This week, the Dyldam Parramatta Eels farewelled Parramatta’s Pirtek Stadium, their home ground for the last 30 years, with a 30-18 victory over the St. George Illawarra Dragons in Round 25 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
Whilst the ground will hold a special place in the memories, thoughts and hearts of the Blue and Gold Army, saying farewell to the stadium is extra meaningful to NRL/NSW Cup Development Coach Joey Grima.
Apart from seeing the first and last games at the stadium, coaching at the ground and being involved with the Eels for over two decades, Grima celebrated by tying the knot with his beautiful wife Adriana on the 20th of August, 2005 on the field.
“I was very fortunate,” Grima said.
”I was a mad Parramatta fan, came up through the grades and was just a mad fan and was fortunate enough that I put an application through the board at the time to see if they would consider me being married at the stadium.”
“It was ironic that we got married and as soon as we tied the knot, the NRL side came out and I knew most of the players since I was involved at Parramatta and we took a photo that day that is something that is pretty rare and special.”
Saying goodbye to the Blue and Gold home is a sad occasion for Grima, with two decades of memories at the stadium.
“It is a sad thing to see. I have been here for two decades and having watched the first ever game there, and witnessing the last game, along with being married on the ground 10 and a half years ago, I have had some really good times there, coached some really good games there and been involved in some amazing events there.”
“The Coca Cola Sevens was one of my highlights held at Parramatta Stadium! It was a sell out, South Sydney made the finals and it was just an outstanding game. I can recall on the Peter Sterling hill, they had a little guy who was just six or seven years old surrounded by 6-7 blokes with a blanket, who had pulled it tight to take the tension and they were using it as a trampoline,” Grima added.
“He was going about 10-15 metres in the air and the atmosphere was just incredible, it was an amazing time at the stadium and a real highlight.”
“Then in 2000, the Parramatta Eels side that went through and won a lot of their games, the ambience and atmosphere of that year, although they didn’t win the big one was a special, special year. There have been so many great memories.”
Grima was the Wentworthville Magpies Intrust Super Premiership NSW Head Coach in early 2016, before stepping down from the role mid-year due to health reasons.
Grima has a long-standing relationship with the Parramatta Eels, including coaching at District Representative, Under 20s and Premier League level. Grima has also worked as Head Coach of the London Broncos and as an assistant coach at Cronulla and St George-Illawarra.