Old-time football needs to ease up on the bitterness

Kane Cassidy Roar Guru

By Kane Cassidy, Kane Cassidy is a Roar Guru

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65 Have your say

    Melbourne Victory FC fans celebrate their team scoring a goal against Perth Glory FC during their A-League match at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011.The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (AAP Image/Martin Philbey)

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    It’s something hard to ignore, the masses of NSL fans constantly belittling the new generation of football fans coming out of the woodwork and settling in to our game.

    Everyone hates a ‘plastic’.

    Those contemptible little gremlins who, in recent years have multiplied at the veritable feast football has offered.

    The ones who come along because we’re the ‘cool new thing’.

    The ones who know nothing of the sport and yet come along with their Google-sponsored knowledge and try to fit in.

    How dare these people come to our game without extensive knowledge of Australian football history and the privilege of a city location in which to gain such knowledge!

    Is every fan who can’t recall the 1994 NSL runner up one of these gremlins?

    Here is the journey of a passionate football fan, who came to love the game without attending a single NSL match in his life.

    I grew up in and around Dubbo, New South Wales, a rural area whose claim to fame is several rugby league stars, an international abattoir and the originator of the word ‘bogan’.

    My first exposure to football was in the tiny village I lived in between Dubbo and Orange.

    Every year this dot on the map with a population of 300 would put on a World Cup-style ‘Soccer Carnival’ which drew massive amounts of people from, Dubbo, Wellington, Molong, Orange and even as far away as Blayney.

    I always had a kick around with the team Cumnock Public School entered, even though I had no idea about the rules, how important the game was in Europe, or even which way to kick the ball.

    All I knew is that I wanted to do my village colours of red, white and blue proud against the sea of more professionally organised teams proudly representing far-off places.

    This tiny ‘World Cup’ environment would set in motion reasons as to why I chose football over other sports, most notably rugby union, which I played at the behest of my parents, the game they supported and would probably be much happier if I stuck with.

    But football already had its hooks in me, even if I didn’t realise it yet.

    The next stage in my football development came with my obsession for video games, most notably FIFA World Cup ’98.

    When it came to the World Cup in real life I had no idea when the matches were on, no idea who was in what group or who they faced after the group stage, all I remember from the actual games was arguing with my equally clueless cousins about who would win the final (I backed France, in your face Travis!).

    But in video game land, I was a World Cup master tactician several times over, having won more tournaments with my chosen team of Italy than I care to remember.

    My team choice in this game would see another aspect of my footballing life decided.

    My favourite player to carve teams up with was a tiny rocket of a man, with impeccable dribbling and amazing finishing skills, a proto-Messi, you might have seen him in my display picture, the clever little so-and-so himself: Gianfanco Zola.

    My admiration for this player would cement a love affair for the club he played for: Chelsea Football Club.

    Upon receiving FIFA ’98 (different from the World Cup edition) I found Zola and immediately set about conquering the world with my new favourite club.

    Flash forward a few years and a few football titles for various consoles, I found myself as a teenager with more freedom and a more relaxed bedtime, one late night channel surfing expedition I stumbled across the EPL in TV broadcast format.

    Here were all the players I’d come to know right there on my TV, I also stumbled across The World Game, here were people talking about the game and the matches I was seeing.

    I didn’t catch The World Game as often as I’d like to but Foxtel’s coverage of the EPL had me tuning in every weekend and sometimes late night Mondays.

    Due to zealous protectionism from other codes I had no way of knowing who and what the NSL was about, the times I caught The World Game, I didn’t pay much attention to the NSL parts, as far as I was concerned the EPL was much safer ground I felt at home with it.

    I saw the matches, I saw the analysis, something in which I only had a brief taste of with the NSL coverage.

    I strangely saw the NSL as something far off in the cities as opposed to the utterly magnificent EPL which I could see in my living room or in my bedroom as I played FIFA.

    Around this time the NSL started to go into decline and the new A-League was conceived, this would be a new league of unprecedented professionalism, unheard of standards of play and the ability to recruit better players.

    And when I heard that Foxtel had the broadcasting rights I immediately chose Sydney FC as my team and I’ve been heavily invested in the A-League ever since.

    I even came around to supporting the national team, I attended my first A-League and Socceroos game in 2005 when I was 18.

    Does this sound like the story of some ‘plastic’ that floated in on the last breeze?

    Time and time again I’ve faced ire from my fellow football supporters all because I don’t know who scored a brace in Marconi’s 3-1 win over the Football Kingz in 1999.

    My path is a genuine one, the NSL didn’t lend itself to newcomers or people in rural areas so I missed out, I think a few people need to think before they judge A-League fans harshly.

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    The Crowd Says (65)

    • August 21st 2013 @ 10:25am
      Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:25am | ! Report

      Ease up on the bitterness. Let’s see, old NSL eliminated by Frank Lowy and the Hakoah mafia. Lowy was an old-NSL man, who helped form the league , turned on it. Let’s see isolated us for years, so to weaken us and make us start from the bottom, so it takes years to catch up to he is new breed genetically modified A-league clubs. And now with the NPL South Melbourne and other clubs are not happy with the terms. Basically the A-league turning the old-NSL clubs into youth development clubs for them to farm. How cost and convenient. I think they have every right to be bitter, they have been marginalised,isolated, and undermined.

      • Roar Guru

        August 21st 2013 @ 10:36am
        Kane Cassidy said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:36am | ! Report

        This is about NSL fans bitterness about A-League fans.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 10:51am
          Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          oh sorry mate, i’m on your side all the way dude, chao Zola.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:41am
        striker said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:41am | ! Report

        Johnno they probally have a point i think they should be compensated alot more than theyhave been, how many more sleeps till the A-League starts i cant wait, it wil be the biggest season to date go the mighty Wanderers.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:41am
        Samual Johnson said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:41am | ! Report

        In Frank Lowy’s biography written years before the “Great soccer revolution” he mentioned that even though he was instrumental in setting up the NSL they made a major mistake in not setting up composite clubs that represented regions/cities from the beginning. It was apparent in the early 1980s it was the wrong model that was born to fail.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 11:50am
        Aljay said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        If the NSL clubs and their members feel bad then maybe they should have learnt to run a competition that was not a financial basket case with clubs that catered to fans based on their grandparents nationality. But to accept that the NSL’s demise was their own fault and no-one else’s would mean they lose that massive chip on their shoulder they are so fond of. They have proven they are clearly incapable of accepting responsibility for their collective failure.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 12:06pm
          Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

          SO what they should be punished for the past, sentenced to 20 years of roadblocks, we are already halfway through our sentence 10 years, what another 10 to go to be allowed to be on equal footing. When Frank Lowy departs as chairman, which will be soon 1-2 years, i hope the bridge is relaxed.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 12:35pm
            Aljay said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

            I think the FFA is pretty clear that broad-based teams that will be financially successful and have the ability to attract at least 10k in crowds will be looked at closely for A-league entry. Their exclusion is not a punishment but a failure to meet these benchmarks. The best indicator of how these clubs will perform in the future is their performance as top-flight clubs in the past, which off the field was poor.

            • August 21st 2013 @ 12:39pm
              Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

              South Melbourne with an A-league licence, and all the benefits the Melb Heart get, could attract far bigger crowds than Heart.
              Adelaide city has more potential than Adelaide United.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 12:46pm
                Franko said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

                Sth Melb, Adelaide CIty etc. will have the chance to prove what well behaved and massive crowds they can get in the FFA Cup. I look forward to it.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 4:39pm
                Aljay said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

                Like the FFA have said “broad-based”, that rules out South Melbourne at present. They still have more work to do but agree that Heart are not the answer for a second Melbourne team in their current structure.

                I don’t know much about Adelaide City but would be surprised if SA can handle two teams.

              • August 22nd 2013 @ 1:35pm
                Kasey said | August 22nd 2013 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

                you’re blind Johnno. Adelaide City had years to get it right but were unable to penetrate the consciousness of the city in the way United have – despite winning games and championships on a regular basis.

                It wasn’t until Adelaide United entered the NSL in 2003 that things ‘clicked’ for the vast majority of football fans in Adelaide. Your devotion to the old ways is oddly admirable but stupidly shortsighted/misguided. In no way could it be reasonably argued that AUFC and the HAL have not moved the game forward in SA from where Adelaide City and the NSL left it in 2003.

          • August 23rd 2013 @ 1:14am
            KickassKoala said | August 23rd 2013 @ 1:14am | ! Report

            Well when they can get a varied decent crowd they may have a shot in the A-League, Perth Glory were the only NSL team that completed the FFA’s checklist.

            I remember the NSL, i never went to games because i never felt any team really wanted someone like me there, im half American, it would be like creating an NSL team that wore stars and stripes and sold chilli dogs at grounds.

            I like A-League teams being part of a region, not a town or family origin country.

            I also played FIFA World Cup 1998, thats when i got into football, stayed up late to watch Netherlands play on fuzzy SBS. Ive bought every FIFA game since 1998.

    • Roar Guru

      August 21st 2013 @ 10:36am
      Kane Cassidy said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:36am | ! Report

      Did you even read it?
      This is about being more welcoming.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 11:36am
        Jukes said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:36am | ! Report


        I thought your article was ok and an interesting story from your side of things. You just have to be careful whenever you use the term “bitter” no matter how innocent or innocuously you use the term.

        For my take on the article I think we need to embrace our past and look forward to a bright football future. At some point in time we want to welcome everyone back into the football family. That includes those fans who only have their interest in the EPL and also those fans from the old NSL. It will take time, probably a generation before that can happen.

        Everyone’s journey is different, the most important part is getting to that final destination. From seeing over 170,000 people attending two matches in Sydney and Melbourne. THAT IS FOOTBALLS POTENTIAL.

        We are football.

        • Roar Guru

          August 21st 2013 @ 12:30pm
          Kane Cassidy said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

          To all you people saying this, this article is meant to say this in a roundabout way, we’re all football fans so stop judging where I came from just because my footballing history doesn’t involve the NSL.
          How people are taking this as an indictment on the NSL and not as an example of how passionate football fans can come from many paths is beyond me.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 12:36pm
            Aljay said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

            I thought you were pretty clear in your message Kane, maybe you just ripped a band-aid off a sore spot : )

          • August 21st 2013 @ 12:41pm
            Titus said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

            Kane, did you know that SFC have picked up a young CB from Dubbo? Jacob Tratt, he is in Italy with them at the moment and will join the NYL side when they return, also good to see the boy from Blayney back and playing for Newcastle. A lot of talent coming out of the Central West.

            • Roar Guru

              August 21st 2013 @ 12:53pm
              Kane Cassidy said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

              I do know, he’s been all over the news here.
              Yeah, Football is pretty strong here despite being a rugby league heartland, the combined efforts of Dubbo, Orange and Bathurst with the youth team Western Spurs has seen many young stars being noticed by teams in Sydney.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 1:02pm
                Titus said | August 21st 2013 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

                Cool, maybe we will see SFC playing a few NYL games in areas such as Dubbo in the future. Will be interesting to see how Tratt develops.

              • Roar Guru

                August 21st 2013 @ 1:06pm
                Kane Cassidy said | August 21st 2013 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

                We’ve already had Mariners vs Phoenix here and I recall another game being played in Orange, penty of youth around here.
                That’s why I think Youth League games should be divided by area, not league, more exposure to talent in areas without senior representation.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 1:13pm
                Bondy said | August 21st 2013 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

                The other match was Adelaide vs Newcastle in the bush.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 1:38pm
                Franko said | August 21st 2013 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

                Yes we played Newcastle in Bathurst. Would be good to do again this year as Nathan Burns is a local lad.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 3:49pm
            mahonjt said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

            I certainly didnt take it that way. I may have phrased a few things differently to you – however I saw it for what it was.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 3:47pm
        mahonjt said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

        I was trying to say that our game is well placed to welcome whoever comes next and contribute to our nation’s overall harmony.

        The point remains however, that while the NSL rightly reflected the communities who arrived by way of mass post-war migration in huge numbers from a small number of European communities. immigration is itself far more diverse and diffuse today.

        It is therefore intellectually arguable (I have no hard evidence) that a broad based league structure with a multicultural outlook is better placed to welcome these new arrivals into the fold – the game they know and love.

        My Melbourne victory crowd is a diverse one (involving many ex NSL communities as I stated above), but my sense is that is still an overwhelmingly European crowd with a smattering of South and East Asian peoples and those from Africa. The Wanderers crowd looks to be much more representative of more recent arrivals. It is a real credit to them.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 4:29pm
          mahonjt said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

          SOrry for the double post – strnge things going on with the server today?

    • August 21st 2013 @ 10:38am
      Samual Johnson said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      “The masses of NSL fans …” Hmm, now what were the tv ratings and attendances for NSL matches again? I watched one match at Gippsland from the comfort of my Ford. When it began raining, I simply put on the heater and windscreen wipers. That was what it was like, forget the misty vision of it being any different. It was small potatoes but developed some good players and helped us get our game to where it is today.

      Interestingly, Australia never qualified for a World Cup in the entire history of the NSL, but have never not qualified since the inauguration of the A-League.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 11:52am
        Aljay said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:52am | ! Report

        Interesting last point that has not previously occurred to me Sam, as was your previous point about Lowy.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 6:30pm
        vinnie said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

        trust my words as a football and socceroos finatic we would have qualified every time in those NSL years had we been in asia all this time, the 98,2002,2006 socceroos would slam the current socceroos by 6 goals.
        viduka, okon, zelic, kewell, thats just the start

        • August 22nd 2013 @ 9:45am
          Aljay said | August 22nd 2013 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          Yeah I agree with you given that countries like Saudi Arabia qualified, but if I wanted to troll I’d point out that in 97 we did lose to an Asian team and the S.American team that beat us in 01 did nothing once they got to the Cup either.

          However we all know the MCG was an aberration and that team would have done much, much better than Iran had they made it to France. On the other hand the 01 team fell to pieces in Montevideo, I think they just weren’t good enough to be there.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 10:46am
      Towser said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:46am | ! Report

      Johnno’s view & your view Kane both need to be dumped in the trash can & off to the tip ,never to be seen again.
      Football’s journey in Australia is not one story, ,but many.
      It should not be told from the angle of division ,but from the realisation that in its own way its unique compared to most countries in the world due to post war migration. The NSL was just a by product of post war migration. Without it their would be no A-League no players in decent clubs overseas & the Socceroos would be to quote the pun the Soccerwhos.
      As your different journey took you to the A-League so did mine & many other different journeys,neither is right,wrong,better or worse just part of the history & evolution of football in Australia..

      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:52am
        striker said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        Johhno i gotta agree i love the A-League but i am proud also of the NSL and it was a very important producing the likes of Viduka,Okon,Popovic,Zelic the list goes on and on, we need to unite as a code then will you see us get even bigger be it NSL folk and the newcomers and not get bitter over nothing.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:53am
        Midfielder said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:53am | ! Report


        Well said … and as I have often commented the SBS view of Australian Football history is in many ways very bias to the victim slant and the SBS view of the world…

        We have many many stories … from the 1860’s…

      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:54am
        Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        such an arrogant viewpoint, from a winners write history angle. The NSL clubs were the losers, they wanted to integrate 10 years ago, but Lowy didn’t want a bar of them. And the NSL only ended in 2004 , 10 years ago it’s not that dinaosurish.
        And it’s a bit hard to prove your worth , when you keep getting roadblocks put in front of you, silly ones to all in the name of fear, and being embarrassed. You can’t tell men Adelaide city, and South Melbourne, and Sydney United with an A-league licence could not be commercially viable, c’mon mac.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 12:25pm
          Franko said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

          You obviously never went to Hindmarsh to watch Adelaide City.

          I remember crowds of 3-4 thousand people. Great community stuff, but not for the national stage. Even on a poor day Adelaide United double the old City crowds and they are only just viable.

        • August 22nd 2013 @ 3:08pm
          Ben of Phnom Penh said | August 22nd 2013 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

          I tend to agree with Franko here, as Adelaide United actually came into the NSL due to the inability of Adelaide City to continue.

          South Melbourne may be a different financial kettle of fish altogether.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 10:47am
      Midfielder said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:47am | ! Report


      Enjoyed your article….

      You are correct in some in Football seem to want new-comers to study a course in football history before they can comment…. However the same can be said of Union if I am honest…

      Football greatest advantage is IMO acceptance of anyone especially at a playing level were their will be a grade that you can play against your equals….

      On the NSL bitters me thinks along with the Euro Snob they are noisy but few in number …

      My reading of the tea leafs is those hard core rusted on football types you speak of with little patience for others don’t understand both the Australian sporting landscape, nor footballs player base … further many see themselves as victims and have a unbalanced view of footballs past…

      In truth many who play football support teams from the NRL & AFL even rugby … In what is commonly referred to as heartland areas IMO Football only has two across Australia, Western Sydney & the Hunter Valley / Newcastle and both are shared with RL…

      This is not to say the role of egg ball media has not hindered Footballs development … it most certainty has … however many of Footballs past issues are self inflicted ..

      Football will grow in Australia IMO at a constant rate and will not devour other codes …. moreover its the role of those running the game to improve the on field quality and spread the word…

      A case in point is my Mariners… established in a RL heartland nay a RL fortress they are slowly winning over the local population being on FTA will help … My Mariners often cope criticism re crowds and home end support…. BUT it is the good folk of the Central Coast that represent the Australian sporting landscape football a game to be played but the sport I watch is …. akin to say boxing in the 50’s & 60’s a sport not much played but watched by most…

      The media is changing …. the Drive Bys being in a heartland area will drive the media even more … so clever to stay in a stadium which will be said to be too small …

      Have no fear about the naysayers and the rusted on hardcore …. most in football just want you to watch, respect and ask questions ..

      Just on the Euro Snobs IMO they are in the main people who play football by choice often because its company and the less physical nature of football… they follow sport and see in the AFL & NRL the worlds best [lets not argue about world size] they see in Europe the world best …. Its for Football to convince these folk our standard is up there…. this season could be a excellent start …

    • August 21st 2013 @ 10:53am
      Titus said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:53am | ! Report

      The majority of support that makes up the a-league is from NSL fans and those, like myself, who followed the NSL but never had a team. As you point out though, one of the strengths of the a-league is its ability to attract newcomers.

      Understandably there will be some who are not happy but you would find the overwhelming opinion of football fans is that the a-league was the right path to take.

      As others have said, the way forward isn’t about division, it is about unity.

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