xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: The sport of Eagles Bashing

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The sport of Eagles Bashing

It seems that Eagles bashing has quickly replaced Julia Gillard bashing as Australia’s favourite spectator sport. 

Journalist, Neale Prior, wrote in The West Australian newspaper in early June that we West Coast Eagles supporters are too old, we do not cheer and we leave early if our team is losing.Well of course we are older than Dockers’ supporters. We joined up in 1987. They joined up in 1995. Give it a few years.

My family and I in sit in the three tier stand at each home game amid a flock of Eagles’ fans who yell and shout and jeer as passionately as anyone. There is a good sprinkling of young and very young amongst us greybeards. It seems to me that supporters of other clubs who proudly boast that they are younger and more passionate than Eagles supporters are not demonstrating their team loyalty so much as their giant inferiority complex.

As for leaving early? Do people not watch the TV matches and see streams of supporters of various clubs flooding the exits after three quarter time whenever their side is well beaten? Even Collingwood fans do it.

I usually stay to the bitter end, but I left the WA Day Monday night game just after three quarter time as my eight year old grandson, who had school the next day, was almost fast asleep and we had to walk one and half kilometres back to the car

Please AFL, no more late Monday night games.

One thing in the Eagles’ favour is that their fans always turn up to the games. Even in the darkest days of the Wooden Spoon of 2010, Eagles crowds at Subiaco Oval were in the mid to high thirty thousands. This is in stark contrast to another WA based AFL team that battled to get a quorum when their team was struggling a few seasons back. Contrast it too with Port Adelaide. A couple of years ago, Port were losing regularly and attracting only a handful of spectator. This year they are having much more success and their fair weather followers are flocking back.

More recently, TV commentators and newspaper journalists were up in arms because some Eagles supporters booed Brownlow Medallist, Jobe Watson, when Essendon played West Coast at Subiaco Oval.

First off, not all Eagles fans booed. I didn’t and neither did any of the people sitting in my block in the three tier stand. TV commentators were quick to criticise the booing Eagles fans. After all, Jobe is a great footballer, a fair footballer and the son of legendary Essendon player, and now TV commentator, Tim Watson. Perhaps the TV commentators were sticking up for their media workmate?

At first I was not sure what the booing was all about, because Watson, apart from playing brilliantly, had not done anything that I saw to upset the Eagles fans. Then I twigged. They were booing him because earlier in the week young Watson had admitted to taking a banned substance. It was very similar to the performance enhancing drug that Shane Warne had blamed his mother for giving to him and which earned Warne an immediate twelve months ban from cricket. Yet here was Jobe Watson, a confessed user of a banned substance, running around and playing football against the Eagles on Subiaco Oval. Boo!

As Denis Cometti suggested in his weekly newspaper column, those Eagles fans were not booing Watson so much as they were directing their anger towards AFL CEO, Andrew Demetriou, who had remained silent and taken no action whatsoever, even though Watson had admitted on national television to taking the banned drug.

The AFL’s position is, apparently, that there is an independent inquiry proceeding into drug abuse in the AFL and they will await the outcome of that inquiry. Fair enough, but some will claim that this booing Eagles mob obviously thought that you have an inquiry to establish if anyone is taking performance enhancing drugs. Watson had clearly admitted that he was. Surely, when you know someone has taken banned drugs it is time take some action.

If Watson had been a racehorse, the stewards would certainly not have allowed him to run and would probably have suspended quite a few of his handlers. Those booing Watson were making a strong complaint about the AFL’s lack of action.

Meanwhile the Eagles bashing continued, in a somewhat refined and abstruse fashion, the following weekend when Fremantle played Geelong at Geelong. Early in the first quarter some Geelong barrackers started booing Dockers’ tagger, Ryan Crowley and midfielder, Haydn Ballentyne, two players, who as all Eagles supporters know, are ornaments of the AFL game.

One of the Fox TV commentators noted the booing and said it was a bit like the Eagles fans booing Watson. Not so said his co commentator, who maintained that the Eagles' booing of Watson was nasty and unsporting whereas “this booing by the Geelong crowd is rather good natured.”

Good natured booing? Yes folks, the very strong inference is that when other teams boo, it is good natured. When Eagles fans boo it is nasty and unsporting.

Reminds me a little of the time I broke up a schoolyard fight and asked the combatants how it had started . One litle fellow looked me straight in the eye and said, "It started when Brian hit me back."

To Eagles’ bashers everywhere, take my advice and worry about your own mob, some of whom boo and leave early when your side is getting a belting. The mighty West Coast Eagles team has given its fans plenty to cheer about over 27 seasons and we are not finished yet.

To those who do not like us, Boo Hoo to you too!

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