Who do they sing for? On Sunday, the answer was nobody. Then on Monday, we found out why.
The Red and Black Bloc’s silent protest might have been effective in drawing attention to their apparent plight, but it might not have actually helped it.
The Western Sydney Wanderers were certainly lacking inspiration in their 2-0 loss at home to the Newcastle Jets. Was that because of the silence from the stands? We’ll never get an answer, but surely another boisterous backing at Pirtek Stadium wouldn’t have hurt the cause.
The Wanderers now have a fight on their hands – not just with Brisbane Roar for the premier’s plate, but with a suddenly resurgent Adelaide United for second place.
And so do the RBB, with the powers that be.
Their protest, we now know, wasn’t because they were stripped of their flags, banners and such in response to the ignition of multiple flares during the club’s AFC Champions League match with Ulsan Hyundai last week. So they say.
Instead, this one’s about an e-mail. One that, according to the RBB’s statement issued on Monday, was an attempt to “divide us, the fans, by pitting the active and non-active supporters against each other”.
The group has taken umbrage with many things the authorities have done in their dealings with the fans in the home end, and if you’ve got a spare couple of days, you should read the whole thing. Rest assured, there’s nothing in the long-winded airing of grievances you haven’t heard before.
Ignoring their failure to give reason for the protest before it happened, the scattergun manifesto does raise some reasonable points. But none of them change the fact that how things pan out from here is really up to them.
These active supporters would do well to remember why they’re there, and who really holds the whip hand.
The e-mail in question from HQ might have been decried as “poorly worded” but large swathes of it couldn’t have been clearer – including this grab, which all but tells the RBB how it’s going to be:
“The majority of members who continue to support our club with the wonderful pride, passion and exemplary behaviour they do should be aware… an absolute zero tolerance will now be enforced even more strongly than it has been in the past until this (rogue) element is removed from our game.”
Nobody would deny the RBB is the benchmark for active support right now and a massive part of why Western Sydney is already considered a powerhouse club of the A-League.
But they are fast running out of goodwill with their petulant collective attitude towards authority, convenient excuses for their misgivings and inflated sense of self-importance.
When your team is already one punch-on away from losing three points, you’d think as an active supporter you’d be on guard at all times to the threat of ‘anti-social behaviour’.
Oh, but wait – whoever ripped the flares on Wednesday night got in with a general admission ticket, and must have scooted out of there before anyone could catch them. Rats!
Every flare is a blow-in’s fault. Every fight is blown out of proportion by the media.
Come on, in what universe is that going to fly with an organisation like the FFA? Especially when you can go on any fan website these days and discover multiple users who display a childish glorification of flares and pyrotechnics.
So, what is this, then? A grand masterplan to destroy the RBB and annex the Wanderers’ biggest strength – right before the club’s sale, one that is crucial to the short-term finances of the FFA and, thus, the game itself? Genius.
No, after a litany of ‘anti-social’ incidents throughout the course of the club’s short history, Western Sydney executives have been backed into a corner.
If the RBB wants to be given respect, then they have to give it in return. Nothing will change for the better until the group loses the antagonistic vibe it gives off.
The best advice? Simmer down and just do what you’re told for a while. You’ll be amazed where that gets you.
The league does not revolve around the RBB and the lukewarm response to their protest, even from other WSW fans, is proof positive of a fatigue on this issue.
The RBB statement says the club is ignoring the “common principles of society”. Brilliantly, it doesn’t say what those principles are.
But in the interest of wrapping this whole saga up, here’s one suggestion the RBB themselves should abide by – treat others how you want to be treated.
Everybody wants to see the RBB in full flight again and hear them in full voice. But it’s about time they sang a different tune.
(Originally published March 5, 2013 by TheRoar.com.au)