Saturday, October 29, 2011


7:1 win vs Adelaide last night. Oh yes oh yes oh yes. Ra ra ra. We actually are the best in the World and everyone else is, slowly but surely, learning to live with it.

The question being repeated everywhere is, how come only eleven and a half thousand people saw one of the greatest football spectacles we might expect to see in club football?

First a brief recap. Suncorp was always an ambitious stadium for the Roar, and even at the height in the first and second season crowds above 20,000 were rare. With the 'Suncorp curse' (remember that?) which seemed to mean that it was impossible for the Roar to score at home even when they were winning away, along with pretty average and/or inconsistent form, crowds trended downward over the first few seasons.

Then, a couple of years ago some accountant demonstrated to a highly astute Roar Board (now all replaced thankfully) that the budget would all add up if they would just radically increase ticket prices, so they did. A few months later they reversed this decision and made the prices cheaper than ever, but it was too late. The crowds had truly plummeted and they never recovered.

In my mind the problem wasn't merely ticket prices. Soccer is a world game and a local game and there is an enormous amount of it available for spectators to enjoy either on TV or live. Most of the live stuff is free or about $5, and these are the leagues that thousands in Brisbane actually play in every week. The very best stuff (European Champion's League) is on free to air TV. The A-League was, and still largely is, a mediocre product. Trying to charge top dollar for it was simply ignoring all of this market environment.

But the price is about right now at Suncorp, and it's especially cheap for under 16s which is also very smart. And the other thing that has changed is that there is now a top-shelf product on show. I'm not going to do any justice here to Roar's extraordinary football. Every football commentator in the country is writing about that anyway. The point is that even connoisseurs would pay good money to see this football, and indeed fans of other teams, if comments here and there are to be believed, are prepared to travel to see Brisbane play.

So now we have an extremely good product at a very reasonable price. The product can speak for itself if the marketers can get people's bottoms there in the first place.

Now I have been a vicious critic of this club in the past and no doubt will be again in the future, so I think I'm obliged to also contribute a constructive thought from time to time, and here it is. It's simple, and I think it would work over time. The Roar have not been idle in promotion and their efforts should be congratulated so far in my view. The issue might be focus.

Target local clubs, as you have been in a way, but one at a time. Start with clubs based close to Suncorp Stadium and work outwards. When you target the Club - say, Annerley Football Club where Jacob used to play - do the afternoon with the club thing, with a bit of a clinic for the kids (members and players of the club only! Must make them feel special), signings and giving away some merchandise - the usual stuff. But maybe even do two events with the one club between home games.

Give the club 100 tickets, half of which are 15 and unders only. Give them an option for more tickets if they have enough demand for them. The seats are in a block, and the more you give away the better. If the Club gets into an opportunistic frenzy and invites friends, relatives, neighbours, milkmen and wandering vagrants and hence want 1000 tickets, where they would all sit in a block, good. If you've got the budget for it, provide them with busses as well. You want to make sure they come.

It sounds generous, but it's just one football club at a time, with home games (approximately 2 weeks) as the framework period. The objective is to introduce the game not to an individual but to a community. Communities of support sustain themselves.

All of this might only work if the premise is true that the football speaks for itself. At this juncture of the Roar's history, I am supremely confident that it does.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How good can it get?

I might have to be writing a bit this season. Things are exciting at the Roar and I am full of material. If anything I've been suffering the writer's block of someone with far too much to say. So fuck it, I'll start with a rave. Anything to get the gripes with FIFA (which I still have) from the top of the page and some news of this brilliant team filling the space.

How good can it get for a Brisbane Roar fan? I'll briefly outline how good it is.

1. We have the best coach in Australia. I read around and come across this sentiment often, along with frequent speculations that he will be Australia's next coach. Behind The Roar is a good short documentary on 'the Ange Revolution'. I'll elaborate on why, in my view, Ange is a rare coach, in further blogs.
2. Our team has been undefeated for longer than Manchester United's longest undefeated run (29). Meanwhile the general chatter is that Brisbane is virtually unbeatable and the earnest conversation is "How do you beat them?" I guess I'll give my views on that by and by as well.
3. Our team is enthralling to watch, and this can be confirmed by the dozens of comments I've read from people from other teams, as well as the praise of every commentator in the country, but of course I mostly confirm it for myself when I see for myself. I read a Melbourne man say that he didn't follow the Victory because he thinks the A-League is pretty crap (it has been), but he is going to fly to Brisbane for their games. People travelling a long way to see very high quality soccer is not new. I can see why keen soccer fans in Australia would.
4. Our team is good because of Ange's plan and training, not because we are wealthy. This strikes at one of the great myths, or at least distortions, in World football, that the reason great teams are great is because they have great players. The Roar have no expensive marque player at this time and have won most of the games with a team well under the salary cap. It is a team.
5. We have hit the new season in a form looking like where we left off last season. Ange post-match only ever speaks of how the team can improve. He's serious. They can improve and with sustained determination and training, they will. It actually still looks uphill, if that is possible.
6. With Point 5. in mind, we will compete in the Asian Champions League at the end of the season. One of the stupid things about the ACL qualifying is that the A-League winners from the season before qualify. Too often Australian teams have gone into the ACL having lost their players and their form from one year earlier. Brisbane has the opportunity, and it appears the capacity, to head into the ACL very strongly. Playing in it is exciting enough in itself, and that will happen even if for some unforseen reason Brisbane bombs out mid-season.
7. Brisbane players are not stars, but they are cool. Ange himself is clearly an intellectual, but Broich has a very cool doco made about him (can't wait) where he is revealed as a maverick philosopher (Part 1 is linked, but you'll find part four of the trailer, which has the Roar bits, including a bit of interview with Ange), and Issey is an Artist. But in general, there's not a lot of machismo in the team, even less without Matty. Our star of game one, Mitch Nichols (who was only tentatively a footballer when Ange got hold of him, incidentally), looks like some kind of sweet choir boy. They're all lovable.
8. In the soccer blogosphere, with its sites and blogs and hundreds of amateur commenters, something that is historic has, I think, occurred. Nobody, not even the most crusty, hard-core, trollish fans of the other teams, say that Brisbane plays badly or that Ange should be sacked. Anyone familiar with football fan sites will know how ludicrous a claim that this is. It's true.
9. We just got a billionaire owner. God knows I'll probably be writing a bit about Aga Bakrie, but meanwhile the financial woes of the club are over and, well, we can dream! The guy, who owns an Indonesian Club and one in Belgium or something, wants the Roar to go to the top of Asia, and why wouldn't he? I don't know what his source is but Michael Flynn over at 442 quoted the new chairman as saying, "I think that if we could have our own stadium in ten years time that would be fantastic." What? And Ange mentioned a clubhouse, and training facilites. A youth academy?

Good people, that is not all. All of that is merely context for the thing that has happened to the Roar which really is, for this fan, deeply satisfying:
10. The kit, for the first time in The Roar's history, looks cool. It really does.

Go Lads. And for fuck's sake Brisbane, this sort of moment in a sporting team only comes once. Let's fill that fucking stadium.

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