The noble art of booing

“We wuz robbed.  Collingwood couldn’t buy a goal in the last quarter, so that bloody maggot gives Beams a charity 20 metres out.  And that home ground free kick bias is ruining the game.”

Sorry, I’m just channeling my inner Bluebagger.  That sense of entitlement that makes them so obnoxious.  I actually couldn’t get that worked up about yesterday’s loss (disappointed at the result, yes).  But much as it pains me to say it, Collingwood are a tough competitor and a better rounded side under Buckley.  The Pies got 2 more frees than us (the same ‘bias’ as we enjoyed against the Blues), and the umps put the whistle away to let the contest flow.  Well done MIGs.

So I’ll have to reserve my spray for those Silvertails and squibs from Royal Parade.  I thought they got off lightly last week.  Litza’s humor is endearing, so we laugh with him more than at him.  JB got a Christ-like reception for his resurrection, and we don’t like to mock the Hero of 1911.  The National Broadband Network hasn’t reached Canberra yet, so all digital communication with TRobb has obviously been disconnected for the past month.

Still the correspondent that most raised my ire was a Mr Snowman who wrote:

“Having lived in Perth for the best part of thirty years and witnessed the booing of James Hird,Nathan Buckley et al and now Chris Judd i have come to the conclusion that the eagle suporters are a absolute disgrace. They would boo the anzac day parade as well as phar lap,and you may as well throw in black caviar, i repeat a disgrace.”

Grammar and punctuation not withstanding, my response to Mr Snowman is “too right we would”.  As would any decent, red blooded Australian.  The honorable boo of the dishonorable is part of our fine larrikin tradition.

Political correctness has gone too far and is ruining this country.  A disrespectful “wake up to yourself” boo is what this country was built on.  Think of the “up yours” response in adversity to Gallipoli, Bodyline and the Eureka Stockade.  No “well played chaps” doffing of the lid to our “elders and betters” in those days.  The response was ‘on to future success’ built on enmity and determination.

As for the examples cited:

  • James Hird – fine player.  Sheeds taught him everything he knows about how to be the best front man in footy.  As long as you can find the brains to run the show (hello Bomber and Choco) there is no end to the number of high paying media spots you can command.  Anyway we were booing his hairstyle.
  • Nathan Buckley – The humbling from countless losing Grand Finals has made him a better person.  Having to sit silent and stone faced while Mick squandered last year’s premiership on his own ego, has made FIGJAM a better coach.  A little Perth booing was just rounding out his personal development.
  • The Anzac Day Parade – We only booed when the Generals’ staff cars drove by.  I rest my case.
  • Black Caviar – We like red blooded champions that test themselves against the best on the biggest stages.  Like Takeover Target, Manikato, Kingston Town and Super Impose that tested themselves against the best – time and again over different distances to find the limits of their endurance.  We love the horse not the hype.  She is a media creation who scared off more good horses than she raced against.
  • Phar Lap – Bloody champ, but we were booing the trainer Harry Telford.  Trained him on arsenic tonic to stimulate the appetite, and then broke young Tommy Woodcock’s heart by getting him to do more of the same when they got to the US.  When too much of a good thing poisoned the poor bugger, he had the gall to blame it on the Yanks and gangsters.  At least kind old Tommy got Reckless in the end to compensate for a lifetime’s anguish.  Racehorse trainers get sanctified when they get a good one, but it’s a heartless and ruthless game on the whole.  Have I mentioned trainers cutting the nerves in the legs of speedy 2YO’s so they didn’t feel the ground when they went ‘shinny’?  They mostly deserve a good booing.

And while we’re about it:

  • Bradman – Was a miserly Mason who never gave a fair go to the Micks in his side.  He was a main chancer, who probably shafted the boss so he could inherit the business.  Never bought a round of drinks in his life.  Could bat a bit, but.

Which brings me back to case in point – CJudd.  Personally I didn’t boo him, but I could understand the case for the prosecution.  Sitting in the stands it sounded more Showground Alley pantomime booing than venal hatred.  He took the girl and the money and ran off while he still had some acceleration in the legs.  Reasonable people would have understood if he had said “I am sick of the Eagle’s poor culture and indulgence of the wide boys, and I want to join a progressive club.”  Instead he said “I want to be closer to Mum so I’ll join Brendan Fevola at Carlton and cop the bung under the table from Richard Pratt in post career earnings.”

We applaud CJudd the footballer.  We boo the hypocrisy and the hubris.  A well developed social conscience shaped by Radio National and the quality broadsheets is all very well, but an army of creative lawyers to disguise your interests? Worth a couple of hoots I would have thought.

Watching the hobbled champ at Subiaco last week reminded me of 2007 when the fabled Judd groin was more watched and commented on than Lady Gaga’s.  Like Carlton’s in 2011, our season was stuttering in the face of a mounting injury list.  And the skipper seemed far from fit.  The club wanted him to rest up for a tilt at September but the great man would have none of it.  He battled on and the result was a gallant but still straight sets exit.

Where is the boundary between courage and foolhardiness?  Ego and humility?  The Ancient Greeks (g’day Ian and LB) called it hubris, and in the end the Footy Gods have served CJudd the same fate that befell Icarus when he flew too close to the sun.

We weren’t booing Chris, just counseling “it’s getting warm up there mate, better come down while the wax and feathers hold.”

The appropriate response to the chorus of boos, is not the whinge and complaint of the born to rule Silvertail.  It is to heed the example of one of our greatest leaders, now beloved by many who once booed him.

There is a story about Gough Whitlam when he was Prime Minister and the ALP was sinking in the polls in Queensland in 1974.  The general consensus was that Whitlam was perceived as arrogant by the ordinary voter.  So Senator Ron McAullife (who was also President of the Queensland Rugby League) invited him up to Lang Park to present the trophies for the 1974 Rugby League Grand Final.

The cheers for the winning team were broken by the angry chorus of booing as Whitlam and McAullife entered the arena.  Pausing only as the winning coach and captain came forward to accept the spoils.

Then as the two politicians marched off, and the furious booing reached new heights, Whitlam turned to the embarrassed McAullife:

“Ron, now I understand why you invited me up here to help you.  I had no idea you were so unpopular.”


  1. PB – you’re right about Bradman.

  2. Re Bradman: hear, hear !!
    Was it Gideon Haigh who said “Bradman didn’t chase money, he overhauled it” ?

  3. Did you have a nice warm Cocoa drink with those hot pies for tea on Saturday night Pete?

    I have just been watching two magpies diving a wedge tail eagle through my window. Is this the start of an east coast trend?

  4. No arguments here, other than I would’ve thought a reason for booing St. James Hird was redundant… that and I’d suggest all bar maybe a dozen West Coast supporters would be able to justify their booing with such logic.

  5. Rick Kane says

    Well said Mr Litza. In fact you may have over countered that number. As I have mentioned (once or twice) I grew up in Perth and I didn’t recognise the Sandgropers referenced in this piece at all. If Judd’s sin is following the money and prestige and whatever (and not being upfront about it) then what of the Eagles hierarchy? The kinda supporters described here within would ‘logically’ tear that house down.

    However, PB, your general thrust, the value of booing is a good topic to digest and turn over in your mind. I do believe that there is a much deeper psychological divide that has the Westerners booing an Easterner than the general application of booing to a person, animal, club or whatever. That’s why I was so surprised when I was speaking with family and friends after Judd left and how dismissive they were of his contribution to a PREMIERSHIP!

  6. Well and good Rick,

    but they know it wasn’t just Judd.

    There has been a crucial EJF (Elephant Juice Factor) in their three premierships. Without access to either this time round it may be a lost window of opportunity.

  7. Rick Kane says

    Hello Mr Phantom

    I attended the 1992 GF (the one and only VFL/AFL GF I’ve attended) after arriving in Melbourne in June of that year. It was a sensational match. I had to sit with Eagles supporters as it was a friend (and Eagles supporter) who got me the ticket. However, for lots of reasons, I was going for the Cats. I was certainly cheering Gary Snr. Every time I did so I was met with more hostility than I have encountered before or since.

    Booing is one thing but not recognising greatness and applauding it is something else altogether.


  8. Cheers Rick,

    They do appear to be an unarticulate, uncouth, poorly educated and emotionally unstable lot.

    Not like your leafy eastern suburbs supporters and, of course, we Pivotonians. (Salt of the earth sort of folk)

  9. On booing, it was fascinating to attend the Dees and Giants game yesterday (and supporting neither) , and see the boos to Scully countered with the applause from everyone for James McDonald. Even when he got a free kick, all you heard was cheers for him.

    Clear they let him go a year too early, and no one wanted to see a captain let go like he was.

    So Rick, booing and applause for good reasons in one game, strange


  10. John Butler says

    PB, I thought you were playing for effect when you said you’d only read the start of my article, but it’s now obvious you couldn’t have read it.

    Complaining about the behaviour of footy crowds would be one of the more pointless exercises I could imagine. So I didn’t.

    This piece would hardly seem to undercut any arguments about morally selective commentary.

  11. There is bound to be a bit of booing if the AFL continue to encourage the Weagles to ‘throw’ rugby back passes by not allowing the umpires to discourage them.

    The South African presence in Perth must be influencing the kids as they develop, and the disposal aspect of in close footy is evolving.

    Will we have to introduce an off side in tackling as well?

  12. DBalassone says

    Great stuff PB. Love the Gough story. I always think it good theatre when a crowd boos a particular player – though I’m sure if Judd got 35 touches and the Blues were comfortably in front, the booing would have stopped a lot earlier.

    Generally booing is just a bit of fun, the only time I can recall it overstepping the mark was when Hawthorn supporters used to boo Neville Bruns. Why did they boo him? Because he was the man Leigh Matthews king hit behind play. The booing continued for the rest of his career, whenever Geelong played Hawthorn. Very ordinary stuff.

  13. Wise old jungle saying:
    “the dogs are barking, but the caravan moves on”

  14. You HAVE been reading my blogs PB, you little classics addict.

    I mentioned that one only last week

    Sorry to be pedantic but I think it should read ‘The dogs bark and the caravan moves on.’

  15. I got it from a trade union leader in the 70’s. You?
    Little new under the jungle sun, oh ghost who walks.

  16. Peter B,sorry to have upset you my precious!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Bradman, one of the greatest sporting figures ever, but to all accounts a very unpleasent person. If we want to talk about booing performers,and other displays of crowd behaviuor designed to get up your nose, what i found the most upsetting was by the Barmy Army in the Poms demolition of us in 2010-11, and they chanted God Save YOUR Queen !!! It’s the 21st century and we have a feudal anachronism as our head of state. The Barmy Army chant realy upset me, and one should feel all Australians as the chant reminded us we are stlll ‘subjects’ of the British royal family!!!


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