Will the Green Machine show up in 2018?

Mark Campbell Roar Guru

By Mark Campbell, Mark Campbell is a Roar Guru

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    The Canberra Raiders are the result of rugby league expansionist ideals. Formed in 1982, they pushed the boundaries for the NSWRL outside of Sydney for the first time.

    Although they didn’t taste success immediately, the seeds were sown and by 1987 they had reached their first grand final. They lost to Manly, but their glory years were soon to follow.

    What is interesting about the 1987 team is that they officially had two coaches. Don Furner and Wayne Bennett shared the duties. I have always wondered how that would have worked on a day-to-day basis. Did one coach do more than the other? Who made the selections? I’m not sure, but I just can’t imagine Wayne Bennett allowing someone else to choose his team.

    Obviously that system was not to work. Don Furner finished up at season’s end, and in 1988 Wayne had moved to the Broncos. Tim Sheens joined the club, and while success didn’t follow instantly, 1989 was going to be their year.

    South Sydney finished minor premiers and had their hopes high for a title. Balmain fans thought this was their year as they had come so close the year before. Canberra had other plans.

    They finished fourth and made their way through Cronulla, Penrith and South Sydney before taking Balmain on in the grand final. The 1989 grand final is considered the greatest grand final ever. A 100-minute classic for the ages saw the Green Machine reign supreme 19-14.

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    Canberra was in full operation over the next four years. They dismantled opposition with ease – easy to do with the likes of Mal Meninga, Laurie Daley, Ricky Stuart, Bradley Clyde, Garry Belcher, Steve Walters in your side. Although they lost Glen Lazarus to Brisbane, they still retained a formidable forward pack to rival any other in the early 1990s.

    The Raiders followed their 1989 success with a title over the Panthers in 1990, but the replay in 1991 saw them lose the grand final to Penrith. A broken leg to Ricky Stuart cruelled the clubs hopes for the 1993 season, but in 1994 there was no denying the Raiders their continued dominance.

    The team was littered with Origin and international stars. They were a powerhouse of the game. It would have been interesting to see how the 1993 season would have turned out if Stuart had not broken his leg. I feel a Brisbane and Canberra grand final during this period would have been a classic.

    Since the 1994 season Canberra teams may have made the finals, missed the finals, played well or not so well. The fact remains that the late 1980s and the early 1990s were the Raiders golden years. I hope under Ricky Stuart’s coaching they get back to having continued success.

    I like the club, though the Raiders frustrate me when they don’t perform and I have selected them in my tips. Unfortunately for Canberra fans you just don’t know what you are going to get with the current Raiders team.

    The question Raiders fans should be asking of their management is: what lies ahead? What are the club’s plans moving forward?

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    The club is ranked sixth for membership, with 19,091 members for the 2017 season. That’s okay. The whole ACT region has a population of roughly 400,000 people. I know portions of this community are transient; however, the Raiders should be pushing to try and double their active member numbers.

    Furthermore, creating and maintaining the game day experience, such as what they already have with the Viking Clap, is going to ensure the fans show up come game day.

    I know it can get chilly cold in Canberra and that for many spending a night out in the conditions is not ideal, but this just forces the club to be more active with their fan engagement and creating a welcoming and positive game day environment.

    It would be nice if the Raiders could play at an enclosed stadium similar to Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand, which can hold 30,000 people. If Canberra had something similar near the city centre, that would greatly help the club into the future. An enclosed stadium means playing a night game in the middle of winter does not become a concern for the locals.

    That may be a dream, but it is a dream the club should pursue.

    For 2018 the dream should be for the title. This goal may be hard to achieve, but the side is still capable. The Raiders showed this in 2016, and although the club may have missed its chance then, if the Raiders come ready to play, then they are very much in the frame.

    No doubt that’s the question that Ricky Stuart is trying to address come season kick-off and the one the fans are pondering: will the Green Machine show up?

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • December 31st 2017 @ 8:59am
      Peter Phelps said | December 31st 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      No !

      The only place the Green Machine will be seen in 2018 will be propping up the table. Ricky needs to go.

    • December 31st 2017 @ 10:14am
      Greg Ambrose said | December 31st 2017 @ 10:14am | ! Report

      The Raiders have a very experienced coach in Ricky Stuart who no doubt is on pretty good money but it looked like they were coached by Joey Leilua in 2017. I can’t see Stuart coaching in the NRL again if things don’t improve.

    • December 31st 2017 @ 10:40am
      paul said | December 31st 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

      What a strange article. We get a history lesson, comments about the demographics of Canberra’s population, remarks about building an enclosed stadium and 2 short paragraphs about Canberra “living the dream” of wining the premiership in 2018, IF they turn up to play.

      Well that ain’t gunna happen. Stuart has no idea how to harness the talent at his disposal and while he’s the coach, they’ll be lucky to make 9th or 10th. Back them to lose more games than they win this year and you’ll do all right on the punt.

      • December 31st 2017 @ 10:45am
        Peter Phelps said | December 31st 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        “Stuart has no idea how to harness the talent at his disposal”

        That is why he always tries to recruit a known leader that can help do the job for him. Easy in Origin where you have a free pick of all the state’s best talent, much harder in Canberra where no one wants to go anyway.

    • December 31st 2017 @ 11:12am
      Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | December 31st 2017 @ 11:12am | ! Report

      I’m a Raiders supporter and I can’t really see the point to this article.

      People can bang on about how hopeless Stuart is as a coach but he got this team as high as second in 2016.

      An enclosed stadium has been proposed but has little support at the moment from an ACT government that has had to fund the Mr Fluffy asbestos housing buyback scheme as well as fund a light rail tram out to the Northern suburbs. And I’m not sure that an indoor stadium is necessary at the moment. If you have a look at the draw there is only one night game in the depth of Winter so that shouldn’t deter crowds and average crowds were actually very healthy last season built of the expectation built up after the team’s performances in 2016. I think a Raiders membership of 20,000 is about as high as one could expect. Who knows what 2018 will bring.

    • December 31st 2017 @ 11:16am
      Ian said | December 31st 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

      I don’t think the Raiders are well coached. They don’t seem to be working to much of a plan, rather relying on individual brilliance. Problem is they are full of inconsistent individuals, many of whom despite being long term first graders are still prone to occasional (or more) brain farts in games. I tend to characterise them as being a very skilled team but really seriously lacking in footy smarts.

    • December 31st 2017 @ 12:03pm
      Ron Norton said | December 31st 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

      Why the hell are there so many Raiders and Ricky Stuart haters on this site? Supporters of most other NRL clubs should be Raiders’ fans because over the years their clubs have pinched players that have been developed by the Raiders and gone on to star for those clubs.

      • December 31st 2017 @ 12:22pm
        RandyM said | December 31st 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

        Its Stuart they hate….

        • December 31st 2017 @ 2:39pm
          Peter Phelps said | December 31st 2017 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

          I agree with Paul, its not the Raiders that are the problem it is Ricky. He has proved time and again that he is useless as a coach often exploiting the skills and talents of others and passing them off as his own. The Raiders are well over the honeymoon period with Ricky so sadly they will continue to underperform until they get rid of him.

      • December 31st 2017 @ 1:36pm
        Paul said | December 31st 2017 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

        Ron, I don’t hate Stuart, I just think he’s overrated as a coach and he does himself and his Club no favours by going off at referees when his sides lose games. My mob “pinched” Paul Vaughan, who was doing nothing at the Raiders and he was dead unlucky not to play SOO. That’s where Stuart is not a good coach and guys like Bellamy and Wayne Bennett are.

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