Jockey cel­e­brates after 43 year drought

Whitsunday Times - - SPORT -

RUGBY LEAGUE

IT HAS been 43 long years but Proser­pine’s Michael ‘Jockey’ Downer has fi­nally seen South Syd­ney lift the premier­ship trophy.

Jockey, who has been a mem­ber of Souths his en­tire life, said it was hard to ex­plain how he felt.

“I watched the 1971 grand fi­nal back in Syd­ney with my par­ents,” he said.

“Bob McCarthey ran down the side­line and scored. We watched it on a lit­tle black and white TV.”

1971 was the last time be­fore Sun­day’s game South Syd­ney had won a premier­ship and as a dyed in the wool sup­porter it’s been more hear- tache and pain for Jockey over the years.

In the ‘90s Souths strug­gled and the Su­per League war threat­ened their ex­is­tence.

Jockey watched in 1999 as it was an­nounced the Rab­bitohs would not play in the 2000 sea­son.

The loss of a first-grade team saw the club lose not only its lus­tre but some of its most tal­ented ju­niors.

“I didn’t follow league those years,” Jockey said.

“They were bombed out of the comp.”

Many marched on the streets de­mand­ing the team to be re­in­stated and they got their wish in 2002.

How­ever, poor form saw the club with the most premier­ships in NRL his­tory (21) fin­ish last three times in five sea­sons.

On Sun­day though, Souths rel­ished the op­por­tu­nity and led by bru­tal English for­ward Sam Burgess, who played on with a frac­tured cheek­bone, soared to vic­tory of the Bull­dogs 30-6.

“I can’t ex­plain it,” Jockey said, fight­ing back the tears.

“It’s hard to ex­plain – I’m still cry­ing.”

For Jockey and le­gions of South Syd­ney fans the song is now ring­ing louder and prouder than ever.

Glory, glory to South Syd­ney.

JOCKEY'S SHOUT: It's been a long time be­tween drinks for South Syd­ney sup­port­ers but lo­cal Michael Downer is stoked to see them at the top again after 43 years.

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