Long has been the Winter of our discontent – Sharknado – Part 1

NRL clubs who have never won a premiership

Over the next four weeks I’m going to break down the four clubs who have never won a National Rugby League premiership in descending order of futility. This week, the mighty Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. The Sharks have a long and tortuous history which is starting to rank internationally, but they have some stiff competition.

International comparison

Denver Nuggets

League – NBA

First season – 1967/68

Active teams who haven’t won a title – 11

Seasons of futility – 47

St Louis Blues

League – NHL

First season – 1967/68

Active teams who haven’t won a title – 12

Seasons of futility – 47

Minnesota Vikings

League – NFL

First season – 1961

Active teams who haven’t won a title – 6

Seasons of futility – 53

Texas Rangers

League – MLB

First season – 1961 (as the Washington Senators)

Active teams who haven’t won a title – 8

Seasons of futility – 53

Watford FC

League – EPL

First season – 1881

Active teams who haven’t won a title – 8

Seasons of futility – 133

History of the Sharks 

Cronulla Sharks - Photo by Naparazzi - CC-BY-SA-2.0

Cronulla Sharks – Photo by Naparazzi CC-BY-SA-2.0

So the Sharks are in illustrious company. It hasn’t been all doom and gloom though. In fact Cronulla came close to winning it all in 1973 and 1976. In 1973 they went down 10-7 to the Sea Eagles and in 1976 they drew the Grand Final 11-11 before losing the replay 16‑0 again to Manly. In their early years they were also able to capture the Rothmans Medal on three occasions with Terry Hughes (1968), Ken Maddison (1973) and Steve Rogers (1975) the recipients.

The 1980s heralded significant financial issues for the club but is largely remembered for Jack Gibson, Andrew Ettingshausen, Barry Russell (Rothmans Medal, 1988), Gavin Miller (Rothmans Medal, 1989) and the 1988 Minor Premiership but victory in the Grand Final eluded them again.

The 1990s commenced in similar fashion with financial issues again dogging the club, however, John Lang along with Paul Green (Rothmans Medal, 1995) heralded a new era of success along with stars like Mat Rogers, David Peachey and Mitch Healey with deep runs in the finals on multiple occasions with the Minor Premiership in 1999 and the Super League Grand Final in 1997 particular highlights.

The Noughties have been a different story entirely. It is true there have been successes but these have been interspersed with some of the darkest times the club has experienced. Dramas to hit the club have included the following:

  • The replacement of club favourite John Lang by Chris Anderson as coach in 2002.
  • The string of released players in 2003 including the replacement of club favourite Preston Campbell at halfback by Brett Kimmorley. 2003 also included a 74-4 thrashing by Parramatta.
  • Anderson’s departure at the end of the 2003 season.
  • The premature death of club legend Steve Rogers in 2006.
  • The sacking of Stuart Raper in 2006.
  • Greg Bird’s conviction and acquittal of various charges in 2008/2009 which led to his suspension and eventual release from the club.
  • Further financial problems arose in 2009.
  • Four corners story which implicated many of the past players including Matty Johns in another scandal from a pre-season trip in 2002 which broke during 2009.
  • Reni Maitua tested positive for a banned substance in 2009.
  • Resignation of CEO Tony Zappia for a range of issues including allegedly hitting a female employee while shadow boxing in 2009.
  • Ricky Stuart’s resignation in 2010.
  • ASADA supplements controversy which has spanned the 2013 and 2014 season.
  • Todd Carney’s sacking in 2014.

Some statistics for the Statophiles

First Year in the Competition – 1967

Seasons played – 48

Overall Record – 1139 games, 539 wins, 23 draws, 577 losses for an overall win percentage of 47.32%

Finals Record – 39 games, 15 wins, 1 draw, 23 losses and an overall win percentage of 38.46%

Wooden spoons – 2

Minor premierships – 2

Grand finals – 3

Final series – 17 (so they’ve made the finals 35.42% of the time)

Likelihood of winning a premiership in the near future 

Negatives

Well the ASADA scandal continues to hang over them like a dark cloud and they are obviously not lifting the trophy this year although they are favourites to inherit the wooden spoon for the third time in their history. They are also languishing down the bottom of the Holden Cup ladder which doesn’t bode well for the immediate future. The NSW Cup side is currently in 7th spot which would normally be a good news story except that their squad is bolstered by players from the Melbourne Storm so it isn’t really such a promising sign. Losing Michael Lichaa, one of their most promising players was a big blow as the nucleus of their team is starting to get on in years (Paul Gallen (32), Luke Lewis (30), Jeff Robson (32), Anthony Tupou (30), Michael Gordon (30) and next year Michael Ennis (30)). Many of the young players coming through are promising but are ultimately unproven at the next level. Oh and they might need a coach at some stage as well.

Positives

On the player front retaining Andrew Fifita (25) and Wade Graham (23) as the nucleus of this side is a huge positive. They are both players a club can build around with plenty of upside to their already prodigious talents. They both like to get amongst it too.

Financially, the major issue the club has faced is the asset rich/cash flow poor conundrum. This should all change in the near future as the fruits of their property development deal with Bluestone comes to fruition. The bottom line is astounding. Cronulla previously was languishing under $15M debt but an advance payment of $10M has already retired a large chunk of that debt leaving a more manageable $5M debt in its place. They stand to make another $30M on the residential development along with future income streams expected for the retail aspect of the development after this. What is the upshot of all this? With correct management Cronulla will be the richest club in the NRL and in prime position to set themselves up for not only a maiden premiership but a long and successful run and maybe permanent status as a premiership contender. Anything is possible.

Verdict

The likelihood of them winning in the next 5 years is low but with the right financial management anything is possible after that. They are looking good for their first premiership in the 7-8 year range. I think Sharkies fans would take that.

What was sweeter than Jelly Bread?

  • Hats off to the Waratahs for breaking their Super 15 hoodoo and topping the Crusaders at the death. Sets up an intriguing Castrol Edge Rugby Championship. Just for the record, I think they could have come up with something better than the Rugby Championship. I realise that Rugby League already had Four Nations but the Rugby Championship hardly evokes excitement. I had to Google for ages before I could even find out what it was called. Hardly a memorable brand.
  • The PNG Hunters (27 points in 6th place) kept their finals hopes alive edging Norths on the weekend. Their destiny is in their own hands with another big game for them this weekend against the Jets (30 points in 5th place) followed by games against Wynnum (30 points in 4th place) and Souths and a last game bye. Anything could happen. Regardless of whether they make the Finals I think this season can be counted as a success.
  • Cowboys are on a roll now and provided they can maintain the rage are in the box seat to land a position in the top 4. Broncos, Bulldogs and Panthers seem to be flagging and a host of teams are lower on the ladder.
  • Ditto Warriors. Andrew McFadden has them playing with structure. If they can keep their head on straight they could also find themselves ensconced in the 8. I don’t imagine anyone is looking forward to playing them in the finals.

What wasn’t?

  • The Tigers. First there was the Tim Sheens fiasco. Then there was the Andrew Fifita fiasco. Then there was the Benji Marshall fiasco. Then there was the Michael Potter fiasco. Now there is the Robbie Farah fiasco. It has always been an uneasy alliance between Wests and Balmain but they are taking the dysfunction to a new level. They have one of the most talented bunch of juniors coming through and have punched way above their weight this year already. They are doing everything they can to mess it all up from an administrative perspective. For Tigers fans I hope they can pull themselves together.
  • The Titans. I don’t know what to think of the resignation of John Cartwright and Michael Searle. On one hand it gives the club a chance at a fresh start. On the other hand there is a fair argument that the Titans didn’t really plan for the transition period after their foundation players aged. I would have thought that was a recruiting issue. Rumour has it that they are spending under the salary cap which also wouldn’t have helped Cartwright’s cause. They have been cruelled with injury over the last few seasons as well. They have a promising spine in Sezer, Kelly, Srama and Zillman if they could stay on the field.

Other random thoughts

  • Coverage of the Commonwealth Games on the internet was superb. Up to 6 different sports at any one time. Athletics was awesome. Ditto Boxing. Didn’t mind the Hockey either. England’s pre-Olympics funding spike continues to pay dividends. The experts (I’m not making this up) reckon the best ever Olympic Games for a host nation actually happens at the very next Olympics as the funding boost which kicks in after an Olympic Games bid is announced as successful really bears fruit in that 6-10 year range.
  • EPL is nearly here. Not that many sleeps to go.

Bill James Award 

Dual winners this week

Jarryd Hayne – Run Metres – 295m, Tries – 2, Try Assists – 0, Tackle Breaks – 10, Tackles – 8, Offloads – 0, Line Breaks – 3, Line Break Assists – 1 and Errors – 2. 

Johnathan Thurston – Run Metres – 50m, Tries – 1, Try Assists – 4, Tackle Breaks – 0, Tackles – 14, Offloads – 1, Line Breaks – 0, Line Break Assists – 3 and Errors – 0. 

Invitations that they should send out for the Dally M Medal – 2.

Tips for Round 22 

Home teams first

Rabbitohs vs Sea Eagles – Sea Eagles (This will be close as the SCG is not really anyone’s home ground. The Rabbitohs looked great last week but they were only playing the Knights. This will be a better test of their premiership credentials. Rabbits are unbeaten in last three but Sea Eagles are unbeaten in last four. In DCE and KF we trust)

Broncos vs Bulldogs – Broncos (Wow, how the mighty have fallen. Broncos have lost their last 2 matches but Bulldogs have lost their last 3. Broncos are at home and their backs are well and truly against the wall. Time for Ben Hunt to recapture his form)

Knights vs Storm – Storm (Storm are starting to play more consistently post SOO but this one will be emotional given it is the reverse fixture of the match in which Alex McKinnon was injured. I think Storm will be too good)

Cowboys vs Tigers – Cowboys (This is a trap game for the Cows. Tigers are a young side so this could go either way in a hurry. The first 20 minutes should tell you whether the Tigers have their head in the game)

Eels vs Raiders – Eels (Raiders are goooone. What exactly are they playing for at this stage? Plus their side is almost unrecognisable at the moment with all of their injuries)

Warriors vs Sharks – Warriors (The Warriors should follow up their flogging of the Raiders with a solid win against the Sharks, although the Sharks have had their measure in the last 5 games at least. Luckily, the Warriors have a handy replacement for the injured Shaun Johnson in Thomas Leuluai)

Dragons vs Panthers – Dragons (This will be a close one but Panthers are carrying some injuries to key players and the Dragons are fringe candidates for the 8. Widdop is class and Benji has a little left in the tank as well)

Roosters vs Titans – Roosters (Roosters flying under the radar a little bit but should dispense with the reeling Titans with ease)

Last week – 7/8 

Season so far – 87/152 

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode on Thursday, 14 August 2014 titled ‘Long has been the Winter of our Discontent – Part 2 Titanic’

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3 thoughts on “Long has been the Winter of our discontent – Sharknado – Part 1

  1. Pingback: NRL Final Trimester Report Part 1 | The Game of Sport

  2. Pingback: Why the Cowboys are burying their Kryptonite | The Game of Sport

  3. Pingback: 2016 NRL Final Trimester Report Part 4 – There can be only one! | The Game of Sport

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