It’s amost like Groundhog day every single year for the Canberra Raiders; limited playing talent and predictions they will collect the spoon before the NRL season starts. It’s easy to forget their previous glory days and just as easy to forget they were home to household names such as Ricky Stuart, Laurie Daley, Mal Meninga and a whole host of others.

 Some how the team they used to call the Green Machine became known as the Washing Machine, as they started getting beaten regularly and hung out to dry by opposition teams. Occasionally performing out of their skin, the Raiders through the likes of Simon Woolford, Ruben Wiki and Adam Mogg in recent times have had some impressive performances but it seems the Raiders supporters cannot expect any premierships in the short term future. In 2008, the same is expected of the Canberra Raiders – the odd good performance, followed by another season of just ‘competing’ with the big guns. While to their credit, they are rarely if ever ‘flogged’ – you simply can’t expect to continue to exist in today’s environment with consistently mediocre results.

Still producing some good young talent, the Raiders do possess some great players on their roster for 2008 – the likes of Todd Carney, Adrian Purtell and the hard working Alan Tounge – but on the back of dwindling crowd figures, rare off-season purchases and low confidence, it rarely seems as if the Raiders will become a consistent week to week powerhouse club.

In modern day NRL, the salary cap ensures that all teams will suffer a ‘rebuilding phase’ at some stage, but surely the Raiders cannot remain in this mode permanently?

Ok so it might not be the most enticing spot in Australia to reside, but Canberra has the unique advantage of a graveyard style home stadium. Opposition teams always fear the cold, unwelcoming track at Bruce Stadium and the road trip to Canberra should be seen as a huge plus for the men in Green. Also on their side, the fact that they can tap into a large supporter base – the capital of Australia and a hometown craving winnings, the ingredients are there for success if the club wants to take hold of them.

For the Raiders to truly become a force, it will take some creative back office plays to start really building for the future. Just like Souths have done, chase the corporate backing first and start improving current facilities to entice the top tier of players into your corner. It takes some smart planning to get the snowball effect happening, if players won’t jump on board then maybe the Raiders should look at signing a big name coach in the future; one that will attract the big name NRL stars like bees to a honeypot. That is no reflection on Neil Henry, the impressive up and coming coach has seemingly done a wonderful job with what he has had to work with.

Put simply, with every season that goes by the Canberra Raiders seem to slip more into the oblivion. It’s a shame that such a once powerful club is struggling as the likes of new teams such as the Titans spring up quickly and become a force in a matter of months. If the Raiders don’t start thinking big soon, the only horse left in the town might be a Brumby.

By ricky

7 thoughts on “The Forgotten NRL Team: Canberra Raiders”
  1. What a poorly researched article.. “Improve facilities”. Did you know that the Raiders Not only have their own Gym, but also have access to CISAC (google that term or “club Lime” to find it), which is close to the premier fitness facility in Canberra.
    We also have the A.I.S and use their state of the art facilities as well. After each match the players will complete their cool down in the brand spanking new state of the art plunge pools..

    But I agree…. Lets try upgrade the A.I.S….

    Also to suggests our crowd figures are ‘dwindling’ is more poor research, our crowds actually had a slight increase this year, and you have to remember that the 2006 Home averages was significantly bumped up by the final home match where around 22,000 turned up to farewell some club legends.

    Also if you want to talk about crowds, lets remember that we are averaging around 12-13000 in a town with eh population of around 350,000.. Sydney clubs have a bigger base to draw from (around 450,000) if you divide them up, and then you have to consider the fact that is much easier for Sydney Clubs to draw a bigger contingent of away fans seeing as 3/4 of their home matches are against a team in the same city.. Now a club like Brisbane averages 30,000 but has 5 times the population base to draw from… Think about that for a second.

    Also did you know that our corporate sponsorship was the highest it has been in a long time last season? With corporates boxes to all home games pretty much sold out……

    Anyway your job as a journalist would be to provoke/promote discussion, which you have accomplished. I could go on for much longer if I wanted to, but will leave it at that.

    Have a Nice Day,


  2. All very good ideas. Firstly, the Raiders should invest in state-of-the-art training facilities like, umm, the one it already has next door called the AIS. Secondly, they should then also sack their winning State of Origin assistant coach and go with a big name like Chris Anderson. Thirdly they need to sign a big name player like Gasnier, Minichello, Buderus, Gower, Mason or SB Williams – all of whom led their clubs to outstandingly successful seasons last year. Finally they need to totally ignore the true stars of their future by the names of Zillman, Costigan, Learoyd-Lahrs and Tilse because apparently only Todd Carney has any real ability. And don’t forget the Raiders are one of the only clubs in the NRL which make a multi million dollar profit each year from their vast stable of leagues clubs.

    I’m surprised the author even knows where Canberra is considering he appears to have a complete lack of knowledge of the club itself.

  3. Adam,

    I think you are a little off the pace. The Raiders have only missed the finals twice in the past 10 years and have won a premiership much more recent than the likes of ST George and Parramatta. They have not collected the wooden spoon since their inception in 1982 and have sold the most membership packages thus far in 2008 than any other NRL club.

    Now please explain to me again why they are struggglers? I’ll answer for you. Its because of the ignorance of over rated hacks like yourself who call yourself a journalist. You probably support some Sydney club and have lived in Sydney (or Brisbane) your whole life and have yet to comprehend that teams outside of Sydney are not only competitive but exist, and exist quite well. The QRL (Quenbeyan Rugby League) recently posted their 07 report offering huge $$ to support the Raiders in the future. The Raiders future is much more certain and sustainable than most other clubs in the NRL today.

    I agree that a super coach is requried. Under the Matt Elliot regime we adopted a boring style of play that offered the opinion we were talentless (a view Elliot encouraged to belay pressure on himself) and without potential. ANy Raiders fan will tell you that is crap and our roster was very talented but without permission to play expansive footy.

    If only the Sydney media and Channel 9 would give the Raiders some positive and honest exposure we would not have the incorrect stigma that we carry now. We will again do better than people think in 08, simply because like yourself and most other ignoramus supporters, they dont think life exists outside their own sphere of reality.

  4. Adam,

    Whilst I can understand where you’re coming from with your views on the club’s situation, as a fellow sports writer, I cannot agree with a lot of what you have said. Living in Canberra gives me the opportunity to closely monitor the progress of the Raiders in particular and I for one can say that this is a club on a slow, but steady rise. Financially, the Raiders are one of only a few clubs that run at a profit and have one of the strongest junior bases in the league. In recent times, the side has enjoyed mixed success, but haven’t looked a shadow of their former selves. However, with exciting upcoming juniors such as Todd Carney, Dane Tilse and William Zillman, the future looks bright for the club. Having lost over 1000 games of experience at the end of 2006, the club was never going to shoot to glory within the space of one year. I compare our situation with that of the Panthers in 2003 and the Tigers in 2005. Do not underestimate the side, because they have shown in the past that it happens at the opposition sides’ own peril. And if you want a reminder of the talent this team possesses, I suggest you watch the Raiders game against the Eels at home in 2007. You will not have seen a more dominant performance in 2007.


  5. “Opposition teams always fear the cold, unwelcoming track at Bruce Stadium” – The running track was removed a very long time ago.

    “but on the back of dwindling crowd figures” – Dwindling?? With some minor fluctuations the crowds have been pretty much stable for the last ten years.

    “Also on their side, the fact that they can tap into a large supporter base” – The population of Canberra is around 320,000, Queanbeyan has around 30,000. That’s a very small supporter base.

  6. chase the corporate backing first and start improving current facilities

    what the??

    they got the AIS down there you fool , what better facilities can you get than that?

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