearances and JJ Giltinan Shields, either.
No, Bellamy is the guy who continually takes players and makes them better. Not only as footballers, either. But so often, men.
Truly, if you could pick your son to play for anyone, this bloke has to be it. Understanding, Bellamy isn't only about winning today. Or tomorrow.
But excelling consistently … maybe forever.