This article was written by Melissa Muscat – 2017 Parramatta Eels Members Councillor.
Rejoice Parramatta Eels Fans…the eight year finals hiatus is finally over! Eight. Years. That is a very long time ago, especially to be deprived of that wonderful footy finals feeling we all know, love and deserve to be part of being loyal members and fans of our team.
I was fortunate enough to meet with Eels CEO Bernie Gurr on Monday night at the Ken Thornett Medal awards, held at the Grand Pavilion, Rosehill Racecourse. What a great night it was with special congrats to Clint Gutherson on the Coaches Award and Nathan Brown on the Members Award and prestigious Ken Thornett Medal. I had a brief chat with Bernie and he mentioned the exciting times ahead with the Eels about to play finals footy. I agreed, telling him it will be the focus of my next article, ’We’re Back Baby’. He had a bit of a laugh and asked if I would title it just that…so on behalf of all Eels fans and members, we say thank you for playing a major role in bringing our beloved team from a very dark place and leading us to the wonderful success we are enjoying in a short turn around on and off the field. This mention is for Bernie, Max Donnelly and the entire Eels team who have worked hard in making our club the success it once again deserves to be. If I am to thank one other person it would be Eels great Peter Sterling for the recommendation of Bernie as CEO. A great footy personality whose opinions are always valid and revered.
Eight years ago, 2009. Undoubtedly we were all in quite different personal situations. I for one wasn’t an Eels member and my following was somewhat different. The passion for your team is next level when you join a club as a member. It encourages you to attend weekly fixtures and truly follow the success of the team. I decided to join after sitting in the stands of ANZ stadium on Grand Final Day with my face painted blue and gold, watching what was an especially exciting second half, convinced we would win the Grand Final in 2010. How very wrong I was and it put into perspective never to take for granted the success of any team you may follow. Nothing is guaranteed and you can never predict when triumphs will be repeated, especially with the large amount of player movement, injuries etc.
The year 2009 also saw the debut of our fresh faced captain Tim Mannah, the flight of the Hayne Plane, Wayne Bennett as coach of the Dragons, Brisbane Broncos suffering their worst NRL defeat at the hands of the Raiders and the introduction of the second on field referee. Many of us may have been in different jobs or places of residence. My fellow Eels Members Councillor Marcus, who I sit with, didn’t have his third child, now 7, who has become quite a regular and devoted attendee of games. I can’t imagine Eels games without little Arden now! What I know for certain is that it was too long ago to remember how that elation and stress of September feels. But I was reminded last night with complete strangers hugging in the stands, making plans to travel to Melbourne next week and belting out that victory song in the end with such gust.
So clear the social calendar, do not allow anyone to tell you you’re crazy for putting on hold any plans or organising interstate travel over the next four weeks…even though we are a bit Parra crazy but that is totally ok. Practise them victory song lyrics, sing it loud and proud, because us Eels fans are going to the finals, for the first time in eight years. And it’s been a long time coming so the excitement and celebrations are more than valid.