The forced retirement of Benji Marshall over the weekend marks yet another disappointing end to yet another player’s legacy within the tumultuous dirty merger club that is Wests Tigers.

From Fifita to Addo-Carr to Tedesco to Sharon Woods, club management have a way of needlessly cutting loose those their most loyal and most talented.

Then there was Robbie sinking cans of cider on the scoreboard. They’ll never forget that at Leichhardt.

Wests Tigers fans, be they from the Wests side or the Balmain side, know how to be disappointed.

However, the disappointment of Benji’s injury-aided sign-off over the weekend was emphasised by the nostalgia that came with his highlights video.

For local Balmain man, Wayne Hardwick (44), he was reminded of his rapidly declining youth.

“Christ” he says.

“Fifteen years ya reckon?”

Fifteen years since Benjamin Quentin Marshall defied physics to pass a ball to his teammate in a way that not everyone could, at that point, recognise, or understand.

Fifteen years since ‘the flick pass’ that won the 2005 NRL Grand Final against the Cowboys.

Fifteen years since his team even appeared in a Grand Final.

“We were still on dial-up… I wasn’t even able to see a replay of it until it popped up on YouTube a few years ago” says Wayne.

As someone who was relishing in the debauchery of his late 20s in a lively post-Olympics Sydney, Wayne holds the flick pass close to his heart as the benchmark of how good it got.

Today, after learning that this unforgettable moment in Australian sporting history took place the better part of two decades ago, he has been sent spiralling into a mid-life crisis.

Thankfully, the current pandemic has prevented him from leaving his family and moving to Phuket.

But, he has purchased a second-hand Celica, as well as an electronic drum kit.

He also claims to be getting into jazz, and has been googling designs at local tattoo parlours.

While his family and friends are letting him ride out this awkward phase of adulthood in his brand new MenoPorsche, Wayne says there really is only one thing that can soothe him through these crushing realisations.

“Come on Madge”

“Give him one more season”



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