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Opinion

South Sydney marches on and on

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Roar Guru
2nd October, 2021
8

The South Sydney Rabbitohs and 113 years of history will be on show when they take on the Penrith Panthers in what will be the club’s 35th grand final.

Even though the big game is being played in Brisbane, the Bunnies will have plenty of fans at the stadium with millions more tuned in around the world.

The South Sydney spirit is as alive and well as it has ever been. Remarkably, the club has already signed on 20,627 members for 2022, barely a week after they went on sale.

Anyone born in the 2010s wouldn’t be that surprised by this. After all, the Red and Green have plenty of brand appeal with even celebrities such as Russell Crowe, Ray Martin, Tom Cruise, Snoop Dog and Oprah Winfrey all showing their allegiances in some way or another at some point.

However, for those who grew up in the 1990s, we all understand the pain the Bunnies went through which ultimately led to them being thrown out of the NRL in 1999. Poor results, low crowds and a crippling financial position all came to a head.

However, the power of the people, including those who weren’t Souths fans, ultimately saw the club come back in a big way. On 12 November 2000, there were an estimated 80,000 fans who marched through the streets of Sydney calling for the club to be reinstated.

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Led by club legend George Piggins, a sea of red and green showed the powers that be that a football club is so much more than a bank balance or bricks and mortar.

On 6 July 2001, the club had perhaps their most important victory when the court battle for reinstatement into the NRL was won. The Rabbitohs came back in 2002 to much fanfare, but reality soon hit home with a second-to-last place finish, followed by three wooden spoons in four years.

But the fans didn’t waver with nearly 10,000 signing up as members in 2007, with the Bunnies returning to the finals for the first time in 18 years. This coincided with Crowe buying a stake in the club with Peter Holmes a Court.

Finally cashed up, the fans thought a return to the glory days was imminent. But even then, from 2008 to 2011 Souths didn’t make the playoffs. It just proved that Souths were all about the blood, sweat and tears. There was never going to be a quick fix.

So led by the likes of junior products John Sutton, Nathan Merritt, Adam Reynolds, Luke Keary and Alex Johnson as well as tough imports in the Burgess brothers (Sam, Tom, George and Luke), the Bunnies finally rolled up their sleeves and over the past decade have appeared in eight finals series including the historic drought-breaking premiership win in 2014.

(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Reynolds, Johnson and Tom Burgess are all survivors of that 2014 team and will aim to grab their second premiership win.

While Reynolds will sadly move on to the Broncos next season, the Bunnies’ policy of building from within will hold them in good stead in the coming years with Cameron Murray, Keaon Koloamatangi and Blake Taaffe all set to carry on the legacy along with Johnson.

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With COVID hopefully ending sooner rather than later, next year the Olympic Stadium will be an amazing place to be with the Rabbitohs faithful eager to show their true colours.

Win or lose tonight, one thing is for sure, the Rabbitohs and their fans will be marching on. For those who want to be a part of the ride, they can hop on now.

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