15 years ago, I was on the freelance journalism trail. I’d just returned from playing cricket in England for a couple of years and was happy to take whatever work came along.

Now that I think of it, not much has changed really.

So I headed north to sunny Townsville. Drove two days and slept on a mate’s floor for a month, punctuating the beers with day shifts reporting for Channel Seven’s Local News.

At the time, the Townsville Crocodiles NBL team were the hottest ticket in town.

Their star import was a guy named Rob Brown. A power forward from Michigan, he talked the talk as much as he walked the walk.

He had the gift of the gab and consequently secured a weekly guest spot giving updates from The Swamp for the Local News.

He called it RB Basketball.

At the same time, I got roped into setting up a fantasy NBL team. Short of a name or a good idea, I landed on RB Basketball.

And so began the start of a franchise tag that for the past decade and a half has been my team name across basketball, NRL, cricket and AFL fantasy competitions.

In the history of the RB Basketball “club” there has never been a year like 2020.

There’s a week to go in the NRL competition. Injuries, resting and a lack of trades have hit us hard over recent weeks. After sitting top 10 for a brief time, I’m now just outside the top 500 heading into the final round.

As for the AFL, RB Basketball has had both better and worse seasons.

I’ve been part of a great league for almost a decade with a group of like-minded folk based in Perth.

It’s been running for 10 years now and for the most part, the line-up has remained the same.

Outside of this motley crew (and long-suffering wives and girlfriends et. al.) the Dodgy League is unknown. It’s just another group among the 123,000 teams which waste their weekends (and every weeknight during this COVID-19 blitz edition) willing along every mark, handball, kick, tackle and goal by a player who’s fitted in their mythical team under their hypothetical salary cap.

I know. It sounds pathetic to put that in writing. Even worse to read it out loud.

But gee we love it. It makes the season interesting.

And our Dodgy League members really get around it.

No head to head match-up is easy. No fixture is a given. Exactly how you want it.

Premierships are hard earned. We’ve got an honour board which documents the wall of champions.

I choked in a Grand Final a few years back. That’s as close as I’ve come.

We run a Cup League through the middle of the season. I’ve never even fired a shot in that.

We’ve toyed with a two-tier promotion and relegation system. That was a failed experiment.

Instead we rolled out the consolation finals for the bottom 8 at season’s end.

I won that a few years back. On the weekend I lost the decider after a Patrick Dangerfield clinic put the final nail in a season that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

2020 has been unusual in so many ways. AFL Fantasy is no different. Constant games. Three trades a round. Hunch selections before the clubs themselves have announced who’s playing. At a time when the world has never moved slower, the AFL Fantasy game has never been so rapid.

Through all this crazy I’m just glad it was around to maintain some normality in a year of isolation.

Bring on 2021. Whatever that may look like!

  • RB Basketball finished 9472nd overall. So inside the top 10%. Tomorrow I’m going to run the forensics over the squad and the season that was. What worked? What failed? Who starred? Who flopped? Where did the season go wrong? Buckle up!

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