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Best of Enemies interview - Australian Rugby league News
globalrugbyleague - Sat, 15 Sep 2007 16:31:00 GMT
Two years ago I had the good fortune of interviewing former Eels great Ray Price about the long running rivalry between Canterbury-Bankstown and Parramatta.

Price – who is still good for a quote despite having retired from the game at the end of 1986 – recently said Manly will choke in the finals.

As a member of the last Parramatta squad to go on and win a Grand Final in 1986, I thought I’d share an excerpt from this fascinating interview with one of the game’s all-time greats.

Josh King: Peter Moore placed an emphasis on keeping the players happy both on and off the field to get the best performance out of them. Did you have that at Parramatta?

Ray Price: Not so much with Fitzgerald (Denis). We did it ourselves. When I was club captain, if a player had any arguments or he wasn’t happy, he came to me. And then I would go to Fitzy. That could be why Fitzy and I don’t get on too well now. But I don’t give a rats. My job was to keep my players happy. The happier they are the better they play. And that’s what happened.

JK: In the 84 Grand Final you were down injured and Mark Bugden took advantage of the Eels defence being momentarily weaker. Did you put any blame on yourself for that try which in the end cost Parramatta the game?

RP: Look, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a player sent off or a player injured, the rest of the players on there should adjust. Bugden should not have scored that try. I feel bad about it for being down but I honestly thought that I’d broken my arm. I had pins and needles {in} the tackle before and had pins and needles again so I stayed down because what could I do.

JK: There were two main rivals for Parramatta in the 80’s. Manly during the early years Canterbury then took over after 84. How badly did those two teams want to beat Parramatta?

RP: Canterbury were there in the {early} eighties too. The ironic thing about it is up until 1986, only Parramatta and Canterbury had won grand finals. Canterbury won 80, we won 81, 82 and 83. Should’ve won 84 but we got beaten 6-4. Canterbury won 85 and we won 86. The Canterbury-Parramatta-Manly rivalry brought out the best in you. I loved playing against Canterbury, against Manly and against any side that’s going to give us a hard game because that brought out the best in our side.

JK: Fanatics still seem to get excited over Canterbury-Parramatta games. Some say it’s one of the last true suburban feuds alive today.

RP: Yeah, Canterbury took over from Manly after they beat us 6-4 in 84. Remember, even as early as say 82, mate, Canterbury used to get away with so much shit in the game. Like Farrar with his elbows. How many people did he knock out in our games in Grand Finals or Semi-Finals with an elbow and no one sees it. And the ice hockey shoulder pads. Like c’mon. But they got away with it. Bullfrog (Peter Moore) was a very smart operator. Very smart. A lot of people hated Parramatta because they kept branding us the whingers. But we had bloody good reasons to whinge. Fibre glass shoulder pads is just fucken great to run into. It’s just competitive instinct. Mate, you wanna beat em.

JK: Rivalries could be taken too seriously . One on occasion it was reported in Rugby League Week that an anonymous fan punched you in the back. What would you have done if you caught them?

RP: That used to happen at a couple of grounds. They didn’t have crowd control. You’d have little kids and big hairy assed kids punching ya. I’ve grabbed a couple, given them the old Christmas lift half an inch off the ground, walked them over to a coppa and said, “Here. Keep this kid for half an hour or whatever!” There’s not much you can do. How stupid are you going to look if you start beating into someone on the field. That’s sport. It’s always going to happen. And people who barrack for certain teams will always defend their side no matter what happens. It’s part and parcel of the game.

JK: Any bad experiences with Doggies fans?
RP: Mate, I lived in the Canterbury-Bankstown area for seven or eight years while I played. Yeah, they used to bust my letter boxes and run them over and hurl bricks at my cars. That’s petty bullshit stuff! I play sport because I want to play and they breed because they want to breed or because their idiots. It’s not a majority it’s a minority that you have. Idiot staunch supporters will do things like that. It’s a little bit subdued compared to soccer games. That’s just crazy. I mean I’ve played in a rugby league game where they’ve covered the field in 4XXX cans. They’re Queenslanders (laughs). That’s their excuse. They’re Queenslanders. - Read More, Here