“WE may play in Mudgee as an away team, but we won’t be playing a home game there. Heading to NT instead! #goparra.”
And with that tweet last Thursday, Parramatta Eels’ plans of playing future home NRL matches at Glen Willow Stadium were dead in the water.
The Eels have agreed to play one trial match in Alice Springs and an NRL game in Darwin every year until 2018 under a deal struck with the Northern Territory government
They announced the deal last week at Parramatta Stadium prior to the weekend’s NRL close the gap round.
Parramatta Eels interim CEO Matt Phelan cites genuine engagement as the key to a successful relationship between the club and the Northern Territory.
“This will not be a fly-in-fly-out scenario. We will be involved all year long in community programs, rugby league and touch football participation, as well as the development of existing elite player and coaching pathways.
“We are committed to providing both resources and knowledge to grow the game in the Northern Territory.”
On May 26, the Eels played their round 11 match against Gold Coast at Glen Willow.
The Titans won the encounter 42-4.
All the talk leading up to the historic event and in the days after it was of how well the Mudgee region supported the Eels.
The Eels and Mid-Western Regional Council were keen to continue the relationship, whether it was through pre-season training camps, pre-season trials or more NRL matches.
But the blue and golds poured cold water on the idea of playing future NRL matches in Mudgee with their tweet on August 15.
Dozens of businesses dressed up their shop windows and stores, hundreds turned out for the open training sessions and 9132 fans packed out Glen Willow Stadium - 511 more than the 2012 City-Country match.
Not to mention more than 100 people took up Parramatta’s offer of the Mudgee express where they were chartered down to ANZ Stadium to watch the Eels take on South Sydney in a rain-soaked match.
When Ken Edwards was CEO of the Eels, he indicated the Eels would return to Mudgee.
But since his sudden dumping last month, the Eels have moved in a different direction.