This story was written by Melissa Muscat, 2017 Parramatta Eels Members Councillor.
Game Day. I love it. My eighth consecutive year as an Eels member, and coincidentally not a finals appearance since but I still love waking up to that feeling of going to watch my team play. As much as I’d prefer a Saturday or Sunday game, being tired from work and having to travel, as soon as kick off begins I’m back in my happy place. It’s very rare I miss a game in Sydney. My entire social calendar is based around the NRL and A League fixtures. I am also a Sydney FC member so fortunate I have that game day to look forward to in the off season.
There was a little sense of poignancy in this game knowing the season is over for our legend Clint Gutherson. Let’s face it, The man isn’t just a good footy player, he is an excitement machine and has become a bit of a Parra phenomenon, even having his own ‘Çlint Gutherson Appreciation Society’ page on social media! And deservedly so, he is a major reason the Eels are in the eight so far. He stepped up in whichever position Brad Arthur placed him in and didn’t disappoint. The ACL rupture is the cruelest of injuries, the recovery is long and intense and the psychological stress is just as gruelling. I’ve seen this first hand having had close friends undergo knee reconstructions. We are sending out the positive, healing vibes and wish Clint a speedy recovery, anticipating his return eagerly. In the words of King Gutho himself we have to just ‘Trust the Process’.
That’s why though when you support a team you’re not just supporting the individual. I learnt the very hard way when Jarryd Hayne left us. I have endured back to back wooden spoons, salary cap scandals and an eight year finals hiatus but the only time I shed tears being a Parra supporter was when Jarryd announced he was leaving. True story. As with most Eels fans though I’ve moved on and it appears so has he, settling in at the Titans.
From round one, the blue and gold have had a really strong roster so there should be no reason why we can’t make the finals this year. I often get referred to as ‘resilient’ at work and nothing screams resilience like a 2016 Eels supporter! Working daily with teenagers (boys) will also teach you that life skill, especially being a loud and proud Eels tragic in the heart of Kogarah. To have the third highest membership in the NRL when our team hasn’t made the finals for a record amount of years, speaks volumes about how tough and loyal the Blue and Gold Army are. Shout out to every single member and supporter who have stuck solid through the rough patch and can now look forward to the success of what we are heading towards.
What. A. Win. Brisbane are one of the teams in form this season, in my opinion the top two with Melbourne, but what the Eels fans witnessed in this match was something I didn’t predict and I don’t think I was alone. Not just a win…that performance!! In fact, it was the first time this season I tipped against my Eels in my footy tipping comp…and I’m coming second. Serves me right. That was a truly outstanding effort from every player in the blue and gold. Tim Mannah said this week that the boys needed to take their game to a new level…and that they did. It was a solid, tough and competitive 70 minutes of football. The best all season. We all know Arthur won’t be completely happy until they are playing for the full 80 minutes, and that’s why we love him as our Head Coach, but wow they have come a long way. Every player stepped up and put in a thorough performance, no doubt lifting for Gutherson and the recently sad news of Brett Kenny. Another legendary Eel in our thoughts. Tonight our Eels turned a corner. They’ve played their best two performances of the season against the top two sides. It’s official…NRL teams you are on notice. The Parramatta Eels 2017 are the real deal.
The biggest test for the Eels from here will be to lift like that each week and maintain consistency right up to and throughout the finals series. They can’t rest their laurels because we are seen to have an ‘easier’ run home. There are no easy games from here on in and it will be a mammoth challenge matching the top teams at their home grounds come final time. The already great teams lift even further in August/September and that’s what makes them the best. Should we find that consistency and perform to a similar standard each week like we did against the Broncos, then the sky’s the limit.
The scenes in the Members 47 bar were electric. Packed to the rafters. There was an amazing banner acknowledging members of ten or more years. A wonderful sentiment from all at the Parra Eels, well done crew, especially Larissa and the membership team . Credit to the players also who turned up to greet the fans. Corey, Semi, Kirisome, Bevan and Brad Takairangi. Corey Norman addressed the fans with this heartfelt message, ‘Íf you could keep coming out to ANZ…You don’t know how much it means to us. It really lifts us.’ Hear that Parra fans? Do you hear it?? Over the next five weeks if you are tempted to stay at home and watch on TV, or go to the pub with mates, or are anywhere other than the vicinity of ANZ stadium, remember Corey’s plea. It could well be the difference between a win and a loss…and possibly a premiership because tonight proved we are the real deal and we can beat anyone at our best. And It serves me right for not placing $50 on Parra to win the premiership in round one.