Going back to the Sydney Football Stadium (now Allianz Stadium) in Throwback Thursday tonight against the Broncos, conjures plenty of good memories for Rabbitohs legend, Mario Fenech.
Fenech, who Captained the Club between 1986 and 1990, was a prominent figure at the Club during an era that saw the Rabbitohs move from Redfern Oval to the multi-million dollar SFS in 1988, win a minor Premiership in 1989, and be part of one of the most significant ad campaigns the game has seen, with Tina Turner’s Simply the Best in 1990.
“I remember that time going from Redfern Oval to the Sydney Football Stadium,” recalled Mario fondly for Rabbitohs.com.au.
“There seemed to be a lot of positive changes happening around that time and I have such great memories of that whole period.
“I was lucky enough to be involved with a fantastic team that won the Minor Premiership in ’89, we were playing in this new state of the art stadium, and Rugby League had never looked better with Tina Turner – just such great memories.”
Then in her 50s, Turner became the pied-piper for a generation of Rugby League fans when she began her association with the game in the late 80s – lending the song; What You Get is What You See to that year’s ad campaign.
While her initial association with the game was a success, when Simply the Best hit the airwaves, set against the backdrop of burly footballers sweating it out in their quest for Premiership glory, and Turner himself mingling with them in various settings, the game reached a whole new level.
Fenech was a part of the ad, donning a tux for a scene that included the likes of Andrew Ettingshausen and Greg Alexander at a particularly posh soirée, with the players escorting Turner to the event. The Rabbitohs legend remembers the event vividly.
“I remember looking across the table and seeing Tina Turner there and I just couldn’t believe it,” said Mario.
“When you look at Tina Turner in those days, she was an absolute superstar. For her to be connected with Rugby League was unbelievable and here we were in amongst it. It put the game on the world stage.
“She was a wonderful person who I’d admired for a very long time and she was just such a humble person as well. It all seems like yesterday and it feels like a long time ago all at the same time.
“What I do know is that it was a great time for Rugby League and it proved that the game wasn’t just for Australia – it could go around the world.
“Rugby League in those days was really starting to take off and promote itself well, and I might be bias, but I think that was probably the best ad campaign we’ve had.
“I’m honoured to have been a part of that ad and to have been part of an era that actually captured the imagination of a lot of people.
“It’ll be good to reminisce about all that on Thursday night.”
It's Throwback Thursday tonight as the Rabbitohs take on the Brisbane Broncos in Round 25 of the Premiership. Click here to purchase your tickets now!