Boom, boom, clap! A guttural roar makes it way across a still night at GIO Stadium. Boom, boom, clap! This time my heart starts to beat a little bit faster in anticipation of what’s to come, a small pocket of South Sydney Supporters on the eastern side of the ground try to drown out the Viking Clap, to no avail.
The fans seem to hit a fever pitch as the Viking Clap hits its peak. Jarrod (not Jason) Croker leads the side out onto the field for the Canberra Raiders first ever home Preliminary Final in Canberra, in front of a record NRL crowd at the venue.
The game itself was a bellringer, but nothing comes easy when you face a side coached by Wayne Bennett. I can safely say I’ve never felt more relieved than when Josh Papalii scored the winning try, I embraced many Canberra supporters. I felt a tap on my shoulder as I went to sit back down a young teen with the biggest smile on his face simply hugged me. This is the true spirit of what it’s like to back the Canberra Raiders, we’re simply one big family.
These are special times for Canberra supporters, a Grand Final 25 years in the making. You only have to look at 2,108 fans lining the streets outside the stadium to get one final glimpse of the team at training before they head off to the big dance to see what it means to them. Sadly, Co-Captain Josh Hodgson missed with a virus, but it’s not the first time a Canberra hooker has been struck down after a big Friday night.
It’s been great to see Quan Nguyen from Vina Bakery in Wanniassa go to great lengths to spread his love of the Raiders with customers through an assortment of green breads and pastries.
Peter Lindbeck from Lindbeck’s Butchery in Queanbeyan continued the great tradition of green sausages, with an extended run this year because of the success on the field for the Raiders.
The RSPCA is getting in the spirit and dressing up the puppies and Transport Canberra has lit up their light rail stops with, you guessed it, neon green lights.
My favourite aspect of what has been a green wave of support was everyone’s favourite latenight haunt Mooseheads remixing ‘Bad and Mean’ following Friday night’s win.