OK, so a meteorite has not crashed into Parramatta Leagues Club, reducing it to a 30 metre deep smoking crater.
But apart from that, every single possible thing that could go wrong at the NRL's most popular club has gone wrong. Everything. Let's start with some history.
- The Eels have won more wooden spoons (13) than any team still playing. Their last premiership was in 1986. That made it it four in six years. Since then, misery. Nothing but misery, mismanagement and mayhem.
- The 1990s we can gloss over. Nothing positive to report there.
- The 2000s began and ended with typical Eels heartbreak. The 2001 Eels had the best attacking and defensive record in NRL (and its predecessor, the NSWRL) history. Newcastle led 24-0 at halftime in the grand final and Parramatta never recovered.
- In 2009, Parramatta came from nowhere on the back of Jarryd Hayne brilliance to make eighth spot, from where they made the grand final. Which they lost. To the Melbourne Storm, who were later stripped of the title due to salary cap breaches. So the Eels almost, sort of, nearly won the NRL premiership but don't have a trophy to show for it. That is SOOOO Parramatta.
HEY, but it's not like a tsunami just surged through Sydney Harbour and up the Parramatta River, swamping Parramatta Stadium and reducing everything to rubble.
No. The current decade-in-progress has been much worse than that. Here are some of the lowlights in no particular order. It's quite a long list.
- The Eels recruited halfback Chris Sandow from Souths on a deal in the vicinity of $500,000 a season. There are people currently spending their entire superannuation on the roulette tables who are making better investments.
- The Eels lost Jarryd Hayne. Not their fault, but how Parramatta is it that their best player of a generation would go "you know what? I'll move to America and play a different sport there".
- The Eels signed star Manly playmaker Kieran Foran to a four-year deal worth a reported $4.7 million in 2015. Foran was stood down for personal reasons in April of this year. Then blew a reported $75,000 on a gambling binge. And is now missing the rest of the season with injury. Sooo Parramatta.
- Did we mention THE BIGGEST SALARY CAP SCANDAL SINCE THE STORM? The Eels stand accused of breaching the cap by $3 million over a four-year period. The NRL has fined them $1 million and will soon strip them of 12 premiership points, destroying their 2016 finals hopes.
- And did we mention that the Eels were fined $525,000 last year for repeated salary cap breaches in 2013 and 2014 and threatened with further penalties if they did not undertake an independence governance review? The Eels duly implemented 119 recommended changes to the club's governance. And then 2016 happened.
- Everyone at the club is at war with everyone else. We will not bore you here with the endless warring between factions of the board. But it's been going on for years. Iraq is more stable and better administrated.
SURE, it's bad. But it's not like the eels that lurk in the Parramatta River mutated, grew extra long fangs and legs and slithered their way en masse into Parramatta Leagues Club devouring everything and everyone in their sight.
That would be a good day for this club. The reality is much more horrific than that.
- The Eels bought Anthony Watmough, a 32 year old known as one of the hardest men in the game. He's retired now, because that legendary hardness had pretty much already broken his body. Irregularities over his third-party contracts are still being investigated.
- In March, Liquor and Gaming NSW confirmed an investigation around the Parramatta Leagues Club and its role in the salary cap rorting.
- Semi Radradra. Where do we start with this guy? Big hulking winger. Best player the Eels have unearthed since Hayne. Last week he went walkabout with rumours he was set to walk out on the Eels and play rugby in France. He bobbed up in Fiji. Now he has been charged with domestic violence and served with an apprehended violence order (AVO).
SHOCKING, but at least everyone at Parramatta has retained their sense of humour. In the depths of crisis, what else is left?
Get this. This is the funniest thing you'll read all day.
The Eels are seeking $700,000 in compensation should Semi Radradra walk out on the club and go to French rugby, as has been mooted. $500,000 of that would be for the value of his remaining contract.
And the other $200,000? For damage to the brand. Damage to the brand! Ha! Damage to the most tainted brand in Australian sport, if not Australian life! Ha! Good one, Parramatta. It's been a long week. We needed a giggle.