There is a phenomenon that occurs among sports fans who follow a team for many years, especially a team that struggles to win games for a long time and then turns things around and becomes successful.
You see, these people will follow their team through thick and thin. Through the good times and the bad. They will talk about wanting their team to grow and about wanting more people to support the club. They want things to get bigger and better.
Then, as their team starts to do well and they see other people start to follow them, they start to complain about it!
Who are these blow ins? These bandwagoners! How dare they support my team! I was here first! They should take their brand new jerseys and their newly purchased tickets and burn them all! We don’t want these people at our club!
You can very quickly get to a point where by people who want to take an interest in a club, who want to become long term supporters, are turned off by the reception they receive from longer term fans of the club.
Rugby League supporters sometimes forget that the difference between getting 10,000 to a game and 20,000 to a game is attracting people to a club that don’t want to buy all the merchandise, who don’t catch all the games, and who don’t have the clubs logo tattooed on themselves.
Truly successful clubs go out of their way to try and attract the casual sporting fan who just wants to be entertained for a few hours each weekend. That is something that I try to do as a Rugby League supporter myself. I don’t push the game on anyone and I don’t try to sell it. If I come across someone that isn’t a die hard Rugby League supporter I tell them to give it a look and see if it is something they might enjoy. That is as far as I go.
As a Panthers supporter, I love that people are once again taking notice of the club. For so many years things that happened at the Penrith Panthers turned people away. Now there is a reason to take an interest again, and I want to see as many people as possible at the very least giving the Penrith Panthers and go and seeing if they are a club that they can cheer on, not just this year, but into the future.
Every single supporter of every club started off going to their first game, getting their first jersey, cheering on their first win and talking about their first ever favourite player. Is it worse to choose to become the supporter of a football club rather than just being dragged along by someone else when you were younger? I don’t think so.
Rugby League clubs need every range of supporter, from the person that listens to games on the radio because they live out in the country to the person that streams coverage online from overseas. From the family that goes to games once a year to the little old lady I sat next to at a Panthers match few weeks ago who turns up by herself every week and cheers the team on in a quiet little voice.
Every Rugby League supporter is important. No matter how involved you are, how many years you’ve supported the club, hell if you don’t know any of the players names and you’ve just been dragged along by friends to your first ever match, you are all welcome to the game!
So if you are looking for a team to support, if you are considering jumping aboard the bandwagon, or if you just want to join in the celebrations that hopefully happen from here on out for the Penrith Panthers, I say welcome aboard!
As a Panthers supporter I want as many casual fans to get involved as possible. I want the club to grow as big as possible! Buy a jersey, they look great! Consider buying a season ticket next season. Buy t-shirts. Go to the game on the weekend, drag some other people along with you and cheer on the team like you were one of the first through the gates back in 1967.
Make the Penrith Panthers YOUR club!