General Footy Writing: Tired of silence in the stands? Now sit down and listen to this …

By Bill Mapleston

Recently I was walking past the telly. The match of the day was on at the ’G, Cometti was commentating, and the match looked to be at an exciting phase. So I took a minute out to watch – “Luv the game,” as they say. Cometti kept me amused with his “right distance, wrong postcode” summation of goal-shooting efforts. But then came his comment, “For some reason the crowd is strangely silent”. I knew why. I’d say a lot of people knew why. I felt compelled to yell at the telly: “Well, hello Dennis. How do 60,000 fans seated in neat rows of unbreakable plastic chairs, 70 metres from the action, suddenly become raucous and excited? They don’t! It just can’t happen!”

As humans, we sit down to eat, sew, discuss, work and play the harp. It’s quiet time (hence the expression, “Sit down and shut the f@&* up”). We don’t sit down to get excited. When we’re excited we jump up and down, wave our arms, and shout out loud. This is how we humans are wired. Rock bands stand up to perform for very good reason – getting out there and going crazy is essential to maintain the rage and the rhythm, and to energise the crowd. Ever seen Mick Jagger belt out I Can’t Get No… sitting in a plastic chair? Even Simon and Garfunkle stand up!

It’s the same for the footy fan – to totally enjoy the day (and to go home happy regardless of the score) the fan has to be allowed to stand up, beer in one hand, with the other hand free to wave wildly. Fans who stand feel more compelled to yell abuse at the umpy, the opposition and any player on his own team seen to be not putting in 100 per cent. Sadly the big stadia have killed such emotion.

In the “old days”, before the nation became wealthy enough to afford grandstands, every ground had The Hill. That’s where you headed with your mates and half a carton. It was where there was absolutely no chance of quiet time or the crowd being “strangely silent”. The elderly, the infirm and the committeemen had the comfort of The Stand. They saw all of the game and were entertained (at a safe distance) by the antics on The Hill.

We know that to become fired up and passionate and demonstrative about something is good for you. At least one outpouring of emotion a week is important for a person’s mental balance. Some find an evangelical session does the trick, others a group laughing session, but me, I prefer a couple of hours on The Hill. Or I did prefer a couple of hours on The Hill. So what to do?

The mighty dollar and the fun police have won. The ’G holds 100,000, the Gabba 40,000, all seated and, sadly, mostly silent. The fans want to jump up and cheer and hurl abuse but it’s hard. The Mexican wave is not tolerated; the trumpeters are unwelcome; the police stand ready to evict the drunks; and the security guards, bless their little souls, spring into action after the game to stop the kids running on having a kick and weaving through the pack like Gary Ablett.

It’s the surface, you see — don’t want to damage the surface.


  1. danielle says

    HAHA! Exactly right!
    I will never forget the Carlton Collingwood game where some random Carlton drunk almost spilled his beer on me when he stood up to celebrate a goal.
    His reaction: “Ohhhh, sorry love!!!”
    Mine: (hands over face)”…oh god!”
    Good times!

  2. Kik Coach says

    A true Carlton supporter would have spilt a Grange or a fine Pinot from the Yarra Valley. But Beer? It must have been a Collingwood fan (disguised as a Carlton fan so that he could be on the winning side)!

  3. danielle says

    Kik Coach:
    Very funny..No im SURE he was a Carlton supporter. If only it stopped at the beer spilling. These loudmouths decided to try their luck by jeering at every Collingwood supporting female.
    While I got: “Ohhhh, sorry love!”
    Others got: ‘hello darling…”
    Yes…a jeering drunk Carlton supporter,
    How VERY attractive…

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