Andrew Wilkie does not strike you as someone who skips straight to the back page of the newspaper every morning.

Nathan Hindmarsh (left) has managed to cut his pokie habit. The club now needs to punt some of these losers. Pic: Gregg Porteous.

But the anti-pokies campaigner should be very interested in Nathan Hindmarsh’s upcoming autobiography, which contains a stunning admission that the Parramatta Eels skipper blew more than $200,000 on poker machines early in his career.

Hindmarsh apparently wasted several thousand dollars per day at the height of his gambling addiction. Sadly for Parramatta, these investments were no wiser than any of the club’s recent recruitments.

Parramatta coach Stephen Kearney is the perfect example of a gamble gone sour. The coach of the New Zealand international side joined the Eels in 2011 and quickly seduced the faithful with his characteristically wide smile.

Parramatta fans have not grinned since. A growing record of dismal results forced the Kiwi coach to furrow his brow ever more until now, finally, he has been forced to step aside.

You could not possibly envy his replacement at Parra, given the laughing stock that any new coach is set to inherit. The Eels are well on their way to finishing last this year, having barely avoided the wooden spoon less than 12 months ago.

They really are a godsend for the supporters of other incompetent clubs. With the Eels acting as a constant source of embarrassment, the rest of the league’s cellar dwellers actually look OK by comparison.

So should the players and fans at Parramatta despair? Of course not. Just take a look at Nathan Hindmarsh, the reformed problem gambler.

The amount of money that this guy poured into the pokies could otherwise have been used to buy a small apartment in Sydney.

As league scandals go, that may not be as shocking as Nate Myles’ controversial attempt at a hallway redecoration. But it is still pretty impressive in a perverse sort of way.

Parramatta has been similarly wasteful lately. All of the money that the club has sunk into purchasing rubbish players would probably have been better spent luring Sonny Bill Williams to the club for half a year.

Williams goes to the line, offloads to Hayne, Hayne scores. And repeat. Finals footy would return to Parramatta in no time.

The first order of business for Kearney’s replacement should be to recruit some talented players, because teams with talent tend to win more. Counter-intuitive I know.

Jarryd Hayne cannot carry the team on his back forever. He needs some extra skill alongside him, and he needs each and every team-mate to step up and assume more responsibility.

Nathan Hindmarsh has already decided to retire at the end of the season. His teammates should be desperate to finish somewhere further up the ladder, if only to avoid sullying the conclusion of their skipper’s tireless career.

But should they fail to avoid the wooden spoon this year, all is not lost. If an immature young league player can beat his gambling addiction, a proud club like Parramatta should have little trouble jolting itself out of a piddly two year form slump.

Most commented


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    • Fred says:

      10:36am | 20/07/12

      Parramatta have been in a form slump for 26 years since they last the competition. They have only survived as a footy club because of poker machines and the juggernaut that is parra leagues club. They dare not bite the hand that feeds them.

    • Slimey says:

      11:36am | 20/07/12

      They have “only” survived as a footy club because of poker machines and their juggernaut of a leagues club? Fred, how would the Leagues Club have come in to existence, without the ‘Leagues’ bit? Why are they to be criticised for this? Why are you ignoring the revenue brought in via ticket sales and merchandise sales for one of the most popularly supported teams in the competition?  Why do you ignore the revenue that is provided to them via sponsorship, and NRL handouts?  NRL handouts that are derived from media payments for the product Rugby League.  A product that continually rakes in enormous viewing and readership numbers, particularly for games that Parramatta participate in, regardless of their position in the competition standings.  Parramatta Eels don’t merely survive Fred.  They thrive.  Sorry to disappoint you.

    • Fred says:

      01:45pm | 20/07/12

      Calm down Slimey….26 years between drinks is really giving you a complex by the looks of things. Answer me this one question…since the parramatta fc is such a successful business, why has it not translated into on field success for nearly 3 decades?

    • thruthehaze says:

      03:29pm | 20/07/12

      Seem to recall they’ve been in two Grand Finals in the past decade and as recently as 2009. Form slump? Or is Fred just talking through his hat?
      Tough choice.

    • Borderer says:

      10:41am | 20/07/12

      As a parra fan I disagree on some points, Kearney’s sacking has come too late in the current season to do any good. They actually can play good football usually for about 20 minutes, too bad that the game is 80 minutes. They also play well later in the game when Kearney has stopped giving instructions.
      Kearney, like Mal Meniga is good for rep teams, in that he can shape a team of elite players with a limited goal (world cup, origin series or test match), tactics, not strategy. Club coaching is a strategy game that starts well into the preseason, maybe even the season before. Parra have the ingredients of a great side, they just need a master chef.

    • Bro says:

      11:02am | 20/07/12

      The Kiwi experiment has been an abject failure at all levels.The Main sponsor Pirtek has an administrator on the board and has promoted talentless hacks from NZ and the results spreak volumes.

    • Michael S says:

      11:03am | 20/07/12

      I never understood why Parramatta got rid of Brian Smith. He was getting them into the finals more often than not.
      Since he departed, other than one dream run of half a season, it’s been all downhill.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      11:03am | 20/07/12

      HAHAHA Losers

    • Kent says:

      11:11am | 20/07/12

      All pokies should be banned, no exceptions. If clubs fold because of it, then tough luck.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      11:28am | 20/07/12

      Is that you Mr Wilke?? smile

    • Steve says:

      12:01pm | 20/07/12

      Absolutely, then when we’re on a roll we can ban the TAB and Scratchies and Horse Racing, hell lets keep going, any competetive sports where the outcome could possibly be gambled upon should be scrapped, I hear theres gambling available on the internet so we better ban that too and when thats done we can form a government department to make sure two flys never crawl together on the same wall anywhere in Australia just in case some poor victim happens past and just has to have a punt on them

    • the cream says:

      12:43pm | 20/07/12

      I disagree completely Steve. Regulation is an infringement on my commercial freedom. I should be allowed to exploit anyone I please, after all if kids let me sell them addictive drugs, then it’s their own fault for being so stupid. This is supposed to be a meritocracy right?

    • Nikki says:

      11:43am | 20/07/12

      I don’t understand why pokies are even a Federal issue. WA chose not to have them long ago (except in the casino) and our sporting clubs and pubs do just fine. It’s absurd having that clown Wilkie trying to hold the Govt to ransom over what should be a STATE issue. As much as I despise current labor, I had to applaud their appointment of Slipper to get around this stupid situation.

    • M says:

      12:41pm | 20/07/12

      Where abouts do you find an apartment in Sydney for 200,000?

    • TimB says:

      03:46pm | 20/07/12

      I got mine for $215 K in Granville…and it’s a 2 bedroom one.

      You need to look a bit harder M.

    • M says:

      04:28pm | 20/07/12

      I’m in Brisvegas these days anyway. I didn’t think cheap property existed in Sydney any more.

    • PW says:

      06:56pm | 20/07/12

      A one bedroom unit in Parramatta or west can generally be had for $200k. Further west you’ll get 2 bedrooms for this price.

    • M says:

      12:59pm | 21/07/12

      YEah, but it’s not technically sydney is it? And if you work in the city you’d wanna be prepared to spend a billion years just getting to and from work.

    • Sad Sad Reality says:

      01:17pm | 20/07/12

      If anything, we need more pokies. Survival of the fittest.

    • andrew says:

      01:41pm | 20/07/12

      yep - just another way of reclaiming all that money the govt hands out in the form of welfare payments each week, along with taxes on tobacco and alcohol - We just need to legalise, control supply and tax drugs now. The best thing about all these taxes is that one can easily choose not to pay them. The more money raked in by these taxes, the lower income tax rates can be set.

    • M says:

      03:08pm | 20/07/12

      I like your style of thinking andrew.

    • Dan says:

      02:11pm | 20/07/12

      Leagues clubs are yesterdays news - the new rugby league will be paid for by private owners and sponsors. Parramatta Leagues, once the backbone of the club, is now an albatross around its neck. Leagues clubs guarantee funding, but they also guarantee numerous power brokers in the club who are constantly fighting each other for their own benefit. End result = wooden spoon.

    • J says:

      03:47pm | 20/07/12

      Jarryd Hayne doesn’t carry the team at all, he is the epitome of an origin-only player - he steps up when he’s interested (rep games or playing in a not completely rubbish team) and goes missing when he’s not. Overrated and overpaid. They would have been better off trying to offload him and using that 700k or so to nab a Brett Stewart, plus the Sandow money going to a Cooper Cronk type.

    • JoniM says:

      11:57am | 21/07/12

      Spot on J !

      The real problem for clubs like Parramatta, Penrith and other current battlers is that they have administrations that wouldn’t recognise real football talent if it bit them on the bum ! With the majority of the Sydney NRL nursery coming from the Parramatta and Penrith districts, both these clubs are current perennial cellar dwellers ! How can that be ? Their administrators are self serving bums who do not understand how to put a team together that can genuinely compete. They fail to realise that you need a key general on the field above all else and all stops need to be pulled out to find this one key player. They are few and far between currently ( eg Cam Smith, Jonathan Thurston). They need to be developed in your junior leagues or go outside to find them. Look at Manly finding Cherry-Evans in QLD ! Where were the Parra scouts ? You pay the big bucks for the key player and augment your team around him with anyone looking for a game. They will rise to match their leader. Look at Melbourne with Smith, Slater and Cronk and 30 low paid reserve graders. Stop spending money on the incidental players and find the general ! Look at the very recent issue of trying to get Luke Lewis. Parra were talking about a $700k a season deal and sacking the coach to get him ! Why spend that much for a good player, no doubt , but one who is not an on-field general and in fact who hasn’t even made one break for lowly Penrith this year ?
      Parra haven’t had such a general since Stirling and Penrith since Alexander ! Yet they have most of the game’s nursery of potential talent !
      Until the key on-field general is found, there will be no change at Parra !

    • Flutz says:

      05:00pm | 21/07/12

      Absolultely agree with you 100% J.  Hayne is one of the reasons Parra has done so poorly the past few years.  He had 1 amazing season in 2009 and hasn’t really put in consistently for the club since and he thinks he is bigger than the club/team. But the only coach who dared tell him to pull his head in was Daniel Anderson - and we all know who lost that battle; so of course he believes he is untouchable regardless of attitude or form and therefore will never change his attitude and actually play for his team.  The sooner the Eels get rid of Hayne the better off they’ll be.

    • Sam says:

      05:27pm | 21/07/12

      When Hayne is on fire, Parra win. When Hayne plays average, which is most of the time, they lose. They depend on him to carry them over the line, and counting on the talent of one player isn’t enough - particularly a player who goes missing all too often.

    • Gratuitous Adviser says:

      10:53pm | 20/07/12

      On behalf of the taxpayers of NSW I would like to thank Nathan Hindmarsh for donating in kind all those broken noses, knackered knees, buggered back and horrible head injuries over the years and for the future. 

      Well done and thanks for saving me a few dollars but didn’t he want to be remembered for more than being a fool.


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