As a former club captain and current Raiders ambassador, Alan Tongue has been through the highs and lows as a player and now as a supporter. With his beloved club under siege following two heavy losses in consecutive weeks, Tongue has called on the club’s supporter base to turn up in force to GIO Stadium Canberra this Sunday to assist in turning the side’s fortunes around.
After back-to-back defeats away from home, Tongue predicts that the Raiders will rectify their form this Sunday against the Penrith Panthers, with the assistance of a parochial Canberra crowd behind them.
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks to be a Raiders fan but as I learnt from my playing days it does turn around with plenty of hard work, and as a player this is when you need the support of your fans,” Tongue said.
“There were a couple of times that I remember during my career where we suffered similarly heavy defeats and the fans were disappointed and all you want to do is get out there and make amends for it and I know that today’s side is no different.
“You always go out and try your best but unfortunately you can lose a bit of confidence from time to time and I think that’s what’s happening at the moment; there’s certainly no lack of hard work on the training paddock.
“As a player your performances are everything and I know how much the boys would be hurting. You’re not only playing for yourself, your team mates and your family, you’re playing for your supporters and the proud history of the club.
“The players want to turn it around just as much as the fans and they know it’s going to take a lot of hard work but the help of the supporters can go a long way to speeding this up.
“When you’re out of form and down on confidence, this is when you really wish that the fans will come out and support you. To have the fans come out in numbers and support the boys this Sunday will help get them back on the right track.”
To point out just how much a vocal home crowd can assist the Green Machine, Tongue highlighted the last home match against the Storm when the roars of the lime green faithful willed Paul Vaughan across the try line in the 78th minute.
“When the side last played at home against Melbourne the boys spoke about how good the atmosphere was and I remember Jarrod Croker saying that it was the best support from fans that he can remember at home,” Tongue said.
“That can really lift you as a footy team and that showed towards the end of the game when the crowd got louder and really brought the guys home.”
Penrith ran out winners in Round 5 earlier this year on the back of a passionate brigade of Panthers supporters at the foot of the mountain.
“We’ll need that same support [as the Melbourne game] because the Panthers have hit some form. Their new signings have gelled really quickly and they will be a big test for the Raiders particularly with a few of their players pushing for Origin spots.
“Hopefully in better conditions and the guys wanting to be at home in front of their fans to make up for a couple of disappointing losses, we’ll be able to turn things around.”
Win, lose or draw though Tongue’s veins will remain flowing with lime green blood and his optimism remains positive for the rest of the season.
“That’s what footy is; it’s a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows and you need everyone to stick together and stay strong and that’s players, coaches, administration staff, members and supporters.
“I’ll be there at GIO Stadium Canberra on Sunday and I’m looking forward to it. I know the boys will need my support and I’ll be out there cheering my lungs out for them.”