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Des Hasler might believe that the little old ladies at Brookvale Oval will still be smiling at him tomorrow night, but the opinions were split at yesterday's bingo game at the Manly Leagues club.
On Tuesday Hasler was asked about the reception he would receive from the ''little old ladies'' that once adored him at Brookvale. ''They love me, the little old ladies,'' Hasler replied. ''They should be OK.''
However some dyed in the wool Sea Eagles supporters had various feelings about Hasler's return to Brookvale as coach of the Bulldogs.
The murmur of bingo banter, the whirl of the barrel and the predictable proclamations of ''legs 11'' set a familiar scene for the women who regularly compete in the Wednesday game.
But when the ladies left the bingo hall, the mention of Hasler's imminent return to Brookie sparked a heated exchange.
Anastasia Harris, 64, said that Hasler ''sold his soul to the devil'' when he made his monumental departure from the Sea Eagles after winning the premiership in 2011.
''He was on a winning streak, he was in God's country and everyone was happy,'' Harris said. ''He played for Manly and made his name with Manly. But then he chucked away his roots and deserted us.''
Lucky for Hasler, other avid supporters were more understanding.
''You can't have the same coach forever; someone else is stepping up and they will be kicking his butt anyway,'' said Rhonda Turnbull, 60. ''But he is still gorgeous. He was loyal to Manly for a very long time and I forgive him.''
One lifetime Manly fan who isn't buying into the ''Hasler hype'' is Beryl Benson, 75, who was blunt. ''He's gone and that's it. I don't think Manly needed him as much as they thought they did; they are still doing all right without him. I don't love him any more, I just love this club.''
Although June McDonald, Anne Heffernan, Kerry Blakers, Jan Burke and 90-year-old Win Roberts were disappointed about the loss of the two-time premiership winning-coach, they wished him all the best. ''I think he is good coach and I like him - there are no hard feelings,'' Burke said.
Her golfing partner in Wednesday morning's ladies competition, McDonald, agreed.
''Friday night will be emotional for him and there will be a lot of people who won't like him,'' McDonald said. ''Let him know that the little old ladies here at Manly still support him.''
- Sydney Morning Herald