It's been troubling me for a while, how much negativity is generated towards players, coaching staff and admin within these forums and it got me asking - how well do we stack up as a Parramatta Supporter? What are the KPI's we should be judged by?
Imagine if we don't meet the KPI's and are kicked out from supporting the Eels? Oh too much negativity - not enough team connection? You really should go and support another team - maybe the Sea Eagles would be a better fit? You want more TPA's - The Roosters could be your club?
So let me start with my Qualifications as a Parramatta Supporter?
I grew up in Ermington - about a 5km bike ride to Parramatta. No one in my Primary School went for Parramatta - No one in my street went for Parramatta. All my mates, kids I played with, supported Roosters, Manly, St George or the Bulldogs. It was hell! 1976 and 1977 GF losses - aahhhhhhh!
The standard joke was "What did Buck Rogers say when he landed in the 25th Century - Has Parramatta won a premiership yet?"
I was 11 when I asked to go to my first game at Cumberland Oval. I was absolutely blown away when my mother said yes! She was over protective and wouldn't let me ride my bike on the road (Ahhhh the the things she doesn't know didn't hurt her) - so for her to say YES was a complete surprise. So that Sunday in 1979, I caught a bus with a few mates, and we went to watch Parramatta play the Tigers.
At the OLD Cumberland Oval behind the main GrandStand you could stand around and watch the Players come in. Grab some signatures. Mick Cronin, Ray Price, Bob O'Reilly . . . . But the player who stood out was Olsen Fillipana. He stood with all these kids who supported Parramatta as a Tigers Player and was just the nicest human being ever. How he spoke to us kids, stuck in my memory.
Now i was quite the enterprising young 11 year old, and now that I was allowed to go the footy, I would come most home games. There was a merchandise tent behind the stand, and I would buy Parramatta Stickers for 10c and then proceed to sell them for 20c. (It was set up for people to do that). So I would walk around Cumberland Oval during 3rd Grade and Reserves yelling out - "Stickers - Parramatta Stickers - 20c" and sell them to anyone and everyone. Every time I walked past my Friends or Cousin, they would look so embarrassed that I was doing this, but my the end of Reserve grade, I had made myself a profit of somewhere between $20 and $30 (Which for a young kid in 1979/1980 was huge)
In 1981 - It all changed. There are photo's of me with all my Parra Gear on, Flags and Scarf included, sitting on a bean bag in front of our Tele, Rex Mossop doing the call, as we won our first Grand Final. I was so excited. I remember riding my bike around the streets after the game - but alone - no one else in my street cared! And that night the Parra faithful burned down the old oval. ( I wasn't there - mum wouldn't let me out after dark!)
So all through High School ( I went to Macquarie Boys North Parramatta) I had one friend who supported Parramatta, and we would train it to Belmore for games. We had a special team in those times, and Parramatta would go on to win 3 consecutive GF's. I remember where I was for every game, including the 86 win.
As I hit drinking age and got a car - Parra Leagues was the place to go. Eelectriques Disco (The Pit) where it was common to see Sterlo, Burt, and the Bookends having a drink after training and being swamped by young ladies. I went out with a cheerleader for a few weeks and even met my first wife at Parra Leagues!
As a young man in my 20's I would go to games at the new Parramatta Stadium. As I worked - I met the occasional Parra Supporter who would come along and we would take our girlfriends who of course never supported Parramatta.
Then you get busy with life, getting married, having kids. In 1999 I moved to Queensland and in 2000 landed permanently on the Gold Coast. Oh that 2001 GF and what Joey and Kennedy did to us!
In 2007 (With 4 Kids under 10) the Titans entered the NRL. It was a big hype on the Coast. We all went to a trial match - Parra vs Titans at Lismore, and it was viewed that the household may become Titans Supporters. It only took me 2 minutes of that Trial Game to know - I wasn't switching my loyalty. It wasn't a choice. It was just part of my DNA. I'm a parramatta supporter.
Oh the Jarryd Hayne years. 2009 - what an amazing run. What a freak Hayne was. He broke my heart with the later assault charges, but for a time there, he was truly special!
Last Year I was at my mates when we qualified for the GF. He is a mad Parra Supporter and an ex referee. As we qualify - he looks at me and says I have 4 tickets to the GF - do you want to come. (God Yes). So I attended my first GF to watch Parramatta play Penrith. We all know the outcome of that. But I wanted to take you on a bit of my Blue and Gold Journey.
I have the photo of Price and Cronin in 86 Framed in my Bar Room. I bleed Blue and Gold. That's my Supporters Qualifications!
I believe BA is a quality human. He loves the Eels (We broke him and his family a bit with the JA shit!) Has he delivered a Premiership? No! But I saw what he went through at the beginning, All the crap - and he kept showing up. He is smart enough to change, to know our deficiencies as a team, but he also knows what restrictions we have regarding salary space, and what juniors they are trying to bring up and in.
So no shit throwing from me! Im a Parramatta Supporter and I won't do that to my team. And they are my team! We wouldn't throw this much negativity at our children. We would tell them they are loved and to try their best, whether they become Engineers or work at McDonalds.
Lets become better supporters. Because the personal abuse - the personal negativity - is not how to support our team! Yes we are allowed to whinge from time to time, but our KPI's as a fan are never met by constant negativity and criticism. As Ted Lasso would say . . . . BELIEVE!
Go the EELS.
So how do you stack up as a Parramatta Supporter?