Robert Anderson is a Brisbane-based Warriors fan and long-time member of the club. Throughout 2020, he will share his memories and thoughts on his beloved team for This Warriors Life. Here’s the first edition of Robert’s ‘Warrior-Roo’ blog:
‘So how on earth did you become a Warriors fan?’ If only I had a dollar for every time I was asked this question! After 25 years I thought it was probably time to answer.
My road to following rugby league is as unconventional as my choice of teams, to be honest. It’s definitely not something I was born into and it’s been an amazing and unique journey.
I was born in Chertsey, England to a Scottish father and an Australian mother. At the age of five we moved back to my mother’s hometown of Brisbane, where I’ve lived since. Growing up I was never particularly interested in or good at sports, being more artistically minded. My younger sister got all the sporting ability in the family, pretty much excelling at every sport she tried her hand at!
My introduction to rugby league came in 1993, two years before the Warriors made their debut. I had an American friend who was sporty and had encouraged me to play baseball a year before. He started collecting rugby league cards, which I initially had no interest in…but when you’re 12 years old you usually end up doing what your mates do! He decided to support the Bulldogs; I went with the Broncos mainly due to the local factor and because they were pretty much the only team I had heard of.
In a time that salary cap forgot the Broncos were absolutely stacked and featured 75 percent of the Queensland State of Origin team, had won their first premiership the previous season and went on to win again in 1993. Not a hard team to follow to be fair! So there you go – how many of you were introduced to Rugby League by an American of all people?!
It was around this time that they announced that four new teams would be added for the 1995 season: North Queensland Cowboys, South Queensland Crushers, Western Reds and the Auckland Warriors. At the time the only one of those teams that I was excited about was the Crushers as I would have another Brisbane-based team to follow.
I can vividly remember Round 1, 1995. My Broncos were up against this new mob from across the ditch. It was a senses overload from the outset with the Warriors emerging from the tunnel literally in a blaze of glory to the sound of Polynesian drumming and Maori hakas in a flash of blue, white, red and green. I’ll never forget it – the intimidation factor was huge. They also had some mean-looking players, none more so than cult hero Hitro Okesene with his flowing mullet charging into the defence!
It was one of toughest games I remember watching and it took all of ‘Alfie’ Langer’s brilliance to get the Broncos home that night. Sitting there in my living room, watching the game with my Dad the overwhelming feeling was relief. The Broncos had survived the intensity of that night…but a seed had been sown.
I continued to follow the Warriors’ maiden voyage and became captivated by one thing in particular – that they were different. The team was an interesting mix of Kiwi and Polynesian talent, Australian veterans and English internationals. They played with flair and excitement and looked great doing it in what is my favorite rugby league jersey of all time, the iconic DB Bitter strip. Guys like Tea Ropati, Sean Hoppe and Tony Tatupu were standouts for me.
The try I remember most was from Frano Botica against South Sydney from a dazzling kick return. Graeme Hughes’ commentary made it even more epic: “Botica will score, seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeensationa
So now I had two teams (with the Crushers a distant third, lol), but the Warriors would ultimately dethrone the Broncos as the team closest to my heart. The fact that they were the only non-Australian team in the competition also carried an unusual appeal – I just loved that they were different. It has absolutely zero to do with patriotism and has everything to do with following a team that I genuinely liked, and would grow to love over the ensuing years.
I hope to use this platform to share some of my experiences and stories that have come out of supporting the Warriors over the past 25 seasons. Hopefully it will provide a unique and lighthearted perspective on supporting the most enigmatic team there has ever been!