Letting it all out

"Bloody Petersen, can't that moron just stay on his damn wing?"

"Pass you fool, just pass the damn ball!"

"My grandmother is a better player than you Vella."

Bagging footballers. A proud Australian tradition. While many would say you aren't a true supporter of your team until you have followed them to New Zealand, North Queensland and Melbourne, decked out in team colours despite their abysmal form all year, I can't agree. Sure, owning the jerseys, knowing the players, spending more than you could ever care to remember following your team around the country on their fantastic losing run, they make you a fan. Perhaps even a great fan. But you certainly aren't a diehard, true to the bone supporter of your team until you engage in a never ending stream of abuse directed at your teams players each and every time you take your seat to watch them play.

It's a sign of affection. Really, we Parramatta fans loved Ben Kusto. He would cost us games, never do anything right and generally added nothing to the club, but by golly was he a great target for the angry diehards on the hill. Useless, worthless, pathetic, he copped it all, and we loved every minute of it. It gives us solace in a losing season, knowing we can just sit there and hurl abuse at men who can play a game at a greater level we can barely imagine ourselves ever reaching, without fear of retribution from the players themselves, to the delight of the drunken mob around us. You know you love it when the old man in his James Hardie jersey stands on his chair with a Toohey's wobble and uses unrepeatable language to describe Daniel Wagon's mother, father, grandmother and dog, while still insinuating to him that they would have thrown that pass to an open Wade McKinnon on their outside had they been in that position.

It offers you a relief, a sense of detachment. Any loss cuts to the heart of the diehard fan, particularly a hiding, and especially when your team has played like garbage. You know you'll be copping it from relatives, friends and that wanker in the office who takes pleasure in telling you just how bad Parramatta were that weekend, ignoring just how badly his Sea Eagles are going, and drilling you about your team and your coach at every opportunity, that is, when he?s not saying how good Scott Donald and Daniel Heckenberg are going, or that Jamie Lyon will be in maroon and white in 2005. It's not your fault you will be the butt of all jokes this week, its the players, the coach, the referee's and the hot dog vendor who are to blame, and Sunday afternoon on the hill is the only chance you'll get to tell them exactly how you feel about the slap across the face they've given to you with their lacklustre play, about the terrible week they have sentenced you to as a result, and why not blame them for high petrol prices while you are at it? It is your right as a fan to abuse your teams players! It is their fault, not yours!

You have to stay loyal to your side at every other time. You have to defend Daniel Wagon as a five eighth when your Bulldogs loving brother in law gives it to him, it is your duty as a fan to defend Matt Petersen despite his tackling leading to three tries on the weekend, and when you?re team has signed a group of nothing, has been and never were players, you have to defend the decision and just know that they will ?come good?. For most of the year, you will show blind loyalty to your team. The only time you can come out, say what you really think and give your side the roasting they deserve is at the game, safe in the knowledge that 10,000 others in the stadium quietly agree with what you are saying, and wish they were drunk enough to do the same.

So embrace the chances you get. Call Vella a soft cat when he gets smashed taking the ball up yet again, tell Chris Walker what you think of him and his mother when he comes in off his wing yet again. It?s your right as a supporter to abuse your team! Trust me, you will feel all the better for it.

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