On twitter, Patrick “Patty” Sills has over 1,000 followers. He is known for his quick wit, well thought out jokes and genuinely fun demeanour. He is an immensely passionate Wests Tigers fan, constantly going the extra mile (literally sometimes) to show his support for his favourite club. A personality, that some could compare to the Wests Tigers’ winger David Nofoaluma. These two, hold such similar attributes that it is no surprise that Patty could be crowned the president of the Nofa fan club with a solid gold crown. At 18 years young, Patty has been a Wests fan for so long that his own memory prior to his support is hazy. Mrs Patty’s mum reminds her son that as a young lad, his favourite colour was orange and he loved the sound of a tiger’s roar. Are you putting the pieces together yet? Apparently, the only obstacle left to pass before crossing into a lifetime of Wests Tigers support was his father - a Penrith Panthers fan. This task, for many would seem like an impossible one. Although, in the words of Patty, his father failed in parenthood and allowed his son to not only support a different team, but a cross town rival. And as they would say, the rest is history.
Patty’s love for Nofa is like no other, in fact, it’s a magical story of love at first sight. The moment he fell in love is instilled in his memory so strongly it’s like that of a flashback in a Nicholas Sparks movie. In order to ensure authenticity, I can use no words other than those of Patty’s himself. “It’s funny how clear I remember it” Patty reflects, “the game he debuted, in round 10 2013 against the Rabbitohs, we were hammered. And I mean hammered. 54-10. However the moment I remember, 34 minutes into the game, we’re 34-0 down, and superstar fullback Greg Inglis ran 95 metres to score another Rabbits try. What stood out to me was this young kid in the number 18 jersey that chased Inglis at full speed just about all the way, and refused to give up on him.” Nofoaluma refused to give up on Inglis and from that moment on, Patty has never given up on Nofoaluma. Life as a Wests Tigers fan can be gloom at times, just as many NRL fans experience, however Patty has always found the positives despite the negatives. He chooses to focus on desire. Desire that has become synonymous with Nofoaluma as well as the many other inspirational attributes including effort, passion and his genuine love for the Wests Tigers. It all started with the young kid in the number 18’s debut and now, Patty and Nofoaluma share an admirable relationship off the field - one that many fans could envy. Nofoaluma holds such a pride for his club and he knows the NRL could not function without the fans. The players take that field every week for the fans and Nofoaluma knows that. He has made the effort to remember Patty, acknowledging him every encounter they have and sharing a conversation and taking a picture. He can see past the fan admiration and appreciates the support beyond measure. His desire, high spirits and positivity displayed on the field are only magnified off the field.
Patty was a young 6 year old when the Wests Tigers won their first and only premiership as a joint club so it can be assumed, that he might not have enjoyed the win as much as he would now which is why his greatest desire as a rugby league fan would be to see his favourite team lift the Provan-Summons trophy while the fans belt the team song in celebration. Although he has aged 12 years since the last premiership, Patty ensures that tears would stream down his face as he cries like a baby if the Tigers were to win a premiership, or lose one. As easy as it would be for Patty to say he wants Nofoaluma to win all the accolades, he isn’t oblivious to the difficulties that his favourite player has faced including fan scrutiny. Patty has spent some time as Nofoaluma’s number one fan defending his favourite player’s defence, even joking that if he could say one thing to him it would be “stay on your opposite winger mate, let the tries be scored inside you and therefore dodge the criticism.” Really, Patty just wants to see the player he loves do well. He hopes for success despite the struggles and when his career eventually has to come to an end (whether it have been only at the Tigers or God forbid, somewhere else) he wants Nofoaluma to have done well. He hopes for health, success and overall happiness for his favourite player. When his boots are hung for the final time, he hopes fans can finally acknowledge his talent. He wants them to see how hard he works to improve his game and perseveres through the criticism thrown his way by his team’s fans and thus, finally the phoenix will rise from the ashes. And yes, Patty knows how over the top that was but in the words of Demi Lovato, sorry not sorry.
Many people in the world look at sports fans with confusion. Some, possibly do this with Patty. They mumble the phrase “it’s just a sport” but to many fans, including Patty, this is not the case. Rugby League, is his life. It is more than just a sport. Patty Sills’ life is rugby league - he writes rugby league, talks rugby league, eats, sleeps and shits rugby league. His wardrobe is bursting at the seems filled with orange and black merchandise with the beautiful Wests Tigers emblem at the heart, his Foxtel IQ hard-drive is all but fried after hours of recorded Tigers wins have been saved and his social media accounts such as Twitter are a representation of his everyday thoughts about rugby league, even if it is a little bit messy. So when I ask what rugby league means to him as a fan, all Patty can say is “yeah, it’s kind of a big deal. “
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Patty’s family has exiled him because he keeps skipping birthdays and reunions to go to Tigers games so if anyone wants to take him in please enquire on twitter at @pattysills17