Why the Coast is Storm country
JAXEN Carter, 5, his brother Jakob, 2, and sister Jade, six months, might be small but they are three of the Cowboys biggest fans who'll have their gear on for the big game tomorrow night even though they may not see it through.
Mum Jess says their dad James was, like everyone who comes from Townsville, a mad Cowboy fan and the kids had naturally followed suit.
Jaxen will boo and scream 'Go the Cowboys' whenever he sees a car with another NRL team's sticker on it.
The boys especially are jumping out of their skin at excitement for this weekend.
Whether or not they'll be able to see the game through may be another matter.
The way games were scheduled, Jess said, they are all expected to be long in bed by the final whistle.
That won't be the case for Sunshine Coast University Hospital plaster technician Garry Taylor.
He's been the Cowboys' biggest fan since before the club was formally in existence and after a wild 2017 NRL premiership ride there is nowhere else you are going to find him Sunday night than at the big show.
After flying down with son Kenny, a former Nambour Special School student, for the Cowboys' fairytale preliminary final win against the Roosters the pair simply hasn't been home.
Instead they headed to Canberra to Garry's brother's place for the week, visiting national monuments as they counted down the hours until Sunday night.
To describe the Garry as a fan probably understates his passion.
Yesterday he was out and about desperately searching for a blue and yellow eye lens with a star in the middle of it.
He worked at Townsville Hospital for 18 years and would on weekends drink at the leagues club where he rubbed shoulders with a lot of people talking about having their own team in the elite competition.
From there he headed to Saudi Arabia where he set up his own Cowboys' bar - something he can talk about now he's out of the country - decorated with first edition club merchandise purchased on a trip home in 1993 when he went to where the clubhouse was to be established and signed the guest book becoming effectively its first Middle East member.
Falcons chairman Ashley Robinson though has thrown his support solidly behind the Storm, something he urges every Sunshine Coaster who is not a Cowboy diehard to do.
His reasoning is straight forward saying the Storm are effectively our team.
"I think Melbourne deserve to win," Mr Robinson said.
"Either way it's been a fairytale for the Cowboys but Craig Bellamy is the best coach in the game and has set an amazing benchmark all year."
More importantly, he said, Melbourne had been part of the Sunshine Coast rugby league landscape since 2011 and had made the Falcons a feeder club since 2015.
At a Sunshine Coast Council dinner to welcome the club here for a trial game, Mr Robinson said the Storm became aware of the Falcons' struggles and had quickly offered some under 20s players to help out before any formal agreement was signed.
When the Falcons ran a fundraiser a week ago, the club was quick to offer merchandise.
And there's the small matter that seven of the players named in the grand final squad have played for the Coast. Then add to that the fact Storm football manager Frank Ponissi flew up for the Falcons' own grand final appearance last week bringing with him two injured Storm contracted players who had turned out for the Coast side.
Mr Robinsom said the Storm had also provided a genuine pathway to the NRL for local players like Lachlan Timms and Louis Geraghty who had signed contracts with the club for next year.
"Rugby league is better for them being here," he said. "Before they arrived the Broncos weren't interested in the Sunshine Coast. They now have a presence."