While 34 brave young men put their bodies on the line for 80 minutes in yesterday’s Group 6 grand final, there was another competition taking place in the stands of Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
It was the battle of the fans to see who was the loudest and proudest.
The two camps were seated opposite each other, with most of the Thirlmere Roosters faithful soaking up the sun on the eastern side or Pembroke Road end of the stadium.
Across the pitch, on the Wests Leagues Club end, it was mostly black and red, the colours of the mighty Oakdale Workers.
And while their team lost the game 33-22, both the players and fans can hold their heads high, because neither gave up hope until the hooter went off to signal the end of the 2020 decider.
Just like all grand finals, everyone seemed to be happy afterwards.
Everywhere there were happy faces, with the only exception being the security guards in their fluorescent tops and grim faces.
I am not even sure why we need them at such occasions, when everyone, from the little kids to the grandparents of the players, are there for a good time.
If your team has made this far it means the grand final can be a bit of a party, and that’s exactly what the atmosphere was like at Campbelltown Sports Stadium yesterday afternoon.
Due to the Covid-restrictions there weren’t as many people as you usually get at a Group 6 grand final – 5,000 or more in recent years.
But the upside to that was that everyone can hear every yell from every fan.
Every scream to the ref to “get them onside’’ or sledging the opposition with insults such as “you can’t kick, mate’’ were clearly heard.
My personal favourite was from the Workers fan when a Thirlmere player went down injured towards the end of the match and was being treated: “Just put a band-aid on him’’ said the wag in Row 5.
And then there was the lovely acceptance speech from Jake Mullaney, the Thirlmere captain and fullback.
“There’s a lot of love around the club at Thirlmere Roosters,’’ he told the crowd moments after Wollondilly MP Nat Smith presented him with the premiership trophy.
“We all love each other at the Thirlmere Roosters, it’s really is the best club in the Group 6 competition,’’ Mullaney said to warm applause.
As for the fans battle in the stands, I am giving the trophy to the Workers mob – in a photo finish.
But rugby league was the real winner, as it always is in grand finals, whether it’s the NRL at the Olympic Stadium or here in the sticks for Group 6.