Souths tragic Albanese to cheer from home

The lounge of South Sydney tragic Anthony Albanese will be covered in red and green on Sunday.
The lounge of South Sydney tragic Anthony Albanese will be covered in red and green on Sunday.

For the first time since 1970 Anthony Albanese will miss an NRL grand final but his lounge room in Marrickville will be covered in red and green balloons.

The ex-South Sydney board member has been to every rugby league grand final in the harbour city since attending his first decider as an eight-year-old with his mum at the SCG in 1971.

Fifty years on and so much has changed, but not the Labor leader's love for the Rabbitohs.

"Footy is about your identity and who you are and community," he told the Big Sports Breakfast on Tuesday ahead of Sunday's grand final against Penrith in Brisbane.

"My mum took me to the 1971 grand final on the SCG Hill.

"Single mum took her little boy along, somehow got a ticket, got there really early in the morning, they were the days, of course, when everyone brought an esky full each on the hill there.

"And my mum used to say to me she never got to see any of the game because I was just a little kid and couldn't see."

Souths' 16-10 win over St George that day sparked a life-long love of the club for the inner west local, who then carried on the tradition in 2014 with his own son Nathan at Stadium Australia.

The emotional 43-year drought-breaking title was a watershed moment for Souths fans, many of whom marched in the streets to get the club readmitted to the competition in 2000.

Albanese was one of them as a board member of the club in the late 90s.

It makes being absent from Sunday's grand final even more hard to accept for tragics of both teams.

Rabbitohs and Panthers fans have been shut out of Queensland for the historic decider in Brisbane but the grand final spirit is still alive in Sydney.

Especially at the Albanese household.

"I am a shocker. I have the flag off the car already," he said.

"I have balloons ordered with the little rabbits on the green and red balloon. I'll fill up the lounge room. All I need to do is do up the front of the house."

Australian Associated Press