Toovey revives the old fibros versus silvertails hatred
New Manly Sea Eagles head coach Geoff Toovey. AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Manly coach Geoff Toovey has made sure the bad old days around 1978, engineered by Western Suburbs coach Roy Masters, have returned: a different version of the battle of the fibros against the silvertails.
Toovey has suggested to the Manly faithful to boo and jeer Bulldogs coach Des Hasler tomorrow night at Brookvale for leaving Manly to go the Belmore just five days after winning last year’s NRL premiership.
Turn the clock back 34 years and before any game against Manly-Warringah at Lidcombe or Brookvale, Masters would pair off his squad and have them slap each other in the face, then spit on each other between the eyes.
It signified the intense social hate between the fibro-living Western Suburbs and the elite-living upper class of the North Shore.
It was all bullshit.
But Masters was a master at using social bias to make his team fired up to the max in the shed before they took to the field.
Magpies against Eagles were always brutal affairs, fibros and silvertails became cemented in rugby league folklore.
Toovey has sparked a dangerous repeat of that bias, even though the target is Hasler, not the Bulldogs.
This is especially poor as Toovey was Hasler’s assistant coach on the way to the premiership. Bad call, Toovey, virtually ensuring he will incite a riot.
Rugby league is better than that, and so too is Toovey.
But, as some commentators would say, any way you can get an edge in this tight competition, grab it.
This game in particular promises to be a blockbuster between the reigning premiers and the front-line pretenders who have won their last eight games playing entertaining and enterprising rugby league.
Roy Masters will be sitting back and enjoying every tension-filled minute of this game, reminding him of what he created in his side with the likes of Tommy Raudonikis, Les Boyd, Bruce Gibbs, and John Donnelly against Frank Stanton’s Max Krilich, John Gray, Terry Randall, and Graham Eadie – refereed by Greg Hartley, controversial enough in his own right.
Yesterday Roar expert, Tim Prentice, a Manly faithful, called on Manly fans to show Des Hasler his due respect for what he did for the Peninsula club through 255 first grade games and 11 years on the coaching staff that produced three grand finals and two premierships.
Prentice was right on the money; Toovey is way out of line.
But Toovey will win his point and Prentice, along with rugby league, will be the losers.
It will just reinforce the old saying: every rugby league fan supports his own team, and any team playing against Manly.
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