The Roar
The Roar


Perfect one game, horrible the next: Riding the ‘Blue and Gold’ rollercoaster brings elation and despair

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Roar Guru
28th September, 2022

No club since the invention of the internet has taken its fans on such an emotional roller coaster as the Parramatta Eels.

Their pages in rugby league’s rich and storied history have to be pried open with a crowbar after years of anguish and tears.

How much more can their fans be expected to endure? From elation to despair, week to week, season to season. Perfect one game, horrible the next. A sick twisted ride from hell would have more mercy on a person’s soul than the form of Parramatta.

The toast of the sport in the 80’s, Parra were the hottest ticket in this town and every other. Scorching their competition with an exhilarating style and worthy of god-like adulation.

Greats such as Sterling, Kenny, Cronin, Price, Grothe and Ella showcased the best of our game in a seemingly endless party. In a decade which produced so many luminaires, none shone brighter than the electric Eels – four premierships in six years and three of those in a row, the last team to do so. Think of some of the successful teams that’ve indulged us since to appreciate the enormity of that feat.

But the party ended. It crashed and burned. The cheers of their faithful fans now replaced by the echos of exhausted ghosts in the Corridor of Champions in Parramatta Leagues. Only the deafening sounds of silent suffering remain. Despite the occasional flicker since the glory days, the lights have long burnt out.

In a twist of fate mercilessly, yet delightfully scripted by the rugby league gods, standing in the way of their destiny is a dark force more terrifying than Darth Vader on a bad night.

The Penrith Panthers. The defending premiers, carnivorously pillaging their way to a third consecutive grand final appearance. If only they just appeared, rather they haunt, ravage and choke into submission. Champions are celebrated today, legends are celebrated forever.


This is the eternal glory awaiting these men. For them it’s always been about the team along with their families, friends and neighbourhood. They grew up together and dominate for eachother. They play for their jersey and their brothers beside them.

The magnitude of the task ahead of Parramatta can’t be understated. As if a 36 year premiership drought isn’t enough. They now have to conquer the toughest rugby league challenge since Slater, Smith, Inglis and Cronk shared the same dressing room at the Storm.

Can the weight of history and expectation propel Parramatta to cast an indelible impression on Penrith’s legacy. Can the blue and gold army’s decades of heartache, pain and suffering will their team to victory. If so, only the Rabbitohs version of 2014 can hold a candlestick to a party sure to be heard in every corner of the rugby league world. Beyond even.

The 1998 semi-final v the Bulldogs is a nightmare many have sought therapy to forget. The record breaking team of 2001 promised more than any before it (and possibly after it) and fell short to the magnificent Joey Johns in the grand final.

The minor premiership was the only thing the team of 2005 could win and who can forget the magic run in 2009, led by the unimaginable form of Jarryd Hayne. Not even such an incredible exhibition of rugby league talent by that year’s Dally M winner could deliver the long awaited holy grail.

Falling agonisingly close in the season decider v a Storm team later found to be cheating the salary cap. The collective heart of Parramatta fans could barely survive more trauma. Worse was to come including a wooden spoon in 2018.


After their first premiership in 1981 following a grueling wait of 34 years, Jack Gibson famously announced ‘the witch is dead’. Their fans have long since surrendered in a grim reality that she merely went into hiding but dead she most certainly was not.

In the last three years, the tide has well and truly turned. Playing an exciting brand with a new stadium they’ve lit a fire in the heart of their starved yet fiercely loyal army.

The belief can’t be stronger that they can deliver on their potential and destroy the curse that’s plagued so many before them. Will they flip the script and blow it up?, or will the mountain men from Penrith, headed by the games pre-eminent superstar Nathan Cleary continue their stampede to a dynasty not seen since Parramatta in the 80’s. The dramatic irony is a lustful subplot.

PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 09: Clinton Gutherson of the Eels makes a break during the NRL Qualifying Final match between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at BlueBet Stadium on September 09, 2022 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The haunting sounds of hells bells raining down with every Nathan Cleary torpedo, a feature weapon which won’t be alone in its torment of the Eels. Add Api Koroisau’s sleight of hand, Liam Martin’s physical strength, Isaah Yeo’s vision, the power of Viliame Kikau, the spirit of Dylan Edwards and the unbreakable brotherly bond between Jarome Luai, Brian To’o and Stephen Crichton and it’s impossible to see where they can lose.

Irresistible in the backs and relentless in the forwards. This team is brutally unfair yet by miracles unexplained, Parramatta has the game to beat them. They’ve proven so twice this year.

Phil Gould was once mocked for claiming the Panthers would one day be the envy of sporting clubs in this country.


At the time, Santa Claus seemed more believable. He was right. Many would take egg on their faces in lieu of the superhero Frankenstein created. For Parramatta and their fans, Halloween arrives early this year. But no superhero story was defined without a perfect villain.

Enter Mitchell Moses, the touch of an angel with a name from the heavens. Confident he was chosen to save his people from rugby league purgatory. Not even the birth of his first child could pause his pursuit for rugby league perfection. He is a man possessed. At the peak of his powers and seemingly unaffected by the weight of expectation nor the cursed number on his back. In Moses v Cleary we will be spoilt in the contrast between natural footballer and consummate professional. A true tale of Talent v Technique.

For long, Parramatta has vindicated their doubters, the team stacked with the ‘best of the rest’ and the record to prove it. Missing the genuine megastars which shine brightest in the biggest games. Take their brave captain and fullback for example.

He was illegitimately crowned the king but Clint Gutherson can have his official coronation this Sunday. Who would dare stand against him?, especially with Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Junior Paulo standing guard. Richly, they’re not alone. Shaun Lane has become the ace in the pack missing from previous campaigns. More assists than Magic Johnson and just as tall.

On the edge they have the heart and might of Fiji in Maika Sivo and at five eighth, the classy Dylan Brown who reminds me of a young Freddy Fittler, same violent step too. He and his teammates have more threats than a North Korean nuclear power plant. They couldn’t care less for the sins of the past.

The fairytale has bar one chapter remaining. Many decry Parramatta’s premiership window closes after Sunday’s game. The likes of Reed Mahoney, Isaiah Papali’i and Marata Niukore won’t be around next year to find out.


Normally getting hopes up with their attack, it was their defense last week that could prove the perfect preview for a team ready to earn everlasting respect. Premierships are won by those that covet it most.

The rollercoaster of emotions faced by Parra fans is ready to rise to its peak once again. Full throttle and high above a Western Sydney stage on the way to the promised land. Only another Penrith Panthers reckoning can destroy it’s momentum.

Now to let immortality be decided.