There’s no doubt about who Tumut resident Larry Stitt will be cheering for in Sunday’s NRL grand final.
He can remember the day he became a South Sydney supporter, even if it was 68 years ago.
“it was 1953 I was at school at St Joeys (St Joseph’s in Sydney) and Souths players, including Clive Churchill came to visit Brother Henry (coach of the rugby team he played in),” he recalled.
He had his photo taken with the Souths players and has been red and green ever since.
He was there to enjoy Souths’ glory area, attending Rabbitohs grand finals in 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1971.
These are all great memories, except 1969 when Balmain scored a stunning upset win.
“That was the biggest drop in the heart; standing there on the hill next to my mate who followed Balmain,” he said.
Unfortunately some lean years followed, due mainly to an exodus of players to other club.
“Souths would have surpassed St George’s run if they had stayed,” he said.
As bad as this was, it had nothing on when Souths were cut from the NRL in 1999.
The following Australia Day, then NRL boss David Moffitt was in Tumut, and Mr Stitt didn’t miss the opportunity.
“I got stuck into him (verbally),” he said.
“Ken Green (former league star) had to come and rescue him.”
Mr Stitt shunned the NRL while Souths were on the outer and only followed local football.
But how did he feel when Souths won the 2014 premiership?
“How do you reckon?”
And how does he rate Souths’ chances in the title-decider against Penrith?
“50/50,” he said.
“If they play like they played against Manly; the backs got a lot of credit but the forwards did the best job of the year against Manly.”
He’s not concerned that most tipsters are tipping Penrith to win.
“I’m not worried about anyone’s opinion,” he said.
“Anything can happen in a game of football; it can come down to an inch or a kick. Melbourne could have easily beat Penrith.”
He thinks Souths aren’t feeling as much pressure as Penrith, but knows what a strong opponent the Panthers are.
“They are a young team and they’ve got a good sort of culture, so it’s not going to be easy,” he said.
“There is Nathan Cleary’s kicking game; he is a top class player.”
Fellow Tumut Rabbitohs fan Ivana Colak has only experienced one Souths grand final triumph, but she is hoping for a red and green victory on Sunday.
“It would be a great fairytale win for the Rabbits,” she said.
“Being Reynolds’ and Bennett’s last game for the club and considering how much they’ve given to Souths, I have no doubt they’ll go out with a bang, just as they should.
“It will definitely be a close game but I have a feeling the boys will bring it home. Glory glory.”
Tumut teacher and singer Laura Rampling, whose father Dean played for the Rabbitohs, is keeping everything crossed for a Souths win.
“It means a lot to me, being the daughter of a former player, to see the rabbits succeed,” she said.
“After being kicked out in 1999 it feels like they’re proving they deserve to be in the competition; the oldest, loudest and proudest. Red and green runs in my blood so I’ll be watching on the edge of my seat.”