FOR Albury Thunder’s Mike Eden, his three-year involvement with the Group 9 Rugby League premiers has been an “amazing” ride.
And tomorrow he hopes to add another chapter when the club’s senior team chases successive grand final wins — against the Gundagai Tigers at Wagga.
The 1983 Rothmans medallist laughs at the thought that he is the highest ranked “water boy” in bush footy.
And he is confident Thunder will overcome Gundagai to win another premiership.
He said the Thunder “family” had offered support and friendship since he, his wife, Karena, and son, Will, moved to Albury four years ago and he renewed his involvement in the sport.
After agreeing to be a guest speaker at the club, Eden moved to supporting the team from the sideline and he now also serves on the club committee.
“They are an amazing club,” he said.
“The 15s this year have won the premiership and the seniors are such a young squad for the most part, most are only 21 or 22.
“They are good kids and that’s why you do it.
“It’s a good place to be around.”
Eden said Thunder’s premiership win last year had not only improved the team but had also lifted the overall standard of the Group 9 competition.
“We have probably improved but then everyone else has also improved,” he said.
Eden said the enthusiastic support of sponsors and the strong backing of the Albury Council had been imperative in promoting the club and growing the sport.
“Our big advantage is our population base — we have a vibrant commercial city,” he said.
“The council owns Greenfield Park but there are plans in place to do a lot more, including building a grandstand.
“There is now a family atmosphere there.”
Eden said the Thunder club was experiencing “growing pains” with interest in rugby league rising right across the Border.
“It’s a good problem to have,” he said. “We need a competition under Group 9 where people can play on Friday nights and not have to train as seriously.
“And we need a team at a higher level — that’s what we will be aiming for.”