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Parramatta Eels

Parramatta Eels
Club information
Full name Parramatta District
Rugby League Football Club
Nickname(s) Eels, Parra
Colours      Blue
Founded 4 November 1947 as Parramatta
Current details
Coach(s) Brad Arthur
Manager(s) Daniel Anderson
Captain(s) Tim Mannah
Competition National Rugby League
2015 season 12th
Current season
Premierships 4 (1981, 1982, 1983, 1986)
Runners-up 5 (1976, 1977, 1984, 2001, 2009)
Minor premiership 5 (1977, 1982, 1986, 2001, 2005)
Wooden spoons 13 (1947, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1970, 1972, 2012, 2013)
Most capped 330 - Nathan Hindmarsh
Most points 1,971 - Michael Cronin

The Parramatta Eels are an Australian professional rugby league football club based in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta. The Parramatta District Rugby League Football Club was formed in 1947, with their First Grade side playing their first season in the New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership’s fortieth season in 1947. Their home ground is Parramatta Stadium.

It took thirty years for the club to make the Grand Final, which they did in 1976 and 1977, losing on both occasions. However, this period foreshadowed their most successful period in the early 1980s, when they won four premierships and qualified for five Grand Finals in six seasons. This was a golden era for the club and has yielded their only premership titles. The club plays in the National Rugby League, the premier rugby league football competition in Australasia. Parramatta sides are also fielded in lower grades and junior competitions run by the New South Wales Rugby League where they regularly win premierships in various grades.


  • History 1
  • Club identity 2
    • Name and emblem 2.1
    • Colours 2.2
  • Stadium 3
  • Rivalries 4
  • Players 5
    • Current squad 5.1
    • Notable players 5.2
    • Representative players 5.3
  • Coaches 6
  • Supporters 7
  • Statistics and records 8
    • Individual records 8.1
    • All time match record 8.2
  • Honours 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


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 1910 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.[1]

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.[2]

Parramatta saw very little success in their early years, despite narrowly missing out on finals qualification in 1949 under the guidance of former Western Suburbs and Leeds five-eighth Vic Hey. Between 1952 and 1961, they finished last eight times and won only 35 of 180 matches. In 1962, Parramatta made the finals for the first time; this achievement was repeated for the three following season. 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 final.[3]

In 1976, the club finally reached the Grand Final, in their thirtieth season. However, they lost narrowly to a Manly-Warringah side that they had defeated just two weeks earlier. Ironically, after both clubs were admitted into the NSWRFL in 1947, Parramatta were in their first Grand Final while Manly were in their eighth premiership decider (having qualified for their first in 1951) and were bidding for their third premiership after wins in 1972 and 1973.[4][5] Unfortunately for Parramatta, this game is regarded as “the one that got away” with Manly winning 13–10 despite the Eels crossing for two tries to Manly’s one. A dropped pass by winger Neville Glover with the line wide open in the dying moments of the game ultimately costing the Eels a chance to win the game. Had Glover scored the score would have been tied at 13-all giving goal kicking Five-eighth John Peard a sideline conversion attempt to win the game.

The following year, Parramatta captured their first minor premiership before qualifying for the Grand Final for the second year running. Against

  • Official Parramatta Eels website
  • National Rugby League website
  • New South Wales Rugby League website
  • 2009 Home game stadium announcer (Tim Stackpool)
  • 2010 Home game stadium announcer Mark Warren (son of legendary broadcast commentator Ray Warren) – link pending

External links

  1. ^ a b "Cumberland Oval". Parramatta Stadium. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Fagan, Sean. "Parramatta Eels". RL1908. Retrieved 18 September 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Whiticker, Alan and Collis, Ian. (2004). The History of Rugby League Clubs. New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd.  
  4. ^ Fagan, Sean. "The Eels’ Flying Wedge of ‘76". RL1908. Retrieved 5 September 2006. 
  5. ^ Alan Whiticker, Grand Finals of the NSWRL (2e), Gary Allen, 1994
  6. ^ "1977 Tied Rugby League Grand Final". Era of the Biff. Retrieved 5 September 2006. 
  7. ^ Alan Whiticker, Grand Finals of the NSWRL (2e), Gary Allen 1994
  8. ^ "How the war unfolded".  
  9. ^ Mascord, Steve and Walter, Brad (26 March 2005). "Double punt is finally paying off".  
  10. ^ a b "Melbourne Storm withstand Parramatta Eels in NRL grand final at ANZ Stadium",  
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "60 Years of Parramatta Junior League". SportingPulse. Retrieved 6 September 2006. 
  16. ^ "Parramatta High School Badge". Parramatta High School. Retrieved 18 September 2007. 
  17. ^ "Cumberland". Parramatta Stadium. Archived from the original on 12 August 2007. Retrieved 14 July 2007. 
  18. ^ "Redevelopment". Parramatta Stadium. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  19. ^ "Attendances Parramatta". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 14 July 2007. 
  20. ^ Prichard, Greg (6 September 2005). "Eels won't be reserved in hitting Hill: Hindmarsh".  
  21. ^ Masters, Roy (12 September 2005). "Manly whipping was one for the true believers".  
  22. ^ Paine, Chris (14 September 2007). "NRL Preview: semi-final one".  
  23. ^ Ritchie, Dean (10 September 2007). "Dogs, Eels back to the future".  
  24. ^ Dick, Barry (12 April 2007). Derby' the highlight"'".  
  25. ^ Fagan, Sean. "Penrith Panthers". RL1908. Retrieved 27 April 2007. 
  26. ^ Mascord, Steve (28 August 2002). "Eels' class of '81 still the fans' favourites".  
  27. ^ Resigned 15 May 2006
  28. ^ Walter, Brad (19 July 2010). "Even psychic couldn't predict this comeback". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  29. ^ "World's best back Eels".  
  30. ^ Ford, Greg (25 September 2005). "Prop wants to be in big league". Sunday Star-Times. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ Davies, Gareth A (2007-11-20). "My Sport: Nathan Bracken". (London, UK: Telegraph Media Group Limited). Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  33. ^ "Parramatta Scorers (since 1971)". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 19 September 2007. 
  34. ^ "Game Records – Parramatta". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 19 September 2007. 
  35. ^ "All Games – Parramatta". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Archived from the original on 21 August 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2007. 
  36. ^ "Season Summary". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 19 September 2007. 
  37. ^ Up until 1994, the top division of the premiership in New South Wales was the New South Wales Rugby League premiership; since then, it has been the Australian Rugby League (1995–1997) and the National Rugby League.
  38. ^ Up until 2002, the second division of rugby league in New South Wales was Reserve Grade/Presidents Cup/First Division Premiers; since then, it has been the NSWRL Premier League.


2008,2012 & 2014
  • Bandaged Bear Cup: 4
2007, 2008
  • Mills Cup: 2
1970, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2008
  • Harold Matthews Cup: 17
1966, 1967, 1968, 1973, 1983, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2007
  • SG Ball Cup: 11
1970, 1985, 1990
  • Jersey Flegg Cup: 3
1975, 1977, 1979, 1997, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 (as Wentworthville Magpies)
1997, 2003
  • Pre-Season Cup Titles: 1
1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008
1977, 1982, 1986, 2001, 2005
1976, 1977, 1984, 2001, 2009
  • Premiership runners-up: 5
1981, 1982, 1983, 1986


Games Wins Draw Losses Win % Correct to
1427 662 38 727 46.4% 5 July 2010

The all time playing record for the Parramatta team since 1947 (including finals).[36]

All time match record

The largest crowd Parramatta has played before was 104,583 at Telstra Stadium in the Round 1 'doubleheader' in 1999. The largest home crowd at Parramatta Stadium, before the construction of the hill terraces, was 27,243 against South Sydney Rabbitohs on 17 August 1986.[35]


Parramatta's largest victory was a 74 – 4 win over Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks on 23 August 2003 at Parramatta Stadium. The club's largest defeat was a 0 – 68 loss to Canberra Raiders on 22 August 1993 at Canberra Stadium.[34]

Mick Cronin holds the record for most number of points scored across all grades (2,001) between 1977 and 1986. Cronin also holds the record for most points scored in a single season (282) in 1978. Luke Burt holds the record for most First Grade tries (111) between 1999-current.[33]

Scoring records

  1. Nathan Hindmarsh (330) from 1998 – 2012
  2. Brett Kenny (265) from 1980–1993
  3. Luke Burt (264) from 1999–2012
  4. Nathan Cayless (259) from 1997 – 2010
  5. Ray Price (258) from 1976–1986
  6. Peter Sterling (227) from 1978–1992
  7. Mick Cronin (216) from 1977–1986

Most Appearances (200+)

Individual records

Statistics and records

Some of the club's notable supporters include:


The first grade Parramatta Eels team has been coached by 25 different coaches since foundation.


Representative players

In 2002 a team of the greatest Parramatta players, known as the Parramatta Legends, were selected based on a public vote of fans. In August of that year the following players were named in each position:[26]

Notable players

The following list comprises players who are in the Eels full-time first-grade squad for the 2016 season in the NRL Telstra Premiership.

Current squad


  • Round 13, 2010: After Melbourne were found to have breached the salary cap over the previous five years and robbed several teams of premiership glory including the Parramatta Eels, the Eels got their chance at redemption. In front of a loud and proud home crowd who let Melbourne know what they'd done, the Eels beat the Storm, who still had their illegal roster but could no longer accrue points, 24-10. The game was marred by two fights which erupted. The first started after Eels fullback Jarryd Hayne and Storm fullback Billy Slater came head to head after Hayne had worked Slater over in a tackle. Hayne proceeded to head-butt Slater who responded with a punch and the 2 had to be separated. The second occurred again after Hayne and Slater came together. This time Slater was the aggressor and appeared to lead with an elbow when tackling Hayne. The Eels' Five-Eighth Daniel Mortimer was then put in the Sin-Bin for being the third man in. The Eels fired-up after this incident with prop Fui Fui Moi Moi charging onto the ball from the ensuing penalty and gaining 20 metres. The Eels kept their heads and won the game by a comfortable margin in the end.

The Eels have also developed a rivalry with the Melbourne Storm. After the Storm were found to have breached the salary cap from 2006-2010 the Eels felt robbed of a premiership, having gone down to the Storm in the 2009 Grand Final and wanted a chance at redemption. In 2010 the Eels got this chance.

  • Round 18, 2005: Dragons captain Trent Barrett and Eels hooker PJ Marsh instigated an all-in brawl as Barrett kicked down-field and Marsh attempted to smother his kick. Barrett took exception to the tackle and punched Marsh in the back of the head whilst Eels fullback Wade McKinnon fielded the kick and ran 80 metres to score. It turned out to be the turning point to the match as the Eels would go on to win 40-14.
  • Round 13, 2006: After 70 minutes without a score, Parramatta kicked a field goal to go 1-0 up before 8 unanswered points by the Dragons got them home 8-1 in one of the weirdest matches ever in NRL history. This match was played in driving rain at WIN Jubilee Oval, Kogarah.
  • Round 26, 2009: With the minor premiership seemingly all but lost, the Dragons thrashed the Eels 37-0 to actually finish on top of the NRL ladder from the Bulldogs who had lost 34-18 against the Wests Tigers in the second match played on the same night as the Dragons vs Eels match. The win by the Dragons ended Parramatta's late season surge and it saw the Eels finish eighth.
  • 4th Qualifying Final, 2009: But in the qualifying final nine days later, the Eels turned the tables on the Dragons and beat the premiership favourites 25-12, a 50-point turnaround. The Eels would then go on to make the Grand Final (which they ultimately lost to the disgraced Melbourne Storm) whilst the Dragons would exit the finals altogether after losing to the Brisbane Broncos 24-10.
  • Round 13, 2011: After being thrashed 30-0 against the Dragons in a previous round the Eels began the match as underdogs. The Eels got out to a 14-0 lead only for it to be chased down by the Dragons. After 10 minutes of extra time and neither side being able to break the dead-lock, the game was declared a draw. However, Eels fullback Jarryd Hayne almost pulled off a miracle field goal from close to 60 metres out only for the kick to fade late and miss by half a metre.

The Eels have also forged a rivalry with another Sydney-based team, the Stadium Australia which would be the venue for the Olympic Games the following year. The Eels won 20-10 but the Dragons later moved on to make the Grand Final. In recent years there have been some memorable, not to mention controversial matches, including:

Another significant rivalry is with neighbouring Western Sydney club the Penrith Panthers. The match between the two is known as the "Western Sydney derby" or "The Battle of the West".[24] Aside from local 'bragging rights' the rivalry is also partly founded in bitterness associated with the former status of the Penrith district as part of the Parramatta rugby league district. The relationship between local Penrith clubs and the Parramatta District was often problematic; players and officials in the Penrith area considered themselves ignored and neglected by the Parramatta club during the 1950s and 1960s.[25]

A similar rivalry also developed between Parramatta and the Bulldogs during the 1980s when the clubs faced one another in Grand Finals in 1984 and 1986 as well as regular play-off matches during this period. This rivalry received renewed impetus during the Super League war when Parramatta recruited 4 notable Bulldogs players.[22][23]

Parramatta's most significant and famous rivalry is with Northern Beaches-based club Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. Though both clubs were formed in the same year, this rivalry did not develop until the 1970s and 1980s when the clubs faced each other in three Grand Finals: in 1976, 1982 and 1983. The clubs also competed in several play-off finals matches during this period including a controversial drawn semi-final and subsequent replay in 1977. The famous rivalry between the clubs was also marked in an advertising jingle in a 1970s Tooheys television commercial. The rivalry has been regularly rekindled at various times since, particularly when Parramatta players have transferred to play with Manly.[20][21]


The largest crowd to watch a rugby league match at Cumberland Oval was 22,470 when the Parramatta took on the South Sydney Rabbitohs on 26 April 1971. The largest crowd at Parramatta Stadium under the current configuration was 21,141 in 2006 against the Wests Tigers.[19] The largest ever attendance for a Parramatta Eels home game came in the stadium’s first season when 27,243 saw the Eels draw 12-all with South Sydney in Round 24 of the 1986 NSWRL season. The largest ever rugby league attendance at Parramatta Stadium was set on 6 July 1994 when 27,918 saw Australia defeat France 58-0 in a one-off mid-season Test match. This was also the first test match held in Sydney since 1914 that wasn’t played at either the Agricultural Ground, the SCG, or the Sydney Football Stadium.

Rugby league was played at Cumberland Oval from as early as 1909 by local clubs such as Parramatta Iona, Endeavours and the Western Districts representative side. When the club was admitted into the NSWRL Premiership in 1947, Cumberland Oval became its home ground. The club played its first match in the premiership on 12 April 1947 against St. George Dragons. The capacity of the ground is 21,487, after the construction of seated terraces on the previously hilled areas in 2002.


The original Parramatta jersey used in 1947 was of a blue design with a single yellow hoop around the middle of the jersey, extending across the sleeves. This original design was altered in 1949 to a design based on blue and gold hoops and remained unchanged until the 1970s when a jersey comprising stripes on a predominantly blue or gold background was adopted. Over the years, the design has changed gradually from one based on blue and gold stripes to a design incorporating different blue and gold designs around the fringes of a predominantly blue or gold jersey.

When a Parramatta District Club was first proposed in 1936, the colours put forward to the New South Wales Rugby League by the District were emerald green and white, as these were the colours worn by the Western Districts President’s Cup side and the Western Suburbs Rugby Union Club.[1][15] However, when the proposal for a Parramatta club was next put to the NSWRL in 1946, the proposed colours for the new District side were blue and gold. These colours are said to have been selected based on the navy, sky blue and gold colours used by Arthur Phillip High School.[2][16] These colours were also adopted by the Parramatta District Rugby Union club in 1936 and also suggested in Parramatta City Council’s use of livery of blue and golden-orange in their crest. While this colour scheme has remained consistent throughout the history of the club, the shades of blue and gold have changed several times.


In 2009, the Parramatta Eels announced they were returning to their original 1980s club emblem in the 2011 season with the numbers 1947 added, this being the year of conception of the Eels.

Parramatta has also used two separate crests based on Parramatta City’s crest. The first was a highly detailed scene showing a typical scene on the foreshore of the Parramatta River in the early days of European settlement. It is an apparent tribute to the District’s original occupants, the Barramattagal tribe. In the foreground of the original crest, a male Aboriginal is preparing to spear a fish while a woman in a canoe watches. In the background a paddle steamer is visible as well as the tree-lined banks of the Parramatta River. This crest was used by the Club until the 1970s when a more stylised version showing only the hunter, and the club’s name on a scroll, was used. This crest is still used in 2006 by the Parramatta District Junior Rugby League Football Club.[3]

As a result, the club’s crest was changed in 1980, to a design featuring an eel. This crest remained, despite several changes in jersey design, until a new eel logo was introduced in 2000. In 2004, the club mascot featured on the crest reverted to an eel drawing similar to that featured on the original crest.

In the mid-1960s, Peter Frilingos, a Sydney rugby league journalist, suggested that the club should be known as the "Eels". This reasoning was based on the name of the Parramatta, anglicised from the Aboriginal dialect "Barramattagal" meaning "place where the Eels dwell". After this, the team was commonly called "The Eels" and it became an official nickname in the late 1970s.[3]

Like most NSWRFL clubs founded before the 1980s, Parramatta was established with no official nickname or mascot. The only nickname Parramatta had ever been known by was the "Fruitpickers", a reference to the orchards spread throughout the District and surrounding suburbs in the first half of the 20th century. As the competition and the clubs themselves became more focused on marketing in the 1970s, Parramatta adopted an official club mascot.[3]

Name and emblem

Club identity

The Eels started strongly in the 2014 season, defeating the New Zealand Warriors 36-16 at Pirtek Stadium in their opening round, a mirror of twelve months previous where they also defeated the Warriors 40-10.[14]

Parramatta also recruited a new coach in Brad Arthur, formerly an Assistant Coach at the club, as Ricky Stuart reneged on the final two years of his contract. This was in order to return to his hometown of Canberra and coach the Raiders, the team he played for during his youth.

The Eels determined to continue their rebuilding process in the off season after receiving the wooden spoon two years running. The club has done this by releasing 12 players and signing more in key areas to help them achieve success in the 2014 season.[13]

Another wooden spoon followed in 2013, with the club suffering their second biggest loss ever (4–64 to Melbourne in Round 24), and conceding three other scores of 50 or more. On September 12, 2013 it was announced Ricky Stuart would leave the Eels to take up the head coaching role at Canberra for the 2014 season.

Towards the end of the season Ricky Stuart was announced as the new coach for the Parramatta Eels from 2013.[12]

Throughout the season many of the Eels players came under scrutiny and were dropped to the NSW Cup, including high profile recruit Chris Sandow, who at the time was touted as overweight and unfit,[11] and veteran Luke Burt. As a result, players Matt Ryan, Jake Mullaney and Nathan Smith were called up to the top squad and have impressed in their roles of Second-Row, Fullback and Hooker respectively, making a suitable replacement for injured stars Jarryd Hayne and Matt Keating.

Whilst Parramatta’s problems were largely attributed to their relatively poor defence, numerous pundits claimed Parramatta’s problems in 2012 were largely credited to the recurring absences of star fullback Jarryd Hayne. Even whilst producing higher per-match statistics than any other fullback in the game (8 tries, 14 try-assists), Hayne only managed to complete 10 games from the season’s 24, due to both injury and State of Origin duty.

The 2012 season saw the retirement of Eels legends Luke Burt and Nathan Hindmarsh. It would also mark the first time since 1972 that the team would succumb to the dreaded wooden spoon. The Eels struggled all year, securing just their first win of the season in Round 5 against defending premiers Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles before ending a six-game losing streak against the Cronulla Sharks. This horror start to the season, and a win rate of less than 25% over almost two seasons with the club, coach Stephen Kearney was forced to resign and Assistant Coach Brad Arthur would become caretaker. The team responded to this producing 3 wins from 4 games, including competition front-runners Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos to give the fans some hope for the rest of the season. However this was short lived and following a 38-6 thumping to the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Round 25 of the Telstra Premiership were officially unable to avoid the wooden spoon.

Before the final match of their season, the Eels had won only five of their 24 games and were in contention for the dreaded wooden spoon. During their final match, the Parramatta side emerged victorious over the Gold Coast Titans who were also direct contenders for last place. The wooden spoon was awarded to the Gold Coast side, finishing 16th on the NRL ladder, the Eels finishing in 14th position.

Throughout the 2011 season, coach Stephen Kearney motioned several reshuffles of the Parramatta side, the most high-profile change being fullback Jarryd Hayne’s switch to five-eighth after his ball-playing abilities were considered by several experts including the NSW State of Origin coach Ricky Stuart, as his strongest point. Other switches include the moving of Luke Burt to fullback, second-rower Ben Smith to right centre, and the resting of five-eighth Daniel Mortimer.

The 2011 season was to be considered a year of “almosts“ for Parramatta, with the team losing over half of their matches by four points or less, many of which were conceded after attaining leads over their opponents. The Eels pushed a record four games into Penrith Panthers, Sydney Roosters and the Canterbury Bulldogs.

The Eels made several new player signings for the 2011 season. In the forwards, the Eels added former Queensland centre Carl Webb and former Bulldogs and Cronulla as well as one-time Kangaroo Reni Maitua. To bolster the backs after the retirement of Eric Grothe Jr and the departure of Timana Tahu, the Eels signed the experienced pair of Chris Walker and Chris Hicks.

After a season of unrelenting disappointment which saw five-eighth Daniel Mortimer dropped to reserve grade, centre Timana Tahu being suspended for an on-field confrontation against the Newcastle Knights and reports of player rifts, Daniel Anderson was sacked unceremoniously as Parramatta coach and replaced by New Zealand World Cup-winning coach Stephen Kearney.

In 2010, the Parramatta Eels were picked at the beginning of the year by many leading betting agencies to take out the premiership for 2010 following their surge of form which took them to the Grand Final in 2009. But, after a relatively poor to the season, and then a 4-game winning streak, the Parramatta Eels once again returned to the inconsistent form of past seasons. This inconsistent form, recognised by all Rugby League fans, saw them miss out on the Top 8 in 2010.

On April 22, 2010 the Melbourne Storm were stripped of the premiership as a result of long-term gross salary cap breaches disclosed by the NRL. However, the premiership for 2009 was not handed over to the Parramatta Eels, instead remaining vacant.

After a 7-game winning streak, the Eels succumbed to a heavy defeat to the minor premiers Jarryd Hayne. Following successive wins against the Gold Coast Titans (a team that Parramatta had never beaten before), 27–2 at SFS and the Bulldogs, 22–12 in front of a record-breaking non-Grand Final crowd of 74,549 at ANZ stadium, the Eels qualified for their first Grand Final since 2001, becoming the first 8th-placed team to ever qualify for a Grand Final. On 4 October 2009, Parramatta Eels played the deciding game of NRL, against the Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium in front of a crowd of 82,538.[10] The Melbourne Storm defeated the Eels 23–16, ending what critics called "the Parramatta Fairytale" and winning the NRL Premiership.[10]

Though beginning in Round 19, upset victories against the Melbourne Storm and the Canterbury Bulldogs set the platform for an unexpected 10 wins from the next 11 games, which propelled the Eels into the Top 8 and consequently, premiership contention. This unanticipated winning streak was directly attributed by many sporting experts including Rugby League legend Andrew Johns to the spectacular run of form of star fullback Jarryd Hayne. Winning the award for man-of-the-match in every game from Round 19-24, and again in the first week of the finals, Hayne was described as "the best player in any code of football in Australia" by premiership-winning coach Phil Gould. Following his astonishing string of 7 man-of-the-match performances, Hayne won the award for Dally M Fullback of the Year and was crowned the best and fairest player in the game, winning the Dally M Medal for 2009.

In 2009, under new coach Daniel Anderson, the Eels had an indifferent start to the season which saw the release of star halfback Brett Finch. After 18 rounds and incredibly inconsistent form, the Parramatta Eels had won only 5 games and were sitting third-last and were in direct contention for the dreaded 2009 NRL Wooden Spoon. TAB SportsBet had the Eels as $151 outsiders to win the NRL Premiership.

In 1997 the Eels remained in the ARL’s competition and made the finals for the first time in 11 seasons by finishing third in the Australian Rugby League competition. Parramatta continued into the NRL era which began in 1998, surviving the reduction in teams at the end of the twentieth century. The Eels reached the 2001 NRL Grand final after a dominant season, but were defeated by the Newcastle Knights.

From 1987 to 1996, the Eels 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.[8][9]

The early 1980s was the most successful period for Parramatta, who earned 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, Peter Sterling, Eric Grothe, Sr., 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 Canterbury-Bankstown 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.[3]

[3] The Eels made the finals in both 1978 and 1979, but missed the finals in 1980 for the first time since 1974.[7][6]

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