A lot has been said in recent days about crowd behaviour, and it was needed. Now it's time to take a deep breath and argue the point more clearly, to get a simple message across to all football people – including many of those in the media who sit and watch from behind glass windows.
Football is a way of life. We love it, sometimes more than life itself – depending on whether our team is winning or losing, of course. In the terraces we release from the struggles of life: the overdue power bill, the rent that is due in four days' time, the anxiety due to work, family and general wellbeing.
We congregate among our own at the football, among people who won't point the finger and tell you what you should be thinking, what you should be saying and when you should be saying it. In today's world, there are not many places like that.
Leave us alone: Joffa in his famous sequined jacket.Credit:AAP
The terraces bring us together in victory and in defeat. We embrace football as we embrace life, with vigour and passion. Some are loud and some are quiet, some terrorise the terraces wearing a sequined jacket. Many stand to deliver a spine-tingling chant in the last quarter to acknowledge victory. That's what we do. That's who we are.
In recent times we have been getting this nervous feeling we are no longer required, and it would be best if we all went AWOL. We get the feeling the AFL industry now wants a theatre-type crowd, to marvel at the surroundings rather than the contest on the field.
If and when we complain about the better times in the terraces, we are somewhat strangely reminded that violence, racism and homophobic behaviour is no longer tolerated. This suggests that all passionate supporters once took part in this behaviour. I sadly shake my head to this way of thinking. Violence and/or threats of violence must never be tolerated; the people who participate in any kind of violence must be banished from the game, as with racists and homophobes. We all understand that.
After all that has been said during the last five days, I watched on television with a heavy heart as a security guy walked the boundary line, appearing to tell a supporter in the Hawthorn cheer squad to sit down. Apparently the Hawthorn supporter felt a need to stand up to vent some kind of passionate comment. He could not have been swearing, as he was not evicted. What a vile criminal he must be to think he could dare do such a thing.
A Carlton fan wears tape over her mouth to protest against the AFL’s crowd behaviour measures.Credit:Channel Seven
To sit at the football not knowing when to stand and scream and yell and point the finger is something foreign to us all. For doing any of these things we are accused of being feral. The insinuation far outweighs the accusation. An accusation can be answered, but the insinuation leaves us confused and angry. Security have gone way overboard, way over the top. Yes, we need them, but not at a time during a game when the team on the field needs us.
We don't want to be eyeballed, stood over, intimidated, or threatened with eviction for being decent, honest, passionate supporters. I listen to talkback radio and feel sad that many of my fellow supporters of all other clubs feel the same way.
We are not at war with Gillon McLachlan. We are not at war with the AFL. We tend to self-regulate. So leave us alone! Let us be.
Joffa Corfe is the leader of the Collingwood cheer squad.
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