South Sydney Rabbitohs fans cherish their glory days. Photo: Getty Images
I know what you're thinking. Here's another feelgood piece about why it's so special to support South Sydney, why we're all deserving of a Cinderella story and why anyone without a team in the final four should adopt us like a little lost puppy that managed to find its way home after being caught in a storm.
You're only half right. I wouldn't say I'm special because of my team. More like desperate, irrational and, for the most part in Brisbane, relatively isolated in my cursed and largely mysterious attachment to one of Australian sport's favourite lost causes.
But I do think you should consider adopting the Rabbitohs from this point onwards if you're bereft of any emotional involvement in the NRL finals. It's a good bet I've wished your team well in September at some point over the past 34 years, unless you are my dad, who has a sad infatuation with Manly and firmly believes Cliff Lyons should be the next Immortal.
Phil Blake was instrumental in leading South Sydney to the minor premiership in 1989. Photo: Greg White
Being this deep into the finals is a whole new experience. I still can't tell whether my biggest fear is losing or watching my side get hijacked by inner-Sydney hipsters if we somehow beat the Bulldogs to make the grand final (Pre-emptive note: getting kicked out of the game wasn't ironically cool. It just sucked).
Since I was born in 1978, Souths have made the finals seven times; 1980, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 2007 and now. The first four are beyond recall but 1989 is burned into my funny little red-and-green brain, as it is to any Rabbitohs fan not around for the days when they plundered premierships like they were nicking down to the shops for a loaf of bread.
I was 11 years old. I rated shoes on how well they gripped and wore fluoro Catchit singlets in summer. I had recently come into possession of a tape deck with soft eject and high-speed dubbing, which I used to record music off the TV and make Rage mix-tapes.
Just when I thought life could scarcely get better, Souths won the minor premiership and launched into the finals like the Lamborghini Countach from the poster on my mate's wall, having lost just three games for the season. Three I tell you! We were plain stacked.
Between Phil Blake, easily my favourite player of the era, Craig Coleman, Mario Fenech and his quick taps, Steve Mavin, Jim Serdaris and even Bronko Djura (All-Name Team captain), it was difficult to find a weak link.
The Smith's Crisps jumpers were already classics. The Rabbitohs looked good and played even better. This was going to be a good Spring until they met Balmain in the major semi-final and the Raiders in the prelim. Out they went in straight sets like Bernard Tomic on valium.
Things only went downhill from there. We 'won' the wooden spoon the following season (hooray!), spent most of the 90s trying to stay solvent and at the end of 1999, were booted out of the competition, sacrificed to the scorched earth of the Super League war.
For me, all of this was observed from afar; the highs of pre-finals 1989, the lows that followed, the lows that followed that, the other lows, that really low part and of course, the unforgettable low where things were so low Souths ceased to exist. I'd be remiss not to mention a few lows after that which were also memorable, in comparison to the other lows.
In that way, I'm not unique as a Souths fan but part of a wider collective of supporters who for one reason or other, find themselves hopelessly romancing teams that may be thousands of miles away. Many can't even remember the catalyst for their affections.
In my case, I think I simply fell into the Rabbitohs because my mum was and remains a supporter. My brother ended up with the Eels and my dad, who I correspond with in between football seasons, Manly. There's no reasonable explanation. That was just that.
I'm not alone as an estranged fan in Queensland, although I'm not blessed with many (any) friend who also share a love of the cardinal and myrtle. There are thousands of us north of the Tweed who came to love the greatest game of all before the Broncos existed and didn't transfer our allegiance when they did spring into action.
For me, shifting camps was never an option. If anything, it just made me cling to my football identity even tighter. I grew up two hours away from Brisbane and we only took the Commodore down the highway once or twice a year to visit rellies or if we were lucky, truck right on down to Dreamworld.
I had about as much geographical connection to Redfern as I did Red Hill. As a result, I became a football orphan, embracing from the club I'd grown to love via a long-distance relationships and never once considering breaking off.
People didn't think it was strange that I supported a club in Sydney. They just thought it was strange I'd picked such a crap one.
Sure, I've endured the taunts. And I've gladly welcomed your sympathy at times. I've never been very good at tipping because picking Souths each week tended to leave you playing catch-up from round five.
I've even learned to see the positives of supporting a team that almost never played a game after August. I've never really had to worry about the stress of having a side close enough to taste a premiership, let alone in a grand final.
Things had to change eventually. In 2007, a ray of light. And now in 2012, South Sydney find themselves one game away from the decider, needing to beat a very good team that's also managed to recruit a large number of Queensland football orphans to its cause.
I won't be in the stands for the game, but crucially I won't be working either. I'll be on my couch, peering through my hands and freaking out from afar, in much the same way I've done since I was about five.
I'd love to say I'm just happy to be here, or be happy for Souths to go back to being an "aw, shucks" team that was a weekly speedbump on the fixture list.
But I'm not.
Where there is Greg, there is hope. Get in there, you Rabbitohs.