Passionate Sydney-based Canberra fan Simon Tayoun, aka the “Masked Raider”, is devastated he can’t attend Friday‘s preliminary final against Melbourne in Brisbane due to border restrictions.
Tayoun is one of hundreds of Raiders supporters that will be shut out of Suncorp Stadium after attending last week’s semi-final win over the Roosters at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Under strict coronavirus regulations, any fan that attended the SCG clash must quarantine for 14 days, which rules them out of going to Friday’s game.
Tayoun, who has supported Canberra since 1987 and bangs the drum for the Raiders’ iconic Viking clap, is shattered, but he is remaining positive.
He will deck out his Bass Hill home in Sydney’s southwest in Raiders colours as he beats his drum and prays the Green Machine can defeat the Storm so he can attend the grand final in Sydney the following week.
“I’m very upset and disappointed that I can’t go to Brisbane, but I’ve got a good feeling about the Raiders beating Melbourne,” Tayoun said.
“I’ve already told my other Canberra friends who can’t go to Queensland not to worry, save your money for the grand final.
“I’ll watch this weekend’s match at home, and I’ll get my drum out like I’m at the game.”
Tayoun used to travel to every Canberra game, but the coronavirus has stopped him in his tracks.
The pandemic has also impacted his work as a boilermaker with Bingo bins.
“I have lost a lot of money, so I haven’t been able to afford to go to too many games,” he said.
“But luckily the boss, who follows St George, is good with me – he knows how much I love the Raiders.”
Tayoun was born in Lebanon, but he fell in love with rugby league when he migrated to Australia.
“When I arrived, I watched a game and enjoyed it,” he said.
“It was like soccer, except they hit each other.
“My brother-in-law then took me to a game. It was Canberra versus South Sydney in 1987 and the Raiders won, so I decided they were my team.
“From there I’ve never changed.”
In a little win for Canberra supporters, Qantas will put on another flight on Friday for Raiders supporters from the ACT to attend the Melbourne clash in Brisbane.
Tayoun is happy for his fellow fans, as hard as it will be watching from home on Friday night.
“That is good – I’m happy for them,” he said.
“I’ll be cheering the Raiders on from home with my drum.”