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Panthers fans are gearing up for today’s NRL grand final, showing their support with sausages, life-size player cutouts, monumental murals and lucky undies.
It’s Penrith’s fourth consecutive grand final appearance, and the team is chasing a third straight premiership. If they succeed, they’ll be the first club to win back-to-back-to-back grand finals since Parramatta in 1981-83.
Fans are calling it “history three-peating”. For those same fans, helping their team means rituals – and lots of them.
Angela Harris has a specific game-day routine she believes contributes to Penrith’s success.
Vanessa Harris and young fans Brody, 4, and three-year-olds Mila, Ashton, James and Alex colour in fan art at the Penrith Early Learning Centre. Credit: Dean Sewell
She has a specific skincare routine; lucky socks and undies; a playlist (along with banned game-day songs) and a custom Panthers bow for her hair.
“I know it sounds intense, but it works,” she said.
She works at Penrith Early Learning Centre and the three- to five-year-olds are just as excited as her.
The centre is adorned with flags, and there’s a 1.5-metre-tall cutout of Jarome Luai’s head. The hallway is dotted with the children’s fan art, while a game banner takes over a wall, extending from the roof to the floor.
“On game days, we finish up morning group by yelling ‘Go Panthers’ three times, and the boys win every time we do it,” Harris said.
Panther-coloured snags have flown off the shelves of Scott Evans’ East Blaxland Butchery.Credit: Dean Sewell
Some rituals are newer. For Blue Mountains butcher Scott Evans, it’s his first year selling Panthers-themed sausages, and they have proved immensely popular. East Blaxland Butchery has sold more 100 kilograms of black, red and yellow-coloured sausages in the span of three days: roughly the weight of an NRL player (although not quite a front-rower).
“We’ve been pretty busy,” Evans said.
The butchery sells trays of black sausages made with vegemite, beef and cheese; red ones, with lamb, beetroot and onion; yellow with chicken kiev, and green pork Toulouse sausages.
It’s not just the snags signalling the butchery’s support: balloons and inflatable panthers also line the entrance. “It’s all set up for the boys,” he said.
Danielle McLoon’s house is known for its “Panthers Wall” along the Great Western Highway in Warrimoo. Credit: Dean Seawell
Danielle McLoon owns the famous “Panthers Wall” along the Great Western Highway in Warrimoo, a nine-metre painted fence with matching festoon lights.
She first painted it in 2020 when her husband was away, in the year that started the Panthers’ grand final run.
“I think he’d thought it would be a little panel, but it’s the whole fence. I was fully committed,” she said.
It’s now a local landmark. People toot and honk as they drive past it and others – even non-Panthers fans – comment on it.
Every year Pieta Rzepecki decorates her house with Panthers memorabilia, and this year she had some help from family friends Anthony and Erin Linderberg and their children Lottie, 5, and Lacey, 8.Credit: Dean Sewell
For Pieta Rzepecki, Sunday is as much about the game as it is about the celebration.
Her friends Erin and Antony Linderberg and their children Lottie, 5, and Lacey, 8, have travelled from the Sunshine Coast to celebrate with her.
The pair is planning to party: they’re driving in a 500-car convoy across Penrith on Sunday morning before jumping in a party bus to get to and from the club to the game.
Every grand final day has been more special than the last, Rzepecki said.“Last year was special because it was the first since COVID, and this year could be historic.”
As in previous years, she’s decorated her house with four boxes worth of Panthers memorabilia.
“It’s nice having something that puts a smile on people’s faces,” McLoon said.
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