The Super League War – The Freak

In this section League Freak gives him first hand accounts of The Super League War. If you have read through the larger story, you will now be able to see how this war was viewed through the eyes of a young fan watching the game he loved being torn apart.

The Best Season Ever
In 1994 I was a 14 year old growing up in Western Sydney. Rugby League was my passion, I lived and breathed the game.

When Super League first came out, its hard to imagine how a 14 year old thinks about these things. From the beginning I didn’t like what Super League was doing. I did like some of the concepts they were putting across, but I hated the way they were going about it.

During this time both the ARL and Super League were in a marketing war.

Super League had a slick marketing campaign. Their “Two Tribes Go To War” commercial I still consider to be one of the slickest ads for anything I have ever seen. The ARL’s “Its My Game” summed up the feeling of the majority of League fans.

I remember walking to Ashlar Golf Course in Blacktown with my friends one and seeing a sky writing place writing a huge SL logo in the sky. I remember we were all guessing what it would say. I was the first to worked it out. With a little contempt I said “Super League, thats what it is”. We were impressed, but at the same time I think me and my friends knew the absurdness of
the whole thing.

Taking Sides
I pride myself on being an objective fan. I don’t think you’ll find two many people who can take a step back and give an opinion about the game quite like me. I think this is a direct result of the Super League War.

At the time I must say I was on the ARL’s side. I believed they ran the game, they should control the game and what had happened to the game because of Super League had ruined the game.

I think it was probably 2 years after the Super League War that I came to the conclusion that, they were all as bad as one another.

During The Super League War, it wasn’t one side against another. Its was every man for themselves with 50 different agendas and 50 different sides you could be for or against.

My Club
The Panthers switched to Super League and in my opinion lost a lot of support in the Penrith community. The Panthers were our side, our local heros….and Super league just killed all of that.

You have to remember that leading up to Super League, the Panthers were going through a very tough time. Having won the Premiership in 1991, the greatest moment in the history of the Penrith District was shattered shortly after by the tragic death of Ben Alexander.

Its hard to convey how hard this hit the district. Greg, Ben, Mark Geyer, Brad Izzard…..these were not just players to people in Penrith, they were family. Leading up to Super League the club was still shattered to a certain extent and then Super League swamped over the top of that.

Did Super League help or hurt the Panthers? To be honest, I cant see any positives the club got out of Super League.

We ended up losing Brad Fittler, Matt Sing, Greg Alexander, Mark Geyer and Phil Gould. We ended up being a lowly ranks outfit that didn’t have much going for it.

About the only good things that happened for us during Super League was that we signed a young Illawarra Center called Ryan Gidler and we had a couple of kids called Gower and Puletua come through the junior ranks.

The Best Advice I Ever Got
When someone gives you advice about Rugby League you should always listen. Sometimes its a from player, a coach, a team mate or an official that gives you that gem that you remember.

For me, it was my Mum.

I remember during The Super League War I wondered where the game would end up. My Mum said to me “Don’t worry about it. One day these players will all be replaced by younger players just looking for an opportunity. You watch, it will happen”.

How could you replace these guys! Langer, Stuart, Daley, Renouf, Mullins, Clyde…surely you can not replace players like that!

Sure enough….players that were given the opportunity started to step up and over take these star players. For all of the talk from the star players that they deserved their time in the Sun….it was all fading away just as quickly as it started. Everyone is replaceable.

How Super League Effected Me
Undoubtedly Super League took the innocence out of the game for me. It made me realise that at the end of the day, money talks.

Loyalty is a load of B.S. Its a word thats brought up when a club looks to undercut what a player is really worth or when a player is looking to squeeze every last cent out of a club they are playing for.

Super League taught me that to be a journalist you can not truly love the game. You have to be willing to tear the game to shreds and keep pouring salt into an open wound.

It taught me that a simple, sensation story will always get more attention then the really important stories.

Super League made me realise how big of a business Rugby League really is. It made me realise how terrible League administration really is.

While I always enjoyed the game, Super League made me turn my back on the game from time to time. Still, I was always drawn back and on that fateful day in 1997 as Darren Albert scored “That Try” me and my family were in tears as the game proved to us all why would should never give up hope.


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