Long after they were ousted at the ballot box, Denis Fitzgerald and Roy Spagnolo continue to wield influence over Parramatta.
Supporters loyal to the former Eels officials gathered in enough numbers at an extraordinary general meeting of the Parramatta Leagues Club to block a motion to prevent them and all previous Eels directors from ever returning to the corridors of power.
The gathering at Rosehill Racecourse on Wednesday evening was called in an attempt to pass a range of motions that would overhaul the constitution.The most contentious was a resolution to rub out anyone who has previously served on a Parramatta board - whether it be football, district or leagues club - before July 19, 2016. The motion, which required the support of 75 per cent of members to pass, would have effectively ruled out all directors at the helm during the salary-cap scandal from returning to the boardroom.
It would have also put a line through former officials Steve Sharp, Fitzgerald and Roy Spagnolo from returning to the fold. However, Fitzgerald and Spagnolo sufficiently mobilised their forces at Wednesday's vote to block the move.
Of the 193 members who voted, only 68 voted 'yes', 125 against.
The development keeps the door ajar for the former Parramatta powerbrokers to return to office at future elections.
It was billed by Eels chairman Max Donnelly as one of the most important events in the history of the blue and golds, but few were there to witness it. History has shown that members turn out in force to vent their frustrations when there is drama on and off the field. But with the team firing - the Eels are in the finals for the first time since their fairytale 2009 grand final appearance - the vast majority of the 1200 politically active members were either glued to The Bachelor or otherwise indisposed.
It was clear from the outset that Donnelly wouldn't have the numbers. A dozen members approached the microphone over the course of about an hour, all of them speaking against the reforms.
One of the more vocal 'no' proponents praised the previous board for delivering Brad Arthur to the club when some powerbrokers were pushing for Jason Taylor to take over as coach.
Fitzgerald also spoke passionately against the proposed constitution. The self-proclaimed 'Emperor" of Parramatta said the wiping out of previous directors would eliminate worthy candidates, holding up former director Glenn Duncan as an example. Fitzgerald described Duncan, a former major backer of the Eels and then the club's home ground, as "someone we could really do with".
Fitzgerald added the proposals would rule out a raft of candidates with football knowledge, consigning the Eels to the same fate as the NRL when the independent commission was introduced.
The reforms were the brainchild of Donnelly, who was parachuted into the Eels after the NSW government sacked the previous board following the salary-cap debacle. His proposals including scrapping the eligibility requirements of being a leagues club member for three years in a bid to attract as many suitable prospects as possible.
Donnelly has spent much of his tenure reviewing the constitution and coming up with a better one, but his efforts were for nought.