The Parramatta Eels celebrated 70 years since their first match on Wednesday with new stars and old celebrating the club’s rich history.
The Eels first stepped onto the field for the first time on April 12, 1947.
Although it was an inauspicious start with a 34-12 loss to Newtown, Parramatta have grown to be the biggest club in western Sydney with more than 20,000 members.
Parramatta Eels chief executive Bernie Gurr said it is a wonderful milestone for the club.
“Seventy years in any sporting code is a massive achievement,” Mr Gurr said.
“This occasion really belongs to the Parramatta Eels members and fans, plus all those past and present players and staff who have contributed to our great club over the last 70 years.”
The Eels unveiled a 70th anniversary heritage jersey ahead of their round seven clash with the Wests Tigers with premiership heroes Brett Kenny, Steve Edge and Peter Wynn on hand to present current players with the strip.
Parramatta captain Tim Mannah said players of their ilk made the club what it is today.
“These guys have really laid the platform for this strong club,” he said.
“The club has a lot of history and these three gentleman have a big part to do with the legacy they left at this club.”
Throughout Parramatta’s history, there have been ups and downs.
The Eels struggled in the early years and made their first finals in 1962.
It took until 1981 to win their first premiership, claiming four throughout the 1980’s including three-straight from 1981-83 with the last in 1986.
Eels star playmaker Corey Norman admitted it would be great to end the club’s 31-year drought, but after four straight losses, he said the side was focused on the Tigers.
“We’ve just been playing really patchy and when we’re not on, teams are putting us away and it’s too hard to claw back,” Norman said.
“We’ve just got to play a full 80 minutes. It’s that lack of concentration that’s really hurting us. It’s disappointing but we really need a win this week.”
Norman received his jersey from four-time premiership winner Brett Kenny, which he said was “special”.
“He was a great player, did well here for the Parramatta Eels so I am very excited to get that jersey and I cant wait to put in on Monday,” Norman said.
The Parramatta Eels take on the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium on Monday, April 17 at 4pm.
As part of the celebrations, the Eels will honour Hall of Fame members including Ray Price, Brett Kenny, Michael Cronin, Peter Wynn, Steve Edge and Peter Sterling before kick-off.