Illawarra and St George is a merger of unequals
When is a merger not a merger? When the public is fooled into thinking that St George and Illawarra merged to become the St George Illawarra Dragons.
If there is anybody left that still believes this has been a genuine merger, then twelve years later, here are some facts to digest:
- St George Illawarra’s mascot is the Dragon
- St George Illawarra is sponsored by the St George Bank further reinforcing the St George name in peoples’ minds
- St George Illawarra still plays in the traditional St George red V jersey. The “red V” brand is actively being used in a promotional campaign fronted by Wendell Sailor
- St George Illawarra’s team emblem is still the old St George emblem with the word Illawarra added at the bottom
- People in the media still have to make a conscious effort to include the word Illawarra when talking about the club and often use Dragons or Saints for simplicity. For the younger readers, these were used interchangeably when St George was a stand alone entity
The only concession made to supporters of the defunct Illawarra Steelers is to play four or five games per season at WIN Stadium.
Oh, and very occasionally the team will wear more red than white to show its roots. Token gesture, anyone?
Please, give us some credit.
It gets worse. By far the ultimate hypocrisy is when commentators (hello Ray Warren) talk about the club winning its last premiership in 1979. This is outrageous. The old St George is cactus and the new St George Illawarra has won nothing.
The Wests Tigers triumph in 2005 was rightly called the first premiership for that club.
What would make St George Illawarra so different in the unlikely event that it ever wins a premiership?
A real merger is when the two clubs make a genuine effort to combine on all practical fronts. Again, look at the Wests Tigers. They split the games, split the name (my no Balmain, for your no Magpies), created a brand new team emblem, created a brand new jersey plus a Leichhardt version and a Campbelltown version to acknowledge the traditional supporter bases.
So it seems that St George trousered the millions on offer when the NRL was frantically encouraging mergers in the late 1990s. Money in the bank and only a negligible impact on the original St George brand. Good business if you can get it.
Still, at least Illawarra has a skerrick of representation in the NRL today.
As for the conversation about how the treacherous Manly used the Northern Eagles as a front to expunge the North Sydney Bears and to collect the millions on offer at the time, we will leave that for another day.
Looking to join The Roar team? We're searching for an experienced Group Sales Manager to lead our team in Sydney. Yes, this does mean you get to work with the site all day long! If you're a digital media sales star, we want to hear from you. Apply now.
Passionate about your league? Then sign up to The Roar's brand new daily league email, delivering Roaring articles directly to you day-in, day-out. You'll love it!
Click here to join now!