What are some of your favourite memories following Rugby League? On or off the field.
My personal top 10:
10: 1995 Bulldogs v Dragons Quarter Final
I went to the game with three mates, two Bulldogs supporters & a Dragons supporter. We were seated behind the end the Bulldogs were defending. After they scored the first try, and came back to our end, my Dragons mate yelled out “Enjoying your last game Terry.” Terry Lamb turned around & gave him a filthy look. From that moment I knew the Bulldogs were going to win the game, and probably the premiership.
9: 2022 Panthers v Eels Grand Final
It would probably surprise most people that I would put this one this low. While it’s hard not to like winning a Grand Final, especially against our biggest rivals, I have to admit, this is my least favourite of our premierships. At the time I was having some major mental health problems, and the fact I didn’t enjoy the game as much as I usually would made me finally admit I needed help. In saying that, it still provides a great memory for me. I go to the Grand Final every year with a mate from the school I went to for year 11-12. I often bump into another mate I went to school with up until the end of year 10 at Grand Finals too. By sheer luck, he had the seat on the other side of me. What are the odds in a stadium that size!!! The best thing about that game was to be sitting between two guys I have been mates with for over 30 years, who don’t support Panthers, but were cheering us on regardless.
8: 2014 Qualifying Final Panthers v Roosters
A game we were given little chance of winning, but managed to prove the doubters wrong. I was there with a group of mates, all Panthers supporters. We started with a few drinks with some other fans at Entertainment Quarter, before heading to the game. I was quietly confident, but thought we were gone when Pearce scored. Our boys kept themselves in the game, and when we won it in the dying moments, we went wild, celebrating.
7: 2003 Penrith v Manly at Brookvale
During Panthers run to the 2003 Minor Premiership, I went over to Brookvale Oval to watch us play. I was in there early to watch all three grades, along with a number of other Panthers fans. In the half hour before kickoff the hill filled up with Manly fans, and there was a bit of banter. One in particular stood out with his styled shoulder length hair, Hawaiian shirt & suede shoes, drinking wine & mouthing off a bit more than the others. Manly were up 26-12 at halftime & old mate was at his finest saying “You guys will probably win the premiership, and good luck to you, but we’ve got you tonight”. Second half starts & Panthers score soon after making it 26-18, old mate is still carrying on. Panthers score again, making it 26-24, old mate is still carrying on. Panthers score again, old mate goes quiet. Panthers score again & he takes off. Final score Panthers 52-26.
6: 2002 Bulldogs v Knights in Newcastle
My sister’s then boyfriend (now husband) is a Bulldogs supporter. While they were on their big winning streak, before being busted for salary cap breaches, me & my sister’s boyfriend decided to go up to Newcastle to watch the Dogs take on the Knights. Sitting on the hill, amongst a mixed crowd, we had one Knights supporter mouthing off at us all day. Knights got out to a 21-0 lead, only making this guy worse. Slowly the Bulldogs clawed their way back into the game, scoring in the corner to bring the score to 21-20 as the siren sounded, giving El Masri a sideline conversion attempt to win the game. The mouthy Knights supporter didn’t even wait for the kick, he took off. When El Magic slotted the goal to win the game, me & my sister’s boyfriend laughed the whole way back to Sydney.
5: 2021 Penrith v Souths Grand Final
The only Grand Final of the NRL era that I haven’t been at the ground, thanks to Covid lockdowns. I had watched a lot of the team grow up on the footy field, coming through the grades from Harold Matthew’s Cup through to First Grade, winning everything along the way. I knew it was their time to claim the one trophy they hadn’t won as a group. By coincidence, the lockdowns trapped my Souths supporting brother at our place that week. I was waiting all week in the lead up to the big game for my brother to start mouthing off. Lucky for him that he didn’t, maybe he knew that we had them too. We made a bet for a 6 pack on the game, and sat next to each other watching it (probably the first game we had watched together in over 10 years & first Grand Final we had watched together in almost 30 years). My brother was quiet the whole game, even when Souths scored. At full time he shook my hand & congratulated me, then left me to celebrate & get blind drunk by myself.
4: 1991 Panthers v Raiders Grand Final
Our first premiership will always be special for those of us who remember it. For me, as a lone Panthers supporter at a school of around 1400 students in the Sutherland Shire, it was extra special. Most of the school supported Sharks, Dragons, Bulldogs or Souths, but many were cheering on Raiders for a threepeat, mainly due to their major sponsor (Video Ezy) offering free rentals if the Raiders won. My family sat in our lounge room watching the game with me, despite none of them being huge fans, and celebrated with me. Back at school after the Grand Final, I was bulletproof.
3: 2010 Panthers v Sharks at Shark Park
First game I went to with one of my best mates James. We had known each other as familiar faces at work for a few years, but didn’t really become mates until about a year before the game, when we discovered we were both Panthers supporters & also had similar tastes in music. I picked James up from Sutherland Station, and headed down to the game. While the earlier game was on James asked me if I knew anything about the new Sharks fullback. I repeated what I had heard on the radio, that he was suspect under the high ball. About six Sharks fans in front of us turned around, and one in particular didn’t like that remark, because it was his cousin. His mates held him back while I said I was only repeating what I heard on the radio. Panthers won the game comfortably, and there was an announcement that kids would be allowed to run on the ground. James handed me his bag, then ran down, jumped the fence & went for a run. While I was waiting for him to return I got talking to a woman who was waiting for her kids. She was saying his great it was that they let the kids run around, and asked how old mine was. When I replied “He’s 38, I thought he would have grown out of it by now” the look on her face was priceless. (I didn’t actually know how old he was at the time). Afterwards me & James had a good laugh about it & would continue to laugh about it for many years after.
2: 2005 Wests Tigers v Cowboys Grand Final
My mate who I usually go the the Grand Final with was unable to make the game this year. Fortunately my father was a born again Tigers supporter, so I offered him the ticket. All week he was excited for the game, constantly online looking up anything he could find out about the players. On the game day he drove so that I could drink. We listened to “Eye of the Tiger” on repeat the whole way in. I set my own personal drinking record with 23 (3 on the drive in, 1 with a mate before the games, 4 during the Presidents Cup, 4 during Reserve grade, 4 during the first half of First Grade, 4 in the second half of First Grade, 3 on the way home). It was great sitting next to Dad, cheering on his team to a Premiership, and I had the added bonus of winning pick the score. “Eye of the Tiger” was on repeat the whole way home too.
1: 2003 Panthers v Roosters Grand Final
The first Panthers Grand Final I was in the ground to watch. People had been writing us off all year, and even on game day, a lot of people gave us little hope. I had been confident all week, and my confidence grew the closer we got to the game. I worked at Liverpool in the morning, and after work I put my jersey on, and went into Westfields to get some lunch before heading to the game. While in there I came face to face with a cocky Roosters supporter (pun intended), who tried to intimidate me by getting right in my face & crowing like a Rooster. I laughed at him, and he suddenly lost all his cockiness, even started to look nervous. From that moment, about 6 hours before kickoff, I knew we had them. I had almost the perfect seat, a few rows back, on the try line we scored our winning tries, on the side of Satt’s tackle. I had mostly Roosters supporters around me, but none of them seemed overly confident. As soon as Priddo scored a lot of them started congratulating me!!! Afterwards I went back to the club & celebrated until about 6am, before heading home.
Bonus memory: 2022 Glebe v Wests Magpies at Henson Park
My first Glebe game & first visit to Henson Park, home ground of my original team Newtown. Following Glebe actually started as a bad joke. When me & my mate go to the Grand Final, and neither Panthers or Bulldogs (his team) are playing, we like to cheer on defunct teams for a laugh. Our favourite to cheer for was always Glebe. Every year I’d say if I ever find a Glebe jersey I’d buy it. Early last year I found one online, and found out that Glebe had actually been revived, playing in the Ron Massey Cup. I decided to put my money where my mouth was, and bought a jersey & two game membership. I walked into Henson Park to watch them play Wests Magpies in April last year, on the way to a mates birthday at Marrickville. I sat in the stand, and enjoyed watching a reasonable quality game. While watching I saw a guy who looked vaguely familiar walking up the stand in a Wests polo shirt, saying hi to everyone. When he got close I realised it was one of my childhood heroes Benny Elias!!! I enjoyed the day so much, kept going back to watch Glebe every chance I got, cheering them on all the way to the Grand Final (which they unfortunately lost). This year I decided on the full season ticket.
Great post, Mutley. Thank you.
Theres something cathartic about hugging random strangers in the streets of Penrith in the midst of a covid lockdown after Penrith had just won the comp. I was only 8 in 2003, so i didn’t really appreciate the win that much back then.
In 2013 i managed to work a little and get some money to buy myself and my brother Panthers memberships for the 2014 season. Family all used to be members when i was little, but our house burned down and in that 04-2013 range we would occasionally go to a here or there, but weren’t consistent.
So i finally had some money of my own, and road the roller coaster with the boys in 2014. Watching Sowie nail that field goal was the loudest thing i had ever heard (until the boos in the 22 GF from naïve eels fans lol).
Eventually in 2015 the whole family started attending games again, and it’s become tradition now. Sometimes there is 8 of us all sitting together in the Den. To then watch the team grow, and also watch players like Nathan and Jarome in the lower grades kill it and become first grade, NSW and Australian GF winners is just amazing.
There’s only a few individual games that stick out in my mind. That 2014 final was special. Other than that, watching Dylan Edwards fight through injury last year against the raiders away was also special. In the grand scheme of things it was a nothing game, but damn he played so well that night. Then of course celebrating 22 with everyone at the game.
I honestly just feel so lucky and grateful to support a team that seems to invest so heavily in local players, that also produces results.
Maybe it’s recency bias, but at the moment I think my whole top 10 have moved down a spot!!!