Could this be "The Year of the Eel"?
FOLLOWING his beloved Parramatta Eels winning their first competition trophy in 30 years, Clarence Valley mayor Richie Williamson has labelled 2016 'The Year of the Eel'.
The self-appointed president of the Clarence Valley Chapter of the Parramatta Eels Supporters Club said the early season success by his side at the Auckland Nines competition has taken the sting away from their 2009 grand final loss.
"We were cheated out of the premiership in 2009 by the stinking mob from Melbourne," Cr Williamson said. "I am positive if it had have been an even playing field that year the Eels would have come out as premiers - but we can't dwell on the past, we must look forward a very rosy future."
While the mayor admits it is still early days with the season kick off still about three weeks away, he said history acts as proof that the Eels will succeed.
"I know that you can't win the Melbourne Cup in the first 100 metres," he said. "That is the same in the NRL, but every winner of the Auckland Nines has won the NRL Premiership about the same time.
"This is a strong start to a promising season. Corey Norman was outstanding at the weekend and I think our coach [Brad Arthur] has got the team focused and has signed well in the off-season.
"My hope is the boardroom is a boardroom that is united - that certainly has not been the case in recent years."
The local mayor, who has been a Parramatta tragic for as long as he can remember, expects his side to play finals footy.
"I was only speaking with the Vice-President of the Clarence Valley chapter of the Eels supporters, Craig 'Pup' Pereira the other day about our chances this season," Williamson said.
"I think we will definitely finish in the top eight - there is no doubt about that and at the ripe old odds of $15 to win the premiership, if I was a betting man I know where I would put my last tenner.
"Without going off early this will be our year."