This has been a challenging week.
I’m naturally a glass half full supporter and take pride in focussing on the positive in and around the Parramatta Eels, so being critical of the club that I am passionate about didn’t come easy.
Eels staff, executives, directors, volunteers, the football department staff and players are incredibly dedicated and go above and beyond in their desire and commitment for success for the Parramatta Eels.
I can say with great conviction that the Parramatta Eels is a family club. That means people are important. So it hasn’t sat well with me that in being critical of this season, I’m publicly stating that my family has got something wrong.
That family might feel that I jumped the gun with my criticism. Firstly the season isn’t over. Secondly, Eels management don’t shy away from being self-critical and a review of any aspect of their operation that hasn’t achieved what was expected would always be planned to take place.
The response to the first two posts in what is a series has been beyond expectations, but that hasn’t made me any less challenged about my decision.
From the moment the post appeared on TCT, my phone went into meltdown. On TCT itself, there was a surge of fans wanting to have their say. Many agreed. Others suggested that I was not basing the article on facts and inferred other motives. I’ve tried to respond to as many replies as I could but I had to draw a line.
To anybody that looked for more from me in that regard I apologise. It simply required the time that I don’t possess.
Furthermore, there are upcoming parts to the series so I hope that readers will see a more complete picture.
Before this week I had declared to some of those close to me that the thought of taking a step back from TCT for a while had been crossing my mind. Reverting to being a person in the stands and nothing more seemed very attractive.
Up until yesterday, that thought was becoming more entrenched.
Then I attended the Blue and Gold Alliance Eels reunion yesterday at Parra Leagues and felt blessed to be a Parra supporter and privileged for The Cumberland Throw to be a part of the Blue and Gold family.
The Eels football club paid for the reunion event. Parramatta Leagues Club, the venue for the luncheon, sponsor the Blue and Gold Alliance and their events which bring former graded players and officials together.
I had the privilege of attending a BGA committee meeting in the lead up to the reunion. I witnessed their passion and commitment to grow the reach of their not-for-profit organisation. Their goal of assisting and connecting all former Eels players and staff is a monumental task. The 2024 “Back to Parramatta Day” will feature prominently on next year’s calendar.
Yesterday’s luncheon came just when I needed it. My supporter flames were reignited as I watched how much these people enjoyed each other’s company, and what brought them all together was their common experience of being a Parramatta Eel.
There were some in the room who never played first grade. In fact, this year’s reunion featured a dedication to the 35 year anniversary of the 1988 Presidents Cup title win, with footage playing on the big screen throughout the day.
The level played didn’t matter. The path to Parra, be it from the juniors, from other clubs or other regions, is never a factor for the BGA. They were all part of the family and all shared a common bond.
Reunion festivities continue today when the BGA gathers for brunch at the club and then takes their lap of honour before the Eels and Dragons clash at CommBank Stadium.
Make sure you’re there in the Stadium to get behind the Eels NRLW and NRL teams. They need your support in what are critical matches.
You also have the opportunity to cheer for the past players as they take their position on the field prior to the NRL game. And if you see anyone in their special BGA gear, stop them and say g’day. It will be greatly appreciated by them.
As for me, I’ll be cheering loudly in the stands in full supporter mode. You can then catch Forty and I in Jacks Bar and Grill after full time for our Instant Reaction podcast.
And the Blue and Gold Alliance will be a big reason for the smile on my face.