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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 1946, with their First Grade side playing their first season in the New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership's 40th season in 1947.
The club was highly successful in the early 1980s, winning four premierships and qualifying for five Grand Finals within six successive seasons. This was a golden era for the club and has yielded their only four premerships. 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 are typically a consistent premiership winning force.
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 1909 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.
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.
Parramatta saw very little success in their early years, finishing last in the competition 6 years in a row from 1956 to 1961. The club's only relative high points were narrowly missing out on finals qualification in 1948 and 1949 under the guidance of former Western Suburbs and Leeds five-eighth Vic Hey. In 1962, Parramatta made the finals for the first time; this achievement was repeated for three consecutive years to 1965. 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 competition's final.
In 1976, the club finally reached the NSWRL Grand Final, in their 30th year. However, they lost narrowly to a Manly-Warringah side that they had defeated just two weeks earlier. The following year, Parramatta captured their first minor premiership before qualifying for the Grand Final for the second year running. Against St. George, the match was drawn 9–9, forcing a Grand Final replay the following weekend. In this match, Parramatta lost 22–0. The team made the finals in both 1978 and 1979, but missed the finals in 1980 for the first time since 1974.
The early 1980s was the most successful period for the Eels, with the club earning 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 the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 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.
From 1987 to 1996, the club 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.
In 1997, the club made the finals for the first time in 11 seasons by finishing 3rd in the Australian Rugby League competition.
Parramatta finished 4th in the newly created 20-team NRL. The Eels had a highly successful Finals Series, beating the North Sydney Bears in a Qualifying Final and then backing up to defeat eventual premiersBrisbane Broncos 15–10. Due to the win, Parramatta gained a week off before clashing with the Bulldogs in a Grand Final Qualifier. The game was poised at 18–2 in favour of the Eels with 11 minutes to go. However, the Bulldogs managed a late resurgence to tie the game up at 18–18. Parramatta then went on to lose the match, 32–20 in Extra Time.
In the off-season, the Parramatta board explored mergers with Penrith Panthers and Balmain Tigers but opted against the plan.
The Parramatta Eels continued their success and consistency into the second year of the new National Rugby League, finishing 2nd behind Minor Premiers Cronulla Sharks. The Eels kicked off their finals series with a comfortable 30–16 win at Parramatta Stadium. However Parramatta could not back up that performance against the Melbourne Storm, after having a week off. The Storm won 18–16 at the SFS in a close match, but the result meant that Parramatta went one more season without winning a Premiership and the 'chokers' tag stayed.
The Eels finished an inconsistent Season 2000 in 7th place. However, in the first week of the 2000 Finals Series, Parramatta was involved in the biggest upset, defeating Sydney Roosters 32–8 at the Sydney Football Stadium. The Eels managed to repeat the result against local rivals Penrith Panthers the next week in a comfortable 28–10 win in front of 25,746 at the SFS, meaning that the Parramatta Eels reached their third straight NRL Preliminary Final. The Eels were looking to make it "Third Time Lucky" against the former NRL premiers, Brisbane Broncos, but it ended up to be "Third Time Unlucky" as the Broncos won the match 16–10.
In 2001, Parramatta set a regular-season points scoring record in the premiership by scoring 839 points in 26 matches on their way to claiming the minor premiership. In their 5th consecutive Finals Series, the Eels dominated the Series, starting with a 56–12 demolition of the New Zealand Warriors at Parramatta Stadium in front of 17,336. After getting a week off, the Eels defeated the Brisbane Broncos at Stadium Australia, 24–16.
The Eels went into the decider hot favourites after losing just once in 22 matches. Despite this the team was defeated in their first grand final appearance in fifteen years. They lost 30–24 against the Newcastle Knights, after trailing 24–0 at half-time.
Season 2002 ended with the Parramatta Eels finishing in 6th place. The side lost in the first week of the finals 24–14 to the Brisbane Broncos at what was then known as ANZ Stadium. However, this loss resulted in the elimination of the Eels from the 2002 Finals Series as 7th place St. George Illawarra Dragons upset the defending premiers, Newcastle Knights.
After reaching the Finals Series every year for the last six years, Parramatta could not make it a 7th year running as they finished 9th in the 2002 Season. Needing to beat runaway Minor Premiers the Penrith Panthers by over 30 points in the final round, the Eels were comprehensively beaten away, signalling the need for changes at the club should they continue to be successful.
Season 2004 was the worst in some time for the Parramatta Eels. After only managing 9 wins in 24 games, the Eels finished 12th and missed out on the Finals for the second year running. This was a grave cause for concern at the club who had not seen a Premiership victory since 1986.
2005 marked a resurgence of the Parramatta Eels. After two years in the wilderness, the Eels were back into premiership contention after ending the season as minor premiers on 36 points, ahead of the St. George Illawarra Dragons on points differential. The first week of the 2005 Finals Series saw a comfortable 46–22 win over the Manly Sea Eagles, who were in their first finals campaign since the creation of the National Rugby League in 1998. Following the week off, the Parramatta Eels were annihilated by the Johnathan Thurston-led North Queensland Cowboys at ANZ Stadium, 29–0, ending another season in disappointment.
The Parramatta Eels began Season 2006 with the knowledge that their coach Brian Smith, would not be there next season, after being asked to step down by the management of the Parramatta Eels rugby league club in what turned out to be a direct trade with the Newcastle Knights club for their coach, Michael Hagan. However, Brian Smith resigned officially on 15 May 2006, after an extremely poor start to the season, which left the Eels running 14th and second-last. Assistant coach and former Eels great, Jason Taylor, took over as caretaker manager for the rest of the season and led a Parramatta resurgence in the second-half of the season to eventually reach 8th position by season's end. They were, however, eliminated by eventual runners-up Melbourne Storm in the first week of the Finals, 12–6.
Under new coach Michael Hagan, the Eels saw a great performance in Season 2007, where the Eels finished in 5th position. In the first week of the Finals, they defeated the New Zealand Warriors away, 12–10 to set-up a huge clash with the Bulldogs the following week. In an incident-filled match at ANZ Stadium in front of 50,621, the Eels ran out 25–6 winners booking them in a Preliminary Final clash with Minor PremiersMelbourne Storm. In a gruelling match at Melbourne's Telstra Dome, the Storm eventually won 26–10 ending the Eels' 2007 season, one win away from their first Grand Final appearance since 2001.
After being billed at premiership contenders by several prominent betting agencies, including TAB SportsBet, the Parramatta Eels failed to impress in the 2008, a season that could only be described as a huge disappointment. The Eels finished 11th in an inconsistent season marred by Jarryd Hayne's controversial shooting incident in the pre-season. Despite the poor performance by Parramatta, CEO Denis Fitzgerald stressed that Michael Hagan's position as club coach was not in danger. Michael Hagan resigned as coach on 21 October 2008, citing family and health reasons for his decision.
Under new coach Daniel Anderson and conditoning trainer Robert Egerton, the Eels had an indifferent start to the season which saw the release of star halfback Brett Finch. By the mid-way point of the season, the Parramatta Eels were sitting third-last and were in direct contention for the 2009 NRL Wooden Spoon. TAB SportsBet had the Eels as $151 outsiders to win the NRL Premiership. This changed when upset victories against the Melbourne Storm and the Bulldogs set the platform for a 7-game winning streak which propelled the Eels into the Top 8 and, consequently, premiership contention. After a heavy 37–0 Round 26 defeat to the minor premiers St George-Illawarra Dragons, they returned to Kogarah in Week 1 of the 2009 NRL Finals Series and defeated the Dragons 25–12 featuring an impressive late game try by Dally M medal winner 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.The Melbourne Storm won 23–16, winning the NRL Premiership.Melbourne's premiership has since been stripped from them as a result of the salary cap breaches disclosed by the NRL on April 22, 2010, but it won't mean that Parramatta will assume the title from that year, angering fans and officials alike. Ironically, Parramatta became the first ever team to make the Grand Final with such a poor percentage in terms of for-and-against.
From once again, a slow start to the season at a record of 1-4 after 5 rounds, the Parramatta Eels have won 4 games in a row, with wins to the Rabbitohs, Cowboys and their arch-rivals, the Bulldogs and Manly.

Emblems and Colours

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.
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.
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 2005, the club mascot featured on the crest reverted to an eel drawing similar to that featured on the original crest.
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.
In 2009 the Parramatta Eels announced that they were returning to their original eels emblem in 2011.
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. 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 Parramatta High School. These colours were also adopted by theParramatta 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.
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 sleves. 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.

Source: Wikipedia

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