Our weekly column from Mary Kaye this week focusses on Heritage Round, and footy memories. Remember you can find more of her work on Ladies Who League!
This weekend the NRL celebrated Heritage Round.
Apart from Women in League Round, Heritage Round is my favourite round of regular football during the year because the weekend is about celebrating the game we love, the history of our clubs and remembering the fierce rivalries which continue to grow as our game continues to age.
Over the weekend, I took some time to reflect on my time as a Parramatta Eels supporter and some of my favourite ever Eels performances. While I have many favourite Eels moments, my fondest memory is definitely the Grand Final Qualifier in 2009 against the Bulldogs. That game was the culmination of what was a sensational year of football.
When I look back at the second half of that season, I have nothing but fond memories. I was so proud of our team that season and the joy I felt as I watched them go from almost wooden spooners to runners up that year was immeasurable. The crowd was also electric at that Grand Final Qualifier and it was amazing to not only make a Grand Final, but to beat one of our oldest rivals, the Bulldogs, to get there.
Last weekend, whilst not a Grand Final Qualifier, it was also a result to celebrate as the Parramatta Eels posted their first win on the road in two years (had it really been that long?!).
I found myself smiling many times during the 80 minutes including when Peatsy scored another sensational try, when I listened to the commentary team try to keep track of Paulo, Paulo and Pauli and watching Semi swat away Ben Barba - almost like a fly - in his race to the try line.
My favourite moment of all, though, was watching Chrissy Sandow leap into the air with pure delight as he slotted the field goal which meant that victory for the Broncos was out of reach.
Apart from seeing Parramatta improve dramatically in defence over the last few weeks (does anyone remember that team that leaked 56 points against the Roosters?) and watching the team play a style of football which suits us, allowing us to be creative and unpredictable in attack, what is bringing me the most joy at the moment is seeing a football team which is enjoying playing footy again.
It truly has been a difficult couple of seasons not just for fans, but for the players and everyone involved at the Club. To see us staring the year with such positive results and to see plenty of talk and encouragement of the field only bodes well for the remainder of the season. It is certainly giving us, as fans, something to cheer about.
In the wake of Heritage Round, as we celebrate our win against the Broncos and look to our clash against the Roosters this weekend (hopefully revenge will be sweet), I remain thankful for the Parramatta Eels and the tremendous joy they bring me. Most of all, I am thankful for the NRL, the greatest game of all.