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I rub my eyes a lot these days. Well, not really ‘these days’, but far more since 2006 when Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court paid for 75 percent of management rights at South Sydney.
The reason? Pure disbelief at how some alleged Souths fans grasp every opportunity to criticise, knock and be a general cheerleader for the next depression whenever it comes to the topic of the ‘PHaCrowe’ regime.
Some of the criticism, and quite often in the so-called mainstream media, appears to be written with a very sympathetic slant towards the previous management of South Sydney. Possibly because some journalists are masters of old time mateship and very little else.
However I don’t have any mates who I might offend, possibly because I have already offended them, so I will deal with a commodity seldom mentioned in the mainstream media. It’s called fact.
Around about 1999 South Sydney were in a financial situation so perilous that if it had been you or me we would have been camped out the front door of the Salvos with a handwritten sign saying ‘Help’.
By the admission of the management at the time we were looking at extinction, or at best, relocation to the Central Coast.
Yes, very impressive. Not to mention that had we not been in such a state, there would have been no expulsion from the premier competition.
From ‘99 through to around 2005 we were a basket case. We had to pay overs for even average players. We announced signings of players I struggled to recognise as ‘marquee signings’.
Nobody wanted to come to play for Souths, unless it was for a hefty retirement payout.
Yet we still hear criticism of Russell and Peter and are asked what they have done for Souths?
Well, survival was a pretty good first-up trick. Yes Russell, we did still respect you in the morning.
Moving on, 2007 saw Souths suddenly manage to attract Roy Asotasi and Nigel Vagana. Personally I am not convinced their signings were coincidence, I feel they may have had just a little to do with our new management.
Lo and behold, in 2007 we make the finals for the first time since 1989.
Okay, unless I am madder than the maddest hatter who ever got mad over a hat, this was some pretty immediate and enjoyable improvement.
Sure, we have had a couple of frustrating seasons, riddled with injury to star players, but still only missing the finals by one game.
However, let’s not bog down on one area, let’s look at the overall picture.
Our membership numbers are exceptional, either leading or coming second. Quite an incredible effort for a team not making the finals recently, and a true testament to how much this club is loved and supported.
We are arguably the most heavily sponsored team in the NRL.
We can now make bids for marquee players and be a serious chance of signing them, unheard of not so long ago.
Roster-wise, league experts call us a “top four roster”.
In 2010 we signed Sam Burgess and Dave Taylor, who were largely considered the two best young forwards in the world at the time.
Retention is no longer a problem, with players such as Sutton, Clark, Luke, and Merritt all signing extensions.
Oh, and did I mention the name Greg Inglis?
We secured arguably the most exciting young coach on the market in Michael Maguire and he is already starting to stamp his ‘Storm-like’ attitude onto this talented young team.
The future looks nothing but bright. Very bright.
However, I am still left rubbing my eyes in disbelief at the negativity thrown at Souths by some people.
I guess when some people look out their window at night, they see a pitch black sky. The rest of us see what’s really there, a shining moon and a truckload of stars.
Go the Bunnies!