I watched quite a bit of the 'Magic Round' this last weekend. The round, with every match happening in Brisbane, has been described as a roaring success by the majority of reporters.
I'm not quite sure I share their level of enthusiasm - the success is being defined in commercial terms as a 'boon for tourism.'
Is this really the criteria we should be rating this stuff on? I worry about the game, the grassroots; the punters who want to stand on the hill with a pie and a beer and watch their local team each weekend.
I'm not sure that neglecting every football follower residing outside of Brisbane for an entire round is all that wise.
Still, spending all that time this weekend, inhabiting Suncorp Stadium (Lang Park), albeit via the box, became not a little nostalgic for me.
I've always said, you haven't really played football unless you've played Queensland at Lang Park, or Kurri at Kurri.
I've played five matches at Lang Park, and have never lost there. (I have certainly lost at Kurri).
Apparently the field (Lang Park) was built on a graveyard, but it's always been very kind to me, although not without drama.
We once, having belted the Toads, required a police escort off the pitch: The mad buggers were throwing XXXX beer cans at us. Full ones!
Another victory at Lang Park I know next to nothing about was when I was knocked out five minutes after kick-off. I didn't come to until five minutes before the end. We were in front. I couldn't remember a single thing. Apparently I played pretty well. The coach, Arthur Summons, said maybe he should knock me out every week.
I was still fairly heavily concussed three days later. But we weren't going very well after 20 minutes, so they sent me on anyway.
Thinking back on it I laugh at the (non) remembrance, but it also serves to highlight a troubling aspect of the game, one made very clear in the newspaper reports in the aftermath of this 'Magic' round: the level of serious injury being incurred, many of them the result of head clashes.
It's a tricky situation, and a bit of a conundrum. It's a tough sport, one of the toughest. And we love it for that. We rejoice in that aspect of it in many ways. We love Sattler's playing most of a grand final with a broken jaw. We're not meant to like the brawls, but we do.
But I wonder, can such a gladiatorial sport thrive into the modern era? With players so often going from the ground to the hospital, will people want their kids playing it? If not, where will the players come from?