We are all Westies for the week
Panthers legends call for all NSW fans to become westies
PENRITH greats have a special call for Sydneysiders to help the Panthers crush the Melbourne Storm.
“Sydney fans should become a Westie – get your Uggies out.
Everyone loves a battler and Penrith have had plenty of battles over the years,” said Scott Sattler, Penrith’s 2003 grand final hero.
PENRITH Panthers greats have called on the people of NSW to unite behind a common cause and become proud westies for the week.
The Panthers secured their spot in the NRL grand final after they beat Souths 20-16 in a thrilling preliminary final at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
Melbourne Storm are facing the Panthers and Penrith legends Greg Alexander, Craig Gower and Scott Sattler want league fans to jump onboard the bandwagon of the team from Western Sydney.
“Sydney fans should become a westie for the day — get your Uggies out. Everyone loves a battler and Penrith have had plenty of battles over the years,” said Sattler, Penrith’s 2003 grand final hero. “It becomes state versus state doesn’t it? I really have a deep respect for the Storm but I can’t see many Melbourne fans being in the crowd given the borders are closed.”
The Storm are in their third grand final in four years, but this time, for NSW supporters, it’s worse than usual — despite being based in Victoria the Storm have spent the second half of the season playing out of Queensland.
The Storm will have strong support from both states, making it even more important for the Panthers to feel the love from NSW — from the city’s west to the Shire and out through the regions.
Fans Tania Jessup, 41, her daughter Patricia, 12, and partner Paul Coles, 42, were on Sunday “hungover on emotion” and ecstatic to attend what will be their first grand final.
“We were lost for words. We were a mess at the game and me and my daughter both cried. Especially given everything this year. It means a lot. We’ve gone through so much controversy and to pull through and come out on top is phenomenal,” she said.
The Mortdale resident — who spent Sunday adorning her house in Panthers colours — said she had “a feeling” the team would make an incredible comeback this year after a horror start featuring Tyrone May’s sex tape scandal and Nathan Cleary’s COVID-19 breach. “They’ve really stepped up and banded together,” she said.
Veteran Panthers fan and Emu Plains resident Kevin Pippen, 84, who has followed the team since he attended their inaugural game against Canterbury at Belmore Oval back in 1967, said Saturday’s win was “unbelievable” and he was “incredibly proud” to see the boys climb to the top.
“Having their 17th win in a row is unbelievable for any team and a record of itself. It was a real battle last night but they got there.”
If the Panthers do win it
will be their 18th straight victory, setting a new NRL-era record.
Either way the game will be a historic event for the Craig family — it marks the first time Cathy Craig’s 16 grandkids will see Penrith in a grand final.
Grandson Elijah Craig, 12, will be there at ANZ Stadium in his Panthers jersey cheering the club on. “I was so happy after last night. I knew before the game that no matter what the result was, I would be crying and I’m just glad they were happy tears.”
With the Queensland and Victorian borders still closed, Penrith fans — whether they are lifelong or temporary — are expected to dominate the 40,000 crowd.
“We are the only Sydney side remaining in the competition so it would be great to see 40,000 fans there supporting Penrith,” said Alexander, arguably Penrith’s greatest player.
“Melbourne will have some Sydney fans at the game but there won’t be any travel from Victoria or Queensland. It’s been 17 years since Penrith has been in a grand final so hopefully fans get out there to support the NSW team.”
Gower, who captained the Panthers’ 2003 title winners, said non-Penrith fans should cast aside their own club passion. “Why not support the Sydney team? We should have a fair crowd out there full of Penrith fans,” he said.
Penrith hopes to start grand final week on a high on Monday with Nathan Cleary the favourite to win his first Dally M Medal — the highest individual award in the NRL.
The Panthers boast a big fan base and will have heavyweight support tuning in from around the world.
Among them is surfing great Mick Fanning who was born in Penrith and became a passionate fan in 1990 when the Panthers played Canberra in the grand final.
Fanning is in California on business and tuned in at 1.30am to watch the Panthers’ preliminary final win. “A lot of people are saying they haven’t played big games but Cleary has won Origin series. He’s so composed in those big moments,” Fanning said
Nathan Cleary checks out the NRL Premiership trophy with his father and coach Ivan Cleary.
Long serving fan Kevin Pippen, 84, who was at Penrith’s very first game in 1967.
Diehard Penrith fans Tania Jessup, her partner Paul Coles and 12-yearold daughter, Patricia Jessup with their teamposters and a giant cutout of Panthers star Brian To’o.