Footy tipping comps are computerised and automated these days; all the person organising the season’s festivities has to do is register their workplace’s name with a website that operates thousands of comps concurrently, and invite colleagues to play. It never used to be this simple, though. Winning my first rugby league tipping comp in 20 years a month back got me thinking about the time I stupidly let out my inner sports administrator and volunteered to run such a comp at a previous work place. The experience still haunts me; even the nation’s top quacks weren’t skilled enough to remove the mental scarring caused by one horrific mid-winter Monday in the early 2000s. I’m in the fetal position just recalling this, but I’ll push through the trauma to share it with you.

I was new to this workplace, but had quickly drummed up a reputation as a rugby league-lover, mainly by not shutting up about it. Thus, I was considered a perfect solution to the absence of a tipping comp organiser, with the previous bloke having mysteriously gone missing the previous September. “I’ll do it for sure; it will be fun,” I said. “I’ve always considered myself a junior David Gallop.”

How entries were collected and the comp run was entirely up to me, so I designed a template featuring “Name”, “Round” and “Tips” fields which was to be completed and faxed back by contestants by 4pm each Friday. This should be easy, I thought. I’ll come in to work early each Monday, a day before our weekly deadline, collate the 24 tipsters’ selections, fax back out the weekly totals and running scores and we’ll all have a laugh and enjoy the fierce rivalry. One of the rules at the bottom of the template stipulated that the judges’ decision was final and no correspondence would be entered into, or some such jibberish which I’d seen on a proper comp somewhere.

On the eighth Monday morning of the footy season, I pressed “send” and out the tipping results went. A minute later there was a yelp from management upstairs. Someone must have kicked their toe or something, poor girl, I thought, and kept working. Ten seconds later, down the dark staircase and into the dungeon journo den raced the scariest-looking being I had ever encountered. It was our normally charming, smiling, filing, dialling admin assistant, who had been transformed into a devil-like monster, her blood-thirsty eyes pointed straight at me as she leaped over the staircase’s last seven steps, landing almost on top of my work station. Her black veins pumped blood from the depths of hell, she’d grown a forked tail and her skin was a scaly green. The paper’s ten-strong staff dropped everything, froze and stood wide-eyed and wide-mouthed, as if a gun-fight was about to breakout in this-here saloon.

“You’ve given me SIX, when I got SEVEN right this weekend,” she screamed. “I calculated it on my way into work this morning. You’ve ripped me off a point! That sucks! I want to withdraw from the comp. Give me my money back! This is f*****!”

I was friggin’ terrified. This lass showed me around the office a few weeks ago; she seemed a terrifically lovely girl. She had already invited me around to her McMansion for dinner with her husband and two kids or whatever. I’d seen horror films, but had no idea a demon like this could reside in such a nice, librarian-type girl. My hands and knees were trembling, my back was soaked in nervous sweat. I was about to be devoured whole by the poltergeist standing nose to nose with me when my boss said, “It’s okay, we’ll just check the faxes, find out what went wrong.” Turns out the demon was right. I hadn’t added her form up properly. At least there was an explanation.

“Ah, I thought it was something simple like that. No worries.” The monster had since returned to her human form.

No “worries?” – WTF! I thought. This woman had acted like I had executed her whole family, all over a stupid rugby league competition! I couldn’t believe the transformative effects such a game could have on people. Just goes to show the power of the human spirit, especially after a $50 entry fee has been paid. Maybe with a bit more therapy it will get through to me.

I often wonder, though, what happened to the tipping comp organiser from the year before? Must have been promoted or transferred to another site. Yeah, that’s probably it ...