A Family Outing at Skilled Park
How could one resist it? Boxing Day afternoon and it's the first highly accessible 'away game' for the Brisbane Roar, hence the first away game I have attended. Brisbane were clearly the underdogs, and fighting the perfect evil Goliath - Clive Palmer's Bling Toy FC. Adding to the spice is Charlie Miller's recent defection from Brisbane to the Gold Coast - yes the very man who punched the last significant defector's head in an equivalently soon matchup (referring to Robbie Kruse and the incident leading to a match suspension for Miller).
It got much more complicated than that on Christmas Day. My family (Mum, sisters and sundry) came to my place for lunch, and they're all staying on the Coast, at Mum's place. So when asked if I have any plans for Boxing Day and mentioning that we're thinking of going to the game it quickly turns in to a 'great idea' for a mass family event. I resisted at first. "What? We're just going to the soccer ok? If you think going to the soccer would be good, then go. Why do we have to organise anything?" I mean I'm talking about my family here - they're not actually people or anything. Besides, we were planning on sitting at the away end and Mum and sister Margo at least should really go for the Gold Coast, geographically speaking. The others are Melbournites, sister Gay, her hubby David and their daughter Beth.
Two events turned the situation into a more organised family event. One, my mother stole my best knife, and two, they left the ham behind. The robbery was fascinating in that it was done in broad daylight. I watched as Mum opened the drawer, took my best knife out and packed it with her stuff. I asked rhetorically, "Are you sure that's your knife Mum? We didn't actually use your knife or carving fork and I never saw them." "Yes that's it," she insisted, lying. "I just washed up the knife and the fork," she lied. So in a sort of zen bemusement I left it alone. She's a bit dottery ok?
Mum (pictured) called the next morning, on Boxing day. She'd found her knife and fork, so was naturally repentant. She had herself decided not to attend the soccer but had devised a plan whereby she'd meet me at Nerang train station or the stadium, get the ham off me and return my knife. The flaw of course is that I might not be allowed to carry a 14 inch chef's knife into the stadium with me, not to mention the bore of carrying a large ham on the train. So I succumbed to a family event, we drove to Mum's place, exchanged belongings and caught the Nerang train to the game.
The train was strictly standing room. Even on the platform (in Nerang) there were more Roar shirts than we see at Fairfield Station on the way to Suncorp, and a lot of the travellers on board were in orange.When we got there the crowd looked like the picture on the left. Estimates I've read here and there vary enormously, but I think I'm being completely reasonable when I guess that half of the 10,000 crowd were Roar supporters.
I bought the tickets. The lady selling them helped me when she asked, "Are you Brisbane or Gold Coast supporters?" Rather than enquiring as to why the fuck I would be wearing a Roar jersey if I supported the Gold Coast, I politely replied, "Brisbane," being as truthful as possible within the small number of multiple choice answers available. She said, "Well I'll put you in the away supporters area then," to which I innocently replied, "Oh yeah, I guess so," before distributing the tickets to my family.
I'm glad we were there. The Den was out in force and the atmosphere they created was terrific. Like really, hats off to them. They rocked. It certainly occurs to me, in the context of the Roar's apparent crowd problems, much discussed including by myself, that the fans the Roar has kept - say 8,000 odd hard core - are extremely loyal, despite all sorts of difficult circumstances and bodgy management. You simply can't say the Roar hasn't got a decent fan base, it's just that the stadium (Suncorp, 54,000 capacity) is too big. Most A-League clubs would love our fan base.
And no I'm not going to tell the sorry narrative of the game as it's been written about elsewhere extensively. Catastrophic obviously. My sister Margo, a rugby follower but with an extraordinary capacity for astute observation, noted with no previous knowledge of the team that Tiatto when he came on was the only decent looking player on the Roar. I agree, and it has been said elsewhere as well, but it was interesting hearing it come from a pure, ignorant but intelligent, perspective.
This team just isn't there. Moore should be worried about his World Cup spot. Reinaldo looked ok when he came on. Oar looked good too, but Zullo was clearly challenged in his new role at left back. Overall the team doesn't have the spirit to win and, in my view, that reflects on the Coach and the Club.
Ange? Should he be sacked? Is he a terrible coach? Honestly I don't feel qualified to answer this question. The only thing I knew about him is that he completely failed to coach Australia's youth team to the Youth World Cup, and I remember Fozzie hammering him on the World Game for this. From some of the snippets and circumstances that I've gleaned, one could interpret Ange's style as one suiting youth. The older players seem to be going for example, and Miller's comment was that Ange, "doesn't want players to have a life." So do we have a (failed) youth coach trying to coach a team of youth, maybe not up to mentoring the older lads? I don't know to assert, but I do raise the question.
I no longer get depressed when the Roar lose. Since I've become progressively pissed off with the management, for reasons I won't go through again here, I guess my emotional attachment to the Roar has waned, but the fact is I still love the team and want them to win.
It's about my city. I love Brisbane and have been defending it from stuck-up southerners (and culturally cringing locals) for 25 years. Soccer is the ultimate game, global, tribal and spectacular. Brisbane fields a team. The Roar board would pretty much have to start sacrificing children before each game for me to actually not support the team. But I do despair generally. And I will continue to attack the morons in charge with prejudice, because I have discovered that love of a team does not mean loving its management any more than loving my country means loving the government.
So what can I say? What does my spirit have to say to these young men representing my glorious sub-tropical city in the iconic sport of our time? Not much. Just this: For fuck's sake, come on guys!!!