The Cumberland Throw

From The Stands – True Rivalry Is Not A Media Creation


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.

Mitch Moses

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.

A poor take from the FoxNRL Twitter account

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.


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Colin Hussey

Shelley, an excellent and short (for you) report from the stands. As a very long term eels supporter, and not able to attend games these days, I look to watch as many games as I can, likewise doing the daily rounds of the media news and reports. From where I sit, after the first start up of the criticisms against Matto, I stopped reading what was said, but what got me was the way some old Wests/Balmain players had to say in the media, which went further than necessary, even refuting the reply from our club as to what Matto… Read more »


I just didn’t get this build up to the game, Colin. There’s always an element of click bait with Parra fans responding to such headlines, but most people I know were simply saying “what…” It was correctly interpreted as a beat up. It’s hard to imagine Tigers players needing to be revved up by such talk, because it was an important game on its own merits. If they did need the rev up, that’s not a good sign.

Colin Hussey

Mate, to me its more than poor the way the build up went, end of the game the players seemed to get on ok which to me appears a contradiction to the pre match/week went at least that’s a positive. The way the eels supporters at the game showed their respect and response to Chee Kam when taken off in the medi cab, showed more class and thought than was shown from the pre game week, and how RL supporters should respond. I look back over the years, and cannot recollect anything close to the weeks media prior to this… Read more »


Colin, I was distressed watching Chee-Kam’s seizures and actually had to look away. You know that something is a major problem when the medical staff from both teams rush onto the field to treat someone. Anyone who truly loves rugby league, and that’s about 99% of people at a match, would have felt similar. Everybody was undoubtedly wishing him the best and the only way we can show it there is to respectfully clap as he leaves the field.

Colin Hussey

That’s the whole thing mate, I too watched how on the TV after a break owing to the staff attending the player, and they came back, with Chee Kam still on the ground it went to more adds, when the next bit came on and the cab was being maneuvered and Chee Kam was gently lifted on to the cab, one could very much hear the wonderful clapping by those at the ground, the cameras then panned the crowd and there to see was the mass of Eels supporters standing and clapping for him as he went off. The eels… Read more »


Gutho kept coming over while he was being attended to.


The old saying form is temporary class is permanent comes to mind. It might be hard to ignore but in the end our club will be better for it. Making excuses is our past and watching other clubs making our old mistakes shines a light on how ridiculous we must have looked. It is so good to have a professional team and admin. It is a shame about Fox as there are some good people on it. Cooper Cronk always tips against us but he has a reason to back up his view. I may not agree but I respect… Read more »


Colin, I think Packer got his week off due to his crusher tackle on Gutho. No sanction at all for his hit on Matto.


Nice write up Shelley. Nothing really surprises me with the media anymore, it’s all just click bait garbage designed to trick people into going to their sad, dying websites. I stopped buying the Telegraph and SMH years ago during the Salary cap farce and I won’t be buying one ever again. The “Journos” at those bin lining publications could actually learn a lot from the TCT. With its positive footy coverage and insight that actually focuses on the great aspects of League the TCT has quickly become my number 1 location for Eels related content. You guys don’t need the… Read more »


Much appreciate the considered reply Clive and thanks also for your kind words about TCT. In relation to your analysis of the qualities that those players bring, what I’d like to add is that together there is a terrific balance across the squad, that’s probably matched by a balance in the cap. Yes some players are well rewarded, but we don’t have individuals getting the exorbitant payments that certain clubs shell out for marquee signings.


Your absolutely right mate, the balance across the park is excellent at the moment. The forwards have a great blend of hard working players with skill who are solid defensively while the backs have enough strike power to beat anyone. My only concern at the moment is our lack of big game experience. Come finals time we will have to beat teams full of GrandFinal and rep experience like the Roosters and Storm whilst we only really have Fergo, Jennings and to a lesser extent Matto with success in those big games under their belt. Fingers crossed we can overcome… Read more »


The bottom line is that we are one of the teams in a window. That window should last for a couple of years at least. Are we good enough this year? Will inexperience count against us. Ah, the beauty of the unknown!


They are not journos they are authors. They need clicks and sometimes the truth gets in the way. There are so many good stories in league, but they take time to research and today speed is more important. If I was Matterson I would consider a defamation case. They have hurt his ability to generate a bigger income through sponsorship. The shame is how many people take what they read as gospel . I teach kids to think for themselves and reward it as it is becoming more and more scarce in our current climate.

Longfin Eel

I think the Wests CEO explained very well why Matterson left that club. Why would any player want to be part of a club that, as you say, looks to blame everyone else for their shortcomings. I know us Parra fans can sometimes have a cheeky dig at a player for leaving the Eels, but I don’t recall the club actually endorsing this behaviour. I think Wests believe they have a rivalry with Parra, but it seems to be one sided only.


Your last line sums it up quite well Longfin.


Well said. Let’s just say I often question when the Tigers may come to understand how important a CEO is. Any organisation must have good leaders.The saying that fish rots from the head is an apt saying to apply to the Tigers. They are a wonderful club, with wonderful hardworking volunteers who love the club but they are lack leadership.


Shelley, well said. I learned first hand growing up that Rugby League attracts a pretty broad spectrum of humanity.. I can’t stand the moral high-grounders who jump on everything they can to criticise the game. In many cases they may we’ll be right, some things are inexcusable but lawyers, doctors,accountants, politicians, priests also contribute to flaws in society. There are idiots in every crowd, unfortunately the brutality of League may well beget a higher volatility of expression, right, wrong or otherwise.The low grade crap coming from Tigers’ sources didn’t surprise at all after their infantile sledging of Ivan Cleary recently,… Read more »


If I was a Tigers fan, I’d hope that the players or coaching staff wouldn’t buy into it. Benji didn’t seem to when the media tried to draw him in. The fact that others in the club hierarchy may have is probably disrespectful to their own team.

John Eel

I thought that Benji was quite respectful of Matto. He also did it without throwing his club under the bus


Wise head has Benji

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