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Meet The Fans - Australian Rugby league News
globalrugbyleague - Thu, 12 Apr 2007 22:33:00 GMT
Long before the rabbitohs began their best winning streak since 1972, there were many loyal followers who stuck by the red and green during some of the most difficult periods in the history of the club.

One bloke who is looking forward to marching on in 2007 is 47-year-old Ian Spruce who has followed his beloved side since 1967. Josh King caught up with the man also known as Radical Rabbit earlier this week.

JK: Ian, What you do when you’re not watching footy?

My life is spent between footy, work and family......not always in that order.....footy has always played a major part in how I conduct my life but I would like to spend more time with my family in coming years.....I play cricket in what off-season there is........

JK: When did you first start supporting South Sydney?

Ian: 1967 when I moved from Newcastle to Sydney.....it was logical that I supported Souths as I moved to the south-western side of town and played in the red and green for Southern Districts……all my friends were Rabbitohs when I got to school there, so it wasn't a difficult decision really.

JK: What got you hooked onto Rugby League instead of say AFL or Rugby Union?

Ian: From the time I could remember how to enjoy sport I have supported South Sydney, Carlton, Randwick and Liverpool (EPL)........all since 1967......my only 4 teams. I have different passions for each one and have never wavered from my allegiances.I choose to put more energy into the Rabbitohs because its what gives me the greatest sense of satisfaction, achievement and reason to belong to something that matters. You can go anywhere in Australia and talk sport but only special people know how to talk 'Souths'.

JK: The best game you’ve ever seen?......

Ian: 2005 v Roosters.....17-16......that was the sweetest victory since re-admission.I've seen many great games of football with many more great players than I'd care to name but every Souths victory is the best game I've seen.

JK The Worst game?

Ian: 1989 semi v Canberra.......nuff said.

JK: Do Any other members of your family follow an NRL team? If so, who?

Ian: My wife has followed Canberra since Newtown were banished from the top flight in 1982. .My sons both follow the Storm due to our previous allegiance to the Hunter Mariners and due to our dislike of the Knights.

JK: When Souths were not in the NRL between 2000 and 2002, which team did you follow if any? How hard was it to watch League then?

Ian: I didnt follow any other team. While Souths were out I had a game with them as on-field trainer in the series of games played in country venues. I didnt watch footy based tv programs or read newspapers. If Souths had not been re-admitted, I wouldn’t have gone back to rugby league.

JK: Your favourite South Sydney player of all time. Who is it and why?

Ian: Ziggy Niszczot came from my local club in Newcastle (Norths Bluebags) and I always followed his career with great interest. I have run into him many times since his retirement and he always has time for his fans. Watching Mario walk up the 'spiral staircase' at the Leagues Club in 89 was also an experience to behold. He's up there too. The Little Master was brought to Souths from my junior club, Central Charlestown in 1948 and he has always been the epitome of red and green to me......many greats, many legends, many memories.

JK: Do you drive to home games? If so what sort of car?

Ian: I drive to Sydney perhaps 30 times a year to attend games, meetings and get-togethers.I drive my van(s) most times in order to carry the gear for The Burrow and generally set up at most venues around Sydney before the gates open.

JK: Happy or unhappy that Souths moved to Telstra Stadium?......

Ian: I drive 150 kms to the game. Sydney people are spoilt if they cant drive 15 kms to get to Telstra. My relationship with Telstra is hot and cold. Having to get there 2 hours before gates open is the cold part but nonetheless satisfying.

JK: The best player the club bought for 2007. Who is it?.

Ian: Re-signing David Peachey..... a true gentleman, nice bloke and champion footballer. I have no doubt that Peach was the catalyst for the other big name signings.......

JK: What would you say to George Piggins right now if you could?

Ian: This answer is not re-printable in full but suffice to say, it would amount to 'wake up to yourself '.

JK: Is Nathan Merritt ready for Origin football or a Kangaroos jersey?

Ian: YES........with some polish Nath will become one of our all-time favourites and will rank amongst the best Souths have had to offer.

JK: Who is the team to beat in 2007?

Ian: Tough question.......I backed the Cowboys last year and they look good so far.....Melbourne of course and perhaps a 'smokey', not sure who....will it be us????

JK: The best thing about being a Souths supporter. What is it?

Ian: Comradery, mateship, the feeling that you always have a friend and don’t have to talk people into listening to what you have to say, even opposition supporters!!!!..........wherever you go there are Souths fans.......the network of support leaves you thinking that there is no way you could ever follow anyone else because what you all share is so special. Its not always easy to pinpoint what it is that gives you the 'feeling' but seeing the red and green makes you feel like you have made the right decision.........you are either a Rabbitoh or you’re not.I am extremely proud to say that I AM A RABBITOH and I dont care who hears me say so!!
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