Off the Wall

The totally uncalled for boo's and catcalls directed at Paul Gallen at the post-Origin presentation are sadly the price we pay with an obsession with sell out crowds at big matches.

I agree with Barry O'Farrell that it was poor sportsmanship from some of the fans, but when you go to an Origin match at Suncorp it is what you get when about a third of the crowd are there to get drunk, and to boo and jeer no matter what.

I long for a return to the days when all but two or three fans at rugby league matches were genuine league fans there for the sport, and not to get as full a state school hat racks.

The yahoos and yobs who booed Paul Gallen probably felt very proud of themselves, and told their workmates the next day that they had booed the Blues captain.

Booing politicians at football and cricket matches is a sport. It has been around for longer than the current lot. I was standing right behind Gough Whitlam and Ron McAuliffe when the Lang Park crowd booed the then PM off the field.

I can vouch for the quote from the PM directed at McAuliffe - "If I had known you were so unpopular I would not have agreed to be here".

And booing the referee is a part of the game, and a part of their lot in life.

But booing and jeering Paul Gallen, who happens to be an ornament to the game off the field as well as one of the toughest competitors on it cannot be defended.

But if we are going to push for capacity crowds all the time that is the price we will continue to pay.

I no longer enjoy going to Origin matches. The experience last year was enough for me - drunks falling all over you, flags on sticks being stuck in your head, and language that would make a brickie's labourer blush. Oh, and a cup or two of beer being spilt over you as well.

During each game at the major stadiums we see the sign "warning, if you transgress on the field you will be fined $5,000 and be arrested".

I just wish there was the same focus on drunks in our major stadiums. Some of them are drunk when they get there, and just get progressively worse.

Better still, allocate 20 per cent of the seats as drinking areas, and let mums and dads and their kids to enjoy the football in the rest of the ground.

It won't happen because money hungry stadium owners/managers want to extract every last dollar they can from as many spectators as possible.

Paul Gallen probably didn't put his best foot forward in his post-match speech, but he has corrected that since.

We should applaud the heroes of our game, no matter what colour they wear.

And we should demand the drunks, yahoos and yobs who spoil the pleasure of watching them be sent packing.

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