SO CLOSE: Lifetime Eels fans Wayne Keys of Ballina (front) and Tom Connor with his grand-daughters Rubi-Jean, 1, and Paige, 4, in front of the wall he had painted in support of his favourite team.
SO CLOSE: Lifetime Eels fans Wayne Keys of Ballina (front) and Tom Connor with his grand-daughters Rubi-Jean, 1, and Paige, 4, in front of the wall he had painted in support of his favourite team. David Neilsen/ Lismore Northern Star

Ballina's colourful Eels fans

GO PARRA. Honk. Yeah Parra. Honk. Honk.

The car horns and shouts of 'Parra' from passing cars yesterday didn't bother Tom Connor, of Ballina, who painted his garden wall in bright blue and yellow to show his support of the Parramatta Eels.

He expected it. Even the truckies tooted, he said.

Every now and then 'boo' was shouted from a car window, but Mr Connor took it in his stride

His tribute to his team enticed another Ballina resident and lifetime Eels fan, Wayne Keys, to stop and unload his Parra support gear to be photographed in front of the painted emblem.

All week Mr Keyes had been looking forward to having his photograph taken in front of the wall.

But what made Mr Connor think of painting the wall?

“So many blokes at work were bagging Parra and I said that if Parra got into the Grand Final, I'd paint my wall,” Mr Connor said.

He enlisted the help of Jason Greenhalgh, a friend and sign writer who spent three hours painting an impressive Eels emblem on the concrete wall. Jason agreed to paint the wall despite being a St George fan.

Mr Connor was reluctant to say how much it cost to paint his Eels wall. He didn't want his wife Barbara to know how much he had spent.

All this happened before the Eels lost to the Melbourne Storm last night.

Mr Connor said he would go straight to bed if the Eels lost. But with the final score resting at 23-16, the diehard fan can be proud of his team's late comeback and brave fight throughout the game.

Now, with Parramatta's loss, Mr Connor has another decision to make.

“Do I leave it on the wall or not, if they lose,” he said yesterday.

That is a choice he still has to make.

Meanwhile, with Eel's fans across the Northern Rivers wishing the score had been different, the Parramatta Eels have made NRL history by becoming the first team to reach the Grand Final from eighth spot.



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