It’s a bit of a no-brainer to state that it’s been another far from stellar year for the Vodafone Warriors. All the hope in the world has not been converted into results, and yet again the loyal fanbase is left tearing their collective hair out. “Goddamnit! This year was supposed to be our year (again)!”.
The weekend’s loss against Newcastle was so dire that it got me wondering how 2017 could compare with other disastrous years. Trust me, there’s been a stack of ‘em – so much dross in fact, that it became impossible to narrow it down to the worst five seasons as originally planned.
So I’ve run with a bottom eight.
It’s hard to rate one disaster higher than the other, but what is easy to quantify is the fact that in 23 seasons, the Warriors have made the finals on just seven occasions. As a comparison, this year the Melbourne Storm will play finals footy for the 17th time in their 20 season long history (and once they only missed out when they had all their points deducted). The Cowboys joined the competition in the same year as the Warriors, and if they make it, this year will be the eighth straight season in the finals.
In chronological order, these are the Bottom Eight seasons for the Warriors:-
After two seasons on the periphery of the finals series – and with their trademark inconsistency already apparent – the Warriors jumped ship, with what was viewed in some quarters as indecent haste, from the ARL and moved to Superleague. They flopped, winning only seven games all season (five of them at home). They managed to lose to the Western Reds(!), the Adelaide Rams(!) and the Hunter Valley Mariners(!). In the process they played some extremely ordinary football and finished 7th out of 10. Players who made their debut that year that you’ve probably never heard of include Meti Noovao and David Bailey.
The following year the competition proper was reinstated, and surely the Warriors couldn’t go any worse. But you know the drill. Again, they won only two games away from home, winning just nine games from 24. They finished 15th in a 20 team competition, and managed to lose to four of the five teams that finished below them. Players who made their debut that year that you’ve probably never heard of include Zane Clarke and Frank Watene.
A disaster of a year. A club buyout by Eric Watson that didn’t include player contracts meant that a shitfight ensued from players owed money. Only 10 contracts were renewed after the season, in which the Warriors won just eight games from 24 – again only two away from home. A second last placing was the best they could do. Players who made their debut that year that you’ve probably never heard of include Jonathan Smith and David Mulhall.
Generally referred to as the Warriors worst year, which really is some claim. You know how it works – make some nice purchases in the off season, claim it’s your year and boom – you win only six games from 24. And in obligatory fashion, only two away from home. The good news was that they avoided the wooden spoon, the bad news was that it was only as a result of a superior points differential to Souths. They lost their last six games straight, and conceded an embarrassing 132 points in their last three. Players who made their debut that year that you’ve probably never heard of include Danny Sullivan, Herewini Rangi and Kane Ferris.
Now before you ask, yes – they did only win two games away from home in 2009 as it happens. After a 2-0 start to the season, they won one game from eight and slid down the table to settle in 14th position at the seasons end. They finished the season in style – after drawing 32-32 with Melbourne they managed to get pantsed 30-0 in their final game. Players who made their debut that year that you’ve probably never heard of include Daniel O’Regan and Jesse Royal.
Ahhhh, the Bluey era. What a complete disaster. A year after making the Grand Final the Warriors reversed the trend and again finished 14th out 16 teams. Away wins? Go on – have a guess. It was actually three, but they lost their last eight and crapped out. Sadly, you will recognise all the players by now – and that makes it even worse.
Remember 2012 when they lost their last eight on the trot? History does indeed repeat. This is the season best remembered for the Warriors making the Top Four three quarters of the way through the season, Shaun Johnson breaking his ankle, and the Warriors being unable to cope without him. They plummeted down the table like a lead weight, and finished 13th on the ladder. Truly awful.
The much vaunted all-Kiwi spine had already had an average season under its belt, and the addition of Kieran Foran was going to make this the season of all seasons. But the NRL doesn’t quite work that way, and an underperforming forward pack failed to set the platform in 2017. Even on the rare occasions when it did, the backs handling was woeful, they looked one dimensional and lacked vision. To make this one of the most galling seasons in their history, the Warriors looked disinterested, firmly placing their cues in the rack with seven weeks to go.
So much to choose from. Of course there have been several other woeful efforts in the past, but I can only pick eight. Will season 2018 prove any different? Probably not – but the Warriors fans have a right to demand commitment from their team. A commitment that has been sadly lacking in the latter part of this year’s campaign.
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