The Non-Aligned Supporter

Much has been written about how the Grand Final attracts the non-supporter. And it is true. They go along to the game; no true allegiance to either team; adopt one for the day and barrack hard until it is obvious their team is going to lose. “They are not my team anyway” is their final remark. Frustrates the heck out of any true supporter who may be nearby. There is no winning satisfaction.

But such beasts are found elsewhere as well. They are actually even more prevalent at your typical Grand Final barbecue or football pub gathering. They are horrible to be around when your team is playing. Their righteousness knows no bounds. I hate them. Possibly because I am one of them.

2012 Grand Final day. The venue is in leafy Hawthorn, a couple of punt kicks better than mine from Glenferrie Oval. Our hosts Guy and Suzanne are Richmond and Geelong supporters respectively so hold no true allegiance themselves. The crowd is mixed with no actual Swans supporters. There is one Hawthorn supporter. I will call him Joe, because that is his name. Joe has barracked for Hawthorn for the 35 years we have been friends.

The crowd comprises a majority of genuine football followers, so once the game begins, the focus is definitely on the TV. Surprisingly, considering our location, most of the non-aligned adopt the Swans for the day. I think Suzanne may have sided with the Hawks because of where she lives, and she likes to be contrary.

When I watch the game at home I am the frequent target of complaint from my wife, and especially from my children, for my comments. If Collingwood is playing, my biases are evident. If other teams are playing, I still cop it. And so it was this day. Can’t remember anything specific, but by the second half, Joe had moved himself behind the exterior glass wall so he could still see the TV but didn’t have to put up with the peanut gallery.

Now Joe is not so pure himself. Three weeks earlier in the first week of finals, we had been at the MCG watching Freo and Geelong. At half time Joe had had to create some distance between himself and a Geelong supporter who wasn’t reacting well to Joe’s vocal support for Freo.

Back to the present, and the invitations have arrived – Guy and Suzanne are hosting again. As Guy wrote after the Tigers’ elimination final loss:

After 48 hours of anguished soul-searching, I’ve now turned the corner and can see some positives in the Tigers’ early final exit –

1. I won’t have to queue up for a beer with 95,000 people again for at least another year;

2. I’ll have at least 2 hours extra every day to devote to family & work, as I no longer read the sports pages, watch Footy Confidential, League Teams, AFL 360, On the Couch etc; and

3. best of all, we’re free to host a Grand Final BBQ! (Actually this bit was probably never in doubt)

Joe has confirmed he will be there. He has already questioned whether I will be attending and whether there have been any additional constraints placed on my behaviour. But Joe will be tested himself. The reason Joe had supported Fremantle so ardently at the ‘G last year was that his nephew, Michael Barlow, was playing. On Saturday Michael will be lining up against Joe’s beloved Hawks. So Joe may have more than just me to put up with. He may also be fighting with himself. Then again, maybe he just can’t lose.

About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.


  1. There is no way I could watch the Blues in a grand final at a GF BBQ party. It would either be at the game or in solitude somewhere without any neutral or opposing supporters. It would do my head in. Pass on my best to your mate Joe!

  2. Ditto the above. My wife is my footy soulmate. (Oh and life soulmate ;))

    As a catter I’m looking forward to using my time garnering, picking out lint etc etc

  3. What a great topic. Rule number 1, never watch the footy with a supporter of another team, especially in a GF!!

    As a Pies fan I naturally hate all other 17 clubs, but depending on the circumstances at the time, I hate some more than others. Naturally, I’d barrack for anyone who opposes Carlton or Essendon, and in 93 my instincts saw me adopt the Peptide Cheats over the Salary Cap Cheats in a conundrum that rivalled a choice between Osama and Saddam!

    Having endured extreme arrogance and smugness from Hawks fans in recent times, last year I had great delight in yelling hard and loud from level 2 of the Great Southern Stand for the Swannies and partied hard all night. I’ll be in the same spot sporting purple colours on Satdee hoping for a similar celebration.

  4. Years ago, used to go to GF BBQ,s every year, no matter who was playing. And it was the same every year, after the game all the resident experts would drunkenly analyse the game, when in fact most of them knew not what they were talking about. So when the saints finally made it a couple of years ago I decided to watch on my own, at home, with my own nibblys and drinks. What a change. I actually saw the game for what it was. And it was fantastic. Now everyone knows not to ring , message or visit me on GF day. Unless someone has died. After the game it is on again but the solitude of watching and missing nothing of the day is a revelation, that I wish to savor for as long as possible. So all my mates in Ballarat, Sydney, Perth, and Noosa, be warned, you will not be well received on GF day.

  5. Well done, Andrew.
    Grand Final gatherings are interesting in that usually only a minority represent the true followers of participating teams. Therefore the other attendents, the majority, have no direct affiliation to the two competing sides. What I think happens then is we see the emergence of the ‘pack mentaltity’. The pack take out their own frustrations of a poor, wasted season from their own teams on the true, participating supporters. The pack will invariably adopt a side based on the following rationale:
    *for the sake of it
    *that a family member barracks for a team
    *that they may support a team that has been ineffectual in their footy life, read: effective in not being unlikeable
    *have any dislike/hatred for particular players
    *have any dislike/hatred for a participating club

    Any rebuke from the participating supporters is usually met with derision, depending on the amount of booze consumed. The pack will invariably ride the follower of the losing side at some stage because it’s an easy kill. This is pack mentality. The outcomes of GF gatherings can be pre-determined by:
    1. the amount of alcohol supplied and consumed
    2. the ethical standards of the invitees

    If you’re hosting, you should have some control in the outcome. If you’re an invitee, then you are at the mercy of the host’s ability to manage the occasion. Of course, if from the outset you can detect the day may not unfold as you’d prefer, you can always declare you’ve got another GF party to go to.

    2013 presents an interesting mark in history of GF participation for my family. In my immediate family alone we are Geelong, Sydney, Brisbane, St. Kilda and Melbourne supporters. We have had direct involvement, and in my case usual attendance, since 2000. We are heading to a GF party on Saturday and all of us are divided between the Hawks and Dockers. Ethically, it’s outside my realm to have the pre-determined intention to arrive at this party where I only know about 50% of people there, get incredibly drunk, be obnoxiously loud and barrack irrationally. However, I think I’ll gauge the situation when I arrive….

  6. Sorry, AF I cannot do unaligned – I am unabashedly Freo on Saturday, as Prince once said: “Purple Reign, Purple Reign”.

    Also, if while you’re watching, reference is made to a dust-up on Level 4 of the Members, it’d have been caused by me.

    I have every intent of being the Ryan Crowley of football supporters, and the more homogeneous-Eastern-suburban-Hawthorn supporters I can upset the better.

  7. Litza, I’ll see your Purple Reign and raise the stakes with my Purple People Eater!

    AF, non-alignment is for the birds. Barrack and barrack hard for the mighty Hawks!

  8. daniel flesch says

    I’m sick of people continually characterising Hawthorn supporters as smug arrogant Eastern suburbs stockbrockers . There are people like that at every club. Even yours Litza – pray differentiate the obnoxiousness of Kennett compared to that of John Elliot. (Both Liberals , but that of course is entirely irrelevant.) As a kid in Balwyn in the ’50’s our street was dirt and we had a thunderbox in the backyard near the chook pen. At primary school i chose to follow Hawthorn because it was the local club. In the days when most people followed their local club. A lot of the other kids went for Melbourne because they were winning Flags then .Hawks had then never made the Finals. In retrospect i made a lucky decision. As for the G..F., i hope Buddy gives Crowley one of his special bumps and gets rubbed out for the first 3 matches he would’ve played next year for GWS. Either that or the umps keep several eyes on Crowley. for blocking / jumper grabbing / pinching . Hawks could use a Dipper or a Gary Ayres but sadly unavailable.

Leave a Comment