BY KANE AUSTIN & SCOTT DILLON
It has long been said Wests Tigers have a serious identity crisis. An elephant with a high heel fetish in a gay bar full of African poachers.
So it should be.
Everyone, from Phil Gould and Brad Fittler, have called for the club to start concentrating on the heaving south-west of Sydney. Their future. Lay some eggs. Leave behind a letter. Anything.
Show the people you care.
We all know how fast Campbelltown, Camden, Wollondilly and the Southern Highlands are growing. We’ve all seen the statistics.
The unborn rugby league fans that will be wearing footy jerseys and beanies 20 years from now.
You can’t argue with the numbers.
As we’ve come to predict, we haven’t seen enough ‘in-house’ documentaries the likes ESPN have made famous with their 30 for 30 series from rugby league.
Despite Wests Tigers’ place in the NRL food chain, we were all excited to watch ‘Wild Wests: Tales from Tiger Town’.
For those living in Ingleburn, Bradbury or Narellan, it didn’t get off to the best start. The opening images from episode 1 saw a drone roll over the top of Leichhardt Oval.
It quickly became apparent that this was all about one side of Wests Tigers.
Leichhardt Oval, fans sitting over beers in inner-city pubs and a bunch of Balmain Tigers legends talking about how good the club is going and how ‘great’ the squad was.
At another point, CEO Justin Pascoe skipped over the Anzac Bridge into the city to give his billionaire major sponsor a jersey and a couple of other plastic products from the club’s merchandise stand.
If nothing else, this documentary proved that Wests Tigers are good at pretending to be a “big” Sydney city club.
Simple fact is they aren’t even good at being that.
So for those Wests Tigers fans anywhere west of Strathfield, it was difficult to stomach.
Spirit of this… Leichhardt that.
When Tommy Raudonikis died earlier in the year, the documentary tracked the journey for a few scenes. As we all know now, Wests Tigers showed up at Leichhardt and gave nothing and were rightfully beaten.
We all waited for the next scene.
Pascoe or Maguire or players to talk about the people of the Macarthur, history of the Magpies in Campbelltown, the fans.
All we got was footage of a train rolling into Leumeah Station for their “home game” against the Gold Coast.
Maguire mentioned something quickly in his pre-game about the Magpies jersey. The jersey they were wearing for Raudonikis who was the most famous man in Campbelltown in the 1990’s.
Not much else after that.
Wests Tigers got smashed again.
Back to Leichhardt.
On to the next story.
That was it.
You’d think watching Wests Tigers defeat a second-string Penrith Panthers that it was October. The crowd. Passion. Robbie Farah running around the field at Leichhardt reminding the players how great the joint was.
Same old story.
Reviewing this show, heading into episode 4, we had plenty of hope.
Benefit of the doubt.
Time to invest and thank the people outside your little bubble.
Episode 4 starts with a ‘Tigers’ chant at Leichhardt as David Nofoaluma pumps his chest to the crowd.
In classic Wests Tigers fashion, it covers the team’s win against the Broncos in Brisbane. A game that was really neither one way nor the other.
Then came the main event of the episode.
A centre of excellence for the community.
Maguire said the club had ‘momentum’.
Someone mentioned the juniors, comparing Wests Tigers to the Penrith Panthers.
And it faded away as quickly.
Like a whisper in the wind.
“Sometimes we do get a beating because we are a big club,” Maguire says at the end of episode four.
A big club?
Some might argue Wests Tigers have done so little in a decade they are actually the smallest club in Sydney.
We’re not sure this show does anything to stimulate Wests Tigers’ biggest potential supporter base, the one they forget in the documentary.
It appears it was meant to be that way.