Ever since I tuned into a televised rugby league game way back in 1988, when I saw Balmain defeat Cronulla 9-2 in the final series that year, I have been a fan of both teams, but at the time I was more a Sharks fan than a Tigers one
Balmain played a very intelligent game and Cronulla never gave up. Balmain were on a fairytale mission, trying to win the premiership coming from fifth place and Cronulla were chasing their first premiership since their inception.
It was during this game that I became interested in a player for the Sharks. Strangely enough it was because he possessed the same name as me. When you’re 8 years old and live in a remote country town, its quite exciting to hear someone else in the world has the same name as you. This is what had me become a Sharks fan.
After playing Rugby League for the first time I began to acquire an appreciation for the big name players, particularly my namesake. My admiration for him grew into more than being a fan of his name. Andrew Ettingshausen to this day is still one of the best players I have ever seen.
In 1989 I was impressed even more by a teenager who was making a name for himself in a big way at Balmain. He since become my favourite player ever. As soon as I saw him I felt he was something special. As it turned out Tim Brasher became probably one of the best modern day fullbacks to play the game and arguably one of, if not the best, in the last 15 years. I watched his whole career unfold as I grew up, playing football, wishing to emulate his starry rise to International star.
Since those early days I have been a fan of two league teams. I’ve never denied it, I’ve always been quite proud to announce my support for the Sharks and the Tigers. However, it seems there are people who feel it’s their duty to criticise me because I’m a fan of two teams. I ask the question “where’s the law that says I’m not allowed to support two teams?”
Do they think it’s not possible to support two teams passionately? I’ve managed to do so for almost 20 years now. I can’t see that as being a valid reason.
Do they think it’s only possible to be a supporter of one team per code? If that’s the case, then I’ll stand for the record in saying I hate all teams that play AFL, thus making up for my support of two teams in Rugby League.
Is it not possible to like two similar things at all in their eyes? Do they only have one favourite song, one favourite shirt, one favourite shoe, one favourite food? Of course they don’t. This is where I feel they are being hypocritical in criticising me for supporting two NRL teams.
However, all those idiotic comments and suggestions have not deterred my passion about the teams I love. Sure, both those players I saw as my favourites have both retired and moved on, but they planted the seed that sparked my interest and involvement in the game.
It seems to be a hard concept for many people to digest and I cannot understand why. Instead of trying to understand my decision, or accept it, I am instead ridiculed and abused. It almost seems like there is a fear amongst the league community of fans who support more than one team.
I know I’m not alone. I know there are other two-team lovers out there. You need not be scared to admit it any more people. Now is the time for all of us two-team loving fans to speak up and make ourselves be heard.
What the rugby league community needs is awareness, that us two-teamers do exist and we want to be recognised as true fans just like all those boring one-team fans. We shouldn’t be looked down upon, because we are showing twice as much passion about the game than they are.
To make ourselves heard we need to change the thinking of the status quo. We need to change thoughts, generalisations, opinions and assumptions. We need to change the rules of the fans. All I have to do to make all this happen is to find out who’s making the rules…