The Cumberland Throw

The Spotlight – The Death Of The Traditional Curtain Raiser

Farewell lower grade curtain raisers. You’ve given me decades of footy to watch, but I recognise that I’ll soon be bidding a sad goodbye.

Do you remember those days of watching three grades of football on a Sunday? If you do, there’s a fair chance that you’ve got a few strands of grey hair on your head, if there’s still hair on that noggin of yours! They were heady times.

When big clashes would roll around at venues such as Cumberland Oval, Brookvale, Lidcombe, Kogarah or Leichhardt, the third grade or under 23s could be playing in front of near capacity crowds. The gates would be closed. There was no pre-purchasing of tickets back then, so only early arrival guaranteed entry and the best vantage point.

And what a preparation it was for the lower grade player.

Besides becoming accustomed to performing in front of crowds, the pathway to the top grade was exhibited every week. Third grade players could play their match then be asked to sit on the bench for reserve grade. Reserve grade players would sit on the bench for first grade. There were even instances of third grade players being involved in every grade.

Unlike the past, lower grade matches attract little support.

For the supporters, we came to learn about virtually every player at the club. Fan favourites existed in every grade and it was part of the fan experience to pick out future stars or track the progress of players through the grades. These days, supporter forums debate the merits of particular young players, but the fact is that few have seen such players in action – apart from rare television coverage.

For me, the memories are entrenched – Phil “Spider” Mann’s great length of the field Reserve Grade try at Kogarah Oval, palming off one defender after another after he fielded a missed penalty in his own in goal area; the Cumberland crowd erupting every time Under 23 crowd favourite Gulio Pomponio was announced as the try scorer.

And no memory would be better than watching Eric Grothe Senior come from the clouds to run down Ron Coote two metres from the line in a Reserve Grade match. Imagine my surprise when TCT interviewed Guru and in our pre-interview chat, Eric not only vividly remembered that moment but gave me the background story to that day.

Of course, times have changed.

Young stars like Dylan Brown are back playing park footy.

The NYC has been abolished and replaced by an extension of the Junior Representative program, the Jersey Flegg under 20s. Both this and the ISP are administered by the NSWRL, leaving the NRL to focus solely on the top grade.

The upshot of this is that draws are constructed by two separate bodies and it appears that communication is a rare commodity.

Witness this weekend for Eels supporters.

With the NRL team scheduled to play at ANZ Stadium at 4pm, the Wenty Magpies team will be kicking off at Ringrose Park at 3pm. The Jersey Flegg team will also be at Wentworthville, with their match starting at 11am. There’s no denying that accommodating clubs that have teams participating in both State and National competitions is challenging, and there will be clashes, but clashes seem to be common rather than an exception.

My own grievances about travelling to two venues aside, what about the club staff connected who unable to attend matches that are important for them to watch? Of course they can watch the video, but it’s not ideal.

Attendance isn’t just made difficult by clashing match days. Having the grades spread out over different venues on different days creates a tough ask for anyone but the most ardent supporter. Those who also enjoy attending Junior Representative clashes try to fit in at least three venues in the same weekend – a challenging task for those with families or other commitments.

The reality of 2018 is that the days of watching three grades of football are all but finished.

The concern moving forward is that we may soon be unlikely to be watching two grades on match days. We certainly won’t be this weekend.

The use of government owned stadiums has consigned three grades to the scrap heap. Venues don’t want three matches tearing up the turf on match days, so unless a club is the owner of its ground, they’ll have no capacity to stage a day of footy.

Furthermore, fans themselves look like they’ve sounded the death knell to the curtain raiser. People lead busy lives and are entitled to arrive when they can. However, the economics of match day make opening up the stadium to a few hundred supporters financially prohibitive for clubs who hire such venues. And there’s little encouragement for them to change their thinking. Supporters seem to have no interest in watching lower grade football before the main event and simply aren’t turning up when given the opportunity.

Last Sunday was the picture now being painted.

Few witnessed the Magpies & Panthers kick off.

The Wenty Magpies and Penrith Panthers kicked off before a couple of hundred people – if that! It was a great contest which fortunately had an audience through television coverage.

I’ve heard plenty of people complain about not having lower grades to watch. I’ve been one of those people. I’ve voiced my concerns to the Parramatta club.

But the sad reality is that when given the chance to watch a curtain raiser, very few turn up. Though we may eventually see Women’s Premiership matches staged on match days, or even more double headers, the traditional lower grade matches are on their last days.

(Edit – the new touch football competition has been announced as an NRL curtain raiser. This only reinforces the end of lower grade curtain raisers.)

This post is no call to arms. Match day habits are now entrenched, just as they were in the past.

The future seems set in concrete. Younger players are becoming used to working their way through the grades via park venues. Clubs are all about the bottom dollar and stadiums are saving their turf. Supporters have their reserved seats and front up just before NRL kick-off.

I can’t help but shed a tear.

Eels forever!


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45 thoughts on “The Spotlight – The Death Of The Traditional Curtain Raiser

  1. Mike Slack

    Excellent article Sixties, I too have my fair share of grey hair and recall when we attended all three grades at Cumberland Oval. We followed young players and were thrilled to see them work their way through grade and making their first grade debut. Not only was this fantastic for the fans but wonderful experience for the young players, I believe we have lost something important from our game, now we arrive 20 mins before kick off and most supporters have little information on who we may see as a replacement player should we loose one of our 1st grade squad. Maybe the NRL could modify the bench rules to include 1 player from “reserve grade” this would provide a significant incentive for lower grade players and give fans an opportunity to see a young up and coming player demonstrate his ability in the big game. As usual I’ll travel 2 hours to see one game of football on Sunday but I can’t help but think we are being robbed with just one game being played.

    1. Colin Hussey

      Mike, I agree and after posting my thesis underneath, I wonder in some respects that today with the limited attention span of many people is not a problem. How many at games do you see with those little and some not so little rectangular electronic boxes in their hands and concentrating there rather than watching games.

      I laughed to myself at a game at Wyong last year with a lady in that pose and when a cheer went up, she raised her arm and also cheered without even looking up at what was going on. Oh for the days that ladies would have their knitting with them and could knit a jumper while a match was going, without not watching the game.

      1. sixties Post author

        Careful Colin. We have very astute female students of the game that enjoy commenting on the game on TCT. Shelley is proving to be a very popular and respected observer.
        But devices definitely impact lifestyles – agreed there.

        1. Colin Hussey

          Aah mate, political correctness is the ban of all the world today. Interestingly my late mother also took knitting to the ground. Used to have a new B&G beanie every year, made with Oz wool, Oz worker hands, (my mum worked hard at the old Regent café in Parra’s main street) Most of the knitting done was for items to show you teams colours, even the opposition mums did the same.

      2. Poppa

        Knitting at the game….Wow
        We were at Henson Park one Sunday my Dad, Mum and me.
        Mum would knit the entire 3 grades, A Newtown supporter yelled out, “why don’t you Parra supporters go back to the bush where you belong”!
        My Mum with the twitch of her knitting needle (she didn’t miss much) stopped, raised her head and said “rather live in the bush than the slums”….. head back down play on……in those days I am sure that we never referred to our Mum’s as “cool” but whatever the vernacular was then ……I thought she was pretty cool.
        Told that story at her funeral and another time when I had to get Dad out of the Pub!

        1. Colin Hussey

          Luv it pops. Wonderful people and know how to answer the best and the worst.

          I think I shared this a while back but, was at a eels and dragons game, I got there a bit late to get seats in the grandstand. I was on the Club end of the stand side between half and quarter, when an eruption in the stand took place, no one watched the game at hand and looked up at the stand. There were two of the gentle sex (apologies to 60’s and our ladies on this site) standing toe to toe in a punch up, what was amazing was the simple fact that both of them were Saints supporters.

          On reflection now, would have loved to know what was behind the incident.

    2. sixties Post author

      Thanks for replying Mike. I feel robbed mate.
      I actually find it incredible to see people on fan forums argue the merit of selecting certain young players when they’ve never watched them play. There have been people arguing for the inclusion of GL or Jaeman Salmon, but aren’t aware that GL has been hampered by constant injury or that Jaeman has played a couple of Flegg games after returning from a fractured neck. But they can’t change that scenario because Flegg is now played mostly on suburban parks or Ringrose and Wenty mostly play at Ringrose.

  2. Colin Hussey

    60’s. Its really interesting this post of yours as it comes as there has been a couple of areas in this regard mentioned over at the other site and I have added my thoughts to it as well.

    I am one of those grey thinning top ended blokes that can remember those heady 3 game days with a lot of fond memories even when we were not winning.

    My take on what the NRL is doing is perhaps thinking they can imitate or whatever word one wants to use of the NFL in the U.S one big game with all the hullabulloo associated with it, and its not going to work at least IMHO.

    You mention just how its going with two games at Ringrose. the ISP game starts at 3p, but the JF game starts at 11am. What dumbcluck made that decision? Therein is a huge reason why the game is going backwards, an 11am start, allow 80 minutes of game time and the 10minute break, at best the game finishes at 1230, and those attending then have to wait 2 1/2 hours for the next match???? Where is the sense in that?? Oh! that’s ok they can go to the club for lunch and drinks, how many will then come out for the 3pm match?

    Thing is the way RL is heading is its all going to be downhill, as not only did we have 3 grades but used to have 4/5 junior comps, then the now ISP game which was second division each of the primary clubs had at least 3 teams as well, and certainly by main game time, there would often be more than a couple of hundred spectators. If they cannot now get that number at a game and its more often than not free admission, its dying.

    The same thing applies with the main games with the NRL teams as you said, and this weekend again one match only at a huge hole in the ground. gates open followers have to wait how long? OK! its a special W/E of RL owing to the Anzac aspect, but when its played under normal circumstances you mention with last weeks games, where is the game day experience?

    The amount of time between the games is ludicrous, and that is because what is seen is abjectly 3rd class boring. From what little experience I have, is. Arrived with 15 minutes of the NYC comp to go, then sit for how long looking around the ground, listening to some announcements with a bit of an interview with an injured eels player, then some performances from the female cheer squad (which many clubs are disbanding) then the players arrive for their wonderful warm up sessions, to witt they looked totally robotic and bored. Time to go and get a hamburger, and arrive back and gee, the burger must have just come out of an esky. Finally after some more time and enjoying the company of the good chap I went with the game starts – Whoopee.

    If the game and the juniors are to survive, and perhaps not just the juniors either, is that there has to be at the very least a lead up game, and a game that is a true game that is there for players as a real and genuine stepping stone/progressive game for the future. It needs to also be played at the same ground and be a real main game show piece for future NRL top grade players.

    How to achieve it? well its perhaps too far and hard for the current administrators to understand and look to. One game as a lead up should be a combination of all age players with a pathways number of players that are up to and including age 24 in the team for grooming. Allow an unlimited interchange as well as extra players available for injury replacements outside of the main 17 players, say two who were part of an extended bench.

    The game to go for 40 minutes each way but end of the 80, if teams are tied then both get a point. The big thing though is that the game should finish with no more than a 20 minute break before the top grade game. That would allow for some injury time.

    One of the things I liked about the old system was if your team was going well then as you say, it filled up early, but what I also found was that even in an average season, if you got there at half time in the reserves, the crowds were building, the 2nd half of the reserves usually lifted as the crowds grew and the cheering and gee up atmosphere lifted the whole scene. That is what’s lacking these days.

    With a minimal time between the two games it could well encourage more to come early and the players in the reserves would also feel the increase in the atmosphere accordingly.

    The so called reserve grade game should be under the same conditions as the NYC/ISP games are played and that is in NSW only. When playing Interstate, then there need only be the primary team go there.

    I live in hope, but cannot see our visionaries doing anything about it though. LIke all politicians, they know best and also say they listen to people, but we don’t know who they listen too though. If the game as such is not lifted in regard to getting people to the games, then corporate sponsors will look at the crowd numbers, and wonder why they are investing or sponsoring the game.

    1. John Eel

      Colin I reckon when Sixties wrote this blog he had you in mind.

      I must say that I think a contributor to the dwindling crowds for the Curtain Raisers is that the NYC took precedence over the reserves, ISP or State League whatever it was at the time. I know after talking to other people at the game that they just did not like the NYC given the disparity of the quality within the teams. Some of the players were ready or almost ready for NRL, whilst others in the team were never going to be ready and this led to massive scores in so many games due to poor defence.

      Given that I live on the Central Coast it suits me to go to the early games. I basically have to set the entire day aside anyway. However having said that last week I was unaware that Wenty was playing and I was filthy once I realised. I would much prefer to watch Wenty than the old NYC.

      1. Colin Hussey

        John I think the game lost a lot more than the boffins in charge are prepared to admit to, reason being they have to basically support and confirm all that went before them was ok and just needed tweaking, problem is that the tweaking had too much squeaking and then the rust set in to lock everything together an no has the ability to get the thing renovated properly so it it can run properly again.

        Personally I don’t think it would take as much effort and thinking to get things back going properly again as many would think. The one area that possibly needs a real boost is to have someone with a real passion for the eels and love for seeing young players coming through, to be able to identify them and bring them into the club. Overall I think we have a good system but it could be better with some tweaking.

        Yeah I would love to come down once again, but the extra distance now makes it hard, and hopefully the wait for the lazer burning of my sciatic nerves end of May may help me travel a bit better.

        1. John Eel

          Colin if it is not this year it will be next our premiership year and the new stadium. I am not sure that there is a whole lot wrong with our club. That was not my point.

          I like sixties think that the early game is to be bundled into history in line with other codes who have already done the same thing.

          Using the NYC was in my opinion a mistake. They should have used State league or whatever it was called as the curtain raiser. That decision has zero to do with the Eels

          It will now be incumbent on the game to get other drawcards to entice people to come to the stadium to take in the game. Whilst I can see how double headers have an appeal I do not see them as the answer. In fact I believe that it is cheapening our game

          Sadly cold soggy hamburgers wont cut it. What is even sadder is that the caterers who cater at ANZ have just won the contract to cater at WSS.

          1. Colin Hussey

            That last paragraph has my stomach already growling in discomfort. Rather a walk around hot dog seller.

            I also agree with what you have said in the rest of the post.

      2. sixties Post author

        I’m on board with you regarding the NYC John. I think the last two years finally produced better quality footy, and the moment that we reached that point, the competition was abolished!

    2. sixties Post author

      You’re right Colin – quite the thesis. The NYC is actually being played as a curtain raiser to a Ron Massey Cup game (or is it Sydney Shield). Considering I need to travel to Home ush, I don’t mind that early start. But I’d much prefer at least two grades at Homebush.
      Unfortunately all of your ideas are probably wasted Colin.
      The stadiums want reduced traffic on match days. I’d be very surprised if we stage two games of senior male football very often at the new stadium next year.

  3. Big Derek

    It is yet another indication of the lack of understanding of the fan base that Toddy and the dumbclucks running the game in that they fail to understand how important progression is for juniors and players in the lower grades.
    They may base their decision on merely the number of fans attending early, but the curtain raiser is an opportunity for fans, particularly those who travel a great distance , to talk to people they only see at games prior to the main game. Also more importantly to provide lower grade players with experience of venues and game day.
    I struggle to think of one thng that the current administration have done to improve the experience. From Matt Lodge though to their failure to complete the player manager investigation, it seems they are incapable of understanding the needs and thoughts of the games most important priority , the fans.
    Todd Greenburg continues down his path of political expediency and lip service to the game, a lot of us rue the day they gave control of the game to this ex Bulldog. Nothing he did at the Bulldogs other than cover up player behaviour fills many with confidence. He is a myth in my opinion.

    1. sixties Post author

      Derek, I honestly believe that the average fan no longer has the experience of watching lower grade footy. In the past, the majority of fans e joyed the lower grades. The NRL has created this, firstly by eliminating a true reserve grade, then by abolishing the NYC.
      I can’t blame fans for not caring.

  4. The Colonel

    I lived not far from Parramatta Stadium and would always take the opportunity to watch all the grades – sometimes even lucky enough to watch some of the Schoolboy Cup clashes that were being recorded for replay on Sunday mornings. Was a great way to watch the youngsters coming through the grades who would go on to play first grade. I have seen my fair share of talented players too, who for various reasons, didn’t eventually make the first grade side. Was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

    1. sixties Post author

      It was a different and a better way to watch footy Colonel. Fans got to develop a connection with the players before they hit first grade. You knew what the players brought to the table when they finally debuted.

  5. Gazzamatta

    Yep. Them was the days.
    Line up for an hour. Pay you zac into the outer ground, chuck a quick right, pay another zac and sprint to the grandstand.
    Buy a program for a shilling then settle in.
    Mark off the team changes, scorers, penalties and scrum wins. Buy a footy double. Automatic win for both hookers.
    27 through 39 play first.
    14 through 26 up next then massive anticipation waiting for our 1 through 13 champions. Why change. This system sucks.
    Best player I ever saw come through the 3s then 2s? Glen Liddiard. Wow. That kid could do it all. Such a pity he never kicked on. Skill personified.
    Wake up Gaz. Its 2018.

    1. Colin Hussey

      I loved the old jesrsey numbering, generally they were allocated at the beginning of the year when gradings would end up being around 55 numbers, and they went 1-55, they were graded according to their positions in the forwards and backs based on the 1- 7 fullback – half, forwards being 8 – 13 lock to prop. for first grade. Reserves went 14 – 20 , fullback – half then 21 – 26 lock – prop, 3rd grade basically the same from 27 fullback – 39 prop.

      All the reserves received numbers from 40 to end. When the 4 junior comp games finished, many from the presidents cup game into the squad and they received higher numbered jerseys. They would also replace some of the 3rds who dropped out also the numbers went with them.

      There were no fresh reserves for any of the grades, while there was usually only two replacements for each team, only the 3rds got fresh players, as the reserves and firsts grad replacements had to play at least a full half of football in the previous lower grade and they kept the same jersey and number they had already played in. So when a replacement for an injured player came on, you knew by the number who it was. I can remember at least one game when in the first grade a new prop came in wearing the 39 jersey.

      1. sixties Post author

        Colin, those were the days when no top 30 existed and because of that a player could literally transition from a third grade bench player to a first grader in the one season.

        1. Colin Hussey

          I believe that all the changes over the years have been replications of an old saying I mentioned earlier, Nero fiddling while Rome burned. In so many ways the game experience has been destroyed and only the ruins remain,

          A day out at the RL was just that, also the element of value for money, between each of the games time to catch up with fellow supporters and grab a hot dog or a wonderful Pie from the Rosehill Bakery. On a big day, you could lose your seat but now with allocated numbered seating you don’t have that problem.

          We all would agree, well the vast majority anyway that a proper reserve grade is needed and to play closer to the main game. The idea that in that would be to create a greater interest in the game, and it would really be good to have say 4/5 players 24 or under to play in the game as well.

          I would go back to the old numbering system as well, that way they players who get their number can wear it when selected in the higher grades as well.

          Two main games each match day may well help in increased crowd numbers, but keep the ISP as a primary transition team from the Juniors to the reserve team. Play that game at the ISP grounds, and even here have the NSWRL teams under ISP also play on the same day at the same ground as well. That would strengthen that competition as well, also provides a better pathways concept, that the players and supporters can actually see and understand.

          Dare I even suggest that if the NRL & NSWRL use basically the same webb design program why not have a link banner that with one click of the mouse can take you to the other site. Oh that’s a dumb idea though, like my other thoughts.

    2. sixties Post author

      Yes mate, it is 2018 and those days are long gone.
      Best lower grade player I ever saw, who still became a first grader though not as dynamic due to injury, was David Penna.
      Best lower grader who dominated lower grades and transitioned their talent to the top grade was easily Eric Grothe.

  6. Hamsammich

    Hey Sixties, not all of us that reminisce of the 3 grades have grey hairs. I remember growing up in the early 2000’s and seeing the likes of Jarryd Hayne, Krisnan Inu and in the 1st year of the NYC David Baumann (I believe I am one of the only people to have a picture with and an autograph of the player I believed to be the next Hindmarsh) running around in the premier league.

    Unfortunately people aren’t interested in the players in the grades below first grade, for whatever reason. It is a great time watching the players make their way through the grades. Some of us are crazy enough to go to multiple venues on the same day. I’ll be down at Ringrose for the Jersey Flegg game at 11 then heading out to ANZ afterwards.

    I hope that in the near future we are able to access footage of the Jersey Flegg games online, I think that is an avenue the NRL or NSWRL can look at. I believe there’s still an exttemely niche market that can be catered to for not much money.

    1. Colin Hussey

      Ham, therein is where the playing of 2 games at Ringrose and that means the lower game of ISP on the same day and only one game at ANZ shows its flaws. Who is going to stay at Ringrose or any other local ground when their NRL team is playing on the same day at their home ground?

      It effectively is killing the ISP and suburban game big time.

    2. sixties Post author

      Ham, I’ll be trying to make the same Wenty/ANZ double venue on Sunday, but hate that I will still only get to watch two grades after visiting two venues.
      Unfortunately, there is such a small niche market interested in watching lower grades. So much so that few are likely to be upset about not having a curtain raiser match.

  7. BDon

    Based on what I read here, the lower grades look a real mess of organisation compared to the simpler system of the good old days. I rolled up at Cumberland for over 15 years, always for the 3 grades. Plenty of mates played local A grade, Presidents Cup then into the 3rds (or later U23’s) and higher, and you could follow their progress and get to see the Eels legends in the top grade. Reading Colin Hussey’s summary, you need to be pretty keen to try and follow the local and senior system these days. A quick memory, when Eric Grothe started in the U23’s, we started sitting behind the posts, a great footballing sight seeing that bloke wreck a defence out wide. Around 1978, the U23’s had Sterling, Pattison,Ella, Grothe and Neil Hunt lining up. Worth arriving early.

    1. sixties Post author

      It’s tough to follow all of the grades now. I’m always keen to watch everything from junior reps up to NRL. But this now involves multiple venues, same days and/or total weekend commitment. This year, I reckon I’ve seen half of the junior reps, a couple of Flegg, and about 4 Wenty games. Last year I got to most junior reps, about 20 NYC and about half of Wenty’s games. I can’t see that changing much going forward. Hats off to some of the fellas like Ham and Parrathruandthru who still get to the majority of games that don’t clash.

  8. Parramatta Tragic

    Loved watching all 3 grades. Having 3 grades playing is encouragement for people who have to travel a distance to get to a game. It’s a very long day if you have to drive for an hour or two then watch a game and drive home again. It was the very best way to follow the juniors right through the club and have an established pathway. Was that Grothe tackle on Coote in about 1977 sixties? I remember a reserve grade game at Cumberland against Easts when Owen Stephens made a break for us and had 50 yards to run and outpaced Ron Coote to score. If that was the same game, it could well have been the fastest ever pair of reserve grade wingers in history with Grothe senior and Stephens

    1. John Eel

      It is unlikely Coote would have played too many games in reserves at the back end of his career. He would have been working on starting his own business by then.

        1. John Eel

          I did not explain that well. What I meant was that the 2 incidents cited between Coote and Grothe were more likely to be in the same game given that Coote would not have had many games in Reserves

          Also in some ways it is kind of an interconnecter between 2 eras these 2 players coming together. Coote a beacon of the 60’s and 70’s and Grothe one of the great players of the 80’s

      1. Poppa

        Eric senior would not have played too many Reserve Grade games either, think he came on in the u/23’s semi against St George in 77….I think the FG game had Sterling playing fullback against Manly….anyway Guru came on as a second half replacement…the scores were about 3 all at halftime and Parra ended up winning by 30 points Guru 3 tries, the least was a run of about 50 metres….he was unstoppable…..we all are going to our programmes….who is this kid…..I honestly thought I had found Jesus playing football.
        Next year Fearnley kept him in u/23’s for the season, where he scored one of the most amazing tries by taking the ball on his wing and then going behind his total forward pack and backline and lapping the Newtown kids before they could get a look at him. It was liking watching someone score a try in the under 6’s when they just lap the opposition. Next year straight to FG where he was off course an immediate sensation….hence I don’t think he played much reserve grade……alternatively my memory is totally shot.
        ie. sounds like a 50/50 bet! lol

  9. Anonymous

    I love the nostalgia. Have never been to watch the lower grades before. Have moved near Ringrose and might pop in to see a game. Do I have to obtain a ticket beforehand? Thanks.

    1. parrathruandthru

      No you don’t need a ticket but ask about the Wenty Membership. $20 you get entry for the year and a cap

  10. Poppa

    I was rolling with you as you wrote that, slightly wrong in that a lot more than a few grey hairs and yes no hair is not far away.
    How I miss those days when we would line up at the gates and rush to get our blanket down in the stand to protect our seats, your right about fan favourites, we knew them all, in all the grades….I think I saw Phil Mann do that on many occasions, along with a couple in FG and a few clumsy errors with the ball on the ground. It was a long way down for Phil…..
    We knew the up and comers and watching young players experience sitting on that bench as reserves for the next game was a badge of honour for them and a rite of passage. I can remember players finishing a game, going to the bench and being called upon within 5 minutes, virtually playing 2 full games.

    Wonderful memories Sixties and the that’s what they will be confined to, as we pass on and the game becomes more and more professional.
    I really fear for the future of the game, the current administrators have no vision or understanding of the needs of the game, the refereeing is inept and the rules ridiculous. In a discussion in the nursing home revelry on Tuesday we tried to interpret some of the rules that were adjudicated on in the weekend games……do you know the NRL website has the same rules on a PDF file that have not been updated since last season?
    Slaters drop kick try was interpreted differently by the on field refs, the bunker and all the ex players that make up the commentary team, not to mention the commentators……..what did the rules imply…..they were mute!!

    Ah! the memories, it’s a shame we can’t leave them behind for our millennial society to savour……but like some people that are constantly negative…..I suspect they have no taste for them!
    Shame! They don’t know what they are missing!

  11. Milo

    Great Blog sixties; cannot agree more with your comments and the sentiments here.
    The NRL have shown little regard for our traditions of the game; they have changed the formats of the juniors too many time for my liking; and along with many can recall the times watching all 3 grades at Parra and other venues. It was real seeing the younger and older players play.
    I for one won’t travel to watch Flegg at one venue and Wenty elsewhere. It’s sad but travel to and from games is hard when it takes almost 2 hrs to Parra.
    Surely one game ( reserves or Flegg ) could be played before most home games?

  12. Anonymous

    Followed the game 71 years and believe me its in its deathroll thanks to todd greeberg and john grant ,these people have destroyed game as i know it forever ,there will be no recovery until we actually get people that actually understand rugby league in leadership roles , i watch about 20% of a game now before tuning off out of frustration , i mean it rugby league is dying and the murderers are named above

    1. Ace Eel

      Yes …very very good post 60’s…I remember the identical situation last year..thinking how can the same 2 clubs playing each other in the NRL have their lower grades playing at different venues on the same day…absolutely no planning between the NRL & THE NSW RL whatsoever….

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