Unsavoury Football Fans Across Time
On the whole, Australians are a fair minded breed of people who tend to believe that it is "not whether you win or lose rather it is how you play the game". Of course, once Australians step inside a football ground, these placid, sane, peace loving citizens are strangely transformed into depraved lunatics. They become one eyed, sorry excuses for human beings; causing no end of concern to Members, Journalists and Judges whom are duty bound to uphold Australia's fine standards of respectability. As one doctor noted in 1896:
In days gone by, such larrikin fans were hauled before the Justice system in an attempt to educate them regarding the folly of their ways. A Judge once declaring:
Journalists have also joined with Judges by offering scathing assessments of the larrikin barracker:
The occassional Journalist has refrained from judging and instead used the barracker as the focus of an anthropolgical inquiry:
Perhaps the most unsavoury characteristic of the larrikin fan is their vindictive sense of humour. Larrikins seem to have an ability to identify a weakness in a quarry and, once the frailty is discovered, exploit it to the limit. A notable example of this skill was a group of larrikins teasing of a full-figured player by the name of Tony Lockett for his prosperous girth. A group of Sydney fans smuggled a pig into the stadium, wrote Lockett on one side, number 4 on the other (his number) and released it onto the ground. The pig seemed to be far more light-footed than its big boned namesake and evaded all attempts at capture for a good five minutes. Meanwhile, the crowd cruelly made fat jokes at Tony's expense.
Goal umpires are also a source of entertainment. When signalling that a goal has been kicked, the umpire will motion like he is shooting the players. Prior to the shooting signal, many fans make inquiries regarding the length of his penis by yelling the lewd question "how big's your dick?" When he appears to motion that it is around 20 inches, the fans laugh with juvenile hysterics.
There is also a unhealthy rivalry between cheer squads. Before play commences, players run through a banner that has some variety of slogan. Sometimes the banner has a positive feel good comment like "do your best, we're cheering for you." However, occasionally it has an insult directed at opposing fans. For instance in the 2000 season, the Collingwood banner had a kangaroo in cross hairs accompanied by the slogan "endangered species". The slogan was in reference to the Nth Melbourne Kangaroos financial problems stemming from "Nth Melbourne" and "fans" appearing to be a contradiction in terms.
Larrikin fans also seem to admire those football commentators who share this cutting sense of humour as evidenced by the popularity of the infamous Sam Newman. As one commentator described Sam:
Aside from exposing the frailties of a challenged individual, footy fans lack respect for authority. The most conspicuous example of this lack of respect is their unjustified abuse of umpires whom they refer to as 'white maggots.' "Some propose that it comes from Australian's anti-authoritarian feelings as an ex-convict settlement."
Alternatively, it may just be an example of the tall poppy syndrome as fans try to prevent umpires from getting a big head. "One high-ranking current player told me recently that the only thing wrong with umpires is that they see themselves as an important part of the game"
Of course if the hatred of umpires was balanced with objectivity, perhaps concerned citizens could be more tolerant. Unfortunately, such objectivity is rarely forthcoming. For instance, one social commentator noted a larrikin fan advising his team to play dirty by yelling:
Then when a player on his team suffered a mere bump, the fan's blood boiled and he subsequently screamed:
Despite the moral concern of disrespecting authority symbolism, sometimes the lack of respect even evolves into breaking the law. For example, whenever a popular player kicks 100 goals in a season, it is tradition for fans to run onto the field in celebration. In the AFL, such ground invasions have been declared illegal. However in direct defiance of the law, thousands of unsavoury fans have continued to invade the ground; embarrassing security forces whom are duty-bound to stop them. These law breaking has raised the ire of concerned citizens; many of whom are in the reputable career of journalism. One particularly moral Journalist, Steve Price, wrote how he would have liked to have seen troublemakers using the good old fashioned police brutality that was common in the old Convict days:
Fine the mugs By Steve Price Wednesday, September 12, 2001 Herald
|Was this more interesting than a news update of players in a recovery session standing around in the ocean looking cold or of a team 'training without incident'?|