There’s no doubt active support is what makes the A-League unique, but how do we balance the need to let fans do their thing with Australia’s unremitting culture of rules and regulations?
First things first, congratulations to Melbourne City for essentially sealing the premiership with their 3-2 win over Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park.
They’ve been the best team in the league all season and they proved it again by battering the visitors inside the opening 20 minutes on Sunday, even if the Roar did miraculously well to go into the halftime break level at 2-2.
Both Connor Metcalfe’s opener and Scott Galloway’s winner were moments of real quality, with Paddy Kisnorbo and more recently his assistant Des Buckingham managing to turn a team laden with cast-offs from rival clubs into what looks like a title-winning side.
It’s a shame there weren’t a few more fans inside AAMI Park to witness the win, not least because City play such an entertaining brand of football.
You couldn’t always say the same thing about Richie Garcia’s beleaguered Perth Glory, even if both of their goals in the 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory were easy on the eye.
It was nice to see fans back inside HBF Park after the midweek 3-1 defeat to Melbourne City took place behind closed doors, although they might have witnessed a very different second half had Robbie Kruse converted a 25th-minute spot-kick.
Three games, three handballs and it was Brisbane Roar who were the unlucky losers in the lottery that is A-League decision-making, after Sydney FC striker Bobo on Saturday and Glory midfielder Callum Timmins yesterday were adjudged to have handled the ball during split-second interactions.
Melbourne City winger Craig Noone did exactly the same thing in the build-up to his side’s second goal against Brisbane Roar, however his infraction was ignored, while Bobo and Timmins both conceded penalties.
Timmins was ultimately bailed out when veteran goalkeeper Liam Reddy guessed the right way to save Kruse’s spot-kick – much to the delight of the fans behind the goal.
But it was the fans behind the goal at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night that should once again spark some conversation around how supporters are treated inside A-League grounds.
Western Sydney may have smashed Western United 5-0 in their biggest win of the season, but it was a social media post from the Red and Black Bloc that drew just as much attention.
“We deeply apologise for the sudden no chanting tonight,” a post that went up on Twitter and Facebook read. “But (it’s) due to one member being kicked out for ‘not sitting in his seat’ and tonight’s Capo being banned for 12 months for swearing”.
Barely a week out from a raucous Sydney derby at the same venue, fans inside Bankwest Stadium were met with a large and highly visible police presence.
And I have no doubt that many A-League games are over-policed because I’ve seen it time and again with my own eyes.
But perhaps there’s more to this latest incident than meets the eye.
For one thing, the sizeable police presence that surrounded the Red and Black Bloc during last weekend’s derby win over Sydney FC didn’t seem to arrive until after a flare was ripped.
And for another, the guys who do the Red and Black Bloc TV podcast literally described in their latest episode what happened.
According to them, the Capo’s brother sat down in the disabled section some 40 minutes before kick-out, whereupon he was allegedly evicted from the ground.
The Capo then took it upon himself to tell the attending police officers what he thought about the eviction, resulting in a 12-month stadium ban “for swearing”.
I sympathise with the RBB because they cop more scrutiny than other fan group in Australia. But as football fans it also wouldn’t kill us to be a bit smarter about the way we support our teams.
Active support is vital. But when it comes to policing, it’s probably best not to give them an excuse.