The Cumberland Throw

The Spotlight – This Home Is Where Our Heart Is

Just this week Parramatta CEO, Bernie Gurr took aim at some upstart comments made by interim Tigers CEO, Simon Cook.

As the two teams prepared to do battle in the opening game at BankWest Stadium, Cook was quoted as saying, “We can’t wait to play our five games at our new home, including next Monday when it’s hosted by our co-tenants.”

Gurr’s succinct response put context into what “home” means.

“That’s been our spiritual precinct and home ground since 1947, from Cumberland Oval, Pirtek Stadium to Western Sydney Stadium to now Bankwest Stadium… we’ve made a commitment to play 11 games a year for 15 years and with another 10-year option, which is effectively a 25-year commitment and 275 games. The good ol’ Tigers have made a four-game commitment.”

BankWest Stadium – our home.

That passion about home flared up inside me last Sunday when, along with thirty thousand others, I toured BankWest Stadium on its community open day.

On inspecting the view from my season ticket seating, I found Wanderers supporters in my seats. After I offered a friendly greeting of “you’re the summer me”, their response of “you can thank us for this stadium” had me seeing red.

Only the unenlightened would believe that such a stadium would have been built were it not suitable for multiple sports, concerts, events and conferences.

But this site, in the heart of Parramatta, has held the footprints of the Parramatta Eels since 1947. For any part-time or recent tenants to diminish of the importance of the Eels in this place is frankly disrespectful.

A packed Cumberland on match day.

No other organisation has supporters capable of describing generations of history at this ground. Like thousands of others, I spent my childhood, from the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, at Cumberland Oval. My cardboard season ticket was the key to securing family seating in the Noller Pavillion. As an adult, I enjoyed the banter in the bars under the Thornett and Cronin Stands of Parramatta Stadium, before taking in the unparalleled views afforded from my grandstand seat.

Those old enough might recall the early years of struggle for the Eels in the 1940s and 1950s, or the legendary Ken Thornett setting Cumberland alight in the 1960s. The phantom bugler brought many great joy as he tormented famed commentator Rex Mossop with victory tunes throughout the 1970s. The last memories of premiership success coincided with the first year of Parramatta Stadium way back in 1986. The touring English team were humbled by Parra in 1992, whilst in 2001 a rampant Eels set point scoring records on their way to a minor premiership.

No matter the decade that our families connected with the Eels and this ground, we have our treasured recollections.

For current Eels coach, Brad Arthur, the family connections to this place are special.

Back on April 12, 1947, three generations of the Arthur family were among the 6000 to watch Parramatta play their first game against Newtown. Brad’s father, Ted, was only a baby. He was taken to the match by his parents, Lindsay and Joyce. Along with the young family was Brad’s great grandfather, Noel. The Eels lost by 34 to 12 that day, but it would be the start of over 70 years of the family supporting the Eels.

Opening day at Parramatta Stadium.

Fast forward to March 16, 1986 and the first game at the new Parramatta Stadium. As the Eels hammered the Dragons 36 to 6, three generations of the Arthur family were once again among the thousands cheering the team on. A young Brad was there with his father Ted and his grandmother Joyce. So passionate were they about the Eels, that Joyce held executive positions on the supporters club committee whilst Ted was involved as an assistant coach and selector for Eels junior representative teams.

When Parramatta Stadium hosted its final NRL clash between the Eels and the Dragons on August 29, 2016, it was another three generation event for the Arthur family. Ted and his wife Carol, were in attendance as the Brad Arthur coached Eels defeated the Dragons, 30 to 18. Brad’s wife Michelle and daughter Charlotte also proudly watched on as the Arthur boys, Matthew and Jake, fulfilled their ballboy duties on that night.

On Easter Monday, 2019, the Arthur family, along with thirty thousand Eels supporters, will be there to welcome our Eels home. There will be other families in the stands with generations of support and their own family history to tell. It’s what happens when your club has based itself at the same venue for nearly three-quarters of a century.

Cumberland Oval, Parramatta Stadium or the superb new BankWest Stadium – no matter the name, the Parramatta Eels call this place home.

We always have.

It’s where our heart is.

Eels forever!

Sixties

http://www.starrpartners.com.au/office/starr-partners-auburn

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Seth hardie
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Seth hardie

I have bled there I still have splinters in my arse from there I participated in public anarchy there when we burnt it down. It will always be our CUMBERLAND.Simon Cook wouldn’t know if he was being done by a Rhino.

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Great post sixties, and that old aerial shot of Cumberland pretty well near brought tears to may eyes, it may change in name, style and size but while I have breath in me its still Cumberland Oval with bells, whistles and fancy light shows. My thinking is that it was taken in the 70’s owing to the size of the PLC and parking arrangements at the area, the road around Parramatta park were usually full on match day, & if I wasn’t at work I would likely have been at that match in the stand, a benefit of the 10… Read more »

parrathruandthru
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parrathruandthru

Photo taken last round 1981 20 all draw with Manly. The last game at Cumberland Oval

Milo
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Milo

Superb read Sixties. Couldn’t agree more.
Wanderers May or may not be around in 70 yrs time…and as mentioned parramatta have the runs on the board.
Good history about the Arthur clan – superb.
I was playing cricket in 86 when they opened so I couldn’t attend but will be on Monday along with my old man, brother and his son. And so it begins again…just hope the team is not over hyped and stays in the game for 80. Like the 86 team did.

John Eel
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John Eel

Sixties great story full of emotion. Whilst I have already told my 1986 story in a previous blog I can tell you that it will be both emotional and exhilarating when my daughter and I attend the opening of Bankwest together as we attended the opening of Parramatta Stadium back in 86. She was only 6 years old at the time. I can’t wait to embrace this most modern of stadiums. My mission for 2019 is to get Hussey their. I have a spare ticket and have been trying to get him to another game for 2 years now. I… Read more »

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

John

Cannot find your phone number can you give me a ring please? I just had a look at the draw, and on Saturday 8th June the eels play the sharks at 530Pm, that could be a goer for me as I usually attend the MR exh at Rosehill gardens on the W/E. That way I can drive down and park at the PLC, get transport by train/buses from Club to Station and bus to Rosehill. 5.30 star would mean could be back on road around 730pm drop you at Tuggerah on way.

Internal arrangements need to be made first.

John Eel
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John Eel

That sounds alright Colin I will give you a call

BDon
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BDon

Well done sixties. That Cumberland shot is gold, that’s where I picked up a life long addiction. I’ve tried to pick one memory to wax on about, there’s hundreds, but one thing i know it takes players like Eric Grothe to enjoy the game but players like Higgs and Price to appreciate the game. It’s a shame that Nathan Brown will not run out on Monday, i think Niukore is the nearest thing to him, but a great opportunity for all to shine.

Shelley
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Shelley

Our fan base was built at Cumberland because every game was like a family celebration. My earliest memories are all my extended family bringing in eskies filled with food and drink, spreading out blankets, in the wet putting a tarp down first and sharing our food either celebrating a win or deciding what needs to happen next game to change. As kids the empty beer cartoons made fantastic slide mats down the slope at the end of the day. Reading this reminded me why I love BA as our coach. First and foremost I think he is a good coach… Read more »

rowdy roddy
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rowdy roddy

Once again you put everything into context Shelley, memories, the families, the team, the coach. None of it happens without our beginnings at the beloved Cumberland Oval. The transformation into a majestic stadium is mouthwatering but it is still Cumberland Oval, even for Sterlo I believe.
I have a mate who played for Balmain, Norths and Penrith back in the 60’s and early 70’s. He still calls me “Cumbo”.

John Eel
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John Eel

Who was that Rowdy?

rowdy roddy
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rowdy roddy

Phil Franks, John. He played a couple of games for the Tigers and didn’t get on with Latchem Robinson so he moved to the Bears then played a couple of seasons there before going to the Panthers where he played over a 100 first grade games mostly at fullback and 5/8.

Parramatta Tragic
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Parramatta Tragic

It was that feeling of extended family that best describes it Shelley. Both you and sixties have described it brilliantly. When Jim Porter played for us we always seemed to end up sitting next to her and Jim’s niece. Jim’s aunty was a hoot. I hope Jim and his family are all doing OK. The BA family link to the club was great to read. It’s common interest things like going to footy that brings families and friends closer together. Looking forward to Monday minus my Dad and nephew this time around but I’ll be flying the flag for them

rowdy roddy
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rowdy roddy

Thanks Sixties. I would suggest that although the Parramatta 1st grade Rugby League team has been a Quasi Saviour to many a forlorn soul (Parra footy tragic) for upto 70 years since 1947, it could be argued that this weekend carries the greatest hope of a resurrected and resurgent “Parramatta footy team” for their long suffering and loyal fans. If it wasn’t for the greater event that many more families and of course many of our players remember and celebrate around the world for 2000 years this weekend. The Crucified, Resurrected Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Go Parra!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

An Easter question? Whatever happened to Parra Jesus?

parrathruandthru
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parrathruandthru

Goes to games in blue and gold “civvies” now

Gazzamatta
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Gazzamatta

Having been in the football doldrums for so many years, it is with enormous pride I hear jealousy in the words of anyone other than we Eels Tragics who attempt to put an ownership case forward.
Media coverage centers on Bankwest being Eels Territory. They know what we know. Its simply “home”.

BDon
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BDon

Sorry sixties, totally off topic. Perenara has just blown 7 penalties in the first 16 minutes Dogs v Bunnies and I think it’s now 9 in 20 minutes. Do you think he’s been counselled? And yes, I should get over it.

Gazzamatta
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Gazzamatta

Worst referee I have seen. In 50 plus years of watching our great game im not sure ive seen too many worse. He has no feel for the game whatsoever. He definitely shows bias and hes a show pony. Its all about Henry. I became depressed once I learned he was to make his comeback last week. He didn’t surprise.

Parramatta Tragic
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Parramatta Tragic

Happy to make him equal worst Gazza. To this day I still always count the tackles to make sure the opposition don’t get 7 tackles and we only get 5. Thank you Greg.

Rocket
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Rocket

I’m another who also counts tackles.

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

Well said my brother sixties after reading comments from the west tiger’s saying it’s there home game. Well Iets just say I wasn’t happy about Simon cooks comments. He wouldn’t know we’re to start on the history of our great stadium. From the Cumberland oval to Pirtek stadium to know Bank West stadium. It’s in the best interest of my Simon cook to say to the Parramatta eels thanks for letting us lend you state of the art $360 million stadium. Instead of shooting his mouth off saying it’s there home ground as well.i hope we flog the tiger’s n… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Great work Sixties.Brings a tear to the eye remembering sitting on the splintery fence post seats with my dad and lining up at the old turnstiles near the huge camfalorel tree.I was there for the last game at Cumberland and the first at the Stadium now for the first at BankWest let’s make it a day to remember.

Gustarny
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Gustarny

Sorry last post from me.

Steeleel
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Steeleel

Thanks sixties…what a great post! I loved going to Cumberland as a kid. Remember going with my Canterbury supporter friend from school & we won 48-9 when tries were 3 points. Remember stamping my feet in the grandstand to the famous chant. Also went to the first game at the stadium with my brother. Our sister was working underneath the stadium in one of the food bars. She told us she could hear our screaming from down there!

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Going under the old stadium to get food, and two areas I will never forget, once the chant went up, movement underneath was wary as almost all eyes were looking upward, always an anticipation that it had to collapse one day.

One thing I never saw was dust coming through the flooring from above, surely the chant and stomping would have kept the floor/ceiling clean.

In silence was the wafting smell of liniment that permeated the food bar, and always looked at the Rosehill pie and sauce had a sniff to see if the liniment had penetrated the bag and oven.

Steeleel
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Steeleel

Colin, I still remember as a 10yo, hauling myself up to the window of the dressing room at half time, smelling that liniment was intoxicating.

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Too much could have had you in the pen. That smell at times was intoxicating, no wonder Jo Joseph had big body and lungs.