Oral-History. What impacts people to support an NRL Team?

For this next part of the BCM210 Assessment, I have decided to do some Oral History. It comes from the topics from some of the lectures, curiosity and critical judgement. The curiosity in this story would have to be why exactly I support the Dragons, and the critical judgement would be on how I judge the particular team I support, and also other people judging the team they support, which may influence them to support that particular team.

Sports fans are a part of everyday life, no matter what the sport is, and in the NRL, that is no different.

Steelers v  Penrith 1980's
Here is a match between the Illawarra Steelers and the Penrith Panthers back in the 1980’s.

I have been watching the NRL I was a little kid, and I am proud to be a supporter of the local team, the St George Illawarra Dragons. There are many reasons behind supporting the Dragons, and they are

  • Because they are the local team
  • My family also supports them
  • I like the players and the coach in and of the team
  • It is close and the home stadium, WIN Stadium is in Wollongong, and you don’t have to travel to Sydney to watch home games

I am like any other sports fan around, and are passionate about everything they do, every game they play, and always there to support my favourite team. I am always loyal, and all sports fans should stick by their team no matter if they are the best team in the competition or the worst, as they say “stick with them through thick and thin”.

 

Sometimes I wonder, why I support the Dragons, and I spoke to my dad, Brian about where it all began. Dad is a local growing up in Port Kembla, and since their establishment in 1982. The Steelers competed in the NSWRL (the name of the competition back then), and they were based at the old Wollongong Showground (now known as WIN Stadium).

They had some of the best players in the game during their time, and since they were the local team that represented the Illawarra,that is the team that my Dad decided to support, and none of his parents influenced him in making that decision.

The Steelers over the years have boasted a lot of local talent, (which you don’t see a lot of these days) like Trent Barrett, Shaun Timmins, Ryan Girdler, John Cross, John Simon, Brian Hetherington, Brett Rodwell, Rod Wishart, Paul McGregor (Current coach of the Dragons), and Craig Fitzgibbon.

Dad used to attend all of the Illawarra Steelers home games at Wollongong Showground and most of the away games also. He attended them every season up until 1998, when it was announced that the Illawarra Steelers would form a merge with the St George Dragons, which gave people many mixed views of this decision.

When Dad heard of this news, he wasn’t too happy about it, because he wasn’t a fan of the Dragons, but eventually he got over it and started supporting the new team, the St George Illawarra Dragons, and he decided to support them because a lot of the Illawarra Steelers players/local juniors went on to play for the Dragons, and Paul McGregor was named as the foundation/first captain of the joint venture club.

I can see where he was coming from, because the Illawarra Steelers had a lot of fans, and to go for a completely new team, was going to be hard to get used to.

 

 

 

 

me and mary
Me and St George Illawarra Dragons coach and legend, Paul “Mary” McGregor at a Dragons training session at WIN Stadium, Wollongong last year.

The first season of the St George Illawarra Dragons, in 1999, went well, in fact they made it all the way to the Grand Final.  Half their team was full of Illawarra locals such as Luke Patten, Paul McGregor, Shaun Timmins, Trent Barrett, Craig Fitzgibbon, Rod Wishart, along with big names such as Anthony Mundine, Nathan Blacklock, Nathan Brown, Craig Smith and Wayne Bartrim.

Dad went to that Grand Final with my brother, and had the record crowd for a Rugby League Grand Final in Australia, with 107,999 people seeing one of the greatest Grand Finals of all time between the Melbourne Storm and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Stadium Australia. He was really pleased, and the Dragons look set to win the Grand Final in their maiden season as a joint venture club, leading 14-0 at halftime, but they were controversially beaten right on fulltime, 20-18.

A lot of Dragons supporters watching the game,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(The Old Wollongong Showground. Here is a game between the Illawarra Steelers and the Penrith Panthers in the 1980’s)

I have been watching the NRL I was a little kid, and I am proud to be a supporter of the local team, the St George Illawarra Dragons. There are many reasons behind supporting the Dragons, and they are

  • Because they are the local team
  • My family also supports them
  • I like the players and the coach in and of the team
  • It is close and the home stadium, WIN Stadium is in Wollongong, and you don’t have to travel to Sydney to watch home games

I am like any other sports fan around, and are passionate about everything they do, every game they play, and always there to support my favourite team. I am always loyal, and all sports fans should stick by their team no matter if they are the best team in the competition or the worst, as they say “stick with them through thick and thin”.

 

Sometimes I wonder, why I support the Dragons, and I spoke to my dad, Brian about where it all began. Dad is a local growing up in Port Kembla, and since their establishment in 1982. The Steelers competed in the NSWRL (the name of the competition back then), and they were based at the old Wollongong Showground (now known as WIN Stadium).

They had some of the best players in the game during their time, and since they were the local team that represented the Illawarra,that is the team that my Dad decided to support, and none of his parents influenced him in making that decision.

The Steelers over the years have boasted a lot of local talent, (which you don’t see a lot of these days) like Trent Barrett, Shaun Timmins, Ryan Girdler, John Cross, John Simon, Brian Hetherington, Brett Rodwell, Rod Wishart, Paul McGregor (Current coach of the Dragons), and Craig Fitzgibbon.

Dad used to attend all of the Illawarra Steelers home games at Wollongong Showground and most of the away games also. He attended them every season up until 1998, when it was announced that the Illawarra Steelers would form a merge with the St George Dragons, which gave people many mixed views of this decision.

When Dad heard of this news, he wasn’t too happy about it, because he wasn’t a fan of the Dragons, but eventually he got over it and started supporting the new team, the St George Illawarra Dragons, and he decided to support them because a lot of the Illawarra Steelers players/local juniors went on to play for the Dragons, and Paul McGregor was named as the foundation/first captain of the joint venture club.

I can see where he was coming from, because the Illawarra Steelers had a lot of fans, and to go for a completely new team, was going to be hard to get used to.

The first season of the St George Illawarra Dragons, in 1999, went well, in fact they made it all the way to the Grand Final.  Half their team was full of Illawarra locals such as Luke Patten, Paul McGregor, Shaun Timmins, Trent Barrett, Craig Fitzgibbon, Rod Wishart, along with big names such as Anthony Mundine, Nathan Blacklock, Nathan Brown, Craig Smith and Wayne Bartrim.

Dad went to that Grand Final with my brother, and had the record crowd for a Rugby League Grand Final in Australia, with 107,999 people seeing one of the greatest Grand Finals of all time between the Melbourne Storm and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Stadium Australia.  He was really pleased, and the Dragons look set to win the Grand Final in their maiden season as a joint venture club, leading 14-0 at halftime, but they were controversially beaten right on fulltime, 20-18.

A lot of Dragons supporters watching the game,  left the game devastated, and thinking of what might have been.  But everyone remained loyal to supporting the Dragons, and my Dad was one of them.

Ever since then I have been to many games over the years along with Dad, and have some great memories, as well as memories to forget (which includes the infamous slap from then Dragons coach, Nathan Brown slapping the captain Trent Barrett, during a 38-12 loss to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at WIN Stadium in 2003).

In 2004, we travelled to Penrith to see the Dragons take on the Penrith Panthers in the semi finals after finishing 5th at the end of the regular season. It was actually the first away game I had ever been to. The Dragons lost the game 31-30, which saw them eliminated from the finals.

Probably for me, the highlight would have to be the arrival of supercoach Wayne Bennett, who became the new coach of the Dragons in 2009. Bennett brought a whole heap of good and experienced players, with the likes of Darius Boyd, Luke Priddis, Jeremy Smith, Neville Costigan and Nathan Fien joining the club. Dual international Wendell Sailor was also part of the team, joining the Dragons halfway through 2008.

Anyway, the arrival of Bennett excited many fans, including Dad and myself, and a lot of people expected instant results. The year finished as a positive, and the Dragons finished 1st, the Minor Premiers and claimed the J.J Giltinan Shield. But they crashed out of the semi finals in straight sets, losing to both the  Parramatta Eels and Brisbane Broncos (Bennett’s current club) in the first two weeks of the finals.

In 2010 was their breakthrough year, again winning the minor premiership for the second year running, and they won both their Finals matches, beating the 8th placed Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 28-0, and the Wests Tigers 13-12 in the Preliminary Final.

We were lucky enough to attend both these games, and to see them qualify for the grand final once again, this time I thought this is our year to take it out. They met the Sydney Roosters in the Grand Final. They trailed 8-6 at halftime, but didn’t let the Roosters score another point in the second half, and the Dragons ran out emphatic 32-8 winners, claiming the 2010 Premiership, and the first for the St George Illawarra Dragons.

2010 Premiership.jpg
My brother, James, with me and my father, Brian with the Provan-Summons (NRL) Trophy. The Dragons received this after winning the 2010 Premiership, 32-8 over the Sydney Roosters. (The trophy is quite heavy)

 

All of this made me curious, looking back and seeing why I have been supporting the Dragons all of this time, and looking back now at all the various games I have been to, and all the players that have played for this great club, I can see why. Even though they don’t have the players quite as good as 2010, I don’t care because I will always support the Dragons no matter what.

Gareth Widdop Dragons
Current Dragons captain, and English International, Gareth Widdop. Widdop is one of the Dragons best players these days, and is an integral part if the Dragons are to challenge for the premiership this year.

 

 

I have also done a survey (on Survey Monkey) for University of Wollongong students only, with the help of my lecturer, Kate, which I could have done without her.

2010 Premiership Wayne Bennett, Ben Hornby.jpg
Dragons Premiership Player, Dean Young, Coach Wayne Bennett & Captain Ben Hornby following the 2010 Grand Final win, celebrating with fans at the WIN Entertainment Centre.

The questions that I used were:

  • Who is you favourite NRL team? (with 16 options, since there are 16 NRL teams, including the Dragons)
  • Are you a member of the NRL club/team you support?
  • Do you attend home games of the club/team you support?
  • Do you attend away games of the club/team you support?
  • Do you have/own any merchandise of the club/team you support?
  • Which of these statements is the most important factor in your choice of being a fan or supporter of this particular team/club?
  • The statements were:
    • My Family are also supporters
    • My Friends are also supporters
    • In my opinion this team has the best players
    • In my opinion this team has the best coach
    • In my opinion I like  the players even though they are not the best
    • This team is my local team (e.g If you live in Brisbane, you would go for the Brisbane Broncos)
    • They are the best team, or won the premiership the year before (e.g North Queensland Cowboys, Premiers in 2015)
    • and Other, which I made people specify any other reasons that may impact them to support their favourite team/club.
Josh Dugan Dragons
Dragons and NSW fullback, Josh Dugan. Dugan remains one of the best fullbacks in the NRL, and like Widdop, he is an important member of the Dragons team.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/32GQDJT

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