FOR nine years the Cowboys of the far north were sound asleep. Now after a fairytale 2004 season, they?ve finally awoken.
THE Sydney Roosters were renowned as the benchmark in 2004 in so many ways. They continued to set the standard in defence, with their fast moving defensive structure helping them concede the fewest points in the NRL. They were the benchmark off the field as well, setting the standard in astute recruitment of players and coaching staff. They also enhanced their reputation as a club opposition fans love to hate. Their record breaking Jersey Flegg side went through 2004 unbeaten and the Roosters also won the Premier League competition.
2004 was a completely new challenge for 2003 premiers Penrith. After riding on a wave of confidence and unstoppable momentum to win last season?s Minor premiership and Grand Final, the Panthers were marked men in 2004 as each club tried to knock the premiers off.
THE Melbourne Storm faced another year of having to put up with critics questioning their existence. The long term viability of a team in ?AFL mad? Melbourne remains doubtful, their low home crowds are mocked on a fortnightly basis and the lack of media interest in Melbourne makes you wonder if anyone cares.
THE fact that the Raiders qualified for the finals for the third consecutive season shouldn?t disguise the reality that season 2004 was a failure for the ?Green Machine?.
FEW clubs can look back on a split second and lament what might have been had fate not cruelled them, like the Newcastle Knights.
ST.GEORGE-ILLAWARRA are still awaiting serious results to emerge from serious promise. In 2004, the Dragons showed signs of transferring their tag as one of the best teams on paper to a being good team where it matters on the field. But the underlying problem of consistency and the necessary luck with injuries still evades the joint venture club.
IN 2004 the Bulldogs experienced the highs and lows that high profile sport can provide. The year began with a sex scandal but finished in premiership glory.
THE Warriors went back to being ?Worriers? in 2004 as they stumbled their way through internal rifts, sackings, resignations and several humiliating defeats.
SEASON 2004 may appear to have been another failure for the Cronulla Sharks, but on the bright side at least Sharks players and fans started to enjoy their footy again.