As we prepare to take the long trip down to the nation’s capital this weekend to take on the Canberra Raiders, I thought I’d take us on a trip down memory lane to another time, to another clash against The Green Machine …..
Parramatta are the defending premiers.
However season 1987 isn’t going to script.
Round 9. Sunday, April 26 1987, the Canberra Raiders have traveled up to Parramatta Stadium with a hearty group of supporters who would soon find themselves in fine song.
After the first 40 minutes Canberra head to the half time sheds with a healthy lead of 22 points to nil against a Parramatta outfit that seemed to have no answers to the Raiders attack.
With tries to Meninga, Corkery, Henjack and Jackson, the Raiders appeared to be heading for a record score against the 1986 premiers. From the stands, some of the more vocal Raiders fans started chanting “we want fifty, we want fifty” (some of us there on the day thought the Canberra fans were chanting “we want Fitzy” … until we listened more closely.)
But then something changed at half time.
Was it a rev up from the coach John Monie? Was it words of inspiration from the captain, Peter Sterling? Did the team mistake Don Price for his brother Ray and think they’d better start playing and not get Raymond upset?
Whatever the reason, the Eels came out with more purpose, more drive, more determination and showed the 14,000 faithful in attendance what pride in the team colours meant.
New recruit Bob Lindner, the Queensland lock and Australian representative, not to mention the chosen replacement for Ray Price, was about to play one of his best games in the Blue and Gold. Peter Sterling later described Lindner’s second half performance as the difference between the teams and just simply inspirational.
Lindner first try was greeted with some mirth by the visiting Raiders fans. This author remembered them joking in the Cronin stand, “yeah, we’ll let them have one try” as they resumed their chant – “we want fifty, we want fifty”.
But as the tries continued to flow from the Blue and Golds, the Canberra contingent grew silent. Lindner crossed again, then tries to Don Price, Neil Hunt and finally from Penrith recruit, Ken Wolfe. The Eels finished the rout of the Green machine with John Muggleton kicking five goals. It would go down as one of the greatest comebacks in Parramatta history …
Let’s hope we come away we can mirror that result with a win from our clash with the Green Machine this weekend.
It’s good to be an Eel!
Yours in nostaglia,