When the Canberra Raiders dominated the NSWRL in the nineties, Bruce Stadium was a nightmare for visiting teams.
Freezing night games and crowd that bled green meant the Raiders had a strong strike rate at Bruce.
After tonight’s loss to the Wests Tigers, Canberra have won just two out of ten games at the renamed GIO Stadium this year.
So what’s happened?
The Raiders’ poor form could be a factor. The ACT Brumbies have a solid home record and strong crowds. The majority of Brumbies home games are Friday and Saturday nights, once the Raiders’ domain. Visiting NRL teams don’t seem to fear a trip to Canberra anymore. Even Queensland teams – who have traditionally struggled in the cold – are winning there.
So what can Canberra do to make Bruce a fortress again?
The obvious answer is to start winning. When Canberra made the finals in 2012, over 24,000 watched the Raiders beat Cronulla in the Qualifying Final at Bruce. The following May, it was a sellout for the ANZAC Test. Earlier this year, Canberra hosted seven Asian Cup (soccer) games, with over 18,000 for the quarter final between Iran and Iraq.
The good news for hardy Raiders fans; they’re starting to win again. Unlike previous years, 2015 has seen the Raiders in and around the eight and playing entertaining football. While they won’t make the finals this year, the signs are promising. If the Raiders start winning, hopefully Bruce will become a fortress again.