Field Dreams of the Day: Wests Tigers Wiggle their way to success

04 Sep 21, 1:57PM 0 Comments

Written by Stuart McLennan

Photo by Jane Dempster

If you follow Anthony Field (The Blue Wiggle) on social media you would’ve noticed the talented and successful entertainer has another passion.

It’s an obsession, this writer can relate to. It’s based around the sport of rugby league and in particular the Tigers both current and historical.

Over the years the Tigers have occasionally given followers a reason for hope and celebration. Mostly it has been hard, frustrating and downright difficult. Despite the negatives, like punch drunk boxers, we keep backing up for more punishment, searching for any sign of light at the end of a very long tunnel.

Black and Gold will never fold (or will it?)

“I grew up in Lalor Park, the families first team was Parra, second team Balmain (mum was from Glebe). When I had free will, I chose the Tigers and never regretted it,” Field told Everything Rugby League.

As a Tigers fan of the same vintage, this writer and Field recalled three moments in the Balmain story that brought immense joy, devastation and disappointment to supporters.

“(In) 1969 I was six, but I remember the whole family, especially my grandparents in Glebe, celebrating for the rest of the year. Big Artie Beetson was suspended for the big game, Souths were almost sure favourites to win, but Sid Williams and Dave Bolton gave the Tiges the points!”

“1988 was devastating, Ellery “Celery” Hanley won the Golden Boot that year, he joined the Tigers for the last eight games of the season, he was phenomenal, all Balmain fans were confident we would sink the Berries (Canterbury Bulldogs) in the Grand Final. Sadly Terry Lamb absolutely flattened Ellery in a very severe off the ball incident near half time. I think that was it for us, it wasn’t fair. Really poor form I thought from Terry.

“1989, well what a team (like 88) the 80s legends, Benny, Blocker, Junior, Jimmy Jack, Siro, Andy Currier, Kevin Hardwick, Canberra with a young and brilliant team. I thought we had it won. It’s hard to watch.”

The Clubhouse that vanished

“My grandmother would be at the Tiges (Balmain Leagues Club) every pension night, having a lovely dinner. When the Cockroaches were rockin my nana would be in the audience.

“My young family spent many great nights at the club and how good was walking back to the club after a game at Leichhardt!

“I hope the club comes back, it was a real community club.”

New Beginnings in 2000

“I was sad that the Balmain Tigers were no more. I was sad the Western Suburbs Magpies were no more.

“I had to embrace the Wests Tigers otherwise I had no team in the comp. I do love seeing Wests (Magpies) fans and Balmain fans in the traditional jerseys to show where we have come from. I do prefer both clubs’ traditional jerseys and logo badge to the one we have now.

“In America, I have seen quite a few college sporting teams with the same Tigers as the Wests Tigers badge. I am all for the Wests Tigers now, but if a miracle happened and Balmain came back, I would be a very happy man (of course it will never happen).

Patience and a Philosophical approach through the tough times

“I think the Taylor years were very decisive. We had club legends shown the door, young brilliant players leaving the club (we all know who). They were the hardest years for me, I’m not sure we ever recovered.

“I think we need to be a club that attracts marquee players who want to come and play for us.

“We lose so many good players because they don’t want to stay or even come to the Tiges.

“It’s so hard to have patience when we just haven’t delivered consistently for years. True Tiger fans have been enduring the tough times and probably can endure some more, but how much will we celebrate when we have some success!”

The family that Wests Tigers together

“They (my family) love the Tigers and are very philosophical (you have to be) about our lack of success. One day we will all party like it’s 2005!

“I think all the Wests Tigers fans would love to see us compete in the semis. It’s the big show, the excitement and pride attached would be incredible. It means so much to win a grand final (we all remember the feeling in 2005), so it is hard that we don’t seem to be at the consistent level of most other clubs.”

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