Eels, Bulldogs revive great NRL rivalry - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels, Bulldogs revive great NRL rivalry

By Tom Wald 23/09/2009 06:27:15 PM Comments (0)

Former Parramatta forward Peter Wynn compared the matches to State of Origin battles. Bulldogs great Terry Lamb said both sides just tried to "beat the shit out of each other".

It was the 1980s and if it wasn't the Eels lifting the premiership trophy it seemed to be the boys from Belmore.

Between them, they won eight of the 10 titles on offer with only Manly (1987) and Canberra (1989) pinching premierships late on in the decade.

The golden eras for the two western Sydney clubs' sparked one of the rugby league's great rivalries and their loyal followers are set to flock to ANZ Stadium for Friday night's NRL preliminary final.

The record crowd in Sydney for a rugby league match outside of a grand final is 57,973 set back in 1963 and that is expected to be shattered at the Olympic stadium.

Sure AFL fans might scoff at the hype behind a game promising more than 60,000 but Sydney punters are a fickle bunch.

Fuelled by the good vibes of recently being welcomed back into Parramatta's inner sanctum along with other former club greats, Ray Price was very upbeat about his old side.

He said he couldn't remember having been as excited to watch a game because of the flair the Eels have displayed in recent months.

"It is a good rivalry," he said at a 25-year reunion of the 1984 grand final at the SCG this week, the clash where the 'Dogs stopped the Eels from a fourth straight premiership.

"I was saying to (Bulldogs chief executive) Todd Greenberg how wouldn't it be great if the 80s came back.

"The 80s, they were the years."

Wynn said the Eels-Bulldogs matches always had an edge to them during that period.

"There was a lot of publicity, a lot of marketing and a lot of rivalry between the sides and the fans really got behind both teams," said Wynn.

"You had two sides that were very well prepared and because of all the hype and because of that challenge you lifted a gear as well.

"Playing the Bulldogs was like playing a State of Origin match in a lot of ways because they were tough and so hard to beat."

But Bulldogs great Steve Mortimer said despite their ferocious on-field battles, there was never enormous animosity between the players off the park.

"It really was not a hatred, probably on the football field it was but off the field we would be the first no matter what happened on the field to have a beer," he said.

"You know what, we were out to there to kill each other for want of another way of saying we were out there to win."

But it was not only the on-field battles that spiced up the relationship between the clubs.

There was also the ill feeling from the Eels poaching the Bulldogs quartet of Jim Dymock, Jason Smith, Dean Pay and Jarrod McCracken during the Super League war in the mid-1990s.

Not that current Bulldogs assistant coach Terry Lamb thought the current players had that strong a sense of history.

He wondered whether they had a genuine feel for the rivalry of the 1980s, the period that included the 1984 and 1986 grand finals that were both decided by only two points.

"I don't think so, they are a different breed these days professional footballers. They might watch it on Fox when the odd game is on TV but I don't think they know the rivalry," he said.

"You have to understand Brett Kenny and Guru (Eric Grothe Snr), we are all good mates these days.

"We just went out to try and beat the shit out of each other."

Rugby league is a bit more scientific than that these days.

But not that much, and that is why Friday night will make for compelling viewing.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2021 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news