After last week’s disappointing loss, there was nothing better than being back in the Bankwest Stadium stands cheering on an Eels win. Given some of the unnecessary rubbish played out in the media, achieving that victory over the Tigers seemed to be even more enjoyable than it usually is.
Wests Tigers were pumped and their first 30 minutes was played like a grand final. However, the Eels were able to dig in and, after the slow start, built up their ascendancy through the middle. I was really pleased to see us remain calm and stick to our game plan.
The cold slippery conditions did not suit Parra’s style of play, nullifying their ball movement and passing game. The Eels are preparing to play their best in September/ October. The end game starts in 9 weeks, when the winter and dewy conditions will have passed. I would play the Tigers on a Sunday afternoon any day. I would most gladly play them in a final, although I suspect they may finish just outside the 8.
There was one superb moment that stood out for me – the Mitch Moses try. We sit behind the posts at the northern end of Bankwest Stadium and had the perfect view of Moses recognising that the Tigers fullback was in the line. We could see his eyes spot the opportunity before he quickly switched sides of the ruck, backed his skill and executed at pace. It was brilliant!
That play demonstrated how and why our team has improved so much. We are no longer boringly predictable, but we also aren’t panicked into one out, off the cuff, miracle plays. The worst that could have happened with the Moses play was a goal line restart. It was clever and demonstrated the philosophy you need to win big games. You must take calculated, well executed chances when they appear, as good teams make few errors in defence. As BA has said many times, you must back yourself.
The match was a brutal, physical encounter. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief when news filtered through that both Michael Chee Kam and Ryan Matterson were both recovering well from their respective concussions.
Moving away from the game itself, it’s impossible to ignore the role that some sections of the media played in the build up to the game and in the post game takes. In my view, it was very unsavoury and it demonstrated the worst aspects of the media as well as small sections of both fan bases.
I attended the game with family, one of whom is a lifelong Magpies supporter. Our family memberships means she attends more Parra games than Wests Tigers fixtures. Her response to Matterson getting injured was as it should be – ‘ I hate the way he left the Tigers, but I really hope he is okay. I don’t wish injury on anyone.’ She loves her team, screams, yells support and is as one eyed as any supporter could possibly be.
But there is a line you don’t cross and unfortunately that line was crossed in the build up and post match. How anyone could wish any player injury is beyond me. It’s not okay and there’s never an excuse to think or say it, let alone make light of it in media headlines. And we certainly don’t need the media trying to manufacture a rivalry.
The Eels have a wonderful rivalry with the Eagles, Bulldogs and to a lesser extent Panthers. The Eagles and Bulldogs rivalries have been built up over decades, with histories rooted in grand final battles. They’re not based on petty, juvenile rubbish or hashtags, nor on anonymous sources, such as CEOs, bagging a player for having the audacity to leave a club.
If I could give advice to the Tigers officials and administrators it would be this. Focus on figuring out why highly talented footballers want to leave your club, instead of creating a “poor me” complex. I don’t see the Wests Tigers as a rival. I see them as a club who are still looking to blame someone else for their own shortcomings. I say this as a fan of a club who had the mentality of blaming others for decades. It does not work and will only bring about repeated misery. Trust us, we know this all too well.
Back to our club and what lies ahead this week. It’s that wonderful time of the year – a Bulldogs v Eels game.
Ladder positions and respective squad talents mean very little in these games. I’m looking forward to attending the game, even though it means going to ANZ. A huge reason for this is the opportunity to watch our Eels play a Sunday afternoon game. It’s been far too long and I predict that we may just see a little more of the attacking brilliance our team has at its disposal.
I won’t hide how much I will enjoy an Eels victory. Obviously it will help to cement the Bulldogs to the bottom of the ladder. I happen to have some very passionate, Bulldogs supporting, work colleagues who kindly presented me with a signed wooden spoon in 2018.
I very much hope to return the favour, after all, the Bulldogs are a true rival.