What value can be placed on the passion supporters have for their club?
From the stands I could not help but notice the passion that was on display throughout Saturday night.
It was so good to be back in a stadium that sounded like a genuine home ground. It was pleasing to see almost 20 000 people attend and I am sure that if the boys keep playing with that level of commitment and skill the crowd numbers will continue to improve.
You could feel the eagerness of the fans to engage in the game. When Fergo scored his first try and Nathan Brown put a big shot on Connor Tracey, the fans absolutely roared.
The passion for our club was also on display during the curtain raiser. Like many others, the Saturday night time slot provided the opportunity to get to the venue nice and early. It was wonderful to see so many juniors that I have heard so much about play in person, and no doubt it was exciting for these players to perform on a bigger stage in front of a couple of thousand people.
No doubt there was rust and you could see from the stands that the young players ran out of match condition – understandable given that it had been a month since their last game. But the great positive was to see them play in our jersey, the colours many have worn since juniors, at our home stadium, and have our victory song belt out over the speakers. No doubt they rejoiced in their own song later in the sheds.
It was a sign that the Eels are starting to live up to their title as a development club.
As for the NRL game, the Eels were far from perfect but it is only the third round. In refusing to stray from the game plan when the Sharks kept turning them away, the team displayed great composure.
On another note, I know and appreciate the difficulties of managing a salary cap but I really do hope we can keep Nathan Brown.
Every time Parra needed a big tackle or a big run on Saturday night he was there to provide it. He plays with little regard for his body and, at the risk of being branded politically incorrect, he is willing to get hurt to help his team.
The Eels have a team of very skillful players but that desire to win and push yourself to the edge is something that is rare and important in teams. In the past, I voiced concern over public negotiations but I think the club and its players have shown that they are committed to making this club successful. I will trust in the process and hope a solution can be found that keeps Brown at the club and is a good fit for both club and player alike.
Whatever happens we can be assured that every time Nathan Brown pulls on the Blue and Gold jersey, he will play with commitment, desire and skill – qualities that will no doubt help the Eels as the year progresses.
This Easter Monday Parramatta takes on a team who consider themselves to be a great rival but truthfully it is a rivalry game for the Tigers, not for the Eels.
The Tigers will come out full of energy but the Eels will be fine if they maintain the same resolve displayed against the Sharks.
On Saturday night, many supporters, including myself, were urging the Eels to score to put the Sharks away. Much deserved praise has gone to the Sharks but the Eels didn’t panic. Though trending upwards, that composure probably remains a work in progress,
There were times when Parra drifted a little too wide in the second half against the Sharks, but they will need to stay in the middle against the Tigers. This will open up the space out wide later in the game.
The middle is a real strength for Parra and it gives them the edge over many teams. They need to maximise the enormous potential of their powerful engine room.
Finally, in response to some of the noise surrounding my club, I wanted to express some personal views.
My extended family and I always attend the Easter Monday game. Most of us are Parra supporters but there are a few Tigers.
So why do I, a highly educated woman, a leader in my community, who has over the span of my professional career developed individuals to have a strong, independent voice, choose to spend my private family time supporting a football club and attending games.
It’s simple really.
I have friendships, my brothers have friendships, my parents have friendships and now my child has developed friendships that have been formed in and around football, both at a local club level and as supporters of our Eels.
We have that genuine passion for our club that I wrote about at the start of this column. And to put it simply, we have fun supporting them during the ups and the downs.
See you out at Stadium Australia on Easter Monday Parra fans, and bring your voices.
I have a feeling our cheers will be louder than their roar.