There’s been a feeling that I have been battling throughout most of the 2015 NRL season and it’s not something I’m proud of. But after attending the Parramatta Eels Ken Thornett Medal on Tuesday night, I decided that it was time to come clean.
That feeling is jealousy. Let me explain.
This year, more than any other, my obsession with the NRL has gone to the next level. I am an NRL appreciator. I’ve even started attending games that don’t involve the Eels and found myself cheering for other clubs, like the Cronulla Sharks, the St George Illawarra Dragons, the Sydney Roosters, the Wests Tigers, the Canberra Raiders and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs.
The Eels will always be number one, but suddenly there are several other teams that I take an active interest in and watch their progress.
At the beginning of the year, I thought Parramatta were a real chance of making the top 8. In hindsight, accusations of me wearing rose coloured glasses may have been accurate. Whilst we found ourselves competitive in most of the games we played, unfortunately this did not always mean that we got the 2 points at the end of the day. At times, it was hard to watch (I still have nightmares about that game against North Queensland) and there were some critical injuries which at times, really cost us.
While Parramatta languished at the bottom of the ladder I watched other teams succeed and make their run towards September.
A memory that really stands out in my mind is the last time that the Canterbury Bulldogs played the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium in the regular rounds. I remember sitting high in the stands and looking down as the Bulldogs bulldozed their way to victory. But my eyes weren’t really on the field… they were on the crowd. The Bulldogs fans were overcome with joy. There were thousands of people in blue and white, cheering, yelling and waving their flags around. It was wonderful to see. I remember hitting/poking/prodding my friend Ben who I was at the game with and saying ‘would you look at that – how amazing is it.’ And it really was.
That’s when I got jealous because I wanted to be part of that. I wanted that to be my Club. I wanted Parramatta to be making the run to September. I wanted Parramatta fans cheering, jumping up and down and waving their hands in the air as the team defeated another team in the top 8. I have missed that winning feeling and have missed watching Parramatta play Finals football.
As fans we are not entitled to anything. It’s unfair for me to say that Parramatta Eels fans ‘deserve’ to see their team play Finals football. The reality is that we are in a competition and that each team is doing their best to make sure that come September they are in that top 8. As fans, we have a team and they are there for us to love in the good times and in the bad times.
But I know how much it would mean to Parramatta fans to see the team succeed. For a Club that has performed below average both on and off the field to have the support that the Club has is outstanding. Over 22,000 members and growing every year. The team means so much to the community and the power that the team has to influence and drive change in the community is something that the Club should hold onto.
And to be honest, it is this that brings me the most hope for the future. I know how strong the Parramatta Eels membership base is and it is strong regardless of whether the team is winning or losing on the field.
This may be me wearing my rose coloured glasses again, but after listening to our coach speak at the Ken Thornett Medal and hearing the wise words of our courageous captain, Tim Mannah, I am feeling hopeful about 2016. I have confidence in my coach and in my playing squad (bolstered by a few new additions like Kieran Foran, Beau Scott and Michael Gordon). I have confidence in the vision my club has for the future and cannot wait to be a part of it in 2016.
Perhaps this time next year, instead of fighting feelings of jealousy, I’ll be looking back at a season well done and congratulating my team on making the 8. Regardless, I’ll be there for the ride.
To the fans that still have teams remaining in the competition, that is the Brisbane Broncos, the Sydney Roosters, the North Queensland Cowboys and the Melbourne Storm – enjoy. The success of your respective teams is very well deserved.
Ladies who League xxx