Titans aspire to Bronco-like aura
For the first time in his tenure as CEO of the Gold Coast Titans more than 21,000 fans converged on Cbus Super Stadium and corporate areas were full but Graham Annesley says that must become the rule, not the exception.
Twelve months ago the Titans could only attract a crowd of 15,432 to a Good Friday clash with the Broncos, running out in jerseys adorned with the Ronald McDonald House logo across the front because there was no major sponsor willing to step forward.
The club had lurched from one PR nightmare to another before the NRL finally stepped in to assume ownership, a custodianship they still hold to this day.
But given the response by the rugby league public and the corporate dollars now being spent with the Titans the club is becoming more and more attractive to prospective investors, but Annesley is adamant that the job is only half done.
"This time last year we were in all sorts of drama, there's no question," Annesley told NRL.com.
"We were starting the rebuilding process. We'd been through a pretty ordinary period and we were a long way from where we are now.
"In our corporate areas before the game the Palladium Room was full for the first time since I've been here; our Aquis Lounge was sold out; our corporate suites were full.
"I acknowledge that the aura of the Broncos brings a lot of that but there's no reason that we can't develop that same sort of culture here on the Gold Coast in the coming years.
"Overall it was a very satisfying night although we're not going to settle for this. This is what we should be doing on a more regular basis."
A sponsorship gallery that now includes Aquis, Ladbrokes, TripADeal, Frizelles, TFH Hire, BLK and others is not only bolstering the club's position off the field but assisting coach Neil Henry to deliver better outcomes on the field.
The re-signing of young halfback Kane Elgey to two more years recently was seen as a major positive for the club and just last week they signed England international Dan Sarginson for the 2017-2018 seasons.
Annesley hopes that with the addition of further high-quality players and a spirit that has netted them three wins in the first five weeks that Titans fans again have a team they can be proud of.
"I'd like to think that they're starting to feel that way," said Annesley.
"The great thing that is happening on the field is that the team is never dead. They've competed in every game we've played, they've clawed their way back in the second half of every game we've played for three wins and two losses and that gives great heart to the fans.
"I don't think too many of our fans would have gone away thinking that they'd wasted their money or that the club is not getting any better.
"This is a process of trying to be better each week and each year and I think we're on that path.
"The fact that they came here to play what most people consider one of two premiership contenders at this stage and to get that close to them and to keep them in check as much as we did is not good enough, because we need to win, but it's very promising.
"We may not be the most talented team in the competition but we're certainly up there in terms of the most committed.
"If they can continue to do that we'll be competitive in every game we play and we'll win our share of them."