Tonight, the Parramatta Eels faithful get to say farewell to the 2018 season – one which has been painful majority of the time – but they at least get to say farewell to their temporary home at ANZ Stadium.
This year, the stands at Olympic Park haven’t been a very happy place for the blue and gold army as there haven’t been too many reasons to cheer.
When you look at the big picture, though, over the two years without a Parramatta Stadium due to the construction of Western Sydney Stadium, there have been many positive moments.
It’s easy to focus just solely on this season as a Parramatta fan however; across the two years, ANZ has proved to be a lovely home.
As difficult as it may be to look at the future excitedly, this venture at Olympic Park may prove to be very helpful to the blue and gold.
Obviously the two years have been very different years on paper for the team, however, when you look at the records, ANZ still acted as a prime home base.
In 2017, the Eels played a total of 15 games at ANZ stadium – including 1 final and 3 classified away games.
Of those 15, Parramatta won 8 home games, the 3 away games and only lost a total of 4 games, home or away.
This year, in 2018, things haven’t looked quite as positive but for ANZ the record still isn’t half bad. They played a total of 13 home and away games at ANZ for a record of 5 home wins, 5 home losses and 3 total away losses.
Combine the two seasons together and despite the dreaded wooden spoon on its way to Parramatta this year, the win percentage at ANZ is still positive even if it is only just.
This season, the Eels have not won an away game. It’s a statistic that is very concerning and worrying for the fans and club as a whole.
Away games are inevitable and if you can’t win away from home, you aren’t a real dominate force in the competition.
2019 is going to be a whole new ballpark for Parramatta, however. they do have a little bit of help in fixing their away slump.
Many fans have been scratching their heads or throwing their arms up in frustration at the recruitment at Parramatta, or lack thereof I should say.
They seem to be forgetting, though, that the team hasn’t just recruited Blake Ferguson, Junior Paulo and Shaun Lane – they’ve also recruited a brand new stadium.
After two years away, Parramatta are finally returning home to Parramatta. They have a brand new stadium and as exciting as all of the new features are, the greatest benefit is the home ground advantage again.
This is their home. They won’t be sharing it with any other rugby league team like the 3 (occasionally 4) teams who have had to share ANZ.
Fans will have to travel to Parramatta and enter Parramatta’s territory to verse the team which proves to be a real benefit for teams. What Parramatta also has on their side now is a backup home.
Fans have become accustomed to traveling to ANZ. They’ve figured out the best time trains and favourite food or drink vendors.
They’re used to the parking lots or the walk around the stadium to the station.
It’s become a part of their overall football experience as a fan so flocking to ANZ for the 3 or so away games against the Dogs, Rabbits and potentially Tigers won’t be an issue at all.
In a way, they’re like bonus home games.
Who knows what will happen with this game in 2019.
If this season has proven anything, it’s that anything can happen so there’s no real point super-analysing sides before the season has even started.
However, one inevitable is that Parramatta have a new home. They may physically farewell ANZ tonight against the Roosters but mentally, they’ve still got ANZ on their side next year.