As a Cronulla Sharks fan, Paul Gallen’s recent comments about walking away from the club if the 2016 Premiership had have been stripped really hit home.
If there are two things you can count on when it comes to Rugby League fans its unparalleled support and the ability to overreact.
Once again social media didn’t let me down and went into meltdown after Gallen’s comments on Channel 9’s Wide World of Sports.
For those who missed them, Gallen said that if the Sharks 2016 title had have been taken away during the recent salary cap investigation, that he would dispose of his title ring and walk away from the club.
The comments have been overblown to the point some have said Gallen is ready to throw his toys out of the cot if he didn’t get his way, which is downright ridiculous.
As a Sharks fan, I can really resonate with our club captain’s comments.
I can tell you right now that if the 2016 title had been removed due to errors made off the field, I would be absolutely furious and would be very tempted to walk away from the club and the game as a whole.
As much as we have fun on social media, it has not been an easy run supporting the club. I’ve been a fan since I can first remember after being born over 30 years ago.
As a fan of the club I’ve seen it all; Salary cap scandals, player misbehaviour, financial disaster, peptides, sponsors walking away, and multiple close but ultimately not close enough.
It has aged me in ways only fellow fans can understand.
The 2016 title win made it all worthwhile. Every single loss in the prelim final, every single sponsor who walked away, every single negative headline or news report.
To take that away would make it all seem … well, not worth it.
Gallen is right. 100% right. Can you imagine the frustration for a player who has carried the club through some horror dark days, who finally realised his career-long dream of a title, only to have it taken away by negligence by those in the front office?
Say what you want about Gal, and plenty have across social media, but this guy has sacrificed his career to remain with the Sharks and lead the club to its fairytale title win?
There were years it was literally Gallen and the rest in the lack, white and blue.
There were opportunities for him to join Manly, for more money and a much better chance of winning a title, but he stood solid and earned the right to lift that trophy on October 2nd, 2016.
If not for a series of Hail Mary plays at the final moment, the Sharks as a club, wouldn’t exist. They probably shouldn’t.
There were years that the club survived on the literal will of volunteers.
Members of the media too great delight in the downfall of board members in years gone by but it’s worth noting that these were fans and business people donating their time to saving the club
Simply put the club couldn’t afford to pay board members. The club went without a CEO for years as we literally couldn’t afford to employ one.
It sounds ridiculous because it is … but due to the commitment of people like board members and players like Paul Gallen, the club survived and ended that title drought in 2016.
Take that away and what is the point?
We have a Sharks group chat online (not WhatsApp so don’t worry) that discussed how we’d react if the worst had happened.
The general feeling was it would be an absolute disaster and would drive the majority of us from the club, at least in the short-term.
Ultimately I think I’d be there in round two vs the Titans regardless of the outcome, but I wouldn’t hold it against Gallen if he had retired on the spot, should the title have been at risk. Not one bit.
Gallen, as a player, is in charge of on-field results and nothing more.
It’s not up to Gallen, or any player, to worry about the salary cap. They are there to play the game and earn accordingly. It’s none of his business what’s going on in head office.
Repeated incompetence in the boardroom is super frustrating. Ask Storm fans. Ask Eels fans. Sea Eagles …
Rugby League is ultimately about winning. The Sharks spent 49 years chasing that dream.
If they had taken away the 2016 title as a result of pure idiocy from overwhelmed members of a board who had no right promising what they had, I guarantee you plenty would have walked away.
I’m a sucker for punishment so I’d probably have gone back for more, but it would have driven a real stake into the heart.
Times that by 25 for the player who has been the literal heart of the club for the past decade and I can’t blame Gallen for his comments at all.