Reaction to walkout could show cultural divide

Last night the Northern Terrace, which hosts a number of active fan groups for the Melbourne Victory walked out during the Melbourne Victory – Adelaide match at Etihad stadium.

The reasons for this action are contained in the leaflet below.

 

The reactions on this have been generally supportive. However some have disagreed, stating that the actions of the Northern Terrace were selfish, and that ultimately it’s about supporting the team and not about them.

I think this difference of opinion raises a very interesting point.

As I have written before, many A-League fans from other teams and Melbourne Victory fans themselves who are not part of the NT are sometimes are dismissive of the NT because they seem to be protesting a lot. The criticism stems that we have been provided with a team to follow, and the role of the fan is to support the players on the pitch, not to believe that somehow the needs of the NT are above the needs of the players to feel supported as they play.

I think this criticism fails to understand the issue of how Social, or Group Identity works in the NT. I believe that NT members for the most part do want to support the team and give it all to make them win. But I also think that to do that they need to own their support, not to be dictated by some authority above.

And as I was reading the reactions of the walkout in social media, I was struck how most of those critical of the NT actions came from fans that came to football later from other sports.

For instance. The passion Tony Wilson has for football cannot be questioned. His writing about his experiences watching the national team in Germany is epic. And last night he tweeted:

Walkouts and protests at football matches do happen in other countries. For instance this was a walkout and protest by AC Milan fans (in this case for the shambolic way the Club was being run) earlier this year.

Protest during the Serie a match between AC Milan and AS Roma at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 9, 2015 in Milan, Italy.

Protest during the Serie a match between AC Milan and AS Roma at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 9, 2015 in Milan, Italy.

But in Australia? These things don’t seem to happen in the AFL, NRL or cricket. And I wonder whether perhaps protests such as these show a divide between fans who have been exposed to the so called ‘football culture’, for want of a better word, and those who have come to football and have grown up with other codes, and may see ‘protests’ outside their perception of normal fan behaviour.

So do walkouts and protests such as the one we saw last night are in the same category as other behaviour that is perceived as being ‘un-Australian such as marches to the stadium, chants and choreography? Do they show again football to have a culture different from what is known in Australia?

That is for me an interesting question. The over the top presence of police expecting ‘trouble’ last night shows that perhaps it is.

 

 

But things are moving. I’ll leave the last word to another convert, the journalist Richard Hind. He did describe the protest ‘pointless’, but at least in an article published in the Daily Telegraph wrote:

But – and this takes some gritting of the teeth by football fans – these stories mostly reflect football’s steady rise as much as the supposed ‘’problems’’ themselves. Remove the hysteria and the current debate is not about football’s failures but its growth. It is about those unfamiliar with football being confronted with a different – and yes, sometimes challenging – fan culture, not a return to the old ‘’Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters’’ days when soccer was ridiculed for its mere existence.

It is about ‘’old Australian’’ sports fans understanding 3000 people chanting loudly and forcefully at one end of a ground is a concert, not a riot.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Reaction to walkout could show cultural divide

  1. Alex

    It happens on occasions in AFL. Remember Fitzroy cheersquad’s quite evocative banner after the meger was announced? (http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/brisbane-lions-resembling-fitzroy-of-old-20140517-zrg2a.html – I couldn’t find anything from the time quickly, but the 2nd paragraph has it) And the “Up your Oakley” stickers from the Footscray-Fitzroy merger?

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