JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Converts from AFL celebrate Storm win

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Storm get a rockstar welcome home

Thousands of fans gathered at Gosch's Paddock to welcome home Melbourne Storm, the newly crowned 2012 NRL premiers.

PT0M0S 620 349

This was a victory for the true believers.

Not those who remained committed to the Melbourne Storm through the dark days of salary cap rorts and stripped Premierships, when the Victorian club became a byword for systematic cheating and the exploitation of sporting loopholes.

No, it was more like a triumph for those true believers who have retained their (these days) politically incorrect view that Australian sport should be an expression of machismo toughness.

Melbourne Storm fans gather at Gosch's paddock.

Melbourne Storm fans gather at Gosch's paddock. Photo: Jason South

As the spring rays of a Melbourne sun glazed Gosch's Paddock, the training venue seemed to have been turned into a purple haze of contented Storm supporters.

The DJ pumped up the atmosphere (he had to work overtime as the flight out of Sydney was long delayed) but the crowd waited patiently and in well-behaved fashion for their heroes to attend their local coronation, all willing to convert any doubters who had strayed in to see what was taking place.

The Age played devil's advocated with a small sample.

Why was their team so good, and why, in this, the heartland of AFL (with Collingwood's HQ a hundred metres down the road and the MCG in close proximity ) did they follow this code.

The first question was easily answered: Smithy, Billy, Coops and Bellyache (coach Craig Bellamy) were the universal replies, referring to the three big-name players around whom Bellamy has built his team.

The second (admittedly from a wholly unscientific poll of half a dozen randomly chosen fans) was perhaps more interesting.

All — save the for dyed in the wool rugby man who had flown from NZ to Sydney for Sunday night's final and for whom attendance at yesterday's rather truncated public celebration was mandatory — had been AFL fans earlier in their sporting lives but were now committed Leagies.

Mainly, they said, because NRL seemed to still give fans the feel and the atmosphere, the cultural experience and the physical thrills that footy once did in those rather less sanitised days of the 1970s and 1980s.

Adam Thompson and his pregnant wife Maria Laura said that the NRL gave them the physical hit that footy no longer did.

"We started coming last year. Its a great sport. We are not from Sydney, but we just got sick of the AFL and thought we would try something different. Its a great game and we got into it," said Adam, a 32-year-old carpenter from Taylors Lakes.

"In AFL there is a lot of stuffing around with the rules. The rugby players seem to be more down-to-earth. The AFL players seem a lot more distant. After every game they come round to the fence, high five everyone, say g'day. I used to be an Essendon fan but not much really now. This is a blokey, mate's game. Its like what footy was like in the '70s and '80s, when they had moustaches and beards."

Maria, a customer service manager, concurred. "The boys aren't hard enough any more. At least with rugby they get stuck in, sometimes punch on and it's exciting. It's also got to do with pricing. AFL has got a lot more expensive. As members here its $190 each for the whole season."

Blind since birth, Chris Bertuch has never seen a pass thrown or kick converted, but the Australian international blind cricketer — who said he was due to visit India for a blind cricket 20/20 World Cup this year — was happy to be among the crowd as the music thumped.

"I have got a lot of mates who are into it, mainly the boys down at the cricket who follow it. There are a couple of blokes from NZ, but its mainly Melbourne guys. I just like the atmosphere with the game and it seems to be a lot more straightforward than other games."

Sisters Julie and Kellie Grayson were soaking up the sun and waiting for the Premiers. Both admitted they had been introduced to NRL by their husbands, but it was now their game.

"I was working in Sydney for 13 years," said Julie. "I took up NRL because I was up there, I do follow Essendon but I like this now. I didn't like NRL when I first went to Sydney. My husband (Bill Armstrong) once played 16 minutes for the Rabbitohs in the 1990s and I suppose that's what got me into it."

Kellie added: "My husband is a big NRL man, so I guess I just adopted his team. Aussie Rules, when you watch it, its more of a free-for-all with no structure. It seems all the time to be a scramble for the ball. It's like stacks on the ball."

34 comments

  • Let them get their teeth right into it!

    Commenter
    Bernie Furphy
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    October 01, 2012, 5:44PM
    • The smaller crowd would allow a more personal interaction with the players and give you room to spread out….

      Commenter
      MT
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      October 01, 2012, 5:46PM
      • Someone had better break the news to Adam and Maria that they were watching League, not Rugby.

        Commenter
        Beaker
        Location
        North of the border
        Date and time
        October 01, 2012, 5:47PM
        • They punch on Maria, if thats what you like - go to the boxing.

          Commenter
          Bernie Furphy
          Location
          Brisbane
          Date and time
          October 01, 2012, 5:47PM
          • Boxing?! A once-was sport - UFC is now top dog!

            Commenter
            jg
            Location
            Canberra
            Date and time
            October 01, 2012, 5:54PM
          • @ jg At least one Bulldog thought he was Mike Tyson. But yes, The Octagon is where it's at. Now if only we could convince the silly state government here in Victoria to lift their nonsensical ban on the cage, only for UFC special events even.....Ted are you listening?

            Commenter
            Marion Morrison
            Location
            The Octagon
            Date and time
            October 01, 2012, 6:04PM
          • I love how people who have never been punched want to watch it on the field. I played a lot of footy and got sniped badly a couple of times including a king hit that fractured my zygoma (cheek). 20 years later I still have sinus problems.

            Yeah bring back the biff (gees)

            Commenter
            kepler-22b
            Date and time
            October 01, 2012, 8:42PM
        • I knew before I read the article that nearly all the comments on here would be (persumably) AFL fans poking fun at League. Even on the League hq article on the game itself they were in there acting like 4 year olds. Seriously, accept the fact that there is more than one code in this country and move on.
          It also always amuses me how all the cheap little jibes coming from the 'courage' mob are always about things that happen AWAY from the game itself. ('Small Crowds, Played by thugs) I've got news for you - you support a game that is every bit a minority sport (actually more of a minority sport) as Rugby League.

          Commenter
          Mickeye
          Location
          Heidelberg
          Date and time
          October 01, 2012, 6:06PM
          • i think the gulf that exists between NRL and AFL was demonstrated by the way the crowds at both events reacted to the winners. Sydney (and in the past Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Brisbane and West Coast) were cheered and congratulated by the entirety of the crowd for winning the ultimate match of the season.
            Storm were merely booed.
            AFL is an indigenous Australian sport and the final is a celebration of the sport by the football loving community Australia wide. NRL is a Sydney-Brisbane event and everyone else is regarded as an infection might be.

            Commenter
            TED
            Date and time
            October 01, 2012, 7:22PM
          • @TED - COMPLETELY agree. Sydney and Qld have not yet accepted Storm into their comp. Even the commentators are still unbelievably biased.

            NRL will NEVER be a whole Australian sport when your fans and officials have this attitude.
            This is AFL is light years ahead of NRL. Light years.

            Well done Storm.

            Commenter
            AdamA
            Location
            Melbourne
            Date and time
            October 01, 2012, 11:38PM

        More comments

        Comments are now closed

        Related Coverage

        NRL Season 2014

        Round 1
        Thu, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
        SOU 28 vs SYD 8 Report Stats
        Fri, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BUL 12 vs BRI 18 Stats
        Sat, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
        PEN 30 vs NEW 8 Report Stats
        MAN 22 vs MEL 23 Report Stats
        NQL 28 vs CAN 22 Report Stats
        Sun, 09 MarTimes shown AEDT
        STG 44 vs WES 24 Report Stats
        PAR 36 vs NZW 16 Report Stats
        Mon, 10 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CRO 12 vs GCT 18 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 2
        Fri, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
        MAN 14 vs SOU 12 Report Stats
        BRI 16 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
        Sat, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
        NZW 12 vs STG 31 Report Stats
        MEL 18 vs PEN 17 Report Stats
        SYD 56 vs PAR 4 Report Stats
        Sun, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
        GCT 12 vs WES 42 Report Stats
        NEW 20 vs CAN 26 Report Stats
        Mon, 17 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BUL 42 vs CRO 4 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 3
        Fri, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
        WES 25 vs SOU 16 Report Stats
        BRI 26 vs SYD 30 Report Stats
        Sat, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
        PEN 18 vs BUL 16 Report Stats
        CRO 12 vs STG 14 Report Stats
        NQL 16 vs NZW 20 Report Stats
        Sun, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
        MAN 22 vs PAR 18 Report Stats
        CAN 12 vs GCT 24 Stats
        Mon, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
        MEL 28 vs NEW 20 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 4
        Fri, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
        SYD vs MAN 8 Report Stats
        STG 20 vs BRI 36 Report Stats
        Sat, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
        NZW 42 vs WES 18 Report Stats
        PAR 32 vs PEN 16 Report Stats
        BUL 40 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
        Sun, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
        SOU 18 vs CAN 30 Report Stats
        NEW 30 vs CRO Report Stats
        Mon, 31 MarTimes shown AEDT
        GCT 13 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 5
        Fri, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
        SYD 8 vs BUL 9 Report Stats
        BRI 18 vs PAR 25 Report Stats
        Sat, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
        CRO 37 vs NZW 6 Report Stats
        PEN 12 vs CAN 6 Report Stats
        STG 6 vs SOU 26 Report Stats
        Sun, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
        MEL 26 vs GCT 28 Report Stats
        WES 34 vs MAN 18 Report Stats
        Mon, 07 AprTimes shown AEST
        NQL 28 vs NEW 2 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 6
        Fri, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
        PEN 2 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
        GCT 12 vs BRI 8 Report Stats
        Sat, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
        CAN 12 vs NEW 26 Report Stats
        PAR 14 vs SYD 12 Report Stats
        WES 16 vs NQL 4 Report Stats
        Sun, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
        NZW 20 vs BUL 21 Report Stats
        MAN 24 vs CRO 4 Report Stats
        Mon, 14 AprTimes shown AEST
        MEL 28 vs STG 24 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 7
        Fri, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
        SOU 14 vs BUL 15 Report Stats
        NEW 6 vs BRI 32 Report Stats
        MAN 26 vs NQL 21 Report Stats
        Sat, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
        STG 20 vs NZW 10 Report Stats
        CRO 18 vs SYD 24 Report Stats
        Sun, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
        CAN 24 vs MEL 22 Report Stats
        Mon, 21 AprTimes shown AEST
        PAR 18 vs WES 21 Report Stats
        PEN 14 vs GCT 12 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 8
        Fri, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
        STG 14 vs SYD 34 Report Stats
        MEL 10 vs NZW 16 Report Stats
        BRI 26 vs SOU 28 Report Stats
        Sat, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
        CRO 24 vs PEN 20 Report Stats
        NQL 42 vs PAR 14 Report Stats
        BUL 16 vs NEW 12 Report Stats
        Sun, 27 AprTimes shown AEST
        MAN 54 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
        WES 6 vs GCT 22 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 9
        Fri, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
        SYD 30 vs WES 6 Report Stats
        NQL 27 vs BRI 14 Report Stats
        Sat, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
        NZW 54 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
        GCT 18 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
        MEL 22 vs MAN 19 Report Stats
        Sun, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
        NEW 10 vs PEN 32 Report Stats
        STG 6 vs BUL 38 Report Stats
        Mon, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
        PAR 42 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 10
        Fri, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
        SOU 14 vs MEL 27 Report Stats
        BRI 22 vs GCT 8 Report Stats
        Sat, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
        PAR 36 vs STG Report Stats
        CRO 20 vs WES 22 Report Stats
        NQL 42 vs SYD 10 Report Stats
        Sun, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
        CAN 20 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
        BUL 16 vs NZW 12 Report Stats
        Mon, 19 MayTimes shown AEST
        MAN 15 vs NEW 14 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 11
        Fri, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
        BUL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
        Sat, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
        GCT 16 vs NZW 24 Report Stats
        WES 14 vs BRI 16 Report Stats
        Sun, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
        CAN 42 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
        Mon, 26 MayTimes shown AEST
        CRO vs SOU 18 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 12
        Fri, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
        PEN 38 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
        Sat, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
        SYD 26 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
        NQL 22 vs MEL Report Stats
        Sun, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
        NZW 38 vs NEW 18 Report Stats
        BRI 36 vs MAN 10 Report Stats
        Mon, 02 JunTimes shown AEST
        SOU 29 vs STG 10 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 13
        Fri, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
        MAN 32 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
        PAR 18 vs NQL 16 Report Stats
        Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
        GCT 14 vs PEN 36 Report Stats
        STG 30 vs CRO Report Stats
        SOU 34 vs NZW 18 Report Stats
        Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
        NEW 20 vs WES 23 Report Stats
        MEL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
        Mon, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
        CAN 4 vs BRI 28 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 14
        Fri, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
        SOU 32 vs WES 10 Report Stats
        Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
        PEN 18 vs STG 14 Report Stats
        SYD 29 vs NEW 12 Report Stats
        Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
        BUL 12 vs PAR 22 Report Stats
        Mon, 16 JunTimes shown AEST
        GCT 20 vs MEL 24 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 15
        Fri, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
        CAN 14 vs BUL 22 Report Stats
        Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
        NZW 19 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
        CRO vs MAN 26 Report Stats
        Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
        MEL 46 vs PAR 20 Report Stats
        GCT 18 vs STG 19 Report Stats
        Mon, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
        NEW 36 vs NQL 28 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 16
        Fri, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
        MAN 24 vs SYD 16 Report Stats
        BRI 22 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
        Sat, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
        WES 19 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
        NQL 20 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
        Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
        NZW 30 vs PEN 20 Report Stats
        PAR 10 vs NEW 16 Report Stats
        Mon, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
        STG 24 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 17
        Fri, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
        BUL 23 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
        Sat, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
        STG 27 vs NQL 24 Report Stats
        SYD 28 vs CRO 30 Report Stats
        Sun, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
        WES 10 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
        Mon, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
        SOU 10 vs GCT 14 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 18
        Fri, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
        MAN 40 vs WES 8 Report Stats
        Sat, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
        NZW 48 vs PAR Report Stats
        MEL 4 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
        Sun, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
        GCT 20 vs CAN 36 Report Stats
        CRO 18 vs NEW 31 Report Stats
        Mon, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
        PEN 35 vs BRI 34 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 19
        Fri, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
        CRO 18 vs NQL 36 Report Stats
        PAR 12 vs SOU 32 Report Stats
        Sat, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
        SYD 32 vs PEN 12 Report Stats
        MEL 28 vs CAN 14 Report Stats
        BRI 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
        Sun, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
        NEW 8 vs GCT 22 Report Stats
        WES 46 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
        Mon, 21 JulTimes shown AEST
        STG 12 vs MAN 21 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 20
        Fri, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
        NEW 16 vs SYD 12 Report Stats
        BRI 8 vs MEL 30 Stats
        Sat, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
        PEN 16 vs CRO 18 Report Stats
        GCT 18 vs PAR 24 Stats
        BUL 12 vs NQL 20 Report Stats
        Sun, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
        NZW 12 vs MAN 22 Report Stats
        WES 12 vs STG 28 Stats
        Mon, 28 JulTimes shown AEST
        CAN 18 vs SOU 34 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 21
        Fri, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
        MAN 16 vs BRI 4 Report Stats
        BUL 16 vs PEN 22 Stats
        Sat, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
        CRO 12 vs PAR 32 Report Stats
        NQL 28 vs GCT 8 Stats
        SYD 30 vs STG 22 Stats
        Sun, 03 AugTimes shown AEST
        CAN 18 vs NZW 54 Stats
        SOU 50 vs NEW 10 Stats
        Mon, 04 AugTimes shown AEST
        WES 6 vs MEL 28 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 22
        Fri, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
        SOU 23 vs MAN 4 Report Stats
        BRI 41 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
        Sat, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
        NEW 32 vs MEL 30 Report Stats
        NQL 64 vs WES 6 Report Stats
        PAR 18 vs CAN 10 Report Stats
        Sun, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
        NZW 16 vs CRO 12 Report Stats
        STG 4 vs PEN 16 Stats
        Mon, 11 AugTimes shown AEST
        SYD 26 vs GCT 18 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 23
        Thu, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
        SOU 42 vs BRI 16 Report Stats
        Fri, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
        PAR 16 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
        Sat, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
        CAN 16 vs STG 34 Report Stats
        MEL 48 vs CRO 6 Report Stats
        WES 4 vs SYD 48 Report Stats
        Sun, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
        NEW 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
        GCT 12 vs MAN 15 Report Stats
        Mon, 18 AugTimes shown AEST
        PEN 23 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 24
        Thu, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
        BUL 30 vs WES 10 Stats
        Fri, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
        PAR 22 vs MAN 12 Report Stats
        Sat, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
        BRI 48 vs NEW 6 Report Stats
        SOU 10 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
        Sun, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
        NZW 12 vs SYD 46 Report Stats
        CRO 12 vs CAN 22 Stats
        STG 34 vs GCT 6 Stats
        Mon, 25 AugTimes shown AEST
        PEN 10 vs MEL 24 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 25
        Thu, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
        BUL 14 vs SOU 21 Stats
        Fri, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
        BRI 30 vs STG 22 Stats
        Sat, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
        NEW 42 vs PAR 12 Stats
        CAN 27 vs WES 12 Stats
        SYD 24 vs MEL 12 Stats
        Sun, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
        NZW 42 vs GCT Stats
        MAN 26 vs PEN 25 Stats
        Mon, 01 SepTimes shown AEST
        NQL 20 vs CRO 19 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 26
        Thu, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
        SYD 22 vs SOU 18 Stats
        Fri, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
        MEL 22 vs BRI 12 Stats
        Sat, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
        WES 26 vs CRO 10 Report Stats
        CAN 33 vs PAR 20 Stats
        NQL 30 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
        Sun, 07 SepTimes shown AEST
        NEW 40 vs STG 10 Report Stats
        GCT 19 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
        PEN 22 vs NZW 6 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Finals Week 1
        Fri, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
        MAN 24 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
        Sat, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
        SYD 18 vs PEN 19 Report Stats
        NQL 32 vs BRI 20 Report Stats
        Sun, 14 SepTimes shown AEST
        MEL 4 vs BUL 28 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Finals Week 2
        Fri, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
        SYD 31 vs NQL 30 Report Stats
        Sat, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
        MAN 17 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Preliminary Finals
        Fri, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
        SOU 32 vs SYD 22 Report Stats
        Sat, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
        PEN 12 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Grand Final
        Sun, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
        SOU 30 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        NRL Premiership - 2014 Ladder
        Overall standings
        Team P W L D +/- Pts
        Sydney Roosters 24 16 8 0 230 36
        Manly 24 16 8 0 103 36
        South Sydney 24 15 9 0 224 34
        Penrith 24 15 9 0 80 34
        North Queensland 24 14 10 0 190 32
        Melbourne 24 14 10 0 76 32
        Canterbury-Bankstown 24 13 11 0 7 30
        Brisbane 24 12 12 0 93 28
        View all
         
        Win an iPad mini by entering our Sport survey
        Featured advertisers