I love them because we've battled, too, and survived Wendy Harmer | October 4, 2008 http://www.leaguehq.com.au/news/news/manly-has-battled-too/2008/10/03/1223013790911.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1 POOR old Roy Masters. He's dragged his busted one-string banjo from the cupboard to play the same old tune. The "Silvertail" dirge that goes: "Manly are the jewellery store of the NRL who spend big on players developed by other clubs." Twang! Honestly Roy, you're like a sad busker down there at Circular Quay. Fewer and fewer passers-by are dropping a coin into your battered hat but you refuse to get a new act. I was surprised to be invited to write a column alongside Roy Masters because the only thing Roy and I have in common is that neither of us has coached a first-grade rugby league team to a premiership. Disappointment is a corrosive emotion. It's been gnawing at Roy's vitals for years and has finally eaten a hole in his heart. Try telling the little bloke who has a poster of Brett Stewart on his bedroom wall that everyone hates his team. "Why Dad?' he asks. "Well, son, it goes back to before you were born. In fact, almost before I was born," Dad replies. "Fibro versus Silvertails" - it's a feud fed and watered since the days when the boys drove to Brookie in their purple XU-1 Toranas, the girls sported their tartan Bay City Rollers shoulder bags and cubes of tasty cheese and green cocktail onions on toothpicks were served in the corporate boxes (the fondue considered to be a fire hazard). The fact is that when the "locals only" rules changed in the early '70s, Manly bought two players from Souths - John O'Neill and Ray Branighan. The Roosters bought two as well - Ron Coote and Mike Cleary. Souths sat and watched their champion team picked to pieces. To this day, no one really knows why. Were Manly and Easts predatory or Souths negligent? That's the nub of the debate. Not this fanciful "fibros/silvertails" rubbish. A few years later Easts pounced on Bob Fulton. "Winners are grinners, and losers can suit themselves." Isn't that a rugby league mantra? Roy was stirring again when Manly bought Matt Orford from the Storm. "If you have a problem, spend up big to solve it," he opined. This newspaper carried a report on the signing: "After what he described as the most difficult decision of his life, the star halfback admitted he was close to taking the huge dollars on offer at the Rabbitohs." Huge dollars? Hello? The "Ox" said he wanted to move closer to his family in Gosford and play alongside Manly stars whose roots go deep into the clubs of the peninsula - the Harbord Devils, Narrabeen Sharks and Belrose Eagles. Ask yourself how many of the Storm stars grew up playing footy in the back streets of Richmond or St Kilda? The accusation that stings most is that Manly bundled North Sydney from the competition. In my book, if you want to blame anyone for the demise of the Bears, there are 10 teams in front of us with their fingers in the Super League till. Surely, we remember how Ken Arthurson held out against Rupert Murdoch and almost sent Manly broke. Principle over profit. That was the painful lesson "Arko" taught all Sea Eagles fans. But, all this is history. Before you believe one-eyed ranters like Roy, or indeed me, take a look at the record and decide for yourself. Whatever you think, Manly have paid their dues. Our decade began with a premiership in 1996, and four years later we lost our colours, our name and were headed for extinction. Even the most arrogant have been humbled. These days the Brookie faithful are a new breed with no memory of old hatreds. Silvertails? Hah! They're working their guts out to pay off the mortgage, like everyone else. From Far North Queensland to Victoria, it's still the working man's game. At Brookie's final siren, hundreds of kids stream onto the ground to kick and tackle under the lights, just like their heroes. It's a thrill Dad remembers from his childhood, but a rare treat now. The joy of a tradition preserved puts a smile on everyone's face - win, lose or draw. I love my club - the maroon and white that looks so fetching on the inspirational sportswomen who are the Eagles Angels; the majestic Sea Eagle we are lucky enough to see soaring over the Northern Beaches and buggered old "Fortress Brookvale". The new signage for the Menzies-Fulton stand has already fallen down. And that says it all for me. Someone will get up there on a ladder and nail the sign up again and it won't be some "Silvertail". It will be someone who understands that when you get knocked down, you just have to get up and have another go. We don't expect that you will love us. But we reckon that, after 60 years, we might have earned your respect.