The Hindsight Series #1: Western RedsNovember 14, 2016
BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Hindsight: Recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of a situation, event, decision, after it has occurred.
Hindsight you beautiful, evil thing. It’s a term used all too often in rugby league as if they were meant to be. Married. Glued at the hip.
Rugby league has been at the fork in the road too many times to count. Sometimes, a hand is forced. Too many factors and events to stop an inevitable outcome.
Welcome to NRL Hindsight.
In this case, the snowball of Super League and the desperation to patch up a code meant the Western Reds became a casualty of war. In hindsight, things could have been much different. In hindsight, the Reds should have been guaranteed a spot in the newly established National Rugby League in 1998.
Where would they be today?
A PIECE OF THE PERTH FURNITURE
It’s been 21 years since their first ever match at the WACA against St. George. There were 25,000 people there that day. They had immediate support and while that nosedived as the War took hold in 1997 (the same would have happened if they stuck with the ARL), crowds would have returned as the NRL re-built brick-by-brick. AFL dominates the city but Super Rugby’s Force and A-League’s Glory have proven there is a market there. Just recently, Australia and new Zealand sold out nib Stadium. Imagine if we’d continued to build market share and never shut the Reds down at the end of 1997?
Who says the Reds wouldn’t have won a title by now in such a close competition? Melbourne Storm did it with a number of Reds players in 1999. Matt Geyer, Robbie Kearns and Rodney Howe all played in Perth in ’97. While the Storm were always set to gain Brett Kimmorley, Scott Hill, Robbie Ross and Richie Swain from the defunct Hunter Mariners, the Reds would have picked up some additional class from the team that may have deserved the flick more than them, let’s say, the Gold Coast Chargers (who were kicked out after ’98 anyway). The Chargers boasted the likes of a young Preston Campbell, Jamie Goddard and Scott Sattler. Another player here and there and who knows where the Reds would have ended up?
The Perth region alone has hundreds of kids and seniors playing the greatest game of all and that’s with barely any support from the NRL. We’re not reinventing the wheel here, AFL is number one in WA but if we never left, we’d be lightyears better off than where we really are. Just think, Curtis Rona, Waqa Blake and Bryson Goodwin could all be playing for their local team.
What the Reds may have looked like in 1998:
1 Julian O’Neill
2 Matt Geyer
3 Paul Bell
4 Andrew King^
5 Graham Mackay^
6 Preston Campbell^
7 Matthew Rodwell
8 Robbie Kearns
9 Jamie Goddard^
10 Rodney Howe
11 Peter Shiels
12 Mark Geyer
13 Scott Sattler^
14 Paul Marquet*
15 Noel Goldthorpe*
16 Tyran Smith*
17 Tony Iro*
*Denotes fantasy signing from Hunter Mariners
^Denotes fantasy signing from Gold Coast Chargers
Verdict: Chargers out, Reds stay!