NRL 2022 | Mark Levy column | Sharks vs Eels, PointsBet Stadium


We often debate the need for suburban grounds in the NRL and if politicians considering upgrading and investing in these venues needed proof of their importance, look no further than PointsBet Saturday Stadium and McDonald’s Stadium. Jones on Sunday.

I was at Shark Park with the 2GB Continuous Call Team when Cronulla returned home for the first time in 930 days and wow, didn’t they put on an amazing show.

In my 15 years covering rugby league, this is one of the best days I’ve had in football.

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Sitting in the broadcast box and watching the sea of ​​light blue Sharks jerseys roll down from Woolooware station and across Captain Cook Drive, it reminded me of my childhood walking footy with my late father.

On the way to the pitch, you would debate whether your team would walk away with the competition’s two points and on the way home, you would celebrate or sympathize with your fellow supporters.

Add the sledding and light banter with opposing fans and that’s where the tribalism is built into our game.

Fortunately, we have an ARLC President who is determined to protect and grow this tribalism, because Peter V’landys understands what the game has thrived on since 1908.

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V’landys said last year, “fans want to be able to walk to their facility, they want to be tribal and we’re not going to give up until all the teams play in suburban Sydney.”

“You’ve got to do it for Manly, you’ve got to do it for the Tigers and the Bulldogs, you’ve got to do it for the Panthers and that’s going to be one of the main goals of the commission, getting those[updated]suburban lands and back to the good old days of tribalism.”

It’s music to the ears of almost everyone in rugby league. Thanks Peter.

If you were at Shark Park or watching it on TV, when Nicho Hynes spotted the game-winning conversion attempt, you would have thought the Sharks had won another premiership.

2016 winning captain Paul Gallen was jumping up and down the sideline, Toby Rudolph jumped the fence and celebrated with the fans at the south end of the pitch and “Up Up Cronulla” was played on a loop as that the Sharks were celebrating their homecoming.

It was the hottest ticket in town and the crowd of 11,400 left buzzing.

In fact, veteran commentator David Morrow got very emotional declaring it “one of the most fabulous football games I’ve ever called” and it comes from a man who has been broadcasting rugby league for 50 years.

The following day, blue skies and sunshine greeted the 24,000 Novocastrians who traveled to Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium for the Knights’ first home game of the season.

Eighth Immortal Andrew Johns spoke about tribalism on the cover of Nine before the match, insisting: “When you come to Newcastle you have to take on the whole town.”

The Wests Tigers delivered a performance that Michael Maguire said ‘was not the norm for first year’, but ask Knights fans and they’ll tell you the players were impressed with the experience of a packed crowd at Newcastle.

It will be the same in Brookvale on Sunday when the Manly Sea Eagles return home, Penrith have become unbeatable at the foot of the mountains and we are counting the days until the barbecues are lined up along Mary Street as football returns. at the Leichhardt oval.

The late Laurie Nichols would have given meaning to those bureaucrats who neglected suburban land. You can just imagine the Balmain fanatic standing on the shadow boxing steps of the NSW Parliament and trotting his famous one-liners.

Laurie was the ultimate supporter who loved and thrived on suburban soccer. There will be photo opportunities in the coming months for politicians to wear high visibility vests and helmets as Sydney’s new football stadium opens, which will play an important role in hosting events major in the port city.

When the new stadium is full the atmosphere will be amazing but I would much prefer a crowded Shark Park, Leichhardt Oval or Kogarah Oval where I can stand on the hill to enjoy the atmosphere, stop at the local pub and walk up to the ground.

Instead, we’re asking fans to hop on trains, buses and the tram to watch “home games” at Accor Stadium, Commbank Stadium and the New Sydney Football Stadium.

We should fill smaller suburban pitches instead of relying on bigger venues which look terrible on TV when the viewer is watching football with thousands of empty seats in the background.

Let me know your thoughts by emailing the WWOS Radio show by clicking this link; https://form.jotform.co/70601482897867

Wide World of Sports Radio is heard from 6pm AEDT on 2GB 873am with Mark Levy and co-hosts Billy Slater (Monday), Paul Gallen (Tuesday) and Brad Fittler (Wednesday).

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