Do you remember when the Gold Coast Titans first entered the NRL? They were a new team with a new name, new jerseys, a new stadium, a new centre of excellence…the future looked bright!
They gave their new coach a long term deal because he was going to lead this new team of players to years worth of new achievements. They even started life off in the NRL well with their new supporter base turning out in big numbers.
Then things started to run off the rails a little…
The financial issues started to make headlines, local Gold Coast business owners started to come out of the woodwork complaining that they hadn’t been paid for work they have done for the club. Debts starts to mount, the team started to lose, and the driving force behind the club started to get the same feel as the guy from the iSelect adverts. It was a bad situation!
Now comes news that the Titans will be forced to leave the “centre of excellence” due to the massive $600,000 a year they have to pay to rent their portion of the building they no longer own. Many are saying it is a huge blow to the club, but I have a feeling it could be the making of them.
Look at it this way…
Who loves their first car more? The person that gets a brand new luxury car bought for them, or the person that has to work hard and save to buy an old second hand car?
Sure the luxury car is nice, looks great, handles brilliantly, has all of the features you could ever want and it turns heads. Will it give you the same experience as the second hand car that rattles when you do over 80kph, that goes slower when you turn on the air conditioning, that you can easily break into when you accidentally lock your keys in it, or that educates you on the workings of a car when you get told you need everything fixed on it at your first rego check? I don’t think so!
The Gold Coast Titans were the luxury car, perfect in every single way. A nice experience, but hard to love.
That is important for a Rugby League club. I tend to think every club needs to go through hard times and get a bit of grit about them before they can truly be loved by their supporter base.
The Melbourne Storm were a highly successful franchise until they were caught breaking the salary cap. When there were stripped of their titles and banned from the finals series, their supporters rallied around the club. Tough times made the Melbourne Storm supporter base love their club. It stopped just being a nice experience for them, now they realized how much the club really meant to them.
I think you see a similar thing with the Canterbury Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have always had a decent sized supporter base. However, being able to rally around the club through their salary cap dramas 12 years ago, it changed the club. It changed the supporter base too! Its funny because I see Bulldogs supporters reference those tough times the club went through and I know at the time they were just kids. Still, those tough moments are something they can look back on, moments that proved to them how much they loved their club.
I don’t think the Gold Coast supporter base has had their movement yet.
Maybe the move away from the giant millstone that is the centre of excellence will be a good thing for the Titans. Maybe Neil Henry is the man to turn things around for the club. Maybe these hard times the Titans are going through will be the tipping point for the people of the Gold Coast to realize that they want this team to stick around, they’d hate to see them fold, and that they actually do love this football club even though they didn’t realize it before.
Much like my first car, a red 1990 Ford Falcon that had an LPG gas conversion, no air conditioning, a padlock on the gear-stick to prevent theft, and that cost me $700 at the last rego I got put on it many years ago, you’ve got to go through tough times and tough experiences to realize just how much you love something sometimes.
Go and ask someone, anyone, about their first car. Watch their face light up as they tell you all the stories and experiences they had with it. If they do the same thing when you ask them about the football team they support, you know they love their club.
Hopefully one day soon Gold Coast Titans supporters have that same feeling about their club.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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