England have no chance against the Kangaroos tomorrow.
If you've just received a letter from the Queen celebrating your latest birthday, and the glory years of 1921-1930 are still fresh in your still razor sharp mind, then you may have a different perspective. But anyone in their mid-30s with any affinity for the English game knows the Poms will be hammered out of sight in tomorrow morning's Four Nations final. Either that, or they'll hold a lead until the 79th minute and then be undone by a spectacular length-of-the field try. Either way, they'll lose.
That's just the English way. At least it has been since 1970, the last time Great Britain beat Australia in a series.
Since then it was been a tale of woe. To damn them with faint praise, the English have seldom been humiliated. There has been the odd massacre here and there, but the Poms have had their share of one-off wins and series near-misses.
From 1979 to 1986 was probably the darkest period for the British game, with the Aussies notching four straight 3-0 series clean sweeps. Since then it has all been about closing the gap. The six Ashes series between '86 and 2001 all went to the Kangaroos 2-1, giving the impression the gap wasn't much wider than the one they warn you not to fall into when you get off a London tube.
One big push and the Poms could finally break through. 2003 was going to be that year. Great Britain had a fine team. Led by rampaging props Adrian Morley and Stuart Fielden and bullocking second rower Jamie Peacock, they would surely be a match for the Roos.
The British press pack (of which as the league writer on Bradford's daily paper I was a defacto member) sensed something memorable was about to happen.
It was, too, with Moz Morley getting sent off for pole-axing Robbie Kearns in the first tackle of the series. Despite playing the entire match a man down, the British still should have won. But Australia escaped with a 22-18 victory thanks to a late Trent Waterhouse try.
Morley didn't have the greatest time in what was promoted as the Think! Don't Drink and Drive Series, getting nicked for doing just that in his home town of Salford. Thinking, as it transpires, isn't really Moz's strong point.
He was somehow cleared to play in the second test but his presence couldn't prevent the Brits from going down in a similarly excruciating fashion, this time to a Darren Lockyer try. When yet another late lead was blown in Huddersfield (pencil in Michael De Vere's name on lengthy list of Aussies who've knobbed England with a late try) the long suffering British press had had enough. The sight of Kangaroos coach Chris Anderson grinning from ear to ear while slapping his "little champion" Brett Kimmorley on the thigh was more than many could take.
"History is bunk", new coach Brian Noble proclaimed when he took over from ousted Australian David Waite the following year.
Noble's men were not scarred by previous defeats and wouldn't repeat the same mistakes. He was right - kind-of. Noble's side pushed the Roos close in pool play and beat the Kiwis twice to qualify for the Elland Road final. The expectation again reached fever pitch.
The Leeds United football ground was a sell-out, and Morley had promised not to get sent off. This time it really would be different. And it sure was, with the Kangaroos scoring off virtually every set of six in the first 20 minutes to race to a 38-0 half-time lead.
The booing directed at the GB team made Dan Carter look like the toast of Cardiff by comparison.
It's been a long road back to a big final for the English, who made way for the rising Kiwis in 05, 06 and 08.
The fans will pack into Elland Road again and many will have failed to suppress the flicker of hope that took such a dousing at the same venue five years ago. Surely THIS time will be different?
It's hard not to feel empathy with the Poms, whose league folk are a great bunch. We Kiwis know what it's like to get knocked around by the Aussies. And who could forget the "Kiwis" chant by the thousands of English fans at the 2008 world cup final.
"I'd like to thank the English fans," Nathan Cayless said in about the third sentence of his victory speech. Well, plenty of Kiwis fans will be repaying the favour and adopting the English team tomorrow morning.
Maybe Noble was right and history is really is bunk. But English fans probably shouldn't get their hopes up.By Steve Deane Email Steve