So the Raiders aren’t playing anymore. But most Raiders fans are painfully aware that plenty of ex-Raiders are still going around deep into September. Occasionally we support them. Occasionally we do not. Here’s a quick guide to former Raiders in the finals.
Most Raiders fans don’t need to be reminded about this one. Milford was to be the redeemer, fulfilling the role that Todd Carney’s booze related antics had never allowed him to perform – bringing the glory years back. He showed ample potential at both fullback and in the halves for the Raiders. But under Wayne Bennett’s watch, and outside Ben Hunt’s organisation, Milford has flourished at Brisbane. Watching him succeed still makes us feel like we’re seeing an ex-girlfriend with her better looking, more successful, new boyfriend.
Vidot was centre in the 2008 Raiders NYC team that won the first Toyota Cup in 2008. We personally were never sure about him – he always seemed a little too small for a modern back. But initially he showed promise, leading the Raiders in tries scored in 2010 before falling out of favour in the 2011 season for no one in particular (seriously, look back at that side. I’m scratching my head thinking who took his spot). He went to St George for a couple of years, before landing in Brisbane. He’s been in and out of the side this year, and has missed out so far in the finals. The perfect ‘not quite’ Raiders development story, we guess we’re happy for him.
Another junior from the memorable 2008 side, Waddell was part of long line of mediocre Raiders hookers. Despite being a regular in the first grade side in 2010 and 2011, Waddell never quite improved as much as some of us thought he would. After the Raiders he spent a while playing in the Queensland Cup when one Wayne Bennett brought him to Newcastle. He followed Wayne and Darius to Brisbane, and while he also won’t play any serious time in the next couple of weeks, we’re happy for him regardless.
The other week we were watching a Storm game when the commentators were mentioning how great Hinchcliffe had been in his 170 plus games for the Storm.
We were shocked. We’d always considered Hinchcliffe as an integral part of the long line of mediocre Raiders hookers. Turns out though his impression on us outweighed his appearances. He only played 20 odd games for the Raiders, before Craig Bellamy did what he does, turning him into a critical part of the Storm squad. He’s apparently a top bloke and we couldn’t be happier for the guy.
Speaking of people in the Storm squad, when Bellamy signed Tom Learoyd-Lahrs we assumed he was finally going to achieve what the Raiders never could – turn TLL into the game-breaking ball-running bull that he had occasionally shown in Canberra. So far he hasn’t be able to do that and we are all the sadder for it. Some of the best times we ever had at a football ground involved TLL hurtling towards the opposition line.
You may remember Blake Ferguson from such incidents as drinking on a roof, spitting on people at a music festival and being charged with indecent assault. When he was sacked by the Raiders after the last of those incidents, we thought they’d made the right decision. He spent 2014 on the sidelines when the NRL refused to register him, but then joined the Roosters for the 2015 season.
He’s been (annoyingly) good for the Roosters this year – it’s not every day you can add an Origin quality player for presumably not a lot of cash. Sure he’s done his time for his crimes, but we still consider him one of the rational reasons we irrationally hate the Roosters.
The last in our list of Raiders hookers who never quite proved good enough. McIlwrick, originally from New Zealand, joined the Raiders as a junior in 2008. In 2012 he made his NRL debut to form part of the mediocre Voltron of Raiders hookers with Shaun Berrigan, Glenn Buttriss and Travis Waddell in the first grade squad. He spent a couple more years with the Raiders before the Roosters picked him up as insurance for Jake Friend for 2015. He’s getting a bit of bench time at the moment, playing six minutes on Friday night, which was about the same amount of time as he ever got for the Raiders.
And finally, one of the Raiders greatest forwards is still involved. He never really managed to mold the talent of the roster into a side capable of competing for a championship. Carney, Campese, Dugan, Ferguson, Learoyd-Lahrs, Tongue and Shillington all played representative football under his tutelage, but only occasionally did the Raiders go past the first week of the finals, and only once did they genuinely threaten to make the grand final (and then, Campo’s knee. And we all cried).
So here’s to one of the good guys, now an assistant coach of everyone’s second favourite team, the Cowboys. Here’s hoping that for once in his coaching career, Furner gets a bit of luck and we end up crowning them premiers on that first weekend in October.