Fortress Brookvale - A Happy Place

The ugly face of racism rears its head once again. Last Friday night, a number of Manly Sea Eagles fans allegedly hurled, among other things, racial abuse at Ben Barba, Dene Halatau and the wife of Frank Pritchard (as she sat in the stands).

There are also accusations of spitting at Barba and Halatau. I mean, it doesn’t get much lower does it? So, where is the uproar? Where is the condemnation of this behaviour and why has the Manly board not been forced to front a rabid media scrum, waiting to fill its pages with actual drama, rather than the manufactured kind? When do we see the ramifications? Or even an attempt at justice?

Manly have nothing to hide, do they? Or is Chairman Mr Rick Penn still under investigation for racial vilification? Did he, whilst in a board meeting, use one of the most offensive terms you could possibly use to colleague and proud Samoan, Darrell Williams a month ago? Williams says yes and was insulted enough to write this letter.

So let’s not generalise at this point about the entire Northern Beaches district. Let’s just say that Rick Penn of Penn Sport, Co-owner of the Manly Sea Eagles, has his racial demons… and then let’s say that a few Manly locals have theirs as well. Let’s move on? Perhaps we are too sensitive these days? No.

26 June 2005. Bulldogs at Brookvale. Friends and I attend on a wet and grey Sunday afternoon. Second half – the crowd turns on us after we celebrate another Bulldogs try. “You rapists!”… Not so much racially charged, but at the height of Bulldogs hatred around the NRL, it was not a shock. But then this – ‘you dirty wogs, why don’t you go back to where you came from?”. A good question. It does take ages to get out of the Brookvale car park, (there isn’t one) so maybe with the result a forgone conclusion, we should leave early? No. My mate decides it’s time to make a stand against our new friend, “But I live in North Sydney!”…

Imagine if this happened at ANZ stadium and a Bulldogs fan was accused of abuse or intimidation of a visiting Manly fan. Can you even imagine what would happen if a Canterbury Bankstown supporter spat at a player? Your local tabloid would launch a six page spread and your trusted free-to-air TV station would launch a full scale investigation, hosted by the great Danny Wielder. It may have even pushed sexism and politics to the middle pages. Maybe.

So, back to Brookvale on that beautiful day - the game finishes and the lovely woman who hurled the aforementioned abuse is sitting, forlorn. Her beloved Sea Eagles trudge off the field with their heads down – but her son approaches my mate, offers him a handshake. Perhaps the next generation won’t have as tough a time.

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