To Boo or Not to Boo?

My name is Arma and I boo.

I have booed for many years now; only ever between the months of March and September. My booing is an insidious activity that I have been able to cleverly conceal from my family, friends and work colleagues. But now is the time for me to announce to the world that I regularly boo and I need help.

It all started innocently enough, as so many of these things do. I was a young lad at the Junction Oval – Round 5, 1975. The Roys were taking on the Bombers. We were very fortunate to still be in the game at quarter time, posting five straight goals to the in-form Essendon’s 5.8 – our straight kicking keeping us in touch.

With each goal that Fitzroy kicked in the second term the tension grew. Six straight. Seven straight. Eight straight. Nine straight. Ten straight goals …. no behinds!

And then it happened. The much-maligned Peter Ruscuklic slipped one off the side of his boot, registering Fitzroy’s first minor score. The “duck was broken”. Lions’ supporters spontaneously booed him – long and hard. As the booing subsided it was instantly followed by raucous laughter. The Fitzroy crowd seemed to be laughing as one at the bizarre humour of the booing. We were united in the moment. Little did I know how that ironic booing was to shape my footy supporting life.

As with so many compulsive booers, the umpires are the regular recipients of my displeasure. Not always correctly so. In more recent times, I have noted that I have booed one umpire for another’s misdemeanour. In moments of reflection, it occurs to me that this is grossly unfair and is a behaviour that I need to address.

It seems to me that some forms of booing are more appropriate and/or defensible than others. Ex-players of a club are regularly the target of booing supporters; particularly where they are deemed to have been money-hungry or disloyal to their original club. And supporters can have extremely long memories when it comes to this category of booing. Nathan Bock will come to experience this. But what about the player who didn’t want to leave his original club – having been involuntarily traded? Should he be fair game too? This quandary has divided the booing community for years.

It is quite rare for a footy supporter to boo solo. Similar perhaps to yawning, once someone in the crowd begins the booing others will join in; appearing to be an almost involuntary act. But the contagious act of booing goes beyond just the power of suggestion. It could be contended that those who regularly boo have a higher predisposition toward empathy – the ability to understand and connect with emotional states of others around them, i.e. connecting with the feelings of their fellow footy supporter. Consequently, whether or not you’re a booer could be related to how much empathy you feel towards others. And as we now know, a lack of empathy has been shown to lead to the development of sociopathic behaviour. So perhaps it is those that never boo that we should be most wary of.

It must be acknowledged that even though it is considered by many as a taboo to boo, there must be exceptions to the rule. Andrew Demetriou should be booed. Ross Oakley definitely should be booed (still). And I suspect that it will be reasonable for Geelong supporters to boo Steven Baker for a fair time to come.

Recognition of the extent of my booing problem first came quite recently. I dutifully attended the Sydney versus Geelong game at ANZ Stadium. As Little Gazza got his first telling touch of the footy the Sydney crowd spontaneously booed him. As a compulsive booer, my first reaction was to join in – displaying empathy for my fellow supporter and in doing so, reinforcing the notion that I am not a sociopath. But why boo the little master? I actually quite like him. And I certainly think that he is a sensational footballer. Being able to hold back my booing at that critical moment was a turning point for me. No longer would I be beholden to the whims of my fellow supporter. I was free.

As a part of my rehabilitation, I have been asked by my program mentor to compile a list of players who I think have been unfairly booed at times during their careers. You may be able to assist my recovery by suggesting others.

Adelaide: Darren Jarman
Brisbane: Jonathan Brown
Carlton: Chris Judd
Collingwood: Nathan Buckley
Essendon: Matthew Lloyd
Fitzroy: Leigh Carlson
Fremantle: Chris Tarrant
Geelong: Garry Ablett
Hawthorn: Paul Salmon
Melbourne: Peter Moore
North Melbourne: Wayne Carey
Port Adelaide: Chad Cornes
Richmond: Nathan Brown
StKilda: Nick Riewoldt
Sydney: Graham Teasdale
West Coast: John Worsfold
Western Bulldogs: Adam Cooney – although I suspect that they could be saying “Coon”

That is all

About Arma

Much-maligned footy banterer


  1. David Downer says

    Bravo Arma. Magnifique.

    “The booing community”. Indeed.

    Some players are booed for being genuinely despised, others are booed for posing the greatest threat to your team’s chances. Some tick both boxes. I wonder if the player copping the “a-boos” (boom boom) at the time realise which category they fall into.

    More ugly is a team booed by its own fans for an ordinary performance. This makes the events of a couple of weeks ago a little harder to explain. In the StK v Port Adel clash, the Saints went about the chip backwards/sideways stuff for the last 5 minutes …when leading by 94 points. This resulted in a strong chorus of boos from the StK members area – but I’m not sure it was “in jest” a la your Ruscuklic precedent …despite them being 16 goals up!

    The social art of the “boo” is indeed intricate. I wonder which prominent players are “boo-proof?” …and this question excludes most Collingwood supporters who boo anyone for anything.

    Perhaps someone like Luke Hodge would fit the “boo-proof” mould.


    P.S: Have boo’d B.Hall relentlessly since he left St Kilda. But I let Craig Devonport off the hook when he went to Carlton.

  2. Great article, Arma!

    As a Cats fan, I’m used to Gaz getting boos. Almost every game he gets it, except at Skilled Stadium. This makes no sense to me. I’m not a negative supporter (though I do boo if the occasion demands it) so I don’t get this vocalising my …. what would it be? Can you honestly hate Gaz? Or is it envy? Tall poppy syndrome?

    I know there are several brilliant players from various clubs who receive this kinda of treatment.

    More humorously, Dasher Milburn STILL gets booed by Blue supporters, nine years on from the Silvagni incident. He reckons he rather likes it: the more boos he gets, the better a game he knows he’s having. And he had an absolute blinder when the two teams met in Round 21, so by the second quarter, the boos were being preceded by groans :P

    When Mooney goes for goal, the opposition boo him, but this blends with the sea of “MOOOOOOOOOONS”, so I don’t think it phases him exceptionally.

  3. The Freo crowd were slammed from pillar to post for booing after a panel of ex players awarded Chris Judd a Glendinning medal after the 2006 derby; the crowd thought that Josh Carr should’ve won it. I didn’t actually boo at the time but wished I had after a hail of sanctimonious indignation was visited upon the whole club by a chorus of Weagles fancying hack journos and talkback hosts. ‘How can you possibly boo Juddy? He’s succccch a chaaampion’ and ‘What a poor, misguided bunch of poor supporters. They should be ashamed’

    Ah, the overdose of schadenfreude when their messiah deserted the Toasters at the end of 2007. It still makes me laugh.

  4. Anthony from Chippendale says


    It’s healthy to boo regularly. I wouldn’t worry about it. But I think it’s important to conceal it – particularly at work. I’ll often slip away from my desk for 10 minutes mid-morning and flick through the AFL pages of The Australian and have a quiet boo.

    Traded players is always an interesting one. Do Cartlon fans boo Josh Kennedy?

    And Chad unfairly booed? Hardly! I think Kane gets unfairly booed because people think that he’s either Chad or Studley.

    And why the hell would you boo Leigh Carlson? It’d be like booing a Bears player. A total waste of a boo!


  5. Arma – only talentless thugs should be booed – for example, Steven Baker, Hawthorn (all of ’em except maybe Hodge), Stan Magro. But genuine champions should not, even if they play for the opposition.

    Gary Ablett only gets booed by nasty, small minded, pin headed, talentless, never beens.

  6. Peter Flynn says

    You’d only boo Leigh Carlson at night.

  7. Anthony from Chippendale says


    I recall game where people were booing Greg Williams and commentator Peter McKenna was outraged.

    “They’re only booing Williams because he’s a champion,” the flustered McKenna exclaimed. It’s not as though Williams would have ever done anything behind play that would have upset opposition supporters…


  8. John Butler says


    I presume you mean that in a completely non-judgemental way, lest you attract attention to some much-maligned figures in the Pussy-cat camp.

    Susie, I’m also amused at the long memories of my fellow Blues supporters. But as one who was standing near the reserves bench on that faithful day, I can vouch Mr Milburn went out of his way to earn whatever he copped.

  9. John Butler says

    A from C

    You’re absolutely right. Diesel was as pure as the driven snow.

  10. Arma,
    Clearly booing Chad Cornes is not permissable. Not when one has voodoo as an opion.

  11. John Butler says


    There’s an idea for a topic- the role of voodoo in AFL. Much underestimated, I suspect.

  12. John Butler says


    A well-worn cliche I know, but Teaser still deserves opprobrium for that brown velvet Brownlow number.

    As to Gazza, we’ll see if the Cat faithful live by their word if he doesn’t decide in their favour at season’s end.

  13. Thanks for all of the comments. You are helping me with my therapy.

    #1 DD: Based on your comments, it appears as though you don’t mind releasing a massive boo yourself every now and then. I was going to toss in the question as to which group of supporters are most likely to boo their own team. I suspect that the Tigers would get the nod.

    #2 It’s the Milburn-type booing that I tend to think is the most interesting – I reckon half of the supporters who have got into the habit of booing him don’t even know why.

    #3 I see the irony Jonathan, but I could never boo Juddy. He should be in DD’s category of boo-proof.

    #4 Anthony, I tend to want to boo when I read anything of Patrick Smith’s, so (partly) understand your morning ritual. Chad Cornes is an interesting boo subject. I tend to think that he was unfairly booed early on in his career, and perhaps more reasonably booed in recent times.

    #5 Dips, I agree with JB, that it will be interesting if your comment holds true should Geelong supporters encounter Little Gazza playing for The Suns.

    #6 Never boo Leigh Carlson PF. A pretty good career given his physical limitations (and the moustache ….. hmmm, perhaps there’s another topic for me there).

    #7 AfC: Peter McKenna did develop a rather unhealthy fascination with Greg Williams if I recall. Similar to Brian Taylor’s love for Leon Davis ……. only that Greg Williams was a pretty reasonable player.

    #8, #9 & #11: Hard to know where to start with these JB ……. perhaps Yes, No and No will do.

    #10 Chad Cornes on the hit list with Tony also it appears.

    After all of that, I’m starting to feel better already.

    That is all

  14. Traded players, unless they initiate the trade, are seldom booed. Paul Medhurst wasn’t booed and neither was The Anvil, Leigh Brown, when they played Freo. Jeff White was often booed however.

    Jeff Farmer was unfairly booed. I’m not sure Chris Tarrant ever has been.

    I could understand Solly being booed by Cats fans after what he did to Cameron Ling but I’m not sure they ever got the opportunity.

  15. JB
    we could issue every one with an Aker Doll so when he bleats about his perceived injustice we can just put a prick in the thing or is that a thing in the prick. I also understand that Leon Davis have some sort of voodoo curse that prevents him from touching leather in September. There was also the famous lifting of the curse on Collingwood when Alister McAllister was Pres. This allowed them to successfully go on to win one premiership in 55 years

  16. Clearsighted says

    Booing umpires is a given because they are ALWAYS wrong when they award a free against your team. Unless you are a partonising supporter who agrees with the oppostion and says, “Yes, that was soft,” even when you don’t mean it.
    I would suggest that Paul Dear should be the Hawthorn representative booee.
    And booing of your own players – a characteristic of a certain Melbourne based team when they are losing – should be outlawed. But then so should said team and all their army. Perhaps create a league of their own, with their own press corps, media coverage…Oh wait.. they have that already. In black and white.

  17. Arma,

    What if, in a moment of weakness, and inspired by a riveting John Worsfold press conference or a Kim Hackdorn puff piece in the local rag you’ve looked at that mongrel you’ve just adopted from the pound and said ‘you know, I think ‘Juddy’ is a great name for a dog’

    Can you boo then? Or do you have to sit and mutter ‘bloody mercenary b*stard mummys boy’ every time he gets a touch?

  18. #16 – Clearsighted (sponsored by OPSM?) ….. agree with you on the umpire front. But rather than boo, I prefer to provide an individual sledge. Perhaps like, “I reckon you’ll be a really good umpire when you grow up Chamberlain”. It tends to provide a little more “personal release” than just joining in with the community boo.

    #17 – Very nice Jonathan, very nice work.

    That is all

  19. Andrew Fithall says

    I booed Bluey Adams from Melbourne when he was presented at the Queen’s Birthday game this year. At the risk of mixing my blockbusters: “Lest We Forget”.

  20. footy etiquette rules on when to boo:
    ~if the player left your team on his own terms.
    ~if the player knocked out one of your players.
    ~ if the player is kicking to win the game for the opposite team in the dying mintues.
    ~ If the umpire is being a yellow, green or red M&M.

  21. Nothing better than booing Daniel Motlop..

    Oh wait, yes there is. Booing Chad Cornes.

  22. John Butler says

    So Blue M&M’s are OK Danni?

  23. Arma,
    great topic. Biggest Boo of all time [BBOAT] gotta be Jimmy O’Dea after the Greening incident. And most of it was my Mum!!!

  24. 22- i LOVE blue M&MS!! :)
    Cos i love that colours of blue
    ill shut up now..

  25. Booing is not strong enough, it just dissipates after leaving the gob.

    C – Crap, you need something gutteral to get your point across. Boo isn’t where it’s at.

    I like to have a little diatribe at the football that no-one can hear properly.

  26. Pamela Sherpa says

    Booing Gary Ablett? Geez! What a sick football society we have become.
    However, I’m happy boo Collingwood any day of the week.
    Does that make me a sick supporter or just normal?

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