Round 17 – Essendon v Port Adelaide: Much a-boo about nothing

Essendon v Port Adelaide

July 26th, 2015

RD 17

Etihad Stadium, Melbourne


What’s with all this booing lately at AFL games?

Okay, to clarify I loathe Adam Goodes. But I don’t boo him, although I can sort of understand why people do. I don’t loathe him because of his colour. Not at all. Port Adelaide, my club since the womb has had a long association with some fine Indigenous talent; Wanganeen, Cockatoo-Collins, the Bond brothers, Neade, Wingard…The list goes on.

I loathe Goodes for purely non-football reasons (although his constant carping, whinging isn’t endearing). But it’s his off-field demeanour, manner and posturing that annoy me. Last night Goodes was again roundly booed by a fair chunk of the West Coast crowd. Not the brainiest of club supporters, West Coast fans would boo a seagull silly enough to park itself on Domain Stadium if given half the chance. In fact Western Australian AFL fans are some of the least enlightened when it comes to fan behaviour. I’ve seen a number of games in Perth, against both WA clubs and they rank highly in the worst fan stakes. But can you roundly boo an opponent having paid your hard-earned (or even easily-earnt) cash? Well, yes, you can. You can do pretty much whatever you like within the rules of normal society. And if that means booing an opposition player, especially one as dividing as Goodes, then all well and good. Does it look bad for the game? Is it bad sportsmanship? Well, maybe, but I’ve seen far worse things at AFL games than a section of the crowd booing a player.

Now on Saturday night at the Essendon/Port Adelaide game there was a different sort of booing going on. Paddy Ryder, still yet to really hit his straps at Port, was aggressively booed every time he went near the ball from the opening bounce. Most definitely not because of any issue with race, but purely because he chose to walk away from the Bombers last year over the supplements saga.

Now, considering what we all know now about this utter blight on the game for the past three years, who could blame him?

Essendon, as I pointed out to various supporters on Saturday night much to their chagrin were lucky half the team didn’t decide to walk away. And no fair-minded person could have blamed them. But that’s the key phrase – fair-minded. That’s not a term easily attributable to Bomber fans, who are becoming bitterer as the season rolls on. Ryder was a very good player for Essendon over many seasons. He chose to leave because of what James Hird and others had instigated. Those same Essendon fans booing Ryder should have been casting their eye to the Bombers coaching box and directed their venom at golden balls, he of the Teflon coat upstairs. He is the one who deserves the booing; another point the black and red fans took unkindly to on Saturday night.

Two games, two instances of aggressive booing, and two different reasons. One more explainable than the other.

That Ryder managed to win the game for Port Adelaide off his own boot in the last quarter rubbing a further generous helping of salt into those depressed Bombers fans wounds. And wasn’t it great to see…

Port has now taken Ryder under its collective wing, made him one of their own and embraced his commitment to leave a club that broke the rules and to some wrecked AFL for the last three seasons. At the Port Adelaide end on Saturday night the Ryder chants were coming thick and fast. It was magnificent to be in amongst it. What was equally touching, and even more telling was when Ryder kicked his first goal for Port in the third quarter. At least a dozen or more of Ryder’s new, drug-free team mates got around him, knowing all too well the pressure he’d been under since the first bounce, and made sure it was a goal celebration to remember. It was a nice touch, and no doubt would have given Ryder a massive lift; his last quarter heroics ample proof.







  1. His “drug-free” team mates. What are you implying about Paddy himself? Insulting article.

  2. I’m saying he went to a club that a) didn’t systematically use supplements, and b) wreck AFL for the last 3 years.
    Not implying anything about Paddy.

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