The Sydney Morning Herald is today reporting that news A League soccer clubs the West Sydney Wanderers and the FFA have plans to make changes to Parramatta Stadium during game days. Among the changes they want to make are to temorarily re-name the stands at the ground and to cover the statue of Eels legend Ray Price.
These changes, in their words, are to make soccer fans feel more comfortable on game days.
Are these people fucking stupid?
This club has been around for five whole minutes. It has about as much history as you’ll find on a 2 years olds Etch A Sketch. It hasn’t even got enough players to field a team yet! Yet here we are months before they have even played their first game and this club has already alienated a potential fan base!
This of course all comes down to ignorance, insecurities and a lack of understanding about the real history of Soccer in this country.
Like most kids, the first sport I really understood was soccer. It makes sense. When a kid first learns to walk it is not long before they try to kick a ball along the ground. They they grow up, a game in which you kick a ball along the ground and hit a target to score points is simple, easy to play, and is usually the sport every kid first starts to play against other kids.
When I was a youngster at Tregear Public School we used to put school bags at either end of the playground and play massive all in games of soccer. Hell I used to take the ball to school that everyone played with, the old black and white panel ball and eventually a more modern looking ball. It was a hell of a lot of fun!
I remember wanting to growing up and thinking Ned Zelic was a great player when he was just a teenage player!
Like most kids in Australia, as I grew older other sports caught my attention, and obviously Rugby League ended up being the sport I loved the most. I never stopped enjoying soccer but I normally only watch the big games these days.
At some point in the last 1990’s soccer started to have issues when it was infiltrated by people that has axes to grind and massive chips on their shoulder. It stopped being about just going out, kicking a ball and having fun. All of a sudden we started being told things like its the world game, its the only true form of football, it makes every other sport look insignificant, its huge everywhere! That turned into insecurities about how soccer in Australia was treated, not just by the press, but by anyone that didn’t bow down to the all conquering round ball code. We started being told how we should support the game, how we should start signing like the English do, how we should be more passionate about soccer than anything else like the South Americans, how we should make it a big business like the Asians.
It’s not diving, its simulation and not being a soccer person from a soccer culture, I wouldn’t understand it. Go back to watching your Rugby League that no one else cares about. Leave soccer to the more sophisticated types with a a greater world view of sport.
All of that baggage, all of that crap, it turned people away from the sport. People like me that actually just wanted to watch a game of soccer but who couldn’t be bothered listening to ignorant idiots while we watched!
The NSL collapsed because the only people turning up to game were ones looking to carry on violence from countries that their parents came from. No one cared any more. Everyone had been turned away.
Then, we had the World Cup.
Every so often as a nation we get a bee in our bonnet about a certain sporting conquest. In my lifetime I have seen Australia become obsessed with the Americas Cup, with beating the great West Indian sides of the late 80’s, with State Of Origin, With the 500cc Motorcycle World Championship, Bathurst, with doing well at the Olympics…..and at one point the obsession was making the soccer World Cup.
The story was a beautiful one. Australia was forced to Qualify against teams from Asia and South America who were battle hardened. We would come so close, look like we were in, only to be crushed by appointment’s. Then, we made it! The nation rejoiced and we watched in big numbers.
Off the back of that interest the NSL was officially laid to rest. Soccer Australia was killed off….and the “soccer types” dug their claws into game….
The Football Federation of Australia was born. Oh, thats right, in a country where the term “Football” could have meant one of the two most dominant codes, “soccer types” decided they would try to take ownership of the word because hey, thats what they call it in England! At the very least it stopped new FFA Chairman Frank Lowy feeling awkward when on his FFA junkets to meet with FIFA officails by having to mention the word “Soccer” ask he got an idea of what it would cost to get things done over there.
We had a new soccer competition set up in the A League, once again with teams heavily influenced by a sporting culture that has nothing to do with soccer in Australia. It was a clean slate though and a chance for the sport to embrace an all inclusive culture once again. To a certain extent it succeeded, but for the most part it was a house build on a foundation of sand. Clubs to the very day bleed red ink and the competition as a whole is financially unsustainable.
As a sporting fan in Western Sydney that follows Rugby League, Cricket, Soccer, Motorsport, Basketball, Gridiron….I didn’t really feel any connection to the A League. I took a bit of interest in Sydney FC but they just didn’t grab me.
Then, a few months ago the West Sydney Wanderers were announced. I was all in! I finally had a team I could follow that represented the area I come from. I could look past the North Sydney Bear colours they would use, I could even look past the Wanderers English name and the fact they called themselves a football club rather than a soccer club. I was willing to give them every benefit of the doubt, because as I said earlier, Ijust wanted to watch a bit of soccer!
The WSW have, in their five minute history, pushed the idea that they will represent Western Sydney. They had me sold! Then, along with “soccer types” at the FFA, they decided to play the insecurity card about another sport in Western Sydney that has a rich history that touches everyone out here.
I’m out. They need to win me back now, and they haven’t even played a single game…
Parramatta Stadium was built to replace Cumberland Oval which was burnt to the ground after the Parramatta Eels won their first Premiership. This is actual sporting history of Western Sydney….this isn’t some PR spin about a private school that played soccer that was used to give a new soccer club a shred of credibility.
I’m a Penrith Panthers fan and the history of the Parramatta Eels means something to me. I have attended so many games at Parramatta Stadium in my lifetime just to see some Rugby League! I sat in the Mick Cronin stand one day as a teenager watching a terrible Eels team play an even worse Seagulls side. I lost my hearing there one year on the the hill when I sat next to a 10 foot tall speaker as the Angles belted out tuned at half time.
I’m not an Eels fan, but as a Western Sydney sporting fan, Parramatta Stadium is part of the history of the area. Build for Rugby League. Stands named after Western Sydney sporting legends who all played for the Eels. A statue of the great Ray Price proudly standing outside…..you don’t have to be an Eels supporter for all of that history to be part of who you are!
To think that some idiot at a soccer club believes they can put their own fans in some sort of bubble, make them forget all of that history and it is all just an effort to make them feel “more comfortable” is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!
Do they honestly think their brand new supporter base has existed in a bubble all of these years? Do they think their brand new supporter base is so fragile that the mere presence of a statue and a few names painted on concrete stands will be too much to handle and drive people away?
Imagine what they think will happen to their supporters if they happen to “wander” into Parramatta League club! It would be a disaster that would tear the very fabric of the space time continuum!
These ignorant soccer lunatics need to stop. They need to realize that we want to enjoy the game, but their constant bullshit keeps fucking it up for us!
I attended the 2006 Super League Grand Final between Hull FC and St Helens at Old Trafford in Manchester. You will not find a more famous cathedral of soccer history anywhere else in the world. Do you know how long I spent that day thinking about soccer?
Maybe 15 seconds….
That was it! I was there to watch Rugby League. At the moment, I honestly didn’t give a stuff about soccer, and you know what, that should be the confidence soccer in Australia has about itself when it plays at Parramatta Football Stadium.
Your fans are going to buy your jerseys. They are going to spend money on tickets, parking and food. They are going to take three hours of their lives to fight traffic, watch you play, and fight traffic again.
Do you honestly think these people will be thinking about Rugby League when they do ANY of this?
The sooner soccer in Australia is taken out of the hands of these idiots that are searching for an axe to grind, the quicker it will find mainstream acceptance in this country. Soccer isn’t the number of sport here, it can not compete with Rugby League or AFL. No other sports can.
What it can do is make itself the neutral alternative. You have an allegiance to one sport or the other? Thats fine. In the off season, come an watch your local soccer team play, everyone is welcome, just enjoy it. That is all we ask.
That should be the attitude of the Western Sydney Wanderers and the FFA.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com