The most beautiful thing about being a Western Sydney Wanderers fan is that no matter what happens, our fans will always be there for our team and together we will always come out on top.
This past week has been a tough one for the only Australian club to ever win an Asian Champions League title.
The Wanderers hierarchy understandably decided to take a strong stand against a tiny number of fans who lit flares and thus broke the law in last Sunday’s derby against East Sydney FC (the smallest A league club in Sydney, even factoring in the new licence bids from Southern Expansion and South West Sydney).
The end result was the much appreciated and often maligned Red and Black Bloc (RBB) will be disbanded for Sunday’s home match against Perth Glory at Spotless Stadium (kick off 5pm). The response from Wanderers fans has been mixed, with many applauding the move while some have condemned it.
Things got harder today when the FFA as expected imposed a suspended three point penalty on the Wanderers which could potentially cost us a finals spot if anything else untoward happens for the rest of the season.
Lets make one thing clear, the vast majority of Wanderers fans including the RBB do the right thing week in week out. The Wanderers fans have proven time and time again to be colourful, jovial and loyal.
The RBB have added some much needed spark to Australia’s premier football competition. The singing, dancing, chanting and engagement with the rest of the crowd have made the RBB the most revered active supporters group in the league.
Sadly though there has been a tiny element (the vocal minority) who have engaged in some behaviours which are simply not acceptable.
Distasteful banners and dangerous flares are not welcome at A league games where a family friendly and safe environment must take precedence over any individuals need to rebel.
The simple fact though is Wanderers games most definitely fit the bill when it comes to being a welcoming environment for children and adults alike.
I have been to many games home, away and overseas since the Wanderers were formed in 2012 and have always felt perfectly safe. I have taken family members and friends to games and they have all enjoyed the Wanderers experience.
The passionate discussions among Wanderers fans on social media this week has been interesting. Many have taken a stand condemning those who are doing the wrong thing. This has been great to see.
The Wanderers fans who do the right thing (i.e. the majority) are the real fans and are the ones that count. There is absolutely no need to break the law to create atmosphere and passion.
The singing and dancing is more than enough. Sure flares look good but if someone gets burned or has a respiratory problem that is not on. Banners or t-shirts containing swear words and vulgar pictures may be amusing but it is not the right way to make a point, furthermore it is not what parents want their kids to see when they are out of an evening to enjoy a football match.
Sadly there has been a number of Wanderers fans lamenting what has happened to the RBB. They argue that without the RBB the match experience would be boring.
They are right but the reality is without the rest of the Wanderers fans who are not active it would be boring too!
Everyone contributes equally in their own way. From the fan sitting down with his arms crossed to the one bopping around in the aisles, every fan counts.
Personally, I’d rather less atmosphere with fans who behave than a better one with those that don’t. This may sound stupid but that is how I and most Wanderers fans genuinely feel. The RBB need to realise they are not bigger than the Wanderers.
Yes we need them to make it that much better to go to a game or watch on TV, but not at the expense of causing problems, breaking the rules and potentially losing vital competition points. Football clubs can’t survive without fans but fans don’t exist without a football club either. The RBB wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the Wanderers.
The worst thing about this whole saga is seeing Wanderers fans turn against each other. We have all been guilty of it this week as emotions run high.
We have all said things that we may regret or things that we will stubbornly hold onto. While it’s great to have different opinions and passionate views at the end of the day we are all part of the one club.
There has been discussion about creating a safe zone for people to legally let off flares. This idea is worth considering.
There can be licensed people who are allowed to let of flares and other pyrotechnics in a specifically designated area.
One wonders though if this would help solve the problem though? Part of the reason flares have been let go during games is due to people feeling the need to fight against authority and vent out their frustrations.
Would these rebels stop letting off flares in unsafe areas just because it is legally allowed to do so in other designated zones?
That will surely take away the thrill they feel in breaking the rules. But perhaps this may help weed out the trouble makers more and ensure they garner less sympathy than they currently do. That can only be a good thing.
The club had their second Member Committee meeting last Monday night. A great example of how they are trying to listen to the fans.
Something the club has done brilliantly from the beginning. There is no doubt at the next meeting there will be some fireworks (pun intended) as people voice their suggestions on how to solve the current issue with the RBB.
The club has set up an email address for fans to voice their concerns and all fans are encouraged to put forward their thoughts and feelings.
While the club can’t give us everything we want no matter how logical we may think we are being, they still need to hear from us about the current issues that have reared their head this week.
It will be interesting on Sunday night when for the first time in our six year existence the RBB won’t be in their designated area.
Let’s hope the majority turn up and support the Wanderers on the field cause ultimately that is what we are all here for.
Hopefully some positive dialogue takes place between the RBB and the Wanderers in the coming week once emotions have settled and they can be back again where they rightfully belong the following Saturday against Wellington. If they don’t then it’s ok because the Wanderers will keep on going.
At the end of the day the Wanderers will still draw crowds especially when our brand spanking new stadium opens up in two years.
The ones that don’t go to games will still tune in on TV. At the end of the day that is just what Wanderers fans do, we support our team. Something that other clubs would love to have.
The rest of the league can laugh, criticise and even cringe at us but the beauty of being a Wanderer is that come match day we don’t care about the rest of them because we will all come together and who will we sing for?