Members' Week Article: @mary__kaye
As we celebrate Member Appreciation Round this week we're bringing you a series of articles written by our members about why they love being part of the Blue and Gold Army! From the friends they make, to being part of our great football team - all the reasons why they love being a member.
Read today's member article, written by Mary - who is one of our most active followers on Twitter.
1998 was a very special year in Rugby League.
It was the first year of the new inaugural NRL competition following the Super League wars of the mid 1990s, 'Tubthumping' by Chumbawumba accompanied every match as the official song of the NRL, Nathan Hindmarsh made his first grade debut for the Parramatta Eels against the Adelaide Rams in Parkes and I started what was to become a life-long love affair with the Parramatta Eels.
I was 9 years old.
Over the years, the Parramatta Eels have become one of my greatest loves in life.
I have watched them through times of tremendous sadness, like the 1998 Grand Final Qualifier, where the Bulldogs came back from 18-2 with 10 minutes to go to take the remaining Grand Final position from our hands.
I watched them in 2001 when we were undoubtedly the best team in the competition, but were pipped by a red hot and Andrew Johns inspired Newcastle team. I watched in 2005 as rookies like Tim and Ben Smith led our side to an inspirational finals run, only to be knocked out by the Cowboys and be denied yet again.
Despite the heartbreak and the fact that we have not won a grand final in my lifetime, the Eels have also brought me tremendous joy.
The 2009 grand final run is something which instantly comes to mind. The way the team came together; our bedazzling attack, the euphoria in Parramatta during those weeks and the commitment our boys showed, despite losing to an illegal team, is something I hold very dear to my heart.
I love to win as much as the next footy fan, but the reason I support the Eels both as a fan and through my membership has nothing to do with premiership success. I love the Eels because they truly are a group of genuinely nice guys.
The Parramatta Eels, throughout my years as a supporter, have always been a team which, on the whole, have promoted Rugby League in a positive manner and been ambassadors for the game which I truly love.
Men that come to mind instantly are champions like Luke Burt, Nathan Hindmarsh and Nathan Cayless. In our current squad, I am so proud of players like Tim Mannah, Nathan Smith, Matt Keating, Ryan Morgan, Mitchell Allgood and Ben Smith. The contribution these men have made to not just the Eels, but to the community throughout their NRL careers is immeasurable.
It is these contributions that make each year I have supported the Eels special. I know that it has been a couple of difficult years - but when I go and cheer my team on each and every week, I really do look at them with pride and could not be happier to call them my team.
While winning is important, to have a team that I can be proud of is most important of all.
This is why I could not be prouder to call myself a Parramatta Eels supporter and more importantly, a Parramatta Eels member.
I decided to become a member in 2009 and have never looked back. I value financially supporting the club and being able to have a say in how my club is run and administered.
More than anything else though I love to feel part of the Parramatta Eels family and to be able to call myself a Parramatta Eel for life.
Click here to follow Mary on Twitter!