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Formerly known as Eastern Suburbs, the Roosters are a foundation club that rank third in titles won, with 13 – only South Sydney and the St George Dragons have more. But does this big club have many fans?
I know my brother follows them. I know my cousin supports them, I saw the 2013 grand final with him when they beat Manly. My neighbour wears a Roosters top when he gets the chance.
In all, the Roosters had 15,686 members in 2017 – good for third-last among the Sydney clubs. Although they averaged 16,769 people per game, these numbers are misleading.
They were the designated home team for the Anzac clash against the Dragons which attracted 40,000. They also drew 21,000-plus against Melbourne in Adelaide and 20,000-plus against Cronulla on the Central Coast.
Other than this, their biggest home game crowd – apart from the finals – was against South Sydney in Round 18, when 16,245 attended.
So the Roosters get a massive crowd for the Anzac match, an event that would attract a similar attendance if two other teams played. If it was the Dogs versus Dragons at the Olympic stadium, the crowd would be more significant.
Also, for the crowds in Adelaide and Central Coast, one wonders if these markets were just starved for rugby league. Would the crowds have been bigger if someone other than the Roosters were playing?
Then the match against Souths, which is a home game in name only. Most people east of Anzac parade follow the Rabbitohs. I’ve been to these games in the past and can categorically state that more Souths fans are present.
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However, success will follow the Roosters, because some very high-end individuals love the club. Led by Nick Politis, these men and women have done all in their power to provide the administration, the coaches and the players with the best of everything.
The result for the fans is that the Chooks will field dominant teams and be consistent into the future. Though, apart from the odd season here and there, where there will be a disappointment in their performance, the club will always be very close come grand final day.
So where to from here?
For Easts, all that is needed to is to stay the course. A rebuild of the SFS will enhance the viewing of rugby league and hopefully increase their crowd support. Regardless, the club is on the right path.
Personally, I don’t feel that the club adds anything to Sydney, and relocating to Adelaide or the Central Coast would be better for the game. However, if they are to stay, they should revert to the traditional name and logo of the Eastern Suburbs Roosters.