Crash and burn time: 'I can't imagine the trauma of being one of the Blue and Gold faithful'

By Tim Gore / Expert

Now is the winter of Sydney’s discontent, in no way made glorious summer by this endless COVID lock down.

In Parramatta, that discontent may well be about to turn to total despondency as the realisation that the Eels once more aren’t actual premiership contenders hits home.

Looking at the draw for the remaining six rounds, there is a very real chance that Brad Arthur’s charges could now crash out of the top four.

I can’t imagine the trauma of being a member of the Blue and Gold faithful, and I don’t want to.

It is now 34 years and ten months since the Eels last triumphed. To put that in a more horrifying terms, it is coming up on 13,000 days since the JJ Giltinan Shield was carried around the SCG by Mick Cronin and Ray Price.

That is the longest premiership drought in the NRL.

Of the major sporting codes, only the Melbourne Demons and St Kilda in the AFL have had a longer wait.

Now, as NRL season 2021 has unfolded, it has become clear that it will be at least one more year before Parramatta might once more taste glory.

It’ll be one more year at least until the misery of the 2012, 2013 and 2018 wooden spoons can be assuaged.

The disappointment of getting knocked out in the preliminary final in 1999 and the desolation of getting rolled in the 2001 grand final will again not be eased.

There will be no lessening of the pain felt by the Eels over the robbery of the 2009 title by Tony Archer awarding a dreadful penalty to a side subsequently proven to have cynically broken the salary cap.

In reality the best this Eels team can hope for this year is a preliminary final exit.

Mitchell Moses offloads the ball. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

However, they may well again experience the wretchedness of 2017 and 2020 where their top-four finishes only resulted in straight sets exits from the finals.

And worse still, their run home sees them play the Roosters, Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles, Storm and the Panthers. Their only bottom eight opponent is the North Queensland Cowboys.

There is a real possibility they could drop five of their remaining games and finish out of the top four.

After their shock loss to the Raiders last start, the match against the Cowboys cannot be taken for granted either.

But how could that be? Before the start of the last round they were firmly in the NRL top four, having won 13 games and lost just four.

There is no disgrace in losing to the Panthers by a single point, right?

While they’ve also dropped a game against the Dragons, one to the Sea Eagles and one to the Bunnies, surely their form is good enough to see them as a genuine contender in 2021?

I mean, the Blue and Gold are one of just two sides – the Panthers being the other – to beat the Melbourne Storm this season. And they didn’t fluke the result, they did it with a display of gritty defence – not at all unlike that displayed by the victorious 1986 Parramatta Team when holding out the relentless waves of attack from the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs to win 4-2.

Clint Gutherson in that match showed us that he had transformed from a talented but mercurial fullback into a genuine star of the game, capable of leading his side to glory.

Sure, his leery try celebrations are ill advised and unpleasant, but his defensive calibre can now not be doubted.

In the pack he is assisted but some A-grade cattle in Junior Paulo, Ryan Matterson, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Reed Mahoney. The Eels also have the buy of the 2021 season in Isaiah Papali’i.

Then on the wing there is the superb Maika Sivo and at five eighth the ever improving Dylan Brown.

Surely that’s quality enough?

Well, yes it is. But only if they can get their mojo back immediately.

They have now lost four of their last eight games. So self-belief is clearly not riding as high as it was at the conclusion of Round 10 when they had experienced just one loss.

As well, halfback Mitch Moses is out with a spine injury. Say what you will about the young man from Ryde, he is clearly the Eels’ best try assister and also is the Eels main kicker in general play.

Whereas at the Storm Cam Munster kicks about 40 per cent of the time to Jarome Hughes’ 55 per cent, at the Eels Moses does over 60 per cent of the kicking, with the young Reed Mahoney and Dylan Brown chipping in for the rest.

Without Moses – or even with a Moses playing injured – the Eels strategic and attacking game must suffer significantly. And just how bad is that injury?

(Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Then there is the travel factor.

In season 2020 the COVID-19 contingencies had the effect of seeing the Eels play 18 of their 22 matches no more than 70 kilometres from their home ground. Take away their game at Gosford, that distance was no more than 40 kilometres.

The Eels are just three games into their forced Queensland exile and they have already lost two games. That their remaining six games are also away from their Bankwest security blanket must be of some concern to their faithful fans.

If the Eels lose to the Roosters surely all of that 34 years and ten months of horrible history will start to weigh very heavily.

It is possible that this, season that started so brightly – just like the freedom drive of the Night Rider in the legendary film Mad Max – will end up suffering the same fate: crashing and burning horribly.

All the long, long-suffering Parramatta Eels faithful currently locked down in Western Sydney will be praying that it doesn’t.

The Crowd Says:


Wait a minute!


I really don’t think it matters what Parramatta do or if they actually improved enough to make the GF. As they’d most likely be playing Melbourne. If Melbourne are at full strength, it would be another sad day for most supporters. As Melbourne will win again this year. That goes for the other teams as well. I’d say , if you get Melbourne in a pouring rain GF. Another team may have some chance of being victorious. Maybe a new game plan made just for playing Melbourne & this hand not shown until the GF , if played in the dry? Really moving the ball around, chip kicks for your wingers. Different moves that Bellamy can’t study , before the GF. Maybe a chance against them then. Realistically though, Melbourne will just win it again. Good to make a GF though. Whoever the other side is that’s taking them on. They have my support...????


Kent Dorfman

Roar Rookie

yeah, that's why i thought they could do it down the boozer - just 2 blokes chewin the fat & having a flutter on the TAB if any of the board members ask



Roar Rookie

Well this article was quite prophetic… :laughing:



Roar Rookie

Remember 1995 with a salary cap of $1.8M they signed the "Canterbury Four" for $1.7M ? Remember 1996, with a team valued on the open market at $9M+ they earned the embarrassing nickname of "The $9 million flops" No sympathy from me


Tom G

Roar Rookie

“A slightly more progressive version of Luke Brooks” .. that’s what I call harsh but very fair. The most overhyped player in the comp




Parramatta are just simply overrated. They have a good roster but I think it's been made out to be a lot better than what it is. From 1-13 it's a solid team but after that the quality drops off a cliff. There's a very good chance that they will only win 1 game from their last 6 now and finish in 6th spot. They might get through week 1 of the finals if they finish 6th but it's hard to see them beating anyone if they get to week 2. If they have another early finals exit, surely it's time that BA's job comes under scrutiny. He's delivered nothing but mediocrity for almost 10 years now and somehow still has a job.



Roar Rookie

Hi E-M. It may be my blue gold eyesight but I don’t think there is the blind to all faults, greatest team in universe, pride of the solar system, this year their a shoe-in stuff that comes with the other top team fans. Eels ones seem to bit a bit more sceptical, reserved in the ‘it’s our’s’ bragging ‘crystal ball’. Not saying there is no ‘we was robbed’ talked. Lol



Roar Rookie

Hi Kent. I sometimes felt sterling didn’t want to get too involved cause he knew the board was always so shambolic



Roar Rookie

Well said Ben. As a long, long term Eels fan, sadly, I think Tim is on the money, I have just watched us lose woefully to an understrength, clunky Roosters. We may not win another game this season. I was at the 2009 (and 2001) Grand Finals also. As much as I think Brad Arthur has really brought the Eels up from being in a complete mess 8 years ago, I'm afraid he cannot take us any further. I think it is time for a new voice into the dressing room. From hearing Shane Flanagan's commentary, he sounds very astute. Maybe he would be a good hire?


Kent Dorfman

Roar Rookie

can you put that in a pie chart so i can understand it?


no one in particular

Roar Guru

the train carige


no one in particular

Roar Guru

what players say to the media about their current coach needs to be taken with more then a grain of salt



Roar Rookie

6 out of 9 people like 3 out of 5 stats except 2 out of 5 left handed retirees who prefer cornflakes for breakfast


The Barry

Roar Guru

Can’t believe the 1998 preliminary final didn’t get a mention in the list of Eels heartbreakers… leading 18-2 with ten minutes to go and got done 32-20…


The Barry

Roar Guru

Nice reference…



Roar Rookie

XXXX :stoked:


The Sporacle

Roar Rookie

Might be frustrating but I do love em :thumbup:


Kent Dorfman

Roar Rookie

you'll have to watch the Parra re-runs to see Hindy's bike rack


Ben Lewis

Roar Pro

As much as it stings to admit; a very good and accurate article, Tim. I was there at the 2009 GF with my Dad and we were both heartbroken when Archer penalised Moi Moi for a perfect tackle on Billy Slater. It still riles me up watching it even to this day but the Parra faithful can’t blame that for the loss; the Storm were the better side for the first 65 minutes. We came out nervous and they put us to the sword, and that was that. We did well to pull back to 22-16, and we probably would have scored again had Slater’s knock on been called as such, but you can’t wait till the last quarter of a grand final to kick into gear. As far as this season goes; at the start of the year I said that anything short of a preliminary final appearance wasn’t good enough and needed to result in BA being moved on. I maintain that opinion, especially now. A top 4 spot is vital to a premiership, and makes a preliminary final berth all the easier. We’ve been entrenched in the top 4 all year, so if our run home drops us to 5th or 6th, we’re gone. The top 3 is pretty much locked in, barring a tremendous form slump by the Bunnies or Penrith somehow collapsing without Cleary. That leaves a three way battle between the Eels, Roosters, and Sea Eagles for the coveted fourth spot. Provided that Tom Trbojevic doesn’t get injured, you’d have to say Manly are the favourites given their run home. For Parramatta to hold on to their place, they need to start off with a defeat of the Roosters tonight. If we can’t beat Easts with half their team injured, we won’t beat the Bunnies, Manly, Storm, or Penrith either, and I’d be nervous of the Cowboys too. Forget Melbourne in round 2, tonight’s game is the most I’ve been nervous all season. Anything less than a win simply isn’t good enough and puts a proverbial line through our season. I sincerely hope we can get it done.



Roar Guru

I only started watching this side of Superleague so I'll take your word for it...

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