For so many 2020 has been a hard year.
Bushfires, floods and Covid have wreaked havoc on Australia and have also directly impacted our family. But at a time that was anything but normal and at times very worrying, we had the footy to bring us together. Sometimes we came together virtually to discuss the game and as the season progressed we met up at the games.
I was so disappointed for the team against the Rabbitohs. As BA said it was a lost opportunity, we can’t and won’t hide from that. This team should be aiming towards a premiership and if they don’t get that they need to look at why and set about improving.
My support for the team will always be there. I supported them in 2018 when they came last and I will certainly support them after our defeat against the Rabbitohs. The team trained all year to get that opportunity. I know they will be disappointed when they watch the tape but that game is gone. Learn from it, become better and bring on 2021.
People will throw stones and point fingers. Unfortunately our society has evolved to be able to scream and shout in a text message. I don’t need to repeat the criticism, so I won’t.
When I looked at our 2017 finals team there were only 4 players from that team who played against the Rabbitohs. I was a little surprised but in my mind it reinforced my view that this club is not standing still and doing nothing. After the disaster of the 2018 season we took our medicine, owned our mistakes and moved forward.
In 2019 the difference between our best and worst from week to week was miles apart. This year we were in all but one game. Apart from the Souths shut out, our losses still saw us lead early, but have a 10-15 minute period that killed us.
Again against the Rabbitohs our 15 minutes after halftime hurt us. It is easy to point to the missed goal kick but from the stands it looked like we lost that game in the 15 minutes after half time. We gave Damien Cook momentum and he is deadly if you do that. He got on a roll we could not stop. I am sure the players do not need me or any commentator to point this out.
When our starting forwards go off there is too much drop in our team. It is something we need to learn how to manage, because you cannot solve it by playing your starting forwards big minutes every game. Next year we need to learn to concentrate for every minute in every game. We need to learn to put a team like the Dogs away when we lead 18-0. Champion teams practise good standards every game so that when they get under pressure they do what they know. They practice them until they simply become what you do. That is why players come into the Storm team and slip into the role.
After the game we stayed and waited for our Eels to finish the huddle to applaud them. It was really hard to listen to the Bunnies song belt out over the loud speaker, but good luck to them. Their supporter base is as loyal and dedicated as ours. I don’t think they will win the competition but as both the Knights and we found out give them the opportunity and they will make you pay.
There will be knockers but that will always be the case. We sat in one of the Eels supporter bays, bay 119 and those seats gave me the opportunity to see something, the best moment from our game. I don’t think the TV picked it up but I saw it. It was the action I saw from our captain Clint Gutherson. Others will point out his ability to score points, to get our team into the fight, but I saw a better moment. I saw a moment that will help this team next year.
When Dylan Brown threw the intercept pass and the Rabbitohs ran away to score I saw Dylan put his head down. He was so upset. He was so disappointed. He has so much talent, and he gives his all every game but he is really a kid when it comes to first grade.
Gutho had used every bit of energy he had in the game. He could have dropped his shoulders and walked back but instead he stood up, ran immediately over to Dylan, put his arm around his shoulders, tapped Dylan on the head and walked with Dylan all the way back to the goal line.
Every champion team has a few leaders. The players other players play for, the ones they follow, the ones they trust, the ones they listen to because they don’t want to let them down. Lockyer and Petro at Brisbane, Johns and Ben Kennedy at the Knights, Ricky and Mal at the Raiders, Alexander and Simmons at Penrith, Thurston and Scott at the Cowboys. You get the point.
This team improved this year because our leaders emerged. They developed a presence on the field not simply as individual talented players but leaders. Gutho, Junior and Nathan Brown are our leaders. They are players others follow. They are the ones who need to drive our improvement over the off season. They will need to get our attention focussed onto the little things in games that we control, so that we develop good habits that hold up well in high intensity, winner take all games.
If you don’t believe me check Gutho’s photo on his Instagram feed post match. He put up a photo Mitch Moses. He said, without words, that he had Moses’ back. Blaming that loss on Mitch Moses only demonstrates the most elementary understanding of league. Having people’s back in tough times is what leaders do. This team needs Dylan and Moses to go to the next level next year. Knowing the other players have their back is an incredibly important part of their combined development.
I genuinely feel that for the first time in a long time we have on field leaders in this team that can take us to the next step. They are not just respected, as we have had incredibly well respected leaders in our recent past, but these three are integral to just about all our attacking and defensive powers.
Some will say we failed again. While I can’t ignore the areas needed for improvement and I know the team won’t ignore it, the development of a strong, determined, highly inspirational and young leadership group that has the desire to improve and the love and respect of the fans means that 2020 is not at all a lost year.
Last year when Gutho’s contract drama played out in the media I wrote our team does not function without him. He has proven that to be correct and now he has too very influential and talented sidekicks in Brown and Junior with him.
So in my last From the Stands for this season I finish with those simple words. Thank you to our players and staff. You made sacrifices so our game could go on. You made sacrifices so that families could have something to take their minds off the worries or the isolation that Covid brought to many people.
Thank you and have a great break. To those players leaving, thank you and good health. I am going to miss seeing Taka in the Blue and Gold.
As every Parra fan knows, there is always next year. I am sure all Parra players and fans will be reminded about 1000 times that 2021 will be 35 years since our last premiership.
Bring it on.