Ladies Who League: Bandaged Bear Cup

As we lead into the Bandaged Bear Cup this Friday, our Ladies Who League columnist covers Chumbawumba, 2009, and puts out a call to arms! Remember you can find more of her work at ladieswholeague.com.

1998 was a very special year in Rugby League. 'Tubthumping' by Chumbawumba was the NRL's official theme song, Nathan Hindmarsh made his debut for the Parramatta Eels against the Adelaide Rams in Parkes and it was my first year as a Parramatta Eels supporter.

My 16 years as a Parramatta Eels fans have been filled with mainly fond (and some not-so-fond memories). We all have those games or moments that stick in our minds which we can recall like they were just yesterday.

For me, one of those games was the Preliminary Final in 2009 against the Canterbury Bulldogs. Parramatta Eels fans all remember the 'magic run' in 2009. After 16 rounds we sat in 14th place and nobody expected what was about to unfold for the rest of the season.

What happened was a 7-match winning streak which saw victories over the likes of the Melbourne Storm and Canterbury Bulldogs. We watched the team transform before our very eyes thanks to the likes of men like Jarryd Hayne, Daniel Mortimer, Kevin Kingston and Nathan Hindmarsh.

Then came the showstopper. In the Preliminary Final against the Bulldogs, in front of a crowd of  74,549, the Parramatta Eels played an outstanding 80 minutes of football which was enough for us to make the Grand Final.

But the crowd is what I remember most from that night and the pure joy that ensued in the streets of Parramatta that night and over the next week.

This weekend is a call to arms. I am calling all Parramatta fans to make the trip out to ANZ Stadium so we can recreate that Preliminary Final atmosphere. While this game will not determine whether we make a Grand Final, our season does hang in the balance.

Following our victory on the weekend, we now sit in 9th place on 26 points (along with another 4 teams, including the Bulldogs). A win this weekend will see us leap the Bulldogs and potentially allow us to take their position in the top 8 (could anything be sweeter?)

If leapfrogging the Bulldogs is not enough of an incentive for you, it is also a very special round of football this weekend - Close the Gap Round. The NRL was the first sporting code to join the Close the Gap campaign in 2009 and this year there will be celebrations by each of the club to highlight the importance of working together to improve Indigenous health, life expectancy and education and employment opportunities. The NRL's commitment to this Round is something which needs to be celebrated.

For the Parramatta Eels and Bulldogs, this weekend also marks the Annual Bandaged Bear Cup where both clubs will celebrate the staff and volunteers of the Children's Hospital at Westmead. Be there to help show your support for these remarkable individuals on Friday night.

Let's paint ANZ Stadium in blue and gold on Friday night. Let's make sure the Bulldogs can hear us chanting to get our boys home. Let's hope that 2009 repeats itself. See you all at the game!