Playing the Pokies
The Penrith Panthers were established in 1967 and are the closest thing that Sydney has to an egalitarian club. Its supporters are a mix of Blue Mountain yuppies and westies sporting mullets and flannies. The region has something for everyone: pokies, mountains, wilderness, art galleries, knackeries, air force bases, sewage works, farms, yuppies and yobbos. Its bush feel, combined with the retention of much of its colonial history gives it a strong sense of Australiana.
Perhaps it is due to these distinguishing characteristics that gives the Panthers, or Panfers as they are known in the local area, arguably the strongest community support of all Sydney NRL clubs. Although Penrith is technically part of Sydney, it is a connection in name only. It is a separate world in terms of culture and the community support for the Panthers is indicative of that.
One of their early jersey designs was brown, which had them politely referred to as the Chocolate Soldiers. It was a name championed by radio commentator Frank Hyde who wrote in the Penrith Club journal "these chocolate soldiers from out west - they don't melt!" Despite being well liked, chants like "bulldogs clap clap clap" made "chocolate soldiers clap clap clap" seem a little awkward. After considering more chant friendly name like Freddo Frogs or Rum and Raisons, the club went on the hunt for another name.
One story goes that it settled on Pathers as a result of the urban myth of Panthers that are said to inhabit the region. According to the myth, during World War 2, panthers were imported to inspire American soldiers stationed in Sydney. When the soldiers were leaving, they were ordered to kill the animals but unable to do so, they took them out bush and set them free. A breeding colony formed and over the generations, the big cats have been sighted hunting wallabies or attacking bushwalkers.
A more plausible explanation was that the club just wanted a name with alliteration, so needed a moniker beginning with p. Parrots, pokies, piss-heads, publicans, pubescent, pioneers, piss-weaks, potters, and pansies may have all been considered for their potential to represent the region, but in the end, none could do it as effectively as a big black cat that, in all probability, didn't exist.
Roy Morgan Research
2004 - When compared to other NRL supporters
2006 - When compared to other NRL supporters
|Was this more interesting than a news update of players in a recovery session standing around in the ocean looking cold or of a team 'training without incident'?|