True Supporter, Interview 6 May 2018 -Tony Guinta
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
I grew up in the Western Suburbs of Sydney. While my parents were still together I grew up in Auburn. At the age of ten my parents divorced and we moved around a bit, lived at Dundas, Wetherill Park and Badgery's Creek, spent four years there, hence the nickname (The Badger).
I have one brother with the same Mother and Father, two brothers with the same Mother, also two brothers and a sister with the same Dad.
When did you start loving Rugby League, Parramatta especially?
I can tell you, when I was six years old, my Grand Father, God rest his soul, he is not with us anymore, he took me to Cumberland Oval in 1976. I don't remember who we were playing but all I remember was the Parra chant. It stuck in my head.
Obviously that year we made it to the Grand Final. I remember he took me to Westfield's, Parramatta to see the Parramatta players. Westfield's was only three stories high back then and the team was there on the ground floor and my Grand Father did the "Michael Jackson thing", hanging me over the balcony to see the players.
For the first time I wasn't scared of heights because I could see the Parra players. There was blue and gold streamers and balloons everywhere. I still remember it to this day as if it was yesterday.
My Grand Father (Alfred Foreman) was at Parramatta's first game back in 1947. He was a very passionate Parramatta supporter. He showed me the Blue and Gold light.
How did your interests with the Parramatta Eels develop over the years?
The most obvious one was ten years later when my Step Father at the time took me to the 1986 Grand Final.
He was working at a Bus charter company and had organised a trip for the boys. He had two spare tickets so he invited my brother Malcolm and me to come along to the Members Stand.
There were a lot of Bulldogs supporters and every time Parramatta got a penalty, we would scream and carry on. We were only young at the time, I was 16 years old. These Bulldogs supporters would scream "Sit Down!, Shut Up you two!" At the end of the game, we gave it to them very cheekily and ran away.
We won the game 4 points to 2, Brett Kenny was ripped off twice, I don't care what anyone says. I was there to see that, that was amazing. It was a great day, to see Mick Cronin and Ray Price go out that way. We were sitting right above where Bob Hawke came out and gave a speech, it was amazing.
Who were your favourite Parramatta players as a kid ?
Eric Grothe has always been my idol. Every time he touched the ball, I stood up, whether I was watching the game on TV or at the game. My Mum said when Eric Grothe scored a try, whether you won or you lost you would spend the week cheering.
When I was 17 I was a Trolley Boy at Woolworths, Bonnyrig. I came in one day with a bunch of trolleys and there was Eric Grothe sitting in the shop. He had a big thing on his knee from his knee reconstruction. I remember it was 87'. I just walked up to him, I was so shy but I walked up anyway and asked can you sign this please? He had Eric Junior in a pram. I will never forget it.
What Eels stuff did you collect as a kid ?
When I could. We used to play the old flick the cards, or go off the wall, see which card you landed on.
I remember I was about 14 and we were living at Minto and it was my brother's birthday and he was and still is a mad St George supporter. There was a vacant block of land near to where we lived and I made these goal posts out of wood and we played a mock game, Parramatta versus St George. There were about seven players on each side and we all wore Parramatta and St George stuff. I gave my favourite jersey to my mate and I said "you can wear this. . I even remember the score, it was 62 points all. I remember my Step Father and my Mum and everyone carrying on.
Anything I could get my hands on, Footies, caps, cards, you name it.
Early adult years, before your Facebook group, how did you support your team during those years ?
I used to go to the footy whenever Mum would let me.
I remember going to the footy with Cheryl Bourke who back then was known as Cheryl King, she is in the Army now. Somehow our paths have crossed again all of these years later.
Back in those days there was no Facebook, so you would write Fan Mail, a letter to your favourite player, in my case it was Eric Grothe. You didn't always get something back, but just to know you were getting excited enough to write to the player. Sometimes you did get something official from the club.
I was married in 1990 and had a very strict wife, it is a long story, but she was the boss. I didn't go to many games back then, it was just hard being married and keeping everyone happy. I was an avid supporter on TV. She went one way and I would watch my Eels on the TV.
It was hard those years because as a Club we didn't do a lot. We had Mick Cronin as coach and Ron Hilditch and we weren't very successful, but we had a go. Just because Eric Grothe retired, didn't mean I was going to stop watching Parra. The way Eric would play the game and broke through tackles, every time he got the ball you would think he was going to score.
I didn't know what was going on because that was the Super League war. Parramatta bought Jim Dymock, Jarrod McCracken, Jason Smith, one minute they are loyal to Canterbury then they are loyal to Parramatta. I was quite happy of course, it looked like we were going to do something. It was hard, that marked ten years before we had won it.
The thing I am proud about Parramatta is we had the deciding vote of whether it was going to be Super League or ARL and Denis Fitzgerald, not a lot of people like him but he was adamant that we are going to stick solid with the ARL and stick with tradition. That showed how much my team means to football, because we are loyal. A lot of people just took the cash. Cable TV was just coming in, they were pretty turbulent times.
What did you think of the Parramatta sides from 2000 onwards ?
2001 was very hard to take, losing the Grand Final to Newcastle who finished fourth that season. I'll forget the fact that, when they had the cameras in the dressing sheds before the game you could see Andrew Johns and Newcastle all sitting down, calm, cool, collected, doing the breathing. When you saw Parramatta in their dressing room, they were throwing the ball around like it was a hot potato, Brian Smith was doing this and that. At half time we were losing by 24 points to nil, that was hard, I was actually crying. I was 31 years old then and I cried. As a result we ended up losing 30 points to 24 and I will never forget this, there was a knock on against Ian Hindmarsh and I swear to this day it wasn't a knock on. Newcastle went on to score after that poor decision which won them the game. Heartbreaking stuff.
How did you feel when Eric Grothe Junior started coming through ?
Was very happy as his Dad is my idol and just to see what he could produce, and just watching him run the ball you could feel something would be on.
I was privileged to go to a game in 2004 against South Sydney, it was about Round 4 or 5. The Rabbits had only been back in the comp about a couple of years. They were in the top four, playing really well and I went to the game by myself and I will never forget this, Eric Grothe Junior picked up the ball just outside our own goal line and he ran just like his Dad, only difference was he was on the left wing and his Dad was on the right. He bumped off four players and ran around to score underneath the posts and I was freaking out. You know when you are at a game and you don't know anyone, but because you are Parramatta supporters you start high fiving each other.
So you didn't mind going to the games by yourself?
I used to do that all the time, after my divorce I was quite lonely. I didn't mind, I just wanted to watch my team play football.
It is a lot different these days since the Badgers Eels Army has come around I can tell you.
2005 season for Parramatta, they should have made the Grand Final?
I was at the Grand Final Qualifier, we lost 29-0 to the Cowboys. We were Minor Premiers, had Piggy Riddell kicking goals, Daniel Wagon was playing for us, obviously Hindmarsh, Cayless. It was heartbreaking stuff. Dare I say it and I hate using this term, but we choked. It was 18-0 at half time, I was there with my cousin Kim, the Cowboys they finished fourth that year too, I think we have a curse against teams who ran fourth. Everyone was expecting us to just waltz into the Grand Final and so was I. There were Cowboys supporters before the game saying we got this far, happy with the year, not expecting to win the game. It was a surreal feeling, Glenn Morrison who played for the Cowboys the previous year, it was like he couldn't believe what had just happened.
I remember the Security Guard came up to me, it was 20 minutes after the game had finished and my cousin said do you want to go? I said nope. Lebanese guard, big fella said, "C'mon mate, you got to go" and I said "yea, what you going to do? Chop my head off!?" He said, C'mon man in a nice tone, so finally we got up and we left and it was the hardest thing ever and I was holding back tears and driving home and a few tears came out. My cousin said look, it is only a game and I replied : "Shut Up!, it is not just a game, it is our religion". So got back to Mums place and had a few beers and finally snapped out of it, it felt like the hardest thing ever. 29-0, not even a field goal, nothing. After 2001, some four years later, that was very hard to take.
How has Facebook affected you?
Facebook took off around 2007 I believe, that is when it came out, I only got on it around 2011 or 2012. I was just on my own Facebook, it was all Parramatta stuff, and just being wild, pictures on the piss, I would swear on there, wouldn't matter.
2014 came along and I was asked to be admin in an Eels group called 'The Eels'. It was run by Dante Barcelona. He is from the Philippines and a passionate Eels supporter but, we just didn't see eye to eye, clash heads. I made friends with someone from that group and we were also in another group called 'The Eel Deal - This is Eels Territory'. Things didn't work out there. This was the group where I first started giving away prizes. I gave away things like a signed Eels cap. Not many people know this but I have the privilege of working with DR Steven McNamara, who was once the Eels Doctor, he has been with Parra since 1995 and only retired last year. Everything I wanted signed he would get it for me, I used to keep them for myself and then I thought why don't I just give it away. Like I said the person running the group and myself just clashed heads, went our separate ways and a couple of people were telling me, Badger, why don't you start your own group? I was thinking, should I or shouldn't I? I had a couple of ideas about how to run my group but I was down in the dumps from the previous group not working out.
One day Shane Pearce who is from the shop that makes the Footy Shoes said to me, "Make your own page, I will back you". I thought about it for a couple of minutes and thought, stuff it, I will do it. So I added about 100 of my Facebook friends, put my phone on charge, went down stairs and had a couple of beers, it was my day off. I came back up about two hours later and thought, you know what, what have I done with this Eels group, it was called Badger's Eels Army, they are going to think I am a wanker. I thought they would be saying things like "who is Badger?, he has never played for Parramatta." To my surprise there were 63 people wanting to join. I had some signed stuff to give away and thought, you know what, let's just go for it. Within the space of a month we had more members than the group I was previously in and it kept growing because I had so much signed stuff that I wanted to give away.
I was doing the videos, I like to be flamboyant, I have a sense of humour, I love music. I wanted to do something different that no one else has done. The whole gimmick about the group being called an Army and calling me General Badger, I never called myself that, some joker kept on saying that, and one night after I had had a few beers I signed out of the video and said "Have a great night, signing out, General Badger". I thought why did I say that for? The next morning people would say hi General Badger, it started to snowball. I don't need people to call me that, it is just a bit of fun. My name is Tony but I preferred to be called Badger but because of the gimmick of the group, it's working.
For a while there I was working with the awesome Troy Worner who has his own page called Parra Eels Army, he is a legend that guy. Seriously check his cave out. He was in my group, he was my First Officer. When we were working together I thought because of his cave, let's make that HQ and make him First Officer. It was working for a while and then he had a couple of ideas and I had a couple of ideas. He actually got me to change the name to Parra Eels Army and Peter Wynn was like "No don't change the name. Leave it as the Badger's Eels Army, you are a character. You're not Parra Jesus or Laurie Nicholes, you are Badger, the General Badger". Keep it Going said Peter Wynn.
So for six weeks I wasn't happy because things weren't working, so at the end of the day we decided to go our own ways. He has gone above and beyond now, he has over 5,500, maybe 6,000 members on his page. Good luck to him.
I wanted to keep my little fun gimmick going, so we have done that. We have had a couple of little hiccups along the way. Now we are pushing around 3,400 members and I have a lot of friends since this, Eric Grothe, David Liddiard, Mick Delroy, Michael Moseley and obviously Peter 'Wally' Wynn. They are right behind me and love what I am doing. I just want to keep this off the wall group and the passion that I have and sharing that so people can have something different, and I like to entertain people too.
I am lucky and blessed that I live at the pub, The Carlisle Castle, we started the Badge Draws at Peter Wynn's Score in Parramatta and we are able to film them here downstairs and everyone gets a pat on the back. Peter Wynn gets promoted, my pub gets promoted, at the end of the day there is a Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner every week, that is our catch cry.
In your own words, what does it mean to you to have this group, Badger's Eels Army?
It has changed my life, like I said to you earlier I used to go to games by myself. I don't do that anymore. I get people wanting to buy me beers, hang out, get photos. I have made so many friends, I am not lonely anymore. Believe it or not I have actually been asked to sign a few things.
It is great, you get a bit lonely there and depressed at times. I don't know if many people know this but I actually have a condition called Bipolar Disorder. It is quite common, a lot of people have it. I am right, I look after myself, take my medication, I am lucky enough to work at a hospital. This group has taken away a lot of loneliness and depression and everything else.
This group is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. As a result of it I have made friends with Eric Grothe, my idol, and we are really good friends now, we hang out a lot.
Why do you want to do Winner Winner Chicken Dinner Giveaways every week?
I have connections and I want to share them, I want to make as many Parra fans as happy as possible.
We touched on this earlier, back in the 80's, how would you contact your idol, well you sent in fan mail, or whatever and once in a while you might get something signed, that would be awesome. Here we are in the 21st century, technology, Facebook. I have visualised a way to connect people, and I am not only talking about in Australia, I have been to Scotland, I have created fans over there, and I have got fans to be excited about Parramatta. Like I said, I don't want a big shrine to show off what I have, and kudos to those that do that. At the moment I am building up to something massive, I want people to understand they can come and be part of the army, bring people together.
My mate Jeff Harding, The Hit Man, former boxing legend, he introduced me to Peter Wynn because I was going in there buying prizes and I wasn't getting discounts. He then looked at one of my videos and said, you know what, I want to help you. He said you come here to do videos, I want to be a part of it.
Peter Wynn pulled me aside one day and showed me this hidden hole in the wall and we walk inside and he goes righto Badger, what have you got? He could tell I was nervous, he said "Stop being nervous, you are like me, you have two arms, two legs, a Parramatta heart, now talk to me". I said here is my phone, here is a video, I will show you, I want to give people a chance to win stuff all the time. I asked him, will you help me out with discounts and he said "Yes I will, I will do more than that". See people get 20% off when they mention they are in Badger's Eels Army, I don't get 20% off, I get a lot more than that. I get looked after. Most of the time it is just because I have a little bit of money spare. I don't mind spending a bit of money on the group, it has got to the stage where it is this successful.
I am really interested in getting the club on board, I don't know how that will go, I am not very business savvy, Peter Wynn said you keep on fighting, there is going to be a time when it is easy for you, and now David Liddiard has come on board, he really wants to help me.
What are your highlights of running the Badger's Eels Army?
Obviously meeting Eric Grothe and becoming friends with him.
Here is one of the things that gets me, I walk into Peter Wynn's Score and they all go, look the Generals here or the Badgers here. They will sing out to the back of the shop, Oi, Wally, the Badgers here. It is all good fun.
I love to entertain people, I am actually a drummer, if I wanted to be famous, without putting too many tickets on myself, I could get behind a drum set, which I am about to do again this year. I can just drum to anything, I was born to drum. I was also born to love Parramatta.
What I have got out of it is I have made so many people happy and here's the thing. People say to me Badge, I can't believe I have won, I never win anything. I would bet on a one horse race and it would die before the finish line. For me, the fact that I have made someone happy it makes my day.
We were never rich, like I said, my Mum and Dad broke up when I was ten years old, that was hard to take for a while, but shit happens and you move on.
I just wanted to share, I always wanted to be someone who just gives out. I believe in karma, I give out it comes back.
I have made so many friends, I have met some amazing people. I go to a game now I go with 20 people, we hang out. I have met people like you who donate stuff for my group.
On a personal note, it has been a long time since I have paid for a beer at a game. People will come up to me, General and want their photo. Me signing caps and stuff, at first I would say, are you serious?
People from the Badger's Eels Army have had a couple of parties together, end of year party, Christmas party. They come all of the way to Newtown just because they want to meet me.
Who are some of the guys from your group who have become personal friends with?
There is like Damian Gow, there is Troy Parra Howell Eels, there is Troy Wyburn, I mean there are so many.
There is Paul and Nicole and they have come all of the way here to meet me. There was Lea Crockett in the early days.
There was Kathy Pearson, unfortunately we didn't work out, we had a bit of an incident lately and she has gone her way and I have gone mine.
There are so many people who have come along and it has blown me away.
Obviously there are my Admin. There's Brian Davis, there is Mark Britton, there is Trey Eams, obviously my cousin, she is part of the team.
Ellisa Fajloun, she is an amazing chick and I love this girl so much, she is my First Officer now. I bumped into her literally one day at Peter Wynn's. She was getting something and looking at me and knew I was the General but wasn't sure about it and then I thought I recognised and it was weird. When I got home she messaged me and asked were you at Peter Wynn's today? I said yes and she said I think I saw you. She was so shy. We have become such good friends out of it, it is amazing. My birthday last year, she absolutely spoiled me, got me an Eels watch, after shave, shorts, tooth brushes, you name it, she tucked it all in there.
What about some of your experiences you have had when giving away prizes?
Alright, one in particular is Brian Davis, who is now an Admin. Wally Wynn and I did a Badge Draw, and I asked him what should we give away this week? and he said how about this Stats book, it has every statistic since 1908 to 2012, every try, every team member. Well the guy who won it funnily enough is a guy who is fanatical about stats. Now he was having a really bad day. He was working somewhere away, he missed his flight, finally got his connection, jumped in his car, he ran out of petrol, filled it up with petrol, he was then ten minutes from home and got a flat tyre, changed his tyre and finally got home, he decided to check out the badge draw and he had won. He inboxed me and said, I can't believe this, it has made my day.
Tina Williams has won four times. She has won an Eels watch, an Eels jersey, Eels Scongo amongst other things. She had previously never won a thing in her life. I have actually met Tina, I went up and stayed at her place and she is doing it tough, she is not rich. For me to make her happy, I mean every time I hear of someone winning and they had never won anything before, I have touched a lot of people.
The amount of times people have in-boxed me, crying with happy tears, it has happened a few times, well a lot of times.
It doesn't just happen, giving away prizes, you need to meet up with Peter Wynn, shoot a video, post the item, it is a bit of work for you?
The hard part is getting all of the names together. The group has been going for almost two and a half years. For about 18 months, or more I was literally writing down the names every week. Now I have them there is a folder system names A to Z. We are going to go to a new system this year, using a number generator (Which has already commenced since the time of this interview). What will happen is, every time somebody comments, we are going to give you a number. We will still do the video, still entertain them, I will still do my show off self. Basically it will not be rigged, you will see me switch the switch, I will say, righto, the entries are closed at whatever time and if your assigned number comes up, it is Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner. We will see how that goes. People like the old fashioned way where they can see their names on the pool table. It is becoming impractical, the last Badge Draw we did was a massive record, there were 320 entries and before that we had 203 or something. Every week it is just going off more and more.
What are the top five things you have given away?
Heritage jerseys signed by the players from the 80's, that has happened a couple of times. Obviously every time Eric Grothe gets on board, that goes off. There has been a few things, I had a jersey signed by the 2013 squad, I had it in a frame and Wade Sim won that, that was a record for ages, it was like 163 entries., it took a long time to break that record.
It is just the excitement I get from it. After I film it at Peter Wynn's I come back to the pub and I make another video and I know they are all watching from their computers, or their phones. I will have a beer, tag everyone and work out what I am going to say and say it. I will go to the toilet and come back and the phone is going off, 30 or 40 or 50 comments in that short time. The first night it will get up to over 100 comments usually. I like to run it for 5 days, just so it gives them all a chance. Starts on a Thursday and ends on a Monday. It breaks my heart when I hear of people realising it is over. The person may have commented ten minutes later and I have to say sorry, I can't let you in there because it is over. It is excitement plus and the pub loves it too, they are all behind me. Every Monday, I pretty much take over the pool room. There are a lot of people who want to come and watch the show, not even footy fans, they are just interested in what we do here.
Let's give the pub a plug?
The Carlisle Castle in Newtown. The people are fantastic, Jake Trindall was here and he just actually left recently. We have just got a new Licencee taking over, but we have all of the girls downstairs, Stephanie, there is Sally, I call her Mustang. All the gang, they all know what I am up to.
We just had a Christmas party in November. I paid $300 for the food, I got $500 worth of food. It was crazy, Steve the chef was trained by Gordon Ramsey in England, but he loves me. See the thing is, a lot of people who work downstairs are not into football, but because they love me and what I am doing they are now Parra supporters.
Why do you have a no swearing policy in your group?
At first it wasn't like that, probably about six or so months into it, we had some crazy nights like Tell us your best joke and win a poster, funny Meme's. Then Michael Moseley came on board and he wanted to take us to a place where we had never been. He said, Do you know what? You need to cut the swearing out. Peter Wynn was just coming on to the scene then as well. What I wanted to do was to stand out from other groups There are a lot of groups where there is swearing, there is sledging. I didn't want to put us in the same category as them. I wanted to stand out, because we have kids on board, we have players, past and present, we have the elderly, you know. We don't need that sort of stuff and I thought this will stand out and it is working.
A lot of people respect that. They will say you know what Badge, you might get drunk and post videos but we sit back and we laugh because you don't swear, you are funny, kids watch it. There are people who have kids that are 12 years old that are in the group. I have had a couple of 12, 13, 14 year olds who have won prizes. I have sent prizes to New Zealand before. I have sent prizes to Scotland, I have sent prizes to South Africa, just from people who are on the internet who love Parramatta.
Tell us about what got you to Scotland?
Rab Glen from Scotland who has an Aunty in the group and she said to him, you have got to get into this Badger's Eels Army. As a result we became friends and I went over there and did a Badge Draw in Scotland last year, it was awesome.
The doctor was telling me you need to get away for a while, just go for a trip. I had become friends with Rab Glen through my group and I actually thought he was a Parra fan living in Sydney and one night I was a bit down and told him that I needed to get away and he said, you ever want to come to Scotland you can stay at my place and I will look after you. I had a few beers at the bar and I said that is it, I am going to Scotland.
Rab was telling all of his mates about his mate from Badger's Eels Army.
I had been there for five days he said my wife is away, I have to go and do something, here are the keys, make yourself at home and go down to the Boozer and have fun. All of his mates knew about me but I hadn't met them yet and one day I went to the Boozer and this mad Scot yelled out, you General Badger, I know you, O I O I he says. I went drinking with this guy. I did the Crocodile Dundee thing saying I am General Badger from Australia.
To cut a long story short I met a lot of friends in a short time and I reckon I converted at least 20 Scotsmen into Parra supporters. Everywhere I went, I wore my colours.
Here is this myth which I broke, people think Scottish are tight asses, bullshit. I hardly had to put my hand in my pocket, every time I did they would smack my hand and say I ain't letting you pay.
I went to England for a week after Scotland. I went to Scotland with £2,000 and I left with £1,400. They looked after me and on Christmas we video chat.
None of this would have happened without my group. Personally 2017 was an amazing year.
So what is in it for you?
I am connecting Eels fans with the connection that I have. I mean you can't go to another group and have the possibility to win signed stuff every week. I make connections, like I said Dr McNamara, he kicked things off in the early days, he said to me, anything you want signed Badge, cap, jersey, footy, let me know.
I can get stuff signed at a dime a dozen but thought why not share something with people who may be doing it tough who are Parra fans. Like I said, I just wanted to make friends ad go to games. I didn't know how long this thing would last. I didn't think it would last this long. It has blown me away, the fact that we have 1,000 troops has blown me away, then when we hit 2,000 I thought, this is too good to be true.
On August 17th this year we are four years old. I will never forget that date, and it was 11 O'clock I started it and look here we are.
I have met people like you and Chris David's from Scongo who give away prizes and Peter Wynn obviously, he is promoting me. Louis Murray from What is Your Team has agreed to come on board and start donating prizes. I met him when Parramatta beat the Broncos 52 points to 4 last year in Brisbane and I stayed at Mark Britton's place. Louis happened to recognise me in the pub and he came up to me and said Badge, I love what you are doing, any time I can help, I would love to donate. I have rang him since then and we have something coming up soon.
How do your Administrators help you?
I have my little cousin, Courtney Borg, she is my best mate ever, that is personal, she saved my life a long time ago, got me out of some depression. She is Parramatta and her grandfather is also Parramatta. She was my first admin.
Alliysa Fajloun is my First Office now, she is an amazing supporter and fan.
We have Mark Britton and Brian Davis who are Eels tragics, literally.
we have Trey Eams who has just come along, he is just 15 years old, he is a computer whiz kid, he is going to help us out on a lot of things.
They're all passionate about Parramatta, like myself. We have a lot of plans to go a long way with this group. We want to entertain and get creative, do things like skits, a bit of comedy here and there. We are going to do a weekly Badge draw but every now and then we are going to do random stuff.
I believe I have finally found my team where we can work together. Unfortunately Mark Britton has just lost his brother on New Year's Eve.
Courtney, I have watched her grow up, she is 19 years old now, she is quite creative and Trey Eams who is just an amazing kid who I met on the streets on my morning tea break, it was the day after a win, I had my Parra stuff on, he had his Parra stuff on I introduced him to the group and here we are.
Theo and Ben who help with the videos and before that there was Adam Marshall and Bob Duncan, those guys were my main two. Ben Thomas was there from day one, he was my first ever camera man. He does the sound and the Cliff Richards 'Congratulations', that is the stuff he came up with and people love it.
I can see a day for us when we can get really professional, do some voice over's and skits.
Has there been any controversy in your group?
There has. Unfortunately Troy and I couldn't work together. He just went his way and I went mine, he saw a vision and went that way. He is very shy until I came along into his life. He got confident after that and wanted to do things his way. Look he is a top guy and a massive Parra fan but it just wasn't to be. So he went and started his thing and he is kicking goals. I wish him all the best. Someone described it as two egos. I don't like to think as myself like that, as a character or whatever but we were like two deer's clashing heads.
Just recently Kathy and I had a bit of a falling out with things, we weren't agreeing, she made some decisions that I didn't agree with. I put her in her place and said a couple of things, she didn't like it, so she left.
I have the best interests of this group at hand, I don't want any negativity, or any fighting or bullying. A couple of times Kathy caught people swearing on my page and she put them on show. I told her, you don't do that, you speak to them privately, it is a lot better that way because they don't feel embarrassed.
It is a learning process and I am not giving up on this, I have come too far. I want to go all the way.
Tell us about the time you lead the Eels Army on a march to Parramatta Stadium?
I have the privileged to be the first person to ever lead an Eels march into Parramatta Stadium. That is why Peter Wynn was upset, he got the paper and said, why isn't your name mentioned in the paper? You are the one leading the march.
Troy actually got the rights for that march to happen.
I had the drum there, it was an amazing experience. There was a police escort, there were camera people, there were people from the Parramatta Board taking photos. I am a drummer and I got into my element. We started it at Prince Alfred Park, there was about 60 or 70 people, by the time we got to the Ray Price Statue at Parramatta Stadium there was about 120 or 130 people and the crowd was going bezerk, chanting Parra!!! Parra!!! The noise was full on, and we were stopping traffic.
Which Parramatta players have you met through your group?
When I was at the trial game with Jay Huxley and Troy Worner, Danny Wicks was there, he was playing Reserve Grade, as we were coming along Danny looked at me and said, G 'day General, How are you? I nearly shat myself. He said mate, you're doing a great job. Semi Radradra knows who I am believe it or not because we turned up to Peter Wynn's one day and we filmed a badge draw for something else and Semi walks in. Peter Wynn was like a little kid telling Semi, you have got to meet the General. Semi really liked what I am doing, he asked what is going on with the group, I showed him the videos and he said that is great. We had a fan day the next year, and he yells out, Oi General, how are you? I remember you Badger.
At one Fan Day the security guard was adamant that only one item could be signed and I had two jerseys to giveaway to my people. Semi Said to the guard, What? Bullshit I will sign both for the Badger. He knows who I am and I get a kick out of that.
Eric Grothe said, "Semi is the only player who reminds me, of me".
Brett Kenny was in Peter Wynn's shop and I walked in to do a video and Peter goes, "Look there he is now, there is the General" and Brett Kenny goes what? Wally said, what do you reckon Badge? Do you want to give away a number 6 jersey, and we did it. I was showing Brett Kenny the videos we do on the page and he said to Rob, start filming and Wally goes, right we have someone special here today, we have The General, The Badger and we did the giveaway for the Brett Kenny jersey.
On Easter Monday we had the Legends Day where we saw all of the Legends such as Ray Price, Peter Sterling and the rest of them, so I had a few grogs and I was with Brian Davis, my Admin and I saw Peter Wynn and he is talking to Peter Sterling so I walked up and tapped Wally on the back and he goes, oh Here he is now, here is the General and Peter Sterling says, I have heard about you and I replied, I have heard about you too. He laughed and goes, I like this bloke.
Ray Price was there and we were watching the game and they packed for a scrum. He asked me, what is this? I said it's a scrum, he goes that's not a scrum, it is a group hug.
Where can you see the Badger's Eels Army going in the future?
My main ambition is to one day get the Parramatta club on board, where we could do draws maybe at Peter Wynn's and we could draw them sometimes at the club with players present.
I mentioned earlier that I am paying for the jerseys, I am getting them cheap, dirt cheap, but it is something I want to invest in, I believe it is something that has a future.
We can create a group where you know every week people will win stuff, where players are on board. If we can attract players to their club, it might be a Monday or Tuesday night, I obviously want to get their cash registers ticking over, a bit of sponsorship, access to the players. I have connections now, but I could go a lot further.
When I started this group, it was August 2015 and we were approaching the off season and I just wanted to get us through the off season and we did that with flying colours, we went above and beyond.
I just want people to know that when they are in this group, they can meet players, get a photo with players, I can organise that for them.
What is the main thing that your group is about?
The main thing is about Parramatta. Talking all things Parramatta, the history, the stories, the photos, telling us why you love Parramatta.
This year there has been some negativity about the return of Jarryd Hayne, at the end of the day, he is wearing the Blue and Gold, love him or hate him, you have to support him for wearing the Blue and Gold. Now I can't stand that Kieran Foran, never liked him. I could never like him because he broke our hearts a few times playing for Manly, but he came to Parra so I had to support him. When he left, he had some problems or whatever, I was happy, he was out of our team.
Who are Badger's Eels Armies main Sponsors?
Daniel Pain from Dan's NRL Collectables, got the plug for interviewing him ;)
Peter Wynn, everyone knows Peter Wynn.
Chris Davis from Scongo, whack it on your scone and go.
Shane Pearse from Footy Feet, unfortunately his business isn't going so well now but he gave us five lots of five shoes to give away for nothing. I still have an original pair. People were so happy, we were doing multiple prizes. There might be five shoes available or five scongo's or like you from Dan's NRL have given away five sets of footy cards, so you have five winners in one draw. They love that, they lap it up. It is just about sharing the love of Parramatta.
Tell us about your other activities?
I am a drummer, coming out of retirement. The reason is it has been since 2015 since I last played in a band, that was called Night Attack, it was an Angels Tribute show. It wasn't working, there was a couple of other Angels bands out there. I have hardly touched the sticks since starting this Army, haven't had time for that. The last time I touched the sticks believe it or not was with Eric Grothe. I have the passion back and want to do that.
I play cricket every Saturday for the Redfern All Blacks, I love my sport.
I am also a bit of a Star Trek fan, original series.
My main hobby at the moment is drinking, having fun and living life. I love my music too.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would just like to thank the people who have supported me through thick and thin but here we are. I have made a lot of friends out of this group.
I just love the group and I have been recognised wherever I go, around Newtown people yell out, General. It blows me away.
Having this whole pub support me downstairs has just been mind blowing.
Creating Parramatta supporters all over the world has been great.