Simon Tayoun is the Canberra Raiders’ drummer and super-fan. He leads Raiders fans, dressed in his green viking helmet and cape-like Raiders flag.
Nothing but League spoke with Simon about his passion for the Raiders, his drumming, the Viking Clap, that grand final, and the club’s future.
Hello Simon. Firstly, tell us about your background. How did you become a passionate Raiders man?
I came to Australia in 1987, and my brother-in-law took me to my first NRL game (Rabbitohs vs Raiders at Redfern Oval). My brother-in-law was supporting the Rabbitohs so, in the spirit of family rivalry, I decided to back the Raiders. The Raiders won that particular game in 1987 and I have been a true Raiders supporter ever since then.
And how did your role as drummer start?
I had previously seen supporters of other teams cheering their NRL teams at home games with drums in the crowd. I knew the Canberra Raiders didn’t have their own drummer at the time, so I took it upon myself to buy a custom made ‘Raiders’ green drum for my team. This was a few years ago, and…every season the drumming has continued to be a hit.
There’s a special post-game tradition, with Sia (Iosia Soliola) joining Raiders fans after a win, banging your drum and leading an impromptu Viking Clap. How did that start? Did it happen naturally, or was it something that Sia or the club planned as a way to celebrate with the fans?
Surprisingly, it wasn’t planned by Sia, the club or even myself. It happened naturally. It was at a home game, and I happened to call Sia over to the grandstand after a win. I called him over and asked him to bang the drum for the crowd and together we started an impromptu Viking Clap. Whilst there weren’t many people around at the time, I noticed that everyone who was there enjoyed it, as the fans were thanking me for calling Sia over.
After this, I made a point of seeing Sia just before the next game (an away game), and asked him if we were to win that game, to come over to me again in the grandstand and once again start another Viking Clap as the ultimate celebration. Being the great player and sportsman that he is, Sia said “absolutely”. And as I had hoped, we won that game, and he stuck to his word!
Speaking of the Viking Clap, it’s become a fabric of the game. You were lucky enough to lead the Viking Clap in the Raiders’ final home game last year (against the Warriors). Tell us how that was organised, and more importantly, how you felt when it was announced? Are you planning to do more of that in 2020?
I was asked by the CEO Don Furner and the COO (Chief Operating Officer) Jason Mathie to lead the Viking Clap for the last home game for the 2019 season. This day is also a day of appreciation for the loyal and supportive fans and members of the Raiders. It was one of the best days of my life. I was so honoured to lead the Viking Clap from the ground in front of all my fellow members and friends who have all become family to me. I would love the opportunity to do this again, and my dream would be to celebrate with the Raiders team in the sheds with my drum after a win.
Let’s talk about last year’s grand final. Aside from the result, how much did you enjoy the lead up to the game, including the epic pre-game Viking Clap?
I was so happy before the game. I actually took time off work during the week of to attend the open player training day in Canberra and the fan day in Martin Place. I, of course, took my drum with me everywhere I went!
At the grand final, the crowd was predominantly Raiders fans, and hearing the roar of the Viking Clap as the players ran onto the field was a feeling I will never forget.
Who’s your favourite current Raiders player?
I love them all, but Sia especially. Sia has to be my favourite, of course!
A few years ago, nobody wanted to touch Canberra. Now the club’s recruited some great international players, the 1989 and 1990 premierships are being celebrated, and the club goes out of its way to help the Canberra community. How important is the club’s community focus in making Canberra an attractive place to play footy?
It’s great to see the wider Canberra community supporting their club and the club supporting the community. There is such great support across the locals that even I feel like a part of the Canberra family (although I live in Sydney and travel for all of their games).
After an amazing 2019, 2020 has the potential to be another big year. What do Canberra need to do to break their 26-year premiership drought?
The Canberra Raiders are a strong team. They need to keep doing what they’re doing. Over the last few years they have made significant changes that have helped make the team what it is today. They have everything they need to go one better in 2020!
Finally, looking forward, how can the Canberra Raiders expand and improve as a club?
To continue growing, the Raiders need to keep developing their players, keep supporting their community, and playing a positive role for aspiring players. GO RAIDERS!