It’s nearly time for Eels fans to face an unpleasant reality. I’m expecting that the confirmation of the NRL’s penalty for salary cap infringements is only days away. When that moment hits, Parramatta will lose 12 competition points and the likelihood of playing finals football will nearly be extinguished. As fans, the way that we respond to this outcome might prove to be the greatest challenge most of us have faced in supporting the Eels. So let’s consider what lies ahead..
At the conclusion of Round 16, and with no points penalty, the Eels sit nicely in the top four on 22 Premiership points. This represents the same number of points achieved by the conclusion of the 2015 season. Under normal circumstances, this tally would be the ideal platform from which to launch a run home to the finals. Under normal circumstances, the media would be filled with stories about a Parramatta resurgence. Yet the impending NRL penalty has taken all of the headlines, and the great victories and wonderful individual and team performances have virtually dissolved into the background.
As fans, this is unbelievably frustrating. We enjoy watching television coverage and reading football reports and opinions. Yet in this resurgent season, Parramatta are never part of Premiership Finals discussions. Certainly, on the basis of results, they deserve to be. The Eels are unfortunately, and justifiably, ignored.
When the points are stripped the team will sit in or around the bottom four. It won’t be a reflection of their performances, and it will be a bitter pill to swallow.
Our Response As Fans
What defines us as supporters? Do we only get to the game to cheer on a team that can qualify for finals football?
Since 2009 I have asked for one thing. A team that gives everything on the field for their jersey. When this happens I’m proud to wear those colours in the stand. I take on a season ticket membership to be able to watch and cheer for my team live. I’ve done plenty of that so far this year. In 2016 the Parramatta team has exceeded my expectations through a resilience that flies in the face of ridiculous obstacles.
If the Eels can’t play for Premiership glory, then as fans we can provide them with the incentive of playing for receptive and appreciative crowds. Do we not enjoy watching Parramatta victories? This team is giving us plenty to cheer about. A Parramatta team that has essentially earned top 4 status deserves to play in front of sold out home crowds. Our disappointment about the loss of Premiership points should not be taken out on the players who keep giving their all, week in, week out.
Make A Stand
One of the co-founders of The Cumberland Throw has made a stand on behalf of Eels fans. Through Chris Losco, the Eels fans who are voting members of Parramatta Leagues Club have an opportunity to set the club on the path to professional board management. His proposal, seeking the merit selection of a new board, marks the first time in the Club’s history that the members have forced an EGM.
This proposal cannot be allowed to stop at the requisite signatures that Chris has collected. If you are a supporter of this club, you can do something to shape our future. Don’t wait for someone else to take this on whilst you sit passively hoping for change.
If you are a voting member, sign a petition and commit to attend the likely EGM.
If you are not a voting member, do your bit by talking to people who are or by spreading the word through social media.
Make a difference!
Brad Arthur has made two things known to us. Firstly, he is going nowhere and he wants the fans to know this. Secondly, no matter what this season has in store, Brad has told us that the Eels will be a stronger line up next year. The team still has its ambitions this year, but will continue to strengthen moving forward.
With the team continuing to produce on the field, and the vehicle to get things right off the field now available to fans, we need you, the supporters, to stand strong. Get behind the team. Get behind the push for merit selection of a Parramatta Board of Directors. Show the rugby league world – Blue and Gold, never fold!