How to sell the Sea Eagles vs Cowboys match
119 Have your say
Manly celebrate during the qualifying final between the Manly Sea Eagles and North Queensland Cowboys
It may only be Tuesday, but this weekend’s semi-final between Manly and North Queensland already has NRL officials throwing their hands up in the air and moaning about the match being a ‘hard sell’.
Keep in mind this is a sudden death play-off match, and not season two of The Shire, a dinner date with Brian Smith or Paul Harragon’s sing along at home karaoke CD.
The mad men down at the game’s marketing department blame this difficulty on their simply being no ‘angle’ on which to advertise the game.
This is typical small minded thinking by the pony tail and pointy shoe brigade who believe rugby league was invented in 1998 by Kerry Packer in a fit of pie depraved rage.
Dig just below the surface and you’ll see that there’s a whole raft of ways in which the instant classic between the ‘Eags and the ‘Boys could be sold to the Sydney city.
Like how about following the trend of creating a trophy played for by the two clubs, and naming it after a player who represented both sides at some point in his career?
Sure the ‘Michael Bani Cup’ doesn’t have the greatest ring to it just yet, but give it a year or so and I’m sure it will become a much sought after prize.
Or what about building up a sly sledge in the press from one of the camps, that’s always good for chewing up some column space.
With angry ants Neil Henry and Geoff Toovey pulling the strings it shouldn’t be too difficult to get a quick sound bite to rub some liniment into old wounds.
Nothing below the belt mind you.
There’s no need to go bringing out any Northern Eagles calls, but having a debate about whether Jamie Lyon or Johnathan Thurston whinges to the referees more could be dragged out for three days. It would be easier than dragging Brett Hodgson into touch.
Failing this, wheeling out a disgruntled former star is always guaranteed gold for these sorts of matches.
Poor old bloody Max Krilich is sitting by the phone, half-heartedly trying to pick the winning suitcase on Deal or no Deal just waiting for an unscrupulous rugby league journo to ring and let him vent his spleen about how North Queensland is soft up the middle, and has beaches with that awful coarse muddy sort of sand.
If these old chestnuts fail to spark public interest maybe something a bit more out of the box, something a bit more Michael Pobjie like is needed.
I’m talking a full-blown campaign.
Although the novelty of the Cowboys becoming competitive after being blue and grey tackle bags for so long has mostly worn off, the fun of hating Manly has not for most. Cest la vie.
Therefore instead of just billing the game as a North Queensland versus Northern Beaches match, I propose they turn it into an ‘Everyone versus the Eagles’ night to embrace the neutrals.
All of a sudden you’ve gone from one small supporter demographic, to thousands of fans being bussed in from Parramatta, Redfern, North Sydney and Newcastle just to cheer on their enemies’ enemy.
Maybe even expand on this with a big screen at Darling Harbour showing three minutes of hate clips, 1984 style, with montages of Matthew Ridge not being called held and Ken Arthurson signing Rabbitohs players to enrage the masses.
It would be ace, and the upside of this is Manly fans would enjoy it more than Tommy Raudonikus enjoyed getting hit in the head with a can of beer before a big match.
Or, if any of the above sounds too difficult or off-beat, the NRL organisers could always take a look back into the history books and see what the old NSWRL did when Manly played the Broncos during the semis three times in the early 90s.
Average crowd for those three games? A tick over 34 thousand.
Must have been one hell of an angle.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar since 2011. Tweet him @Vic_Arious