The Cumberland Throw

Eels Fan Day – Our News From The Event

Last Sunday’s “Blue and Gold Army Festival” appeared to be a great success with thousands of supporters enjoying the opportunity to meet and mix with the Parramatta players. It was probably the biggest roll up of members that we’ve witnessed, a sentiment which was echoed by Eels officials that we spoke to at the festival.

As much as TCT enjoyed the event, our role is to share with you the interesting observations from the day.


  • Professionalism (Parrathruandthruandthru)

A huge congratulations must go to all involved with coordinating and conducting the event. The event started on time with all of the players and Brad Arthur in attendance from the commencement, except for Danny Wicks who was getting his neck scanned after playing only a few minutes for Wentworthville on Saturday night, and David Gower who is the proud father of a daughter born on Wednesday.

All players are incredibly respectful of the fans and seem genuinely pleased to share their time. A few years ago, this was not typical of the day. I think the players understand the importance of the loyal fans, especially after many years without success. We have stuck solid and I know the coaching staff remind them of that.

  • Influence Of The Members Council (Chris)

The 2015 Fan Day was one of the first items of discussion after the formation of the Members Council. The 2016 event took on plenty of the feedback provided by the Council including

  • More time for members before the general public is admitted. This year it was a welcome 1.5 hours.
  • Player signing tents toward the back in order to spread out the crowd around the field.
  • More player and staff interviews, both roaming and on stage.
  • Introduce new players to the fans which was great to see
  • Players should ‘mingle’ after a stint in the signing tents in order for faster fan access, although it is at the expense of getting multiple signatures at once.
  • The club is pleased with the take up and acceptance of the ‘Blue and Gold Army’ branding.
Important - this is not Chris meeting the cheerleaders.

Important – this is not Chris meeting the cheerleaders, although he can’t wait for his opportunity.


Fan Anticipation (Miatch)

Thanks to my 2 year old son, I knew I’d only ever be staying at the Community Festival for an hour or so. However, even in such a short space of time two things were apparent –

  1. My son is very much into jumping castles and helicopters.
  2. There was a lot of very excited Eels fans present, hungry for all things Parramatta.

You’d be mistaken to think such Community Festivals are only about the football, or even mostly about football. Such events have a much more significant focus on community engagement, a sponsorship presence, a family orientation, building the players’ skills in fan engagement, and of course a time to sell team merchandise. However, even still, fans didn’t knock back any opportunity to cheer for their favourite players, or to engage with our increasingly enamoured coach. The presence of fans stood out to me based on not only their number, but also their engagement in all things football.

There was almost a tangible thirst from fans for conversations and insight on team formations and new opportunities for their favourite up and coming players. News of developing combinations, injury updates, potential positional eligibility were all hot topics of conversation, and of course a celebration of the Nines victory. Sure, the same diehards are always there, and with each event the faces I recognise grow in number. Yet the sheer number of fans there showed that even the more moderate fans sense there’s something different about this season.

Have we simply forgotten what it was like last season? Do we feel like this every season?
Surely not.

Outside of the free mini football and drink bottle, such anticipation was lost on my son, Levi. But judging by the building anticipation from Eels fans from every walk of life, even for this 2 year old, it won’t be long.

Kenny Edwards - a favourite with the fans - and TCT!

Kenny Edwards – a favourite with the fans – and TCT!

  • Feedback From Paul Devlin – Physical Performance Manager (Sixties)

My conversation with Paul Devlin was my highlight of the day. Devlin was glowing in his praise for the coaching and physical preparation of NRL players in general, not just at the Eels, stating that NRL training compares more than favourably with NFL counterparts. We discussed the elite, natural athletes that can be found in a population of over 300million and the ways in which such a group are prepared as compared to NRL footballers.

On Parramatta, Devlin is extremely pleased with the attitude of the Eels players during this pre-season, adding that a number of players have taken their games to a new level through their efforts.

Special mention was made of Brad Arthur’s ability to communicate the rationale, purpose and benefit of each aspect of training to the players.


  • An “In-Depth” Chat With BA – Mission Impossible (Sixties)

I caught up with BA shortly after the day commenced. As he was being ushered to a location, I grabbed a couple of thoughts on the run (literally) about the trial win over Penrith.

To paraphrase his thoughts – happy with the defence.

This was where I was confronted with the popularity of our coach. Last year I had the opportunity for a longer conversation with BA. Given that I could only speak with him on the run at the start of the day, I decided to go looking for the coach about halfway through the event.

Seeing the massive queue for a photo, autograph or chat with Arthur, it was apparent that I would not get a similar opportunity this year. Obviously, it’s not just the players that recognise what Arthur has created at the club.

Reflecting on BA’s earlier comments, I think that’s pretty much what we can take out of the final trial. It was a solid, if unspectacular, performance and Arthur would never get carried away with a trial win. The defence was key. I would expect nothing less than a realistic appraisal from the coach.

Nathan Cayless gets a few words with BA.

Nathan Cayless gets a few words with BA.

  • The Recovery Ward (Forty20)

Fresh off of a massive Saturday that featured a total of five games viewed, I made it my mission to check on the playing status of a handful of players who ended the day a bit dusty or were otherwise absent from the playing rosters on the weekend.

In the SG Ball there was some great news as Jesse Cronin (concussion), Johnny Fonua (concussion) and Travis Turnbull (ankle) were all cleared of serious injuries after going down to Balmain in the final minute. Cronin and Fonua left the field after particularly nasty collisions so it was reassuring to hear that they were okay.

New  recruits Kieran Moss (foot) and Scott Schulte (leg, unsure on specifics) are aiming to suit up for Wenty in Round 1 after suffering some minor but frustrating injuries in the pre-season. Joseph Ualesi (back) is shooting to be back on the field by Round 3 and is my quiet tip to surprise some fans and boost an already fearsome pack. Kaysa Pritchard got through 75min of work in his return from a torn pectoral muscle in 2015 and is chomping at the bit for more footy. Knock on wood here for sure as Kaysa is a terrific player and a hell of a character as well. He happily accommodated me for over 10min while we discussed a broad range of footy topics.

Finishing up with the Holden Cup, Troy Dargan (hamstring) was a precautionary scratching on Saturday and is expected to play in Round 1. Jack Morris is sporting a wicked shiner on his left eye, which Chris got to see up close when Jack served him his egg, bacon and sausage sandwich. Delicious was the tip. Both Craig and Tom Field came out of the loss to Penrith with minor injuries but all three should be fine moving forwards. Anthony Layoun (shoulder) is still a ways off at this stage and is tentatively targeting Round 6 for his return from a long lay-off.


Did we mention that the cheerleaders performed?

Did we mention that the cheerleaders performed?


An enjoyable day that garnered some news, some interesting conversations and a chance of catching up with fellow supporters. No doubt there will be some enjoyable times at the matches this year (and at the club afterwards!).

Thank you to the players and staff that gave so generously of their time. It means a great deal to the fans to have the opportunity to get an autograph or photo and to hear your thoughts about representing our great club.

# Parra2K16

The Cumberland Throw



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7 thoughts on “Eels Fan Day – Our News From The Event

  1. Me

    Spoke to danny after game,result of a crusher type tackle ,more about crushed nerve than his current shoulder recovery .

  2. Gazzamatta

    Fantastic review. Thanks so much. I feel BAs players would do anything for him. Im so excited about the year ahead but truth be told, Im excited about every year.
    I wandered over to the Leagues Club last Saturday to watch the Penrith trial. I have to say the availability of a dedicated, large TV screen with better seating would be something absolutely in need of improving urgently. I ended up leaving for an alternate club where i could see the game in comfort and on a reasonable size screen. Hopefully plans are in the works to get this right.
    Go you Mighty Eels.

  3. Mitchy

    Great read fellas and appreciate the words, and insight. Thank you. The event looked well organised and I saw some of the sponsors on the pics. Very good. I spoke to a member of the Harold Matts staff and he advised they have lost 3 players for possibly the season (numbers 8,11 and 15). Will check later in week and confirm.

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