Former CEO David Fitzgerald has revealed to The Daily Telegraph that the Eels almost became the Parramatta Rams in the 1990s.
It's understood Fitzgerald was a big fan of the NFL franchise known as the Rams, but when met with a less than agreeable response by other directors and senior members at the club, the plan was thrown on the scrapheap.
Of course, the Super League war in 1997 did bring with it a variation of the Rams, albeit based out of Adelaide. The expansion club only lasted two seasons - one in the Super League and one back in the ARL competition before they were wound up.
While the battle for a team in Adelaide continues, potentially under the Rams' moniker once again, Fitzgerald told The Daily Telegraph that he never liked the Eels' logo and was searching for alternatives.
“The Rams’ nickname was monosyllabic and more aggressive. I was looking for a mascot that was easy to recognise for people,” Fitzgerald said.
“I was keen on the Rams even though I was generally looking for names that started with a ‘P’ because that was the first letter in Parramatta. I spoke to club directors and managers at the time about a possible name change.
“There was always a difficulty in doing anything in terms of marketing with the Eels. People associate Eels as being slippery, slimy marine fish.
Fitzgerald hinted that the name change may have failed due to the immense success of the club during the 1970s and 1980s as the brand became more well-known and respected.
“The Rams were also a huge brand in US sport. There was certainly some support internally yet others disapproved of any name change. It was lukewarm. These talks came after the late 1970s and 1980s when Parramatta enjoyed our golden era.
“It was difficult securing change back then. I wouldn’t have had the numbers to carry it. I try not to use Eels when I’m talking about the club. I say Parramatta or Parra.”
While the Eels' name change never happened, other teams in the NRL have previously changed names with varying degrees of success.
The Sydney Roosters were once known as the Eastern Suburbs Roosters, the Canterbury Bulldogs were formerly known as the Berries, the Manly Sea Eagles formed a failed merger to be known as the Northern Eagles for a season in a dismal fail, while the Gold Coast franchise has been through numerous names in the Giants, Seagulls, Crushers and Chargers before the Titans finally were able to stick.
Fitzgerald said despite other teams changing, it would now never happen at the Eels.
“It’s too late. The Eels are so well known around Australia. If you mention Parramatta in Adelaide, for example, they say: ‘That’s where the Eels come from'," Fitzgerald said.
The Eels are aiming to break their long-standing premiership drought this season, but will have to overcome the Penrith Panthers in a semi-final on Saturday evening to move to within a game of the decider.