Exclusive: Interview with the Wanderer’s RBB
Two nights ago we witnessed the shocking story of a football friendly gone wrong.
A small group of troublemakers causing chaos in a Sydney FC friendly match against Macarthur Rams brought the game into disrepute and let the media have a field day at the expense of the sport, and by extension the Western Sydney Wanderers’ support base.
Names have been thrown around the internet on various forums and on various outlets, but the main blame has been directed at the Wanderers’ Red and Black Bloc (RBB).
For those yet unaware the Red and Black Bloc is the active supporter group for the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Today we are lucky enough to catch up with the two spokespeople from the RBB, Matt Adamson and Sean Herrett.
In the light of last night’s event the media has been quick to point the finger at the RBB community. How has the response been as a result of the accusations?
MA: The general response of Wanderers supporters has been one of disgust, both at the events that transpired and their immediate association with our group. The incident at the Rams v SFC game, and its’ association with the RBB undermines everything we are trying to achieve by way of positive, passionate home end support. We are unanimous that a zero tolerance approach must be taken towards anti-social behaviour.
SH: We are disgusted and absolutely denounce these types of actions, and today our supporters group has unanimously denounced this behaviour as well. As far as we are concerned, this wasn’t the action of the RBB. It’s a couple of mindless fools off the street. We had RBB supporters in the Grandstand who witnessed the events. There was no problem with them. I can add, if it is found to be anyone from the RBB, they will be expelled immediately. Those actions don’t sit with our ethos. Our thoughts go out to the young boy, Max, who was injured.
The past few weeks it has been noted the RBB doing positive things in the community and has engaged very well with the local fans. How will this situation affect the group’s standing?
MA: If anything, there has been an overwhelming sentiment to redouble our efforts in providing an inclusive, family-friendly environment for football fans at Wanderers matches. Our group has worked hand in hand with the club all the way through the formation process and will continue to do so. Unfortunately initiatives that deliver positive social outcomes such as anti-bullying campaigns and schools ambassador programmes don’t seem to be deemed as newsworthy as an isolated incident involving a rogue group of thugs.
SH: Ultimately, people will judge us by our actions. Only last week we had kids chanting amongst us at the Blacktown City match. You would hope, well I know, that most people are intelligent enough to see that we are above these accusations. We have been working closely with the Club to date, and will continue to do so. As Matt said we have RBB supporters working hand in hand in community projects with the WSWFC with a school and bullied children program.
Many have noted that members on the WSF Forum discussed attending the match, and that a few stated they did attend. What role did these people have in the events two nights ago?
MA: Those who attended the match that I’ve spoken with watched on in disgust from the stands. They were justifiably disappointed.
SH: None what so ever. As I said earlier, they were there in the grandstands and no one has made any mention of them.
How has the response from the members of the RBB been on the forums?
MA: Overwhelming to say the least. Despite being in our formative stages, and thus having no “official” membership, there are a great number of people who genuinely feel a part of the RBB and are disgusted at what transpired at the Rams v SFC match.
SH: Utter disgust. Disgusted that people purporting to be Football supporters could undertake such heinous actions. What it has done is drawn a line in the sand though. We have no hesitation in outing anyone we believe are involved in this type of activity. it has been heartening to see the positive response from the group, the commitment to zero tolerance of any form of anti social or violent behaviour.
Recently a video has hit the internet detailing children chanting along with the RBB at the Blacktown City Friendly Match. What are the ideals of the RBB and how family-focussed does the group plan on being?
MA: We understand that active support is not for everyone but have always maintained that we are open to anybody who wishes to chant and sing in the home end. At present we are working on some songs/chants that we hope will have the whole stadium singing along. The ‘baby RBB’ videos were a great example of how persistence can overcome negative stereotypes and perceptions.
SH: We have a basic ethos. Be loud, be proud, be the best of what Active support can be. We are very family orientated. I have 5 children, many of our group are parents, mums and dads, coaches, teachers etc. Ultimately, we hope to involve the whole stadium in singing, something Australia has never seen before. To see the kids chanting is unbelievable.
Are you worried that the RBB’s reputation and status will be heavily affected by the media coverage on this event?
MA: Football in Australia is somewhat cursed by past perceptions and an apparent media bias against our code. While this does not in any way excuse what took place at the Rams v SFC match it does mean that football supporters groups such as ours will always come under a greater level of scrutiny and criticism. All we can do is keep trying to break those perceptions through positive action.
SH: I think most people have already realised it wasn’t the RBB, so no, not really. Unfortunately the media love to quickly jump on any negativity surrounding our sport.
What is the RBB’s stance on the culprits and the actions of the event? Is this behaviour that will be prevalent in the Wanderer’s home end?
MA: We denounce any kind of anti-social behaviour, especially violence. People who act in such a way are not true football fans, rather they are selfish fools who misrepresent our sport as their excuse to indulge in some kind of macho thug fantasy. The Wanderers’ home end will be loud, we will be proud and we will not tolerate anyone who puts the enjoyment & safety of others at risk through their actions.
SH: These people need to be found and made an example of. It was just disgusting. No Football supporter would act like that. Of course our Home End won’t be like that. We will be loud, we will be proud. However we have zero tolerance for violent or anti social behaviour.
It is known that the RBB is in contact with the WSW Club. To what extent has this been and have discussions been held regarding this issue?
MA: Sean has handled all communications with the club today so I can’t speak about the incident at the Rams match, however I have been involved in other meetings where the club and the FFA have made their positions on active support and anti-social behaviour abundantly clear. These positions echo our own in that active support is fantastic but anti-social behaviour will be subject to zero tolerance.
SH: Both of us have had meetings with the WSW FC. We’ve also had Lyall Gorman and Rob Squillacioti (FFA) attend our supporters meeting’s. We have a very open dialogue and yes the events have been discussed, at length.
It has become apparent in the last few hours that culprits are members of the Sin City Crew, some of which broke off from Sydney FC to support Western Sydney FC. What is the RBB view of these defectors and are they a legitimate sub-group within?
MA:It’d be hypocritical of me to label an entire group by the actions of a handful of individuals who may or may not have been part of the group. That is exactly what certain media outlets have done to the RBB. I can’t point out strongly enough how unwelcome the individuals involved in the incident at the Rams v SFC game are.
SH: I think that’s drawing a long bow to say the culprits have been identified as SCC. As it stands no one know’s who they are (the culprits). No one has seen them at any games or been able to identify them amongst our supporters group. I have no view on anyone who ‘defects’ as you say. We have people who have come from a various array of backgrounds, support, clubs etc. Some have never supported an A League team, some have.
What action will the RBB take toward the Sin City Crew, or other members whose sole purpose is to incite violence and bring the sport into disrepute?
MA: Anybody who seeks to use the RBB and our sport to incite violence is not welcome. Aside from making our position clear that we do not want this kind of person at our matches or in any way associated with our group we can only have faith that the relevant authorities will utilise any evidence to pursue offenders to the full extent of the law.
SH: Again, it’s dangerous to make unfounded accusations. The Sin City Crew is apparently still alive and well in the Cove. So i think that line of questioning is provocative. I will say though that we have a zero tolerance policy on anti social, thuggish behaviour. If we identify anyone as such, they will be expelled. If we catch anyone in the act, they will be identified to the authorities. It is absolutely ZERO tolerance.
Word has leaked out that the RBB will be raising funds for the child affected at the match, and as a gesture of goodwill, using the funds to purchase either a Sydney FC membership or a Western Sydney Wanderers membership for the child. What has been the RBB response to this initiative?
MA: So far everyone who has responded to the idea is in full support of it. As a group we aim to draw people to our sport and our club, not to have the actions of a few rogue individuals push them away.
SH: Overwhelmingly positive. To think a young child has been injured by simply going to the Football just makes us sick. We only hope that young Max isn’t put off coming to another game.
And on that topic are there any more community driven initiatives being put into action by the RBB?
MA:Several ideas for charity and community events and initiatives have been in discussion for some time, both working with the Western Sydney Wanderers club and independently on behalf of the RBB. Until plans are confirmed all that can be said is “watch this space”.
SH: Watch this space.
Thank you for your time both Matt Adamson and Sean Herrett
> Western Sydney Wanderers bulk fan base can be found on www.westsydneyfootball.com
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