Melbourne Storm under fire over 'disgusting' act in premiership celebrations

In celebrating 25 years in the NRL, the Melbourne Storm provoked a hostile response from rival fans.

Storm players celebrate a try on the left, with the promotional material for their 25th year in the NRL on the right.
The Melbourne Storm found themselves at the centre of an NRL fan furore after choosing to celebrate the stripped 2007 and 2009 premierships during the club's 25th anniversary in the league. Pictures: Getty Images/Melbourne Storm

It's been a relatively under-the-radar NRL season for the Melbourne Storm, however the Victorian powerhouse has come under fire for a not-so-subtle detail in the celebrations for their 25th year in the national competition. Players past and present were on hand to celebrate the major milestone, but NRL fans have ripped into the club for a decision to acknowledge their stripped premierships from the 2007 and 2009 seasons.

The Storm had prepared a montage of club highlights, a guitarist to perform AC/DC's Thunderstruck live, as well as a presentation of their premiership trophies to highlight the occasion when they faced the Parramatta Eels on Friday evening. However the club's bid to promote the occasion was seized upon when they included the '07 and '09 trophies to be included as part of the event.

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Those two premierships were memorably stripped from the club when it emerged in 2010 that the club had been rorting the NRL salary cap for years, one of the most sensational scandals in rugby league history. Fans on social media were quick to call them out for including those seasons along with their other premiership triumphs in 1999, 2012, 2017 and 2020.

Adding insult to injury was the fact that they are faced the Eels, who they defeated in the 2009 decider which was later ruled void by the NRL. Only an asterisk accompanies those grand finals now, with no winner declared - much to the chagrin of Eels and Manly Sea Eagles fans, who the Storm defeated in 2007.

In addition to the two premierships, the Storm had three minor premierships and the 2010 World Club Challenge title scrubbed from the record in the fallout of the memorable salary cap breach. The club admitted in 2010 that they had effectively been operating two sets of books, with the club also earning no premiership points that season.

It eventually emerged that the Storm had covered up overspending of roughly $1.7 million throughout a five year period leading up to and including the 2010 season. To say fans were less than impressed by their promotional efforts for Saturday night's celebration is an understatement, with the references to the two stripped premierships labelled 'disgusting'.

"Wow. A presentation for a trophy won illegally while hosting the team you actually cheated," one fan wrote in response to the Storm's tweet promoting the occasion. "That’s peak Melbourne Storm right there. What a club!"

Eels fans fume over detail in Melbourne Storm anniversary

Highlights of the 2009 grand final victory fired up the travelling Parramatta contingent with the Storm defeating the Eels in the decider 14 years ago. After a slow start, the Storm quickly found top gear on Friday night to celebrate 25 years in the NRL with a powerful attacking performance to consolidate their spot in the top four.

Some sloppy Melbourne defence led to Eels winger Sean Russell diving in the corner to give the visitors the first points of the match. But that is when Harry Grant got to work, scoring the next two tries in brilliant fashion.

Harry Grant looks up in celebration after scoring a try against the Eels.
The Melbourne Storm easily accounted for the Eels to solidify their top four position on Friday night. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Before Parramatta could regroup in coach Brad Arthur's 250th game, they found themselves down 18-4 in front of a pumped-up home crowd of 20,429 in Melbourne.

"Just to win was what we were after; we didn't want to be moping around with an occasion like this and (a 25-year club function) tomorrow night (Saturday)," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said. "It was just nice to get the wind but what's even nicer is play better and more consistently, especially our second half."

With AAP

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