Almanac Rugby League – Reunion Rugby League

By Pete Abela

The last time I went to the footy with Robbo was on the 2nd of July, 1989. The match on that occasion was between South Sydney (who would go on to be minor premiers) and Penrith (who finished second that year, but bombed out of the semis).

In those days, the Panthers were the chocolate soldiers and featured John Cartwright, Greg Alexander and Royce Simmons. Brad Fittler was yet to make his debut, Robbo and I were bright-eyed teenagers in Year 12 and Penrith won 19-8, a scoreline which included the obligatory Neil Baker field goal.

Fast-forward to the 11th March 2012. The venue is the same – the Sydney Football Stadium – but Brad Fittler is commenting from the sidelines, Robbo and I (rapidly approaching 40) have just met for the first time in almost 22 years and the Roosters are playing host to the Panthers.

The Panthers wore their pink jerseys, which led to a discussion about the various strips they have worn over the years. The most notable colour-scheme was the famous brown and white, which earned them the moniker of the chocolate soldiers. They became the liquorice all-sorts in 1991 and promptly won a premiership, and over recent years have occasionally sported a pink stripe – usually during the women of league round.

After a first round loss, the Panthers opened with solid defence and composed – if uninspiring – attack. The score remained 0-0 for much of the first half until Kiwi prop Sam McKendry broke through the Roosters defence from almost thirty metres out and dragged Minichello over the line to score. Jennings flashed over a few minutes later to double the lead, and the Panthers went to the break up 12-0.

During a dour second half, the major topic of conversation was what confectionary the pink uniform should be named after. The sweet of choice was fairy floss when Jennings scooped up a loose ball from forty metres out and raced over for the third try of the match. However, as the clocked wound down with the Roosters still yet to trouble the scorer, the consensus was that the Panthers were the pink icing on top of the Roosters dohnut.

Penrith Panthers 18 (M.Jennings 2, S. McKendry tries, L. Walsh 3 goals) def. Sydney Roosters 0.

Pete Abela is an author who can be found here.

About Nick Tedeschi

Nick Tedeschi was the chief rugby league writer at Punting Ace for five years after a career in politics and bookmaking. He has written freelance for a number of organisations including Back Page Lead, Crikey and Betfair and now runs his own website. He writes an annual NRL betting preview and is a diehard Canterbury fan who lists Craig Polla-Mounter, David Stagg, Tony Grimaldi and Daryl Halligan as his favourite players.


  1. Ian Hauser says


    Very clever punchline!

    Another game to confound the tipsters given the Round 1 results. Is it a more even competition this year, or do we have only three real contenders at this early stage?

  2. Thanks Ian.

    My feeling is that it will be a very even comp this year with not much separating teams 4 – 14 (say) and many inconsistent results. I think it’s likely that Manly and Melbourne will rise to the top, Parra and Cronulla might sink to the bottom, and the rest will swirl around as if they’re in a washing machine, all jumbled up together.

    The one thing I am confident about is that this fearless prediction is likely to be proven wrong very quickly so don’t hang your hat on it.

    As long as Penrith progress their rebuilding and are somewhere there or thereabouts, I’ll be happy!


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