Matt Destry said something interesting this week. He said "How funny is it that everyone is getting on the Parramatta bandwagon".
Even my boss said he was going for them this weekend....mainly to support me. What a top bloke Bretto is!!! :)
Matt has a point, although when you have one Sydney team in a Grand Final against a bunch of Mexicans south of the border, it's not that hard to jump on. Plus you can't go anywhere without hearing about the Eels or seeing a picture of Jarryd Hayne.
The hype is palpable.
Which takes me back to the early 80's. For five years from 1981-1986 I sat in my Nan's green fibro house that was 22 Isabella St North Parramatta for each grand final that the Eels played in during that period. I sat there with my blue and gold fluffy Koala and ball, cheering them on. But one thing stuck with me for nearly thirty years and it was an incident that started at David Jones Parramatta.
In 1982 as we walked through the store one night, I saw something that grabbed my attention. It was a fair dinkum, mini Eels football, blue one side, gold the other, made of leather with the classic 80's Eels logo. It was $9.95.
I wasn't a kid that asked for much, but I asked for that ball. I really wanted to take it to school with me and play footy. But the request was rejected and I was totally dejected. Not many things cut me the way not getting that ball did.
So....in 1988 I moved to the Shire, got nailed for going for the Eels and from 1990-2007 made a half hearted attempt to go for the Sharks. By the early 2000's I was talking about the Eels glory days at our Blooms The Chemist Friday drinks and footy tipping meetings, whilst maintaining the facade of going for the Sharks. But in 2008, on my 36th birthday, at Waymount Farm, I revealed something to my family. I had secretly gone to Rebel Sport Miranda and bought myself the centenary 1908-2008 NRL Eels football. The family thought I was having a mid life crisis. Then I unveiled the teams the kids would support and presented them with a ball: Liam the Sharks (that was a given, he wants to play for them), Elouise the Bulldogs, Rose the Tigers, Ronan the Dragons. From that point onwards we have become footy bogans. Then something wonderful happened. On the day the Sharks last played the Eels at home this year Elouise made a decision she would go for the Eels. So ever since then, we have had some wonderful father/daughter bonding yelling at TV's.
I always thought me and my kids would grow up surfing together, but that was not God's plan. We all play footy now, with Liam being the only true blue Rugby League player. But after 30 years of not feeling blokey enough to play footy I was asked if I wanted to play A-Reserves for Cronulla-Caringbah. I had to decline for 2009 but it's on the cards for 2010. Kel is playing Oztag, I just started an Oztag team and the little kids play touch footy every day with us.
And the Eels. God is doing something amazing in the NRL starting with the Eels. They might just get their first Premiership in 23 years on Sunday. And with the team from Hillsong by their sides, and Jarryd Hayne professing Christ ,God might just start to clean up this sport starting with them.
And my ball. Even though I had to buy it myself, at 36, it still felt as good opening it as it would have at 10.