Exactly four years ago, The Cumberland Throw was born.
We were just a small group of wide-eyed youngsters determined to share our passion for the Eels with fellow supporters. Fortunately, we found an equally passionate readership which has continued to grow since that first day. At this point, our visitor numbers have climbed past 1.5 million.
People don’t visit the Cumberland Throw for rumours. That’s not our go.
For us, it’s about Parra, the footy, and the people who make that happen. From Junior Reps to NRL, we aim to cover it as best we can.
And there’s been plenty to digest during this fourth year.
With last New Year’s Eve upon us, Mitch published the first profile on Dylan Brown and didn’t supporters enjoy that! It rapidly became the most popular post in TCT’s history and it was soon followed by the deluge of mainstream media interest in his story. I kept myself busy throughout January with the preseason reports and the last of the preseason junior rep trials. When those opposed sessions start to get serious I really start to crave an NRL fix. I reckon I’m not alone.
In February, our American friend, Neil Tredray shared the story of how he fell in love with the Eels, a post which continues to attract readers every week. Neil’s on a quest to spread the Eels gospel to another 300 million or so in the USA – I can’t see that being too difficult. As the month continued, Forty proved yet again that he was the king of the live blogs with coverage of the CC and Flegg trials against North Sydney, and the NRL trial against the Raiders. Meanwhile, Central Coast correspondent Milo brought us coverage of the first round of Junior Reps. There’s TCT people on the ground everywhere!
March saw the conclusion of my preseason training reports, and it also saw Forty and I visit and report on the Giant Steps School. The Eels have a terrific partnership with this remarkable school for students with autism. Very soon afterwards, the League Life Program on Fox League would feature the school and the work of the young Eels players. Forty’s live blogs of the lower grade trials against the Panthers wrapped up the preseason and as the NRL season commenced with a glorious victory, the sweetness of the win was reflected in Mitch’s ever popular “Post Game Grades”, Forty’s “Whiskey Musings”, Colmac’s “Stats That Matta” and Shelley’s “From The Stands”. Memo Riff supporters, if you’re going to throw those coins at us in the stands, can you at least make them goldies?
April heralded the return home to Bankwest Stadium, and the 51 to 6 victory over the West’s Tigers in front of a sell out crowd solidified the Eels solid start to the season. Parra would go on to place in the top 8 after every round of the Premiership. Sorry, who’s home ground is it? By the way, pass the salt please.
May mixed the good, the bad and the sad. On the good news front, the Federal Government Grant towards the Kellyville Centre of Excellence was announced. The bad was the hammering at the hands of Melbourne during the Magic Round. Unfortunately, the sad news came with the passing of Eels legend, Dennis “Big D” Anderson. Parra’s in the tunnel mate!
It was a strange brew on the footy front in June. An embarrassing loss against the Sharks had the Shire players laughing on the sideline and Gus and Gallen doubling down by declaring that late Eels tries had come from boredom. Kaysa Pritchard announced his retirement. Later in the month the Eels would come from 16 nil down to defeat Canberra, the eventual grand finalists, 22 to 16. How’d that taste Ricky, me old mate?
In July we were left wondering about Parra’s claims to finals footy after their 36 to 24 loss to arch rivals Manly. A tough fought victory over the Warriors in Waqa Blake’s debut match seemed to right the ship, though there was plenty of bleating from across the ditch about a forward pass call. Hey fullas, it was so far forward he should have been marched for a professional foul!
August was another month of mixed footy blessings for the Eels. Victories over the Dragons, the Knights and the Titans had Parra fans dreaming of a Top 4 finish. Consecutive losses to the Dogs and the Broncos soon removed any possibility of two bites at the finals cherry. Off the field, Parramatta Chaplain George Dansey sat down with Forty and I to discuss his role at the club, and within seven days he was organising for Maika Sivo’s father to surprise his son. Bula George!
The joy was unfortunately followed by the pain in September. Off the field Eels Chairman Sean McElduff spoke with TCT about PLC constitutional reform and how that would benefit the football operation. The Club announced that Reagan Campbell-Gillard had signed a five year deal to commence in 2020. God bless the Riff for their generosity in now covering a chunk of two contracts. On the field, revenge was sweet as the Eels thumped Manly to leapfrog them into fifth place at season’s end. The grades were crazy! Fans were also treated to an inner sanctum experience as cameras were allowed to record Brad Arthur’s instructions and reactions during that clash. Ecstasy ensued the following week as records were set in the Eels 58 to nil demolition of the Broncos in the first week of the finals. One week later the season was over for Parra when the Storm delivered a hiding of their own. Wenty surged late in the season and with Tim Mannah’s career coming to a close, had one hand on the Canterbury Cup trophy, only to be robbed by an erroneous late penalty and then a freak try in extra time. Damn you referees! We weren’t even wearing Blue and Gold…
In October we farewelled Eels CEO Bernie Gurr. The club owes much to Gurr’s guidance out of the mess that was 2016. The march forward has not been an easy one, but the trust and confidence from supporters and corporate partners has gradually been restored. The NRL draw for 2020 was released and Forty broke down the early away match load and the terrific run home. No excuses baby, bring it on!
In November, TCT examined concerns about the retention processes in Parramatta’s junior pathways. There was no shortage of interest in the topic as it became one of our highest viewed posts. Early in the month, the Eels officially announced the recruitment of Ryan Matterson, ending months of speculation about the Parra junior returning home. Speculation also ended around the new CEO appointment as Jim Sarantinos was announced by the club. Preseason training kicked off with a staggered return for the players after post-season rep games. No Gutho at Saleyards = others getting the chance to lead the conditioning runs.
December kicked off in a big way with the announcement of Joey Johns’ appointment to the Eels coaching staff. It’s then a massive end to 2019 as constitutional reform is finally passed for Parra Leagues Club, and the Eels administration and football department move into their new headquarters at Kellyville. Hello future!
As we wind up this fourth year, a massive thanks to The Cumberland Throw’s sponsors – Easily Green Energy Solutions and Starr Partners Real Estate Auburn and Narellan. These companies are big supporters of the Eels and their sponsorship helps us to keep the Parra news coming your way.
On behalf of the TCT fellas and our extended crew of contributors and friends, I extend our thanks to our loyal readers for your support over the last 12 months. I’d also like to extend our appreciation to the coaches, players and staff at the Eels who’ve allowed TCT access to training and taken the time to speak with us throughout the year.
Here’s to a great year ahead. I’ve got a feeling that 2020 will be a ripper…