The Sea Eagles have some problems. Here’s how to fix them

Mark Campbell Roar Guru

By Mark Campbell, Mark Campbell is a Roar Guru

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50 Have your say

    Manly–Warringah Sea Eagles reside on the northern beaches of Sydney. The area is a part of greater Sydney, but often people on the northern beaches are loathed to travel past the Spit Bridge.

    I know this from my experience living there.

    The Sea Eagles are the team many love to hate. It is a weird relationship that involves hating a club that plays so well and that can be so entertaining to watch. I guess that’s what you get when the reputation holds that the success was bought from other clubs. Not always the case, but let’s not let fact get in the way of a good story.

    The clubs sits in a precarious position with the recent salary cap scandal – though it will survive, its reputation will take a battering. Be mindful; it has been through worse.

    From the early 70s onwards, the club has generally been a dominant side. They have a rich history, picking up eight titles since their inception in 1947. This number is more than their biggest rival North Sydney, and the Bears were a foundation club. What is more, they still exist, so that is another thing they have over their chief rival.

    It was interesting that a shotgun marriage took place at the end of the 1999 season. Manly merging with North Sydney seemed odd. It was like partnering two neighbours who hated each other and forcing them to live together. It was never going to work and so after three years of the Northern Eagles, the Manly – Warringah Sea Eagles returned.

    Though as a bit of a nerd I never liked how they stuffed up the chance for Steve Menzies to be a one-club player or that the record of season participation for Manly has three seasons missing – due to technically the Northern Eagles being a different entity. Personally, I still see the Northern Eagles years as years for Manly.

    Steve Menzies. Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines rugby league tournament. Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Day 2, Sunday February 2014. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/

    (Eden Park Photo: Andrew) Cornaga/

    All that nonsense aside, the club faces some troubles. Brookvale Oval is fast becoming unsuitable for NRL standard football. I know people love it, and on a good sunny day the crowd can create a buzz, but it needs an upgrade.

    I would like to see a purpose built 20–25,000 seat modern stadium with covering all around. If every seat were positioned close to the action, the atmosphere would be electric and more often. However, dreams of a stadium upgrade are just that – a dream.

    Manly averaged 13,640 people to their games in 2017. That is poor. I blame in part the stadium, but regardless the club should be doing better. The organisation only has 12,770 members. That is poor.

    It’s the lowest of all the Sydney teams and lies just above the Gold Coast Titans, who have no premierships and have been in existence for just over a decade.

    The northern beaches of Sydney has a population of over 250,000 people. To do well now and into the future 10 per cent of this population at a minimum needs to be turned into active fans. Not just your basic supporter, but an active paying member.

    Moreover, if they regularly get 10 per cent of this population to attend games than they would sell Brookvale out every home game. If they do these two things, the club may get the stadium upgrade they desire and may once again be the dominant team in Sydney.

    The question for the club remains – how do they get 10 per cent of this population to be active and engaged fans? I have a proposal – though no doubt you may think it either too obvious, too wishful or you may have a better suggestion. If you do, I am all ears.

    If you’re a Manly fan and you pick up something here, maybe forward it to your club. It may just help.

    My suggestions are as follows:

    Increase the club’s fan engagement activities. This engagement means having stalls at all major shopping areas in the area trying to persuade people to take up memberships.

    Furthermore, be involved in all community charity events, fundraisers and community business groups. Make the club as visible and as connected in the community as possible. The club must network.

    Manly Sea Eagles NRL Rugby League 2017

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    Increase the schools’ program. The club needs to have its players and development officers at every primary and secondary school in the region at least one day a week – even if it’s for a single period or lunch time.

    Be there to help train students in skills, be if football or health. Just be present. Kids remember this stuff and tell their friends and eventually their kids these tales when they are older. This connection is the team’s way to build a cradle to the grave mentality. A chance to get generations of fans following the Manly–Warringah Sea Eagles.

    Junior club clinics – on top of the schools. Embrace all of the rugby league clubs in the area. I know the club made Blacktown Workers its feeder team. Blacktown is a growth area of Sydney for talent, but this connection does nothing to help grow Manly’s supporter base.

    Okay, so maybe it does a little, but not what the team needs or require from its base area. Attending local junior clinics can remind those who are active participants that all roads do lead to Brookvale. It’s better to have these junior kids located on the northern beaches instead of another region.

    I know Manly is probably doing some of these things already, but not consistently enough to be effective. Achieving this link to the community seems more pertinent for the Sea Eagles at present.

    They just look like a club that is struggling for support and in a way their survival. I hope the club does turnaround its fortunes off the field. I hope they do become successful again. I miss hating them.

    Manly–Warringah Sea Eagles
    First Season 1947
    Titles: 8 (1972, 1973, 1976, 1978, 1987, 1996, 2008 andamp; 2011)

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    The Crowd Says (50)

    • December 30th 2017 @ 7:27am
      Not so super said | December 30th 2017 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      They aren’t getting that type of stadium

    • December 30th 2017 @ 7:42am
      Greg Ambrose said | December 30th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      Lyle Gorman is the new boss and he has a great track record in taking clubs in the right direction but he has a hard job with Brookvale Oval which has become a farcical situation.

      The Northern beaches has it’s fair share of wealth and influence and it is surprising to me that they don’t have more financial backing like the Roosters appear to have.

    • December 30th 2017 @ 8:14am
      Peter Phelps said | December 30th 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

      They should move to Perth

      • December 31st 2017 @ 6:36am
        madmax said | December 31st 2017 @ 6:36am | ! Report

        So should you!

      • January 3rd 2018 @ 7:56pm
        terrence said | January 3rd 2018 @ 7:56pm | ! Report

        I dont think the NRL needs 5 Perth team Pete? Can’t move over the Sharks, Titans, Tigers, Bunnies and Eagles (which is suggested on an ongoing basis).

        More than happy for a Perth team, sooner the better, but I think west coast folk/consortium would like to start from scratch (again) and get a bit of buy-in from the ground up.

        How about the ”Black Swans”, WA state bird!

    • December 30th 2017 @ 8:15am
      Not so super said | December 30th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      It’s amazing how many people on the rose think that all problems are solved by clinics and school visits

      • Roar Guru

        December 30th 2017 @ 8:38am
        The Barry said | December 30th 2017 @ 8:38am | ! Report

        I’m sort of in that camp.

        Not to say that all problems are solved by school visits, but the NRL has next to zero presence and engagement in schools and even at clubs.

        When I was a kid we used to get schoolboy passes to attend all games for free. Roosters players regularly visited schools. We got the chance to go into the Roosters change rooms after games. We’d get players at training every now and then and there’d always be a Kevin Hastings or Hugh McGahan at grand final day to hand out trophies.

        My 7 year old played his first season of league this year. Didn’t see a single player all season. They had a gala day at Hurstville Oval with every team from every club from u6s to u10s. An announcement came over the PA “kids can get their photos taken with NRL stars in front of the main stand”. We raced over to realise they’d said “with NRL staff”. There were kids lining up to get their photo taken with Tood Greenberg. Good on him for showing up but the kids didn’t know who he was and it’s hardly going to be a memory that sticks with them.

        We got a couple of emails supposedly from Gareth Widdop. That’s it.

        I have two primary school aged kids and in their years at school they’ve had one visit from u20’s players that no one had heard of.

        The NRL leaves it completely up to parents to engage their kids with rugby league. My son is the only kid in his age group that plays league at his school. Of the kids that play winter sport, most play soccer and there’s a few AFL players.

        It’s really short sighted of the NRL to have such low engagement with schools and clubs. It’s the next generation of league fans, of viewers, of attendees, merchandise buyers, etc.

        • Roar Guru

          January 1st 2018 @ 8:04am
          Dutski said | January 1st 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

          Interesting that despite the Roosters interaction you turned out a Doggies fan. So that interaction built a love of the game but not of that club?

      • January 3rd 2018 @ 8:10pm
        terrence said | January 3rd 2018 @ 8:10pm | ! Report

        yep not so super, send the top 25 to the 40+ schools in the area, solves all problems hey?

        you got it right, that means nothing!

        of course they should support the local rugby league (and maybe adopt a regional area), attend important local civic events, etc.

        but who sends their kids to schools to be badgered by the NRL/AFL/RuggerBuggars/NBL/A-League Soccer/Netball/Volleyball/soft(and/or)baseball/tennis/quidditch/floorball/cricket/et al?

        it’s a crowded market, let the kids learn (academically) and enjoy (friends/family/life/school), they’ll play/watch what sports they’ll enjoy without them being shoved down their mouths at school. ban all sporting organisations from schools on promotional crap, organised comps and refs only. really the organisations are basically wasting money there anyway.

    • December 30th 2017 @ 8:30am
      Peter Phelps said | December 30th 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      Population of Manly 250,000
      Population of Perth 1,671,000

      % of Population needed to fill a 25000 seat stadium

      Manly – 10% ………. Perth – 1.5%

      Brookville Oval – Decrepit no one wants to go there
      Perth Rectangular Stadium – first class facilities capacity 20,000


      • December 30th 2017 @ 7:49pm
        Norad said | December 30th 2017 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

        Manly are the only NRL team on the north side of Sydney. They cover all the way from North Sydney to the west to Cherrybrook and north to Hornsby. I don’t know what that population number is but on the south side that same area has Souths, Easts, Dogs, Dragons and Wests. Manly should be as big as the Broncos. Time they stop focusing on the beaches. The Bears are not a NRL club.

        • December 31st 2017 @ 10:52am
          Peter Phelps said | December 31st 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

          Perth would cover all the area of W.A., S.A. N.T and all the way upto Cains. The TV benefits are significant.

          There are too many teams in Sydney/NSW period. I don’t care who goes but we have to start putting clubs in the other half of Australia.

      • December 31st 2017 @ 6:37am
        madmax said | December 31st 2017 @ 6:37am | ! Report

        Then perhaps you should move there also!

    • Roar Rookie

      December 30th 2017 @ 9:34am
      up in the north said | December 30th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

      Every club needs to be responsible for driving their own community engagement. It’s not really up to the NRL to do this.

      The successful clubs are the ones doing the clinics, the school visits, adopting and promoting the healthy lifestyle choices programs.

      The players need to get fully on board too, but it starts with the club. From my Nth Queensland perspective the Cowbies engage with the region as a whole, not just Townsville, so they’re capturing the fans across a wider swathe than would be the case in Sydney for example.

      Manly just need to try a bit harder and be a bit smarter in how they go about it, there are Manly fans everywhere you go, does the club have an away supporters membership package? If not that’s one avenue they could look at to raise their profile.

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