There are at least two people in Queanbeyan hoping the Raiders win this Friday night’s sudden-death NRL semi-final against the Sydney Roosters with a serendipitous score of 26-20.
It would be just reward for the town with the postcode 2620 that is still the spiritual home of the Raiders and is still smarting from being “robbed” in last year’s grand final loss to the Roosters.
For Queanbeyan’s green-eyed butcher, Peter Lindbeck, the green sausages are also back and already flying out the door faster than a Jack Wighton try under the posts.
“Kids are coming in again with their parents to get the green snags and the first batch went out the door the first morning I mentioned them,” Peter tells Region Media.
He’ll bet his last scotch fillet steak on Seiffert Oval still being the home and the heartland of the Raiders.
“A lot of the blokes who played in the Queanbeyan Blues and Kangaroos teams went on to play for the Raiders in their first season in 1982, so of course, you always feel like they’re your local team,” Peter says.
While preparing the meat for the day ahead, Peter doesn’t mind dining out on his days with the Queanbeyan Whites rugby union team, chasing a young David Furner and Ricky Stuart.
“We had a pretty handy team back then – Ricky, David Furner and David Campese – and then there was this little fat butcher running around about 80 metres behind wherever they were, trying to keep up. I was the backstop,” he laughs.
“But that’s when you really start to support the team and you have that real local feel that’s still there.”
While last year’s effort reinvigorated Queanbeyan’s love for the Raiders, Peter says people are still as connected to the Raiders as they always have been.
“There’s a whole new generation of supporters now, so there are all these young kids who are right on board, and with the new culture out there, everybody wants to support them.
“And all those people who used to be big baggers of Ricky Stuart, all you can hear now are crickets, because he’s done such a great job getting a real family feel there again.”
Peter says the Raiders’ resilience will make a big difference.
“I’m sure every team that’s left in the competition will be more than a little bit scared of the Raiders, who can play the game off the cuff. They’re a big chance and I really think the team can do it this year.
“They deserve it after last year’s debacle and hopefully the refereeing is a little more competent on Friday night,” Peter quips.
It was one year ago this week that Raiders’ fans were lamenting the NRL grand final loss to the Sydney Roosters when referee Ben Cummins controversially changed his mind and ruled a turnover instead of six more tackles with the scores locked 8-all and Canberra’s Jack Wighton in possession. Roosters’ fullback James Tedesco scored during the next set and the rest is history.
However, the NRL has avoided appointing Cummins for any of the Raiders-Roosters games this year. He was also overlooked for games this weekend.
Up the road at the Hotel Queanbeyan, Mathew Griffin also has the pub primed for a Raiders’ redemption on Friday night. The beer taps have again turned green, with a Big Papa VB, a Rapana Reschs and a Wighton Super Crisp.
There are even a few Roosters hanging above the TAB, just to show that a lot hangs on the result.
Matt says he’s expecting a full house, with COVID-19 restrictions allowing a capacity of 160 people spread out in the hotel.
“This Friday is going to be a bit frustrating because we can’t let as many people in as we’d like to, but last year, people were dancing on tables and cheering their team on shoulder-to-shoulder,” he said.
“I reckon the team is looking pretty good to go all the way again and they’ve done amazingly well with the injuries and the fact they’ve had to travel so much this year. I reckon they’ll get the Roosters this week.”
The former Raiders’ ballboy and timekeeper doesn’t care about the final score, but it will be that little bit sweeter if the Raiders win 26-20.