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I HAVE conflicting viewpoints on the future stadium strategy depending on how sentimental I may be feeling on a particular day.
As we head back to the glorious Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday – arguably the spiritual home of rugby league in this country – to commemorate 50 years to the second of the 1963 Grand Final between St George and Western Suburbs, I find myself asking: Why don’t we do this more often?
This is in fact the second time this year the Dragons and Tigers have taken to its famed playing surface in the pursuit of two competition points and I’m sure even though both sets of fans have had little to cheer about in 2013 they’ll turn up on Saturday for the mere opportunity to ponder more celebrated times.
This week we have launched a special 40-Year Souvenir Edition of Big League and already I have been inundated with compliments from those in the game who enjoy flicking through the pages of a bygone era and thinking back on those moments that made them fall in love with rugby league in the first place.
So where does a proposed stadium strategy that dictates all the big games are played at the modern, kitted-out facilities fit into rugby league’s wonderful connection with its past?
I’ve had to traipse through mud from my rain-soaked spot on the hill to the three-stall outdoor toilets and back again at any number of games; what I would have given to have been seated comfortably in the stands, clear of the falling precipitation and within easy reach of the Krispy Kreme cart.
No matter what era you live in, going to the footy has always been a special occasion and one that had to be saved for; the thought of it being ruined by a day of rain would send entire families into a state of depression.
If you’re going to shout the family a day at the footy wouldn’t you rather do it in style? Or do the memories forged in the formative years as a rugby league fan have their roots in the antiquated stands shared by those from generations upon generations?
Rugby league’s history is to be celebrated; I just hope we treasure every experience at the grounds that built our game into what it is today before they become extinct.
There appears little doubt referees are reluctant to sin bin players in the modern game with an over-reaction resulting in a 10-minute punishment that can change the course of a game. Being without a defender for 1/8th of a game seems excessive for an over-zealous hold down so we think we came up with a solution.
Borrowing from other sports we suggest a five-minute ‘power play’ that would give the attacking team sufficient advantage but should they score, the sin-binned player returns to the field. Otherwise we’re in danger of heading towards that other game where players would rather kill the contest than trust their defence.