You know, 18kms isn’t very far. That is the distance between Manly and the Sydney Football Stadium.
I’m the first to say that the Sydney Football Stadium isn’t the best place to get to if you don’t live in inner Sydney. I have made the journey there many times before to watch NRL games, State Of Origin games and Test matches. I can tell you that when you travel there from Western Sydney, you are in for a hell of a journey.
Private transport is all just out of the question simply because parking is a nightmare and expensive. That means you have to use public transport, and that is about as much fun as going banking with Andrew Frew…allegedly!
Still, from Manly, when you consider how close it is and that the NRL has put on busses from Manly to the Sydney Football Stadium, it is surely worth making the effort if you are a true Manly supporter. After all, this is a finals match.
If Manly win this game they are one win away from making the 2012 NRL Grand Final. They are playing an in form team in the North Queensland Cowboys whose supporters will need to catch a plane from Townsville to attend the match. The Sea Eagles need their supporters for this one. They are busted up and playing just 18kms away from what is supposed to be their heartland. If they run out on the Sydney Football Stadium on Friday night and there is a small crowd, that will have an effect on the players.
For too long the Manly Sea Eagles club has treated it as a joke that their supporters don’t travel in numbers to away games in Sydney. While other clubs do their best to put on busses, work out ticketing deals and do everything they can to encourage fans to go to away games and support their club, the Sea Eagles management just hasn’t bothered.
Even today as the NRL tries to encourage Manly fans to get to the game we have people at the club whinging about how it should be played at Brookvale Oval. Not “Get out and support us”. Not “We need you, you are part of our clubs and we want to make the Sydney Football Stadium our home for one night”. No….just “They should have played this game at Brookvale Oval”.
Its not good enough!
It will be embarrasing for the game if there is a tiny crowd to watch what will be a fantastic contest on Friday night. The Manly Sea Eagles are a fantastic team that has a better chance of winning back-to-back Premiership than any team I can think of since the Broncos did it in the early 1990’s. They play tough, they play smart, even in their loss to the Bulldogs last week when they were battling injuries, they looked very good. They should draw a massive crowd on Friday night. It shouldn’t be left to the NRL and the North Queensland Cowboys to apeal to neutral fans to get out to the game and support a Queensland team.
This is a true test for Manly Supporters. They like to talk big, but now it is time to actually get out and show they really do support their club.
I hope on Friday night the Sea Eagles run out and see a wall of maroon and white. I hope Friday night is a real turning point for the club and everyone involved at the Sea Eagles can point to the big crowd they got against the North Queensland Cowboys. I hope it makes the club push hard to get supporters attending away games and I hope supporters remember the night they took over the Sydney Football Stadium and realise, they should do that more often.
We will find out in a few days if Sea Eagles fans turn up. Fingers crossed they do. Their team deserves the support.
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
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