After successfully recovering from a serious health scare, the original Victor the Viking – Tony Wood, will return to GIO Stadium Canberra on Sunday to help his beloved Raiders recover from their three match losing streak.
Wood has spent the last two months in hospital recovering from Conversion Disorder – a form of paralysis that can resemble symptoms of a stroke without a stroke having actually occurred.
Despite visits from Captain Terry Campese and players such as Joel Edwards in his hospital bed or at home, Woods admits he has “struggled” being away from the sidelines and confined to his home or lately, the stands of GIO Stadium Canberra.
Woods can be forgiven for “struggling” and “feeling lost” having been forced away from the sidelines when you consider that he has donned the famous Victor the Viking suit with pride for the past 32 years.
“I’m very much looking forward to being back this Sunday,” Wood said. “Part of my life has been has been missing and I’m looking forward to getting it back.
“It’s been shocking not being on the sidelines, the worst time of my life! After 32 years of doing it, not being on the sidelines was a very abnormal feeling and one that I don’t want to experience again anytime soon.”
In Wood’s absence, the Canberra Cavalry’s Josh Illusion stepped into the Viking suit.
“He did a wonderful job and I’m very grateful for him helping me out,” Wood said. “I owe him a great deal of debt.”
Whilst Campese also praised the work of Illusion, he is thrilled that Wood is returning and is aiming to secure the two points over the North Queensland Cowboys to mark the occasion.
“It’s not good to see anyone in that situation but it’s especially tough seeing someone like Tony who’s a really positive and passionate guy,” Campese said after visiting Wood in hospital earlier this month.
“He’s been around since day dot for the club and he definitely enjoys his job and he always brings a smile to the kid’s faces at games.
“He’s always cheerful whether we’re winning by 50 or losing by 50. He’s one of the icons of the club and it was sad to see him doing it tough in the hospital. I can’t wait to see him back at GIO Stadium Canberra on Sunday and hopefully we can get a win for him.”
As far as Wood’s health concerns, the man inside the suit assures all Raiders members and supporters that he will be fighting fit on Sunday and implores the Canberra public to join him at GIO Stadium Canberra.
“My health couldn’t be better,” Wood said. “It’s the best I’ve felt in years. I feel like a brand new Tony, but with the same love I’ve always had for the Raiders.
“We’ve had a couple of down games but the talent and enthusiasm is there. I really hope that Canberra gets behind the team on Sunday at home.
"The players deserve it, Ricky deserves it and the clubs marketing, media and admin staff deserve it. See you all there!”