NRL 2006: A Supporter’s Lament and The Boys From The Bush

Mick Cronin. An Eels and Country Legend. No, we are not related

Over the fold some thoughts on the bond between a person and their football club, on the importance of tonight’s City v Country game and a pointer to a good summary of the Gasnier debacle.

A Supporter’s Lament

These are sad times for the Eels faithful. The capitulation against Canberra the other evening was woeful. And reports during the week of on and off field turmoil haven’t helped.
A good mate of mine married into a family of Bunnies fanatics. So, after Souths were reinstated back in the NRL, I followed the Bunnies around for a bit keeping my mate Paul company and drinking beer. Of course it was and still is tragic being a Bunnies supporter but you had to admire their resilience and optimism. Every match was greeted as a new chance for something to great to happen for the Rabbitohs. And apart from the occasional win it was, and has been, the same old story for the hapless Bunnies.

As I sat at Gosford Station last Sunday I saw a young dad and his son decked in Knights jerseys. They were clearing anticipating the clash against the Broncos. While it was a great traditional scene of father and son it was painful to watch. The call from the Eels game of yester evening was still fresh in my mind. I had no recourse in the warm anticipation of a great match and glory. Just the dull painful thud of defeat.

Mingling later that day with the Tigers fans a Leichhardt one could not help being swept up in the fans enthusiasm. And in this weakened state, and after a few beers, I had a horrible thought. I found myself wondering what it would be like to wear another team’s jersey. I had pondered the unponderable of transferring one’s NRL allegiance.

Of course the thought did not go any further. The fierce devotion of Bunnies supporters may belie their team’s lack of success but it is to be admired and is inspirational. When you accept a team in your heart it stays and is something that is only rent asunder by a weak constitution. So there is only one thing that I as an Eels tragic can do in this time of uncertainty and NRL famine.

$20 on the Eels to win the premiership at $28. Go the Eels!

Moneybags Gaz

Jeff Wall in today’s Crikey says it well.

This might be hard to believe, but the Mark Gasnier saga has now become an embarrassment for rugby union AND rugby league, not to mention the St George Illawarra Dragons centre himself.

The Boys from the Bush

The traditional City/Country game is on tonight. The NRL’s heartland is in the bush. When I was a lad I would often go and watch the Grafton Ghosts in the Group 1 competition (and played U14s and U16s for the Ghosts). Local league was well supported and the local derbies between Grafton and South Grafton were keenly anticipated.

Times have changed and local league comps outside Sydney are struggling. Which is a shame. If league was to die out in the bush it would be a tragedy for the game. Hence the importance of the City/Country match for those outside the Sydney metropolitan area. Of this the Country players are well aware after meeting Dubbo teenager Lionel Woods. For the Country blokes, it is about winning.
Cityslickers to get bushwhacked.
The Dragons too hot for the Warriors
The Cowboys to ride out the Storm
The Broncos will trample the Sea Eagles
The head says the Doggies but the heart still bleeds Blue and Gold
Knights will slay the Tigers
The Raiders will send the Sharks to Valhalla
Panthers will skin the Bunnies

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18 years ago

Amen, brother. Towards the end of the Knights’ 14 game losing streak last season I went and put twenty bucks on them to win the Premiership. Never retreat, never surrender.

Mind you, the Eels loss to Canberra (flipping Canberra!) cost me a perfect round in the office tipping comp so I can[‘t get too misty eyed about your devotion ….

18 years ago

Well City/Country was a pretty dour affair. If anything it has made the NSW origin squad puzzle even more puzzling. Gallen, Kite and Ryan may have played themselves into Origin. As for the halves, Finch was good with the ball but hopeles kicking while Orford did nothing and Gower seemed all at sea playing 5/8.

If QLD don’t go into the first game favourites I’d be shocked.

Tony Harris
18 years ago

A year or two ago I thought we had about a dozen international second rowers and last night there was a red-haired club discard playing (well) in the second row for City.

A strange mistake-riddled game, brutal defence the main feature, apart from errors and a major late shot on Orford, not much help for selectors.

Pity Andrew Ryan didn’t have a bigger game.

18 years ago

Shot through the heart and the Eels are to blame, why do they keep playing such bad games?

18 years ago

Picking a SOO side for NSW is a nightmare. There is no-one 5/8 or half that really deserves a spot on form. Hodgson will be fullback as he had a good game for the Tigers to day.

I’ll dive in a say that NSW will be (barring injury):
Hodgson, King, Cooper, Gasnier, Tahu, Anasta, Gower, Ryan, O’Donnell, Hindmarsh, O’Meley, Buderus, Mason with Simpson, Kite, Menzies and Wing on the bench.

As for the Maroons sheer parochialism makes it hard but Lockyer should play 5/8 with Thurston at half and Inglis the bolter in that squad.

18 years ago

Yeah, Hodgson was impressive today. I’m glad his one mistake came a minute from the end and let Carney score the winner. ;-)

18 years ago

I think Hodgson is playing better than when he first played Origin in 2002 and deserves a run. But good win to the Knights today. I missed the end but what I saw was a very hard fought affair.