Fanatic Eels fan's winning feeling
EELS fans are not famous for their cappuccino cravings, but Ballina cafe owner Steve Gassner froths at the mouth at the mention of his favourite Rugby League side.
In fact Mr Gassner has loyally followed his team since the age of 11, when his German parents settled in Mullumbimby.
His enthusiasm has even rubbed off on his wife Katie.
“I saw them through the great years of the early 1980s,” Mr Gassner said. “And I've loyally backed them ever since.
“I just don't give up on people.”
In 2006 when the team played a trial match in Lismore Mr Gassner encouraged the players to have a buffet breakfast at his establishment, Sirocco Cafe, by 'giving them a price they couldn't refuse'.
All that loyalty has come at a cost.
“I didn't make any money on the breakfast,” he said, “but I had my team in my cafe and that was all that mattered.”
With the Eels spending so many years in the wilderness this fanatical fan has had to place himself 'on medication' to deal with the frustration.
He gained the wooden spoon in last year's footy tipping contest just because of his unwavering faith, and he was second-to-last this year for the same reason.
Now that the Eels are back in the running for a Grand Final win Mr Gassner said he's off the medicine and ready to party.
“If the Eels play like they have lately they can do this,” he said. “I'm backing them to win by two points.”
Mr Gassner plans to spend Sunday night at home in front of the television with family and friends, keeping a close eye on his favourite player, Nathan Hindmarsh.
“He's a decent bloke, an ambassador for the game,” noted Mr Gassner. “He does a lot of work outside of football and I find that refreshing.”