The morning after the Titans broke through to beat Manly in Round 11 and snap a four-game losing streak, Gold Coast Chairman Dennis Watt felt his mobile phone vibrate in his pocket with a text message.
The message instantly brought a smile to Watt’s face.
The text and accompanying photo delivered the news that one of the Titans’ toughest fans will be wearing his Titans gear all day long in honour of the win.
But this is no ordinary Titans fan, no ordinary message and no ordinary tradition.
The supporter was none than Tommy Raudonikis, and his partner Trish Brown sent through the photo to Watt, a long-term friend, of Tommy proudly wearing the colours of the Gold Coast Titans.
The photo that greets Watt is as quintessentially Tommy as any action photo taken during the combative halfback’s incredible career that saw him captain Australia as well as NSW in the inaugural State of Origin game in 1980.
Smiling, thumb in the air, a copy of Best Bets in his hand, and a folded form guide on the table beside him.
“Tommy always wears Titans gear for the entire day after a win,” Watt says. “It’s just one of those little things that makes you enjoy a victory even more.
“Tommy has done so much for rugby league over so many years, and he really does care about the game and the Titans as well. He is a Titans fan, and we are very happy to have him.
“Even after a loss, he sends through a message about the need to stay strong and keep working hard, and that he believes in what we are doing down here.
“That he goes out of his way to not only think about the Titans with everything he has going on at the moment, but reaches out to celebrate the wins with us and to tell us to keep fighting after the losses shows you the quality of the bloke. He is a remarkable man.”
Tommy has had his share of fights lately, with another battle with cancer taking a heavy toll on one of rugby league’s greatest characters.
It is the fourth time Tommy has had to fight for his life, with previous battles with testicular cancer, throat cancer and a quadruple heart bypass.
On top of a couple of major family tragedies, it is fair to say that Tommy has endured more than most men should have to experience.
Yet even now, with his latest health battle, he still makes sure he contacts Watt to let him know he is in the Titans’ corner.
And the Titans, likewise, are in his.
On Monday night, Tommy was rightly honoured for his contribution to NSW rugby league by being inducted into the True Blues Hall of Fame, alongside another great and one of his greatest rivals, Canterbury champion Steve Mortimer.
Tommy was unable to attend the event in Sydney to accept his award because of his health, but there was good news closer to home as well.
With surgery and chemotherapy no long an option, Tommy had been put on an immunotherapy trial to try to stop his cancer from growing.
The test results showed not only had it stopped growing, but the cancer was beginning to actually reduce in size.
It was one of the biggest wins of Tommy’s life.
So today, the Gold Coast Titans are returning the favour by sending a thumbs-up to Titans fan and rugby league legend Tommy Raudonikis – to congratulate him on his induction into the True Blues Hall of Fame, and for his improving health.
The Titans are happy to support you during the tough times, but we’re happier still to be able to share the victories with you as well.