The Mighty Sea Eagles proud history began in Manly amongst the mist of the Pacific Ocean. Just after World War 2, volunteers with buckets in hand started raising the money required to enter a local team in the NSWRL competition by collecting donations at Manly Wharf. Eager punters as they trudged off the ferry, with their wallets full of pay day cash, gladly donated in the hope they could one day watch a local team compete with the rest of SydneyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s Rugby League elite. In 1947 the maroon and white Manly men with a proud Sea Eagle on their chest began a journey that is now well entrenched in Rugby League history. So here we are some 58 years later at the launch of the 2005 season at the Manly Pacific Hotel, just a Michael Monaghan torpedo punt away from Manly Wharf and with the familiar smell of the Pacific Ocean still swirling through our nostrils. The punters of the 21st century still hold the same hope and expectations as the generation past. They came in their hundreds to the launch after the team tasted early success in the pre season trials. You could the see a glint of excitement in the eyes of the Management, team, sponsors and supporters not seen in recent years. You could feel the success in the air, you could sense the quiet optimism that 2005 will be the year a mighty club returns to its rightful place in Rugby League. The launch theme was ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Memories, Magic & Milestones - Ignite the SpiritÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? and the night began with the Cheer girls strutting their stuff on stage ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Âœ keep a close eye on these ladies throughout the year, they are stunning. Then the adorable Eagle Angel Wendy Harmer welcomed the guests with a range of jibes and jokes to liven up the crowd which included a slim looking Peter Phelps, Mathew Johns, Bronwyn Bishop and Olympic gold medallist Debbie Watson. WendyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s joke about Terry Hill being the next reality TV star in a show called ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“I am at the Rabbits ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Âœ Get me out of here!ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? had everyone in stiches. The club chairman Joe Cross then provided an insightful summary of the progress the club has made over the last 15 months and he thanked out going Executive Director Paul Cummings for his contribution during this at times difficult period. He felt the board is now well placed to maintain the momentum off field to ensure success on it. Joe also acknowledged the work that Crusher Cleal has been doing since his return to the club developing a talented mix of youngsters who will be the backbone of the club in the years ahead. In what could be a great omen, the thunder roared and lightening lit up the Pacific Ocean in the background as Zorba introduced the NRL squad of 2005. The club is very excited by the class of 1984 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Âœ there are five young players born in that year in the squad (Cruncher Cleal, Ballin, Witt, Burns, Alberts), watch out for them to shine this year. Terry Hill received the biggest ovation of the night and Zorba said he will be meeting with Paul Cummings tomorrow (Friday) to finalise a deal. Tezza was extremely positive about our prospects, he would not have returned to the field if he did not think a successful year, with plenty of victories was ahead. He also had a warning for the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Great ApesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? in New Zealand, to watch out! they will be in for a torrid game next weekend and Manly will not be backing down this year to anyone. It was great to see the whole squad positive and confident about their football including Ben Kennedy, Beaver Menzies and skipper Michael Monaghan who spoke in glowing terms about pre season training at the Narrabeen Base camp and the early success in the trials. Glen Stewart was still smiling despite his arm being in plaster due to a broken thumb, while Chris Hicks appeared to have difficulty getting up onto the stage due to a slight limp. The drinks flowed, the music started and Zorba was even spotted on the dance floor treading the boards. The players freely mingled with fans and sponsors alike and I can report they were extremely well behaved and what a great group of guys. The club and supporters can be extremely proud of them. It was a great night - The spirit has been ignited, now let the football begin.