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Ballin promotes the brand as Eagles fans flock to the banner

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Berkeley_Eagle, Oct 9, 2008.

  1. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Ballin promotes the brand as Eagles fans flock to the banner

    Glenn Jackson | October 9, 2008

    Not only has the remarkable scoreline in last Sunday's grand final been written into the history books, it has now been written into Matt Ballin's chest.

    While a number of Manly players have already taken the opportunity to have their victory etched in ink, Ballin went one better. He had the scoreline written in pink. Well, the rest of his chest was, anyway - the areas that weren't protected by the sun's rays, which the players have been soaking up along with the adulation.

    The 40-0 scoreline, having been written in sunscreen, was a stark reminder not only of the enormity of Manly's victory but also of the constant battle the club has to get crowds through the gates of Brookvale Oval. They are not fair-weather fans. Generally, they are the opposite. When the sun shines, there are too many other attractions to get them to the footy. Not yesterday, though. The sun was shining brightly, yet Sea Eagles supporters flocked not just to one venue, but two, when the only footy on offer was a couple of dozen kids kicking the ball around.

    When he woke up yesterday morning, Manly chief executive Grant Mayer feared the celebrations of the side's record win would be a flop. "But it was just incredible," Mayer said after more than 5000 people lined the streets of Manly and then 3000 joined the squad at Brookvale. "All reports from the 1996 grand final, there were two men and a dog. But today, 5000 people is absolutely mind-blowing."

    So powerful has this victory been, according to Mayer, it has even sent the spectre of Super League, not to mention the disastrous merger with North Sydney, packing. "The whole Super League issue is well and truly gone," Mayer said. "The same goes for the Northern Eagles. There's a new generation of fans here [at Brookvale Oval] who have been inspired by the last two seasons. The old element of people want to hark back to those times, but we've worked pretty hard on a new level of support."

    Including, get this, North Sydney fans. Ray Springett, famous around the district for carrying a rabbit on his shoulder - even while surfing - was on the Corso in his Bears jumper. He loved the Bears because his best friend was run over by a tram and killed after they watched the team win back in 1954. He hated Manly with almost as much passion because Manly pilfered Ken Irvine, Cliff Lyons and Don McKinnon.

    A recovering alcoholic who has been sober 26 years to the day, he happily watched a bunch of blokes who had clearly had a lot to drink in recent days.

    "That doesn't matter," he said. "I just came down to see people enjoy it. They're not quite the Silvertails that they used to be."

    The players started their celebrations on the beachfront and made their way up the Corso to a civic reception outside the council chambers. They were greeted by the Mayor, Jean Hay, who just happens to be Ken Arthurson's sister. The roll-up even surprised author and Manly tragic Thomas Keneally, who had to park at Manly leagues club and walk up Pittwater Road to get to Brookvale Oval. "This must be extraordinary for the players," he said.

    Keneally said it was the most special premiership he had seen. "It's the top one, because of it being to nil, because of our taking for granted all year that the Storm were going to win - it was like, in the middle of St George's run of 11 premierships, someone just breaking it up, humiliating them," he said.

    Ballin's pink work aside, the tattooing of premiership artwork began last night in the apartment which housed much of the players' grand-final celebrations. "Everyone's pretty proud of what we've done," Anthony Watmough said.

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