The reboot of the 2020 Premiership on May 28 means that this week’s team list will be the last of the special editions.
Not that it hasn’t been enjoyable coming up with the themes.
However, the business of every season is about winning games of football. And given that it’s back to business in a big way next week, the team lists from here on in will be the 2020 Parramatta Eels.
But there is still this week – so how did we decide to finish the themes?
It’s Blue and Gold forever baby!
This is the top 17 longest serving Eels.
Each player made the list by virtue of the number of first grade games played. A spot in the team was then found for them – it was as simple as that.
Should I have selected the longest serving player for each position? Perhaps.
Nonetheless, at a time when many rugby league supporters have remained loyal to their club by maintaining their memberships, it seems only fitting to honour our club stalwarts.
Fullback Jarryd Hayne
2006 – 2014, 2018.
The Hayne Plane.
The most talented player I’ve ever seen in Blue and Gold.
Wing Daniel Wagon
1999 – 2008
We called him Superglue because he liked to latch onto that ball and hit it up.
He came to the Eels as a winger.
He finished as a reliable Mr Fixit.
Centre Mick Cronin
1977 – 1986
Imagine travelling from Geringong to Parramatta to train and play for ten seasons!
Helped nurture those around him to become champions too.
Centre Mark Laurie
1982 – 1992
Pebbles – the younger brother of Rocky Laurie.
Alongside Paul Taylor, Laurie was one of Parra’s best utility players with the ability to cover backline and forward roles.
His selection at centre is on the basis of 25 senior games in that position.
Wing Luke Burt
1999 – 2012
When Brian Smith rushed Luke Burt into first grade I was dumbfounded. He seemed so lightly framed and inexperienced.
Burt proved me wrong and played 24 games that year.
The Eels tried to release him a couple of times. He wouldn’t leave.
He was one of Parra’s best in that amazing 2009 season.
Five-Eighth Brett Kenny
1980 – 1993
Poetry in motion.
A player who deserves immortal status.
Two tries in three consecutive grand finals.
Bettered Wally Lewis when he faced him at five-eighth in Origin with 8 wins, four losses.
Halfback Peter Sterling
1978 – 1992
Another who deserves immortal status.
The Eels have searched for 30 years for someone to own the halfback jersey the way Sterlo did.
Comparisons with this bloke aren’t fair to anyone.
Arguably one of the smartest players to ever grace the footy field.
Prop Nathan Cayless
1997 – 2010
Captained Parra while still only 21!
A star local junior who also went on to captain the New Zealand Kiwis to a World Cup win.
Two grand final appearances.
And what about that field goal vs Newcastle in 2008!
Hooker Billy Rayner
Here’s a stalwart from some of Parra’s leanest years!
Across the six seasons from 1956 to 1961 the Eels only won 16 games in total. Naturally they collected the spoon in each year.
Incredibly, Billy was selected for Australia in 1960. Parra won two games that year!
He finished his career in better times with the Eels featuring in finals footy from 1962 to 1965.
Prop Bob O’Reilly
1967 – 1975, 1980 – 1982
You had to be a special player, and tough, to play in the front row in the 1960s. To do so at only 18 was next level tough.
The Bear was Parra’s first player to come through the local juniors into first grade and then play for Australia.
It was only appropriate that Bob returned to Parra to be a part of the club’s first title.
Second Row Nathan Hindmarsh
1998 – 2012
The most capped Eel of all time.
Two grand final appearances should have resulted in at least one Premiership.
Hindy had an amazing motor and the ability to bob up when needed, especially in defence.
Genuine warhorse player.
Second Row Ron Lynch
Parra had one of the most feared packs during the 1960s and Thirsty Lynch was a huge part of it.
He gained Australian selection during his first year at Parra, the wooden spoon year of 1961, but he would go on to earn 12 Green and Gold jerseys.
Penrith wooed him to the foot of the mountains to captain them for the last two years of his career.
Lock Ray Price
1976 – 1986
End of discussion.
Bench Fuifui Moimoi
2004 – 2014
I was one of the thousands to say “who?” when Brian Smith signed Fui.
I was one of the thousands to call “Fuuuuiiiii!” every time he charged onto the ball.
His 2009 Grand Final try was something special.
Bench Tim Mannah
2009 – 2019
Parramatta junior, team captain, NSW Origin player, club ambassador, community worker.
Tim should feel proud of his accomplishments.
Eels supporters should be proud that he pulled on the Blue and Gold.
Bench John McMartin
1966 – 1975
A genuine ball winner in the era of competitive scrums and demonstrably one of the fastest forwards of his generation.
He earned a NSW jersey but should have played for Australia.
Bench Steve Sharp
1979 – 1990
Sharpie was one of the most underrated Eels forwards during the golden era. Check out his role in Atkins try in the 1981 grand final.
The mobile forward made 73 top grade appearances over the 1981-1983 seasons – an average of better than 24 games per season. Jack Gibson didn’t select mugs.
Anybody who pulls on a first grade jersey is part of an elite group of players. Only just over 800 players have done so for the Eels, so to play such a massive number of games in the Blue and Gold jersey is something each of these players and their families can be justifiably proud of.
A few of these blokes spent brief periods at other clubs. Should I have restricted qualification to one club players? Perhaps that something that readers could debate.
When all is said and done, these footballers have played the most games for the mighty Eels. Twelve on this list notched up over 200 matches for our club.
That is definitely worthy of acknowledgement.