Friday, 3 February 2012

Hey everybody the Rugby League's about to Kick Off!!!!

As a kid growing up the time of the year that I looked forward to the most was the commencement of trial games for the upcoming Rugby League season. Even though back then Cricket was at the forefront of my mind during Summer, in the back of my young brain was the knowledge Rugby League season was around the corner, and really cricket was just filling in time until League season.

Due to my desire for sporting news I started reading newspapers quite young. Every Friday during League season I would also get the Rugby League Week and Big League magazines, but during the off season only the RLW Summer Special was available in mid December, not enough to keep up with my insatiable thirst for Rugby League knowledge. So I needed the Sunday papers particularly as there was often a page or 2 of RL stories to pore over to help tide me over until the season approached. Then all of a sudden the trial games would appear and the pre-season Wills Cup would kick off, a knockout competition played over a couple of weeends. Now was the time to see the new players my club (Easts if you didn't know) had purchased in the off season, and also gauge the strength of our opposition.  It was exciting because you knew Round 1 was only 4 weeks away, and now was also the time to dream of premiership glory, of arguing with your friends over who's team was better this year and to map out the season draw and highlight the big games you're looking forward to the most, the grudge match against the hated neighbours Souths being top of the list.

1976 Wills Cup pre season final winners Eastern Suburbs.
Then finally the day would come, season kick off. The morning would be spent reading the Sunday papers for any late news, and waiting until 11am when Controversy Corner would start on Sevens World of Sport. Ferris Ashton, Noel Kelly, Alan Clarkson, Col Pearce and a special guest on a panel chaired by the incomparable Rex Mossop would debate about the issues and give their opinions on who'll win. Then at 3pm I would spend that and subsequently every Sunday for the next 22 weeks listening to a scratchy radio broadcast of the match of the day. Listening through the static for updates from around the grounds,hoping Easts had scored since the last update, and running around the room cursing because their opponents had scored instead.

The Controversy Corner team; Clarkson, Mossop, Ashton & Kelly

Now as the Indigenous All Stars game nears, and with a few clubs already having played trials it's that time of the year again. Although, like everything as you get older and you are pondering the past, it's just not the same these days. That's not to say though that it's worse, it's just different. Nowadays with the Tri Nations International series being played after the Grand Final each year, it doesn't really seem as long between seasons anymore. Back then it was every 4 years the Kangaroo tour to Britain and France would be on during the Summer but that was it, every 4 years. Also the pre-season competition is long gone, left behind with cigarette advertising, star players working at their club as 'cellarmen' and Rex Mossop's 'Pass the Ball' competition. As well now I don't have to pore over the season draw to see when Easts played Souths. I know every year now, Round 1, Easts v Souths. This is good and bad. When I am not expecting a good season and I keep reading every off season how this is finally Souths year, it does build some nervous anticipation, as I recall growing up far more losses to Souths than wins but thankfully as an adult it has all turned around with us rarely losing, and Souths are March champions every year who invariably fail to flatter so if Souths do manage a rare win it doesn't hurt for as long, but it does tend to give a good idea of how our season will end up. Also thanks to Foxtel, it's rare 2 games are played at the same time, with most games now shown live spread over 4 days instead of a game on Saturday afternoon and the rest at 3pm Sunday, no night games.

Frank-Paul the Wrecking ball scores against Souths Rd 1, 2011

Also as I have stated in a previous post, back then the players were men and were heroes to a young boy. Now they are younger than the boy it is impossible to see them as heroes, only football players. But I'm still almost as excited as when I was a kid. Now I spend these weeks getting my Fantasy team together and joining various tipping comps, something that didn't exist as a kid in the 70's and 80's.

The countdown to March 1st is on, with game day for the Roosters March 5th. Every day between now and then I will get a little more excited, and I'll walk past my photo of the 'Roosters Team of the Century' dreaming of glory in October and proudly announcing 'Easts To Win'....

Good luck to everyone this season.


  1. Hi, great Blog! Just wanted to ask where your photo of EASTS winning the Wills Cup originates from? Your subtitle says 1976, but I am sure it would have been 1977 v North Sydney at the SCG. Cheers!

    1. Hi thanks for that, it was a few years ago now I'd forgotten about this. You are right it has to be 1977 as Bozo is in the picture... :)