As celebrations in the Shire continue following the Sharks maiden title win, some can’t help but cast bitter eyes toward the four-day and continuing party in the Shire.
For those who missed the Courier Mail’s semi-shot at Sharks fans, Mike Colman of the aforementioned ‘paper’ suggested that Shark jerseys, worn only once on Grand Final day, will soon be flooding eBay as fair-weather Sharks fans return to not caring about the side.
I am fully aware that this was attempted humour, to poke fun one last time at a side that until Sunday had not lifted the most sought after trophy in rugby league.
Unfortunately, the attempted barbs missed the mark.
If anybody in the NRL has earned the right to celebrate in style, its fans of the Sharks.
It’s estimated that roughly 70,000 Shark fans were amongst the 83,000+ on Sunday night, although having been there it sounded like 100,000.
The roar when the Sharks ran out topped anything I’d ever heard at NSW home games, or any Grand Final I’d attended previously.
There was a great sense of anticipation, and relief, that their side had made the big dance. Yes, the odd previously lapsed fan may have purchased a ticket, but you can’t fake the passion on show.
As Ricky Leutele wrote himself into Shark folklore, the noise was indescribable.
Tears flowed. I have literally never been hugged so passionately by so many people I had never seen before, or since.
Those lucky enough to live in the Shire can attest to the wonderful atmosphere in the area over the past month. People are smiling, flags, streamers and balloons decorate a huge majority of balconies along the Esplanade.
Strangers are swapping war stories over a quiet ale, and businesses in the area are booming.
I’m willing to place a small wager on a few babies being born in nine-or-so months time, to be named Paul, James or Shane.
Simply put, people are happy. People are proud.
We all know what this club has been through. By all rights, the Cronulla Sharks should not exist in 2016.
The Asada scandal, the bank loans, the debt, the unpaid management team. Player sackings, sponsors bailing en mass. Club officials sacked for shadow boxing, sex toy scandals.
If something negative could have happened, it has happened to the black, white and blue.
If Sharks fans were truly fair weather, there’d be none left. Literally, not one single fan would admit to the former rabble that is the Sharks.
I’m not sinking the boot here, just telling the truth.
How many other clubs would have attracted 500, let alone the 4,000 brave, and slightly insane, fans who braved the now infamous ‘Sharknado’ conditions?
Not only did fans turn up, they embraced the conditions, with plenty dressing in full scuba gear. Others, obviously unaware of the weather forecast when they booked their tickets, sat, miserable, shaking and planning to call in sick the next day … but they were there.
This is a club like no other. 49 years without a title. The butt of thousands of jokes, hairs sent grey by constant worrying that the club would be forced to pack up and move to Perth to survive.
Give me a break!