As many Australian football fans have seen, they have met the announcement by the APL that they had signed a multiyear agreement with the NSW government to hold the grand finals in Sydney with revolt. As with many other fans, this came with first shock and then anger. The anger is still boiling and fans are planning a revolt. This may be a masterstroke or the single biggest failure of a decision in the APL’s brief history. Fans can only see it for a money grab and for the NSW government a vote buying plan to greatness and winning an election that they aren’t looking great in right now. I suspect both are going to fail.
Why I’m even bothering to write this, well, that would have to be something I explain. As I mentioned in another post about A-League decisions, I’m an accidental fan. I had little to do with the round ball game growing up and nothing much until meeting my wife. Her family, being English, had kids (her brothers) playing the game. When our son reached six, the wife wanted our son to follow her brothers and play. Shortly after that, my wife purchased a season pass for my son and me to the A-league. We started going to games and slowly I learned nuances of the game and grew to love it. About 4 years later, my daughter decided she’d like to play and then she needed a pass and so it became a family thing. The wife wasn’t staying at home alone. Since then we’ve added another to our band, my sons, then girlfriend and now wife, and was looking like adding another next season.
We have over 20 years of attendance, being that we joined in the second season of the league. We’ve had a lot of hours going through highs being 3 finals series leading to Grand Finals to the lows watching the club then fail miserably. Watching the height of fan active support. To seeing it decimated by an administrator who had such a poor understanding of the game, his legacy will be nothing of good and many poor decisions.
We’ve taken it on the chin how poorly it’s appeared they have run our club and have hoped for better.
For those who’ve been maybe to one of the great NPL finals of pre-A-League days or to one of the 22 A-League grand finals they will have memories of passionate fans. There was much banter between rivals and while hating each other for the regulation 90 minutes, being able to enjoy a beverage of choice after the game with each other. The rivalry has been fierce over the years between clubs and yet many have forged friendships across this great country while giving it to each other game day. You had to be there to know.
Adding my woes was that they invited me to be part of the Roar Supporters federation, initially to help with IT related matters and later voted onto the board. This was a chance to add something more to a sport I had grown to love. I’ve created some great friendships around the Brisbane supporters and I can say I’ve loved so many fans of the game I’ve met. For now I have to decide, accept that even though it hurts me and my band of supporters that the administrators are right and it’s a wonderful decision for the game. Alternatively, that so many fans cannot be wrong and defy the leadership. This will mean voting with my $$ to use it for other things which interest me. I’ve got until July next year for a final decision. Right now I have to agree with many other fans. This isn’t the winner they think it is.
I’m now at a crossroads, as I’m gutted by this decision. The Orange Sundays times three are now no more. If we (Brisbane Roar) ever win a chance at a Grand Final, they will host nowhere it but Sydney. I’m unsure if there will be a bidding war to attain the future Grand Finals by the various state governments. I fear that means the NSW government will keep this for another 10 years. By then, there will be irrevocable damage to the game outside of Sydney. That will be a loss for the entire nation as many fans will never travel to a grand final because of costs. That’s sad for the fans and the game.
I do hope that they’ve heard the fans loud and clear, but I somehow think they’ll make some token gestures to get people to think that the decision is great. Home grand finals have been a fabulous differentiation in the sport compared to the other football codes and now we have lost this.
Mine us but one of many stories which will grace the halls of A-League history. Not because they were great and special, but because we were there through highs and lows of our club’s performances. Saw the FFA nearly destroy the game they were supposed to be administering. And now to today watching the APL put the final nail in its coffin.