Although the 2013 NRL (National Rugby League) season has seen the Canberra Raiders finish 13th on the ladder, in 1989 the team and its fans were gearing up for a finals campaign that culminated in a victory that commentators referred to as the greatest grand final ever.
At half-time Balmain were leading 12 points to 2 but at the end of 80 minutes the Raiders had evened the score to 14-all, forcing the game into 20 minutes of extra time. A field goal to Chris O’Sullivan two minutes into extra time gave the Raiders momentum, and when replacement prop Steve Jackson scored a try in the 13th minute, the Raiders knew they had the game, and their first Premiership, won.
It was their ninth win in a row, and they created history by being the first team to win from fourth place (since the introduction of the Top 5 system). It was also the first time the Winfield Cup and JJ Giltinan Shield were won by a team outside of Sydney.
And so began a party in Canberra and Queanbeyan that lasted well into the following day. As this clip shows, thousands of Raiders fans turned out to welcome their heroes home and cheered them on along the parade route from Queanbeyan to Canberra ending in a reception in Civic Square. Although some of the players – and the Winfield Cup – arrived a little worse for wear, John McIntyre explains why coach Tim Sheens was a no-show.