Where were you when the South Sydney Rabbitohs recorded their first win after re-entry to the competition in round two of the 2002 season? Scott Geddes can answer that question as quickly as it’s asked; he was 21 and making his first-grade debut with the reborn Rabbitohs.
For Geddes, getting a win in your debut game is a special moment. You’ve got so many family members, both at the stadium and watching on TV, cheering you on and wishing you the best. But winning that match had a greater sense of satisfaction to Geddes; to record Souths win after the fightback was momentous. And he got to share that with 17,111 supporters, a majority cheering for the Red and Green, at Canberra Stadium when full time was called on Souths 30-22 win over the Canberra Raiders.
“Being my first NRL game I was in awe of the whole experience to be honest. There were Red and Green jerseys everywhere, my mum and dad came down to that ground - that was amazing to have them there on that night,” remembers Geddes.
“I came off the bench, must’ve been 15 minutes into the game, the first thing I remember is the noise when we ran out of that tunnel. It was amazing. Souths had been out for a long time so there were a lot of people who travelled down to Canberra for that one.
“Two minutes into me being on Paul McNicholas and Ruben Wiki started toeing off, throwing a few punches at each other. That’s when I really knew I was in with the big boys.”
It was a huge moment for all involved in rugby league, Big League described the moment the Rabbitohs sealed their first win as “almost as raucous as when news of their High Court victory first filtered through”:
“The scenes down at Canberra Stadium last Saturday night after the reborn Bunnies won their first Telstra Premiership game were almost as raucous as when news of their High Court win first filtered through in 2001. Yep, they went ballistic,” read the round three edition of Big League magazine in 2002.
“Incredibly it means Jason Death and not Adam Muir will go down as the man who guided them to their first success. Blaine Stanley added another dimension to the Souths’ attack last week and Wade McKinnon continues to develop into an exciting prospect.”
From there Scott would go on to play 125 games in the Red and Green hoops between 2002 and 2012. He won the clubman of the year award in 2007 and now calls Redfern Oval an office as he works on the strength and conditioning of the North Sydney Bears.
“It was just fantastic being part of the team that year, everyone came from different clubs and as a squad everyone came together really tightly. The whole community rallied around us. Nobody was expecting big things, back then Souths were battlers, and everyone was really excited and respectful of Souths being back in the comp,” said Geddes.
“You make your debut as a 20-year old kid and, to be honest, at that time you don’t really think you’re going to spend ten years at a club. For me, it was amazing to just see Souths grow as a club. Going from battlers for the first four-five years to being competitive for a couple of years then to become the powerhouse that they became in the later years.”