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I am what’s wrong with NRL crowds

Kris Swales Columnist

By Kris Swales, Kris Swales is a Roar Expert


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    Forgive me footy fans, for I have sinned. I only attended two NRL games this year, and I didn’t enjoy either of them.

    I have a valid excuse, though. Being a Canberra Raiders fan absolutely blows at the moment.

    Particularly when you’re watching your team wave Manly past like they’re directing traffic at a rain-sodden Brookvale Oval, or the Sydney Roosters coasting to victory in neutral at a desolate SFS.

    There was a three-game Raiders membership that I had every intention of using, but Ricky and the boys gave me little encouragement to drive three hours down the Hume full of hope, then turn around and drive home from Canberra Stadium wondering how that eight hours of my life could have been better utilised.

    I did take in five Newtown Jets games at Henson Park, but that’s as much about the cultural experience as it is a day at the football. Plus you can be guaranteed the home team will turn up, and the choice of establishments to retire to after the final hooter rattles across the field is far more salubrious than Mooseheads in the nation’s capital.

    Then there’s State of Origin, Game 2 of which my crew and I debated long and hard the relative merits of attending this year. We’re all working professionals with no dependents, but the consensus was we couldn’t justify spending $110-ish for tickets that were closer to $50 three years earlier.

    A hundred-plus clams for a Metallica concert? Sure. For a Pink Floyd reunion? Here, have my wallet. But not to attend an event that rolls through my city 1.5 times a year. (Though given New South Wales winning a series only happens every nine years, perhaps it deserved the special event price tag.)

    Now the finals are on, the Raiders are gone, Origin dynasties are shattered, and NRL crowds still have some journos and supporters ready to raise the terror threat levels to High.

    I didn’t go last weekend because I was house hunting and working and don’t really care for any Sydney teams. I won’t be going this weekend because I’m moving house and working and all of the people I’d normally drag along to watch the Cowboys school the Roosters have plans.

    I won’t be going to the prelims next weekend because I’ll be in Queensland. And I likely won’t go to the grand final unless it’s a Panthers-Cowboys decider because, quite frankly, f**k Sydney teams. (Oh alright, the Bunnies are also tolerable.)

    The NRL should be doing more to get fans to games, apparently. I read it all the time so it must be true. But what is this ‘more’ they speak of? Playing games at well-appointed stadia? Adult general admission tickets for $25 and $50 for families? Manly getting mercilessly thumped?

    All of this happened last Friday night when the Rabbitohs made my Expert tipping credentials look incredibly shaky – 25,000-odd showed up, and much fun was had by all but Manly fans.

    I enjoyed the spectacle all the same, as I did when a roaring crowd of 23,000 and Jamie Soward turned a scrappy affair into a finals classic the following evening.

    These crowds are neither here nor there. They’re not stupendous. They’re not a sign the four horsemen have entered the barriers. They’re merely workmanlike – the Dave Tyrrell and Remi Casty of crowd figures – and nowhere near as hysteria-inducing as your average edition of Question Time. Maybe workmanlike is rugby league’s lot in life.

    But if I was able to put some meat on the bones of the mythical ‘more’ that the NRL should be doing to get me along to more games?

    Dave Smith and his mates at Moore Park could start by conspiring to make the Canberra Raiders a powerhouse once more, playing out of Henson Park every other weekend so I could walk there and back, kick off every game at 3pm Saturday in perfect winter sunshine, serve craft beer in cans and book what’s left of Pink Floyd as the house band, playing Bad and Mean Green Machine in the style of Money whenever a try is scored.

    Or they could teleport Lang Park to the centre of Sydney, and my dad, brother and uncle with it, so it could be the hub of our family catch-ups as it was from 1983-2010, with a brief flirtation with QEII in the middle there somewhere that isn’t spoken about in polite company.

    Even then, with all of the ‘more’ taken care of, I’d have to consult my calendar. Because going to the footy is just a part of my life, not the entire point of it.

    The New South Wales State of Origin team for the 2018 series remains a mystery, with new coach Brad Fittler facing plenty of selection headaches. So we want you to tell us - and all your mates - who should start for Blues in Game 1 with our team picker.

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    The Crowd Says (247)

    • September 17th 2014 @ 5:39am
      The Barry said | September 17th 2014 @ 5:39am | ! Report

      Blah blah blah crowds suck blah blah blah Sydney sucks.

      I feel like I read this boring garbage 10 times a day.

      If you don’t have a decent idea for an article font write one.

      • Columnist

        September 17th 2014 @ 7:53am
        Kris Swales said | September 17th 2014 @ 7:53am | ! Report

        Thanks for the tip!

        My advice is if you don’t even read the article, maybe you shouldn’t comment.

        • Roar Guru

          September 17th 2014 @ 8:11am
          Con Scortis said | September 17th 2014 @ 8:11am | ! Report

          Kris, if you want a decent idea for an article font, I’d go for Comic Sans Serif but I don’t know if the editor of the Roar would approve.

          • Columnist

            September 17th 2014 @ 8:33am
            Kris Swales said | September 17th 2014 @ 8:33am | ! Report

            Now that the Herald has shattered that particular taboo, I think we can dare to dream!

          • Roar Guru

            September 17th 2014 @ 8:59am
            Will Sinclair said | September 17th 2014 @ 8:59am | ! Report

            I think The Barry was suggesting that Kris come up with his own idea for a font?

            Which is certainly a noble endeavour. He could even call is Swalhili (see what I did there?).

            I look forward to reading more about this new font.

            • September 17th 2014 @ 9:22am
              Nate said | September 17th 2014 @ 9:22am | ! Report

              So Kris is designing his own typeface now? Exciting times mate, congrats. Also, nice to see that you think the Bunnies are at least tolerable!

            • September 17th 2014 @ 7:23pm
              Domitian said | September 17th 2014 @ 7:23pm | ! Report

              Can I suggest a name for the font?


          • Editor

            September 17th 2014 @ 10:02am
            Patrick Effeney said | September 17th 2014 @ 10:02am | ! Report

            I don’t see why not. So long as it’s not on the front page.

        • September 17th 2014 @ 12:51pm
          The Barry said | September 17th 2014 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

          I read the article unfortunately the “I hate all Sydney teams” dilutes your point.

        • Roar Guru

          September 17th 2014 @ 3:47pm
          Knightblues said | September 17th 2014 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

          well said buddy, don’t you love the roarers who don’t bother reading what you have probably spent hours constructing, and then spit at you like a petulant child who didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas?

          • September 17th 2014 @ 9:01pm
            Woodo said | September 17th 2014 @ 9:01pm | ! Report

            As a supporter of a Sydney club I felt that it gave the article a little more personality. Don’t be so sensitive.

          • September 18th 2014 @ 5:36am
            The Barry said | September 18th 2014 @ 5:36am | ! Report

            So you tell me how the author including I dislike all Sydney teams and f… the Sydney teams adds anything to the article.

            I’m sure that took hours and hours to construct.

        • September 17th 2014 @ 11:56pm
          mattray said | September 17th 2014 @ 11:56pm | ! Report

          This article should be given to ISIS prisoners as a torture method…The worst article in the history of journalism. I should of listened to that little voice in my head which kept telling me to not click. Just a complain riddled snore fest from a man who feels compelled to tell us how much he hates sydney. It is no surprise he’s a canberra supporter as he is much like ricky Stuart. I believe Kris swales should leave sydney and go help ricky attract origin players. ..

          • Columnist

            September 18th 2014 @ 11:05am
            Kris Swales said | September 18th 2014 @ 11:05am | ! Report

            You’re doing pretty well to read “I hate Sydney” between the lines in this one. Not quite sure how the solitary complaint about Origin ticket prices riddled the entire article either.

            • Roar Guru

              September 18th 2014 @ 12:51pm
              The Barry said | September 18th 2014 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

              Solitary complaint? Did you actually write this?

      • September 17th 2014 @ 11:36am
        E-Meter said | September 17th 2014 @ 11:36am | ! Report

        Wing Dings is the best font ever

    • Roar Guru

      September 17th 2014 @ 5:44am
      no show said | September 17th 2014 @ 5:44am | ! Report

      can you still drive into Henson Pk to watch it while sitting in you car?

      Maybe they need to offer that at alliance and anz 🙂

    • Roar Rookie

      September 17th 2014 @ 5:58am
      Squidward said | September 17th 2014 @ 5:58am | ! Report

      I think you’re reasons are all completely justifiable and actually a lot of the not my team finals ones are ones I’m using this weekend like, have knocked back roosters game so I can watch at a pub that has duel tvs with the swans final on too

      How good are Metallica btw. I justified $100 on front row John Mayer instead of origin as origin is on tv and JM isn’t as well

      Although pretty solid year. Used my 5 game membership. Tried to landed a Melbourne trip on my teams away game there and saw the test match

      And a few boring games at SFS not involving my team which I used to get wildly drunk to great enjoyment

      • September 17th 2014 @ 9:23am
        Nate said | September 17th 2014 @ 9:23am | ! Report

        Stopped reading this comment at “justified $100 on front row John Mayer” – nothing justifies John Mayer!

        • Roar Rookie

          September 17th 2014 @ 9:32am
          Squidward said | September 17th 2014 @ 9:32am | ! Report

          Regardless of his personal life he’s the best singer-guitarist of our generation right now

          • Roar Guru

            September 17th 2014 @ 9:38am
            Dogs Of War said | September 17th 2014 @ 9:38am | ! Report

            Do you think we are all gossip columnists? Nothing justifies John Mayer.

            • Roar Rookie

              September 17th 2014 @ 11:00am
              Squidward said | September 17th 2014 @ 11:00am | ! Report

              I’ll assume you only know one song which was a hit in 2001 and not aware of his blues rock he’s been doing for the last 10yrs

              • Roar Guru

                September 17th 2014 @ 11:08am
                Dogs Of War said | September 17th 2014 @ 11:08am | ! Report

                You assume too much.

          • Editor

            September 17th 2014 @ 10:02am
            Patrick Effeney said | September 17th 2014 @ 10:02am | ! Report

            I saw him live once. The man can shred.

        • September 17th 2014 @ 2:35pm
          melbourneterrace said | September 17th 2014 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

          John mayer is fantastic to watch, not many blues guitarists like him these days.

      • September 17th 2014 @ 11:16am
        marco said | September 17th 2014 @ 11:16am | ! Report

        $100 for John mayer!? That’s keen.

    • September 17th 2014 @ 7:06am
      Crosscoder said | September 17th 2014 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      As a Canberra Raider’s fan,maybe there is something that could be introduced to bring back the crowds:.WINNING

      And I may also ask why are crowds down in other winter sports? Dave Smith is responsible with his centralised station policy.No.

      With all the offfield rubbish and team performance this year,the Sharks still achieved around 13,000 speccies.
      There is a multitude of reasons for crowds this year,economy,monday night football,weather,transport,grounds with little cover and facilities,team performances and yes boring games influenced by wrestling/delaying tactics which should have gone the way of the brick phone.
      Maybe expansion will add a bit of flavour to the comp.If anyone had the simple answer ,it would have happened by now.
      Sport needs to adjust/evolve to meet modern needs.

      • September 17th 2014 @ 8:41am
        mushi said | September 17th 2014 @ 8:41am | ! Report

        On evolution hasn’t it done that though – TV coverage

        Lets face it if your sitting on a script you artisitc ego cares about the broad way show (crowds) where as the rational part of you cares about the opening week for the movie (TV)

        TV delivers it to more people in more detail more conveniently.

        • September 17th 2014 @ 5:13pm
          Crosscoder said | September 17th 2014 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

          By evolution I also mean improved stadiums with cover eg Canberra.The NRL is putting in $10m into the Cowboy’s new stadium.Making each game an event for not only the hard heads but the families.
          Remember when airlines were taking over the travel $ and cruising became meh,well look at the cruising industry now .going ganbusters.New cruise ships that are like floating hotels
          The movies went into a tough streak, then new movie cinemas with multi yet smaller sections came in.

          yes Tv is the easy way for a code that suits it to the ground,but that is also taken up by new technology that takes up the games.
          SOO still get crowds ,yet TV has it live.I don’t possess a magic formula,but facility improvements,ridding the code of wrestling,would sure help.

          • September 18th 2014 @ 3:39pm
            mushi said | September 18th 2014 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

            I’ve re read you post 7 times and see nothing of relevance as to why the evolution in meeting modern needs should be focused on in person attendance rather than more widespread consumption.

            • September 18th 2014 @ 3:43pm
              mushi said | September 18th 2014 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

              I struggle to see your cruise ship analogy carnival cruises return what 5% on capital and airlines are hampered by competing with government sponsored entities that care about secondary benefits

              • September 19th 2014 @ 8:52am
                Xman said | September 19th 2014 @ 8:52am | ! Report

                NRL putting $10m into Townsville – I would like to see that for 13 games a season – must be an election soon…

              • September 19th 2014 @ 4:02pm
                ranga said | September 19th 2014 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

                Yeah but it’s ok to put in 10 million + for GWS that play 6 games a season in Sydney and then gets millions to play in Canberra.

                But Nth QLD deserve nothing even though they have played all their games in Townsville since inception back in 1995.

                Good one xman, good one.

      • September 17th 2014 @ 9:52am
        Bruce Reid said | September 17th 2014 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        Shark’s crowds were outstanding considering the circumstances, and put some other fans (eg. Roosters) to shame. If the Sharks have a good year in 2015 there will be 15,000 + at each home game, when they play Dragons, Bunnies, Tigers it will be around 20,000 as fans of those teams always turn up at Shark Park.

        • September 17th 2014 @ 10:44am
          fiver said | September 17th 2014 @ 10:44am | ! Report

          I seriously wonder what the Sharks crowds would look like if you swapped their last 7 years of performances with Manly’s and Manly got busted by ASADA instead of the Sharks. Just imagine that… I dare say the Sharks would be averaging 17-18k, manly would be sub 9k.

      • September 17th 2014 @ 1:08pm
        Albo said | September 17th 2014 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

        For a few decades I used to attend every Panthers home game and half of their away games ! Along with State of Origins ( even annual treks to Lang Park), along with Test matches, season finals & Grand Finals !
        In recent years, I have barely attended a match ( just one this year – Dogs V Tigers at ANZ). Why ?
        I have Foxtel, and so for around $100/month I can not only watch World Movies, Sky & TVN , but I can watch 32 NRL matches a month ( which I generally do) and I don’t have to leave my lounge chair but to get a beer and empty the ashtray, which I co-ordinate for the half time breaks ! No traffic snarls, no over-priced parking, food and beer queues, no annoying fans screaming inanities in your ear , and you can even flick over to the AFL for a Swans score or a Race 8 update !
        Sorry for not being excited about being there for all that “atmosphere” anymore !
        But I now much prefer the comfort, the much cheaper cost, the better coverage of the games , than that old chestnut… “atmosphere” .
        And I suspect that more and more other fans are feeling the same ! Hence the poor crowd figures outside of those ” big event” matches.

        • September 17th 2014 @ 1:26pm
          Jake said | September 17th 2014 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

          Good movies on the world movies channel, like human centipede.

          • September 17th 2014 @ 1:28pm
            Kingcowboy said | September 17th 2014 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

            Jake I think you will find Human Centipede 2 to be better and maybe also Donkey Punch as well. A night at the footy or those movies, is there a choice???

            • Roar Rookie

              September 17th 2014 @ 1:53pm
              Squidward said | September 17th 2014 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

              Human centipede 3 comes out at the end of the year. Apparently a 144 person centipede in a prison

              • September 17th 2014 @ 6:25pm
                American Dave said | September 17th 2014 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

                For that comment, please consider my mind to be blown! Human Centipede 3!!!!

    • September 17th 2014 @ 7:06am
      MJ said | September 17th 2014 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      I spent my $100 on helping me enter marathons. Got to see some of the world’s best flash past on the Gold Coast whilst running with the pack of mortals too. As for the NRL, the one game I attended I almost froze, scheduling was poor too. I was hoping that they would play the SCG game (Souths v Manly) on the Sunday when the NRL didn’t, another missed opportunity when the town was full on City2Surf weekend.

    • September 17th 2014 @ 7:53am
      Terry said | September 17th 2014 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      Maybe the Journos need to actually pay for their tickets, pay and sit in the car park for hours, endure the crap food offered to the public for a while, and sit bored in between games for an hour………………. then things would change.