National Rugby League grand final week is firing on all cylinders – two of the game’s biggest clubs are set to clash on Sunday at Accor Stadium for the premiership trophy – the Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels.
Footy likes a good script.
For years, two of Sydney’s great footballing nurseries have tiptoed around each other without meeting in such a big contest.
It has finally happened.
History will be made on Sunday.
And don’t we love it.
We are all talking about the might of rugby league in “Western Sydney”.
While NRL HQ loves nothing more than the corporate types, limousines, big wigs and the shiny things that come with the likes of the Roosters and Rabbitohs – the real footy fan and the game’s ticker in Sydney beats loudest in the west.
After all, Penrith versus Parramatta is a natural rivalry.
Diehard supporters buy-in because they still believe in tribalism.
NRL head office can spray the game with a fancy cologne as many times as they want but this will always be the people’s sport.
Think about this for a minute.
Tribalism, natural rivalries, borders and all that jazz.
Wests Tigers have plenty of headaches after copping their first wooden spoon but someone at the club could do worse than take a look at what is happening this week.
While they have based themselves in Concord and have drummed it into all our heads (with plenty of help from mainstream media) for years that they are an inter-city club, it might be worthwhile remembering the untapped sleeping giant locked deep down in their basement.
Remember South-West Sydney is part of Western Sydney.
Moments like these, the momentum of matches of this magnitude, spawn fans for generations to come.
This week isn’t just about now.
It’s years of hard work to reap greater rewards later.
A Greek proverb says “a society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
The Macarthur Wests Tigers district directly borders Parramatta’s boundary at Liverpool. Several Wests Tigers junior clubs play out of Liverpool which sits next to Cabramatta (Parramatta) and Moorebank (Bulldogs).
Directly north of Campbelltown is the junior club Warragamba Wombats who play in the Wests Tigers junior competition.
Greater Penrith is just a spit away in Wallacia.
Writing this, your writer can’t help but think of the Leonardo DiCaprio GIF from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as his character Rick Dalton sits back relaxing, drinking a beer, shooting forward and pointing at the TV screen, picturing Wests Tigers head honchos leaning back with a glass of Chateau Yaldara nodding…