Parramatta Eels

Parramatta Eels


The Parramatta Eels is an Australian professional rugby league football club based in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta. The Parramatta District Rugby League Football Club was formed in 1946, with their First Grade side playing their first season in the New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership's 40th season in 1947.

The club was highly successful in the early 1980s, winning four premierships and qualifying for five Grand Finals within six successive seasons. The club plays in the National Rugby League, the premier rugby league football competition in Australasia; sides are also fielded in lower grade and junior competitions run by the New South Wales Rugby League.


The roots of the playing of rugby union and rugby league in Parramatta lie in the 19th century with the formation of the Parramatta Rugby Club in 1879. With the advent of a Sydney District competition in 1900, the Parramatta club merged with Western Suburbs and played some of its matches at Cumberland Oval. On a local level, rugby league began to be played in 1909 when a district competition was formed. Other clubs in the Parramatta district also emerged; over the ensuing decades, clubs established in suburbs throughout the area.

Pressure in the area for a local club to participate in the New South Wales Rugby League premiership began in the mid-1930s with a formal proposal put to the NSWRL in 1936 by local rugby league identities such as Jack Argent and Jack Scullin. The proposal was rejected by all clubs except Western Suburbs who, despite having the most to lose from the entrance of a Parramatta side (with much of their territory being lost to Parramatta), voted for the entrance of the new club. The advent of World War II put the establishment of the club on hold and a Parramatta district club was not proposed again until 1946 when the club was successfully admitted into the Premiership.

Parramatta saw very little success in their early years, finishing last in the competition 6 years in a row from 1956 to 1961. The club's only relative high points were narrowly missing out on finals qualification in 1948 and 1949 under the guidance of former Western Suburbs and Leeds five-eighth Vic Hey. In 1962, Parramatta made the finals for the first time; this achievement was repeated for three consecutive years to 1965. However, the club slid back down the ladder in the following years, collecting the wooden spoon in 1970. The club's first major success came in 1975 when they won the Pre-Season cup, defeating Manly-Warringah in the competition's final.

n 1976, the club finally reached the NSWRL Grand Final, in their 30th year. However, they lost narrowly to a Manly-Warringah side that they had defeated just two weeks earlier. The following year, Parramatta captured their first minor premiership before qualifying for the Grand Final for the second year running. Against St. George, the match was drawn 9–9, forcing a Grand Final replay the following weekend. In this match, Parramatta choked 22–0. The team made the finals in both 1978 and 1979, but missed the finals in 1980 for the first time since 1974.

The early 1980s was unquestionably the most successful period for the Eels, with the club earning five Grand Final appearances and four premierships from 1981 to 1986. Under the influence of coach Jack Gibson and with a team including names such as Ray Price, Eric Grothe, Steve Ella, Mick Cronin and Brett Kenny, the club captured three consecutive premierships from 1981 to 1983, the most recent "threepeat" in the competition's history. In 1984 the team once again reached the Grand Final, but lost in a low-scoring Grand Final to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 6–4. In 1986, the club took out their third minor premiership while also reaching the Grand Final, beating Canterbury 4–2 in the lowest-scoring Grand Final in history.

From 1987 to 1996, the club failed to make the finals. With the advent of the Super League war in the mid-1990s, Parramatta capitalised on staying with the Australian Rugby League by picking up high-profile players such as Dean Pay, Jason Smith, Jim Dymock and Jarrod McCracken from the 1995 premiership-winning side, the Sydney Bulldogs.

In 1997, the club made the finals for the first time in 11 seasons by finishing 3rd in the Australian Rugby League competition. In the combined National Rugby League competitions in 1998 and 1999 the club finished 4th out of 20 teams and 2nd out of 17 respectively, narrowly missing out on the Grand Final by one match in 1998.

In 1998, in the wake of the resolution of the Super League War and the creation of the National Rugby League, the competition underwent a major restructure. It was announced that the new competition would comprise only 14 teams out of the 22 who had competed in the two competitions in 1997. This contraction would necessitate mergers or the culling of teams who did not meet the criteria for inclusion into the new competition. Despite meeting these criteria the Parramatta board explored mergers with Penrith Panthers and Balmain Tigers but opted against the plan.

In 2001, Parramatta set a regular-season points scoring record in the premiership by scoring 839 points in 26 matches on their way to claiming the minor premiership. Despite being heavy favourites for the Grand Final against the Newcastle Knights, the team lost 30–24.[10] The club continued to make the finals until 2002 but did not qualify for the finals in 2003 and 2004.

Despite Parramatta claiming the minor premiership in 2005, it was announced soon after the unsuccessful 2005 finals series that coach Brian Smith had been asked to stand down after the conclusion of the 2006 season in what turned out to be a direct trade with the Newcastle Knights for Michael Hagan. After a poor start to the 2006 season, Smith resigned on 15 May 2006 and was replaced by Jason Taylor. Despite the team's low position on the ladder at the time, they were still able to make the finals for the second year running but were immediately eliminated from the series by minor premiers Melbourne Storm.

In 2007 the Eels finished 5th but were again eliminated from the finals series by eventual premiers Melbourne, this time making it to the preliminary final. (Credit: Wikipedia).


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