Will Manly Supporters Turn Up Or Will They Stay Away?

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.

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2 thoughts on “Will Manly Supporters Turn Up Or Will They Stay Away?

  1. This is the thing i find really bizzare about Australia and the NRL. For comparison it’d be like asking Wigan to go and play their game against Catalans on Friday at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester for no other reason than it’s a better stadium. Or say sending Warrington to play their home play-off against St Helens at Wigan’s DW Stadium just because it’s bigger.

    I’m guessing the SFS holds around 40k Is that likely to be filled given it’s live on TV and the away support have to fly to get there? How many neutrals will come and watch? I know i’d be a bit miffed if i’d been to every ‘home’ game at Brookvale then get told i’ve got to treak to another stadium to watch my team in the finals – with ‘home’ advantage.

    Obviously there is precident in the fact that it’s gone on for years – it still doesn’t sit well with me though.

  2. In Sydney we have had a history where the finals games were always played at the main stadium. Even going into the NRL era, you hear former Brisbane Broncos players that talked about feeling like finals should be played at the Sydney Football Stadium because that was what happened over the history of the game.

    As the competition really matured into a national competition that had to change though and the NRL started to allow teams to host finals games at their home stadiums.

    In Sydney, for a lot of Sydney clubs their traditional home stadiums simply aren’t big enough for some of the crowds that teams could attract. This all come to a head a few years ago when the Dragons hosted the Eels at Kogarah Oval. They sold out the ground which from memory holds around 18-20,000, but that game at ANZ Stadium could have easily got 35,000.

    So some combinations of clashes between Sydney clubs and even Sydney clubs and out of Sydney clubs, you can get huge crowds. But other combinations….the crowds won’t be all that high for what ever reason.

    Common sense would dictate that for those smaller crowds, you’d allow Sydney clubs to go back and play games at their home stadium. However….this being Rugby League with all its paranoia and self interest, if the NRL allowed that other clubs would blow up and say its unfair they have to play in a big, neutral stadium while smaller drawing teams get to play at their normal home crowd.

    In short, it is bizarre! πŸ˜€

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