The Fan

I am a fan. We all are. Of someone, or something, or some people. Although we may never meet them, or share their views, we support/barrack like they are family.


This past week has been a terrible week for fans all around the world. For me, on Tuesday, the Essendon 34 were found guilty. Events that bookended this, helped put things in perspective. On Monday, music fans were saddened at the death of music icon David Bowie. On Wednesday, Missouri fans were saddened to hear that the St.Louis Rams will be moving to a different city. Then of course we lost Alan Rickman, and then Ken Judge.


The crisis that has engulfed Essendonsince early 2013 has not affected my admiration of the game, it has just dulled the passion and emotion that I would insert into each match. After an Anzac Day loss in 1998, I walked into my kitchen and started crying.

‘Why are you crying?’ asked mum. ‘It’s just a game of football’.

‘I know, but last season we won our first three games and then finished 14th, I know that this loss is just the start of another slippery slope’. I was 12. Our final game in 1999 elicited more tears.


Even in my early twenties, the passion didn’t waver. I started playing local football in the Loddon Valley Football League, but my reserves coach questioned my passion for the club, as I generally missed games when the Bombers were playing on Saturday afternoons.


When the Bombers started the supplements regime in 2012, I was 26. When players finish their one-year suspensions, I will be 31. Week after week, the events have weighed me down. I have gone from not sleeping in the first week of the crisis, to barely registering emotion at its potential conclusion.


Every hard-fought victory in the past three seasons has initiated sheer joy, followed by realization that our points might be stripped so it won’t matter, or we will be kicked out of the finals, or players will be suspended or so-on. Victories and losses stopped being met with cheers and jeers, and instead with yawns and hitting refresh on facebook.


What I have come to realize in the past week though, as pessimistic as it sounds, is that none of that matters to me. As a fan, I have lost the least, in that the suspensions of the players should not directly impact me in any way. My membership fees aren’t going to be reduced, I will still get to watch 22 games a season (although the odds of there being a 23rd is greatly diminished), there will still be players to support, just not all the faces that I am used to.


When I was a kid, everyone had an opinion, but for it to be heard, you had to be important, or be bothered to write a letter to the editor. The advent of social media has created a culture in which everyone has the opportunity to share their opinion as many times as to a self-curated audience (unless your mum starts following you). And share they have. Again and again.


Over the past three seasons, opinions have been written and read, repeated, and forced down our throats. It has been frustrating having to try to separate fact from fiction, opinion from evidence and listen to non-biased views.


As an Essendon supporter, if I have expressed concern over what occurred, or why there wasn’t more questioning from players, I was generally told to keep the faith and trust the club. When I expressed concern that there was no evidence of wrongdoing or that I felt that other clubs had similar programs, I was likened to anti-vaxxers who placed all their faith in a skewed vision of the truth.


Each person took their individual views towards the club, towards sport science, towards drugs, towards the media and it shaped their view on the outcome. I have heard so many views and versions on the same news reports, press conferences, documents that I no longer know what happened and what I imagined.


As fans, we are all baptized in our own various ways to the clubs we love. Which makes this situation even more bizarre, I stated before that the fans have lost the least in this affair (financially and reputation-wise), which is true, but we are the only interested party that can honestly say that they are not at fault. We didn’t hire Dank, or give the players a waiver, or not listen to our doctor, or leak information to the press. We have inherited this situation from those at the club.


I have the choice of deciding whether I think the players were naïve or cheating, or some point between the two, but my support of the club will generally lead me to feeling sympathetic towards the players and leaning towards naivety. Which many will say, I will be guilty of as well.

About Dave Mitri

High School Teacher in Bendigo. Likes Essendon, the Spekkie and the old-fashioned full forward. Dislikes Collingwood, Umpiring Decisions in ruck contests and media commentators who pick on players that urinate in public every so often.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Dave, the fans are the true salt of the earth and affected deeply throughout this. Nice take on your experience. I found it helpful to read the CAS report, of all the different noises around, it is good to go the source when you can. Be well


  2. Well written Dave.

    As a fellow Essendon supporter, I wish I could share your position on the club. This whole mess will forever leave a bitter taste in my mouth, moreso the handling of it by the Essendon hierarchy following it’s ‘self-reporting’ to the AFL.

    And then I read on Friday that the club and the AFL are pursuing Hal Hunter – one of the 34 – for costs as he pursues legal channels to discover exactly what he was injected with by Dank during the supplements program. “Back Our Boys” indeed.

    I’m not whacking you specifically Dave, just trying to highlight how, IMO, manipulative and hypocritical the club have been throughout this whole disgusting affair.

    I will always barrack for Essendon, but it will be a long time before I dip in the sky rocket to become a member again.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with The Almanac. Looking forward to more writings from you!

Leave a Comment