So Long Boo-tiful Silence
Updated: Jul 24
As guardians and stake holders of this great game, it is imperative we cover any topic that may do any disservice or detract from the footy loving public’s game day experience. Worryingly, certain elements and sections of the industry, have seemed intent on eternally lowering the civility bar. While we’re vigilant defenders of freedom of speech and expression, we quite simply have to address the ugly topic of booing, a scourge that again reared its ugly head in the preseason Marsh series prior to the home and away season taking numerous bizarre turns for the worse.
The 2020 season has obviously been catastrophic to say the least. Shortened games, the uprooting and displacing of teams, the inability to truly plan, fixtures having to remain flexible, injuries piling up, the list goes on and on.
However, in all facets of life adversity inspires individuals to seek out the light, to change attitudes, spin the positives and find the silver lining existing in all hardships. Consequently one such invaluable silver lining has shone ever so brightly, derived from one of the toughest aspects of this tumultuous season, being the inability to have the fans attend games to date. With the imminent return of substantial sized crowds in a particular state, we fear the good to come out of the covid competition darkness may be detrimentally cast aside. While not necessarily this coming weekend, the worry is the boo-less stadiums we’ve all very much enjoyed, may soon tragically become a distant memory.
As much as most of us hate to acknowledge, to some extent in Australia at least, booing and sport go hand in hand. On some small level it can add to the exhilaration of a specific moment, enhancing the atmosphere within a stadium. However, as with most things in life, its fine when utilised in moderation but when we, or rather certain others, go to the well too many times it ruins it for everyone.
Now, we don’t want to name names and point fingers, so we won’t mention that we’re specifically referring to the West Coast Eagle fans and their toxic love affair with incessant booing, because that would just be ironically inappropriate. So we’ll redact any direct or perceived reference to any offending party prior to going to print.
Up until the beginning of the 2020 home and away AFL season the West Coast Eagle’s booing was becoming institutionalised. It’s not only now celebrated and advocated within their clan, booing ability is now apparently a prerequisite for the purchasing of their club’s membership. Frighteningly, as part of the cult-like initiation, you have to pass a booing test in a ritualistic manner before you'll be granted a tick of approval to proceed in the selling of one’s soul.
It's well known across the competition that this inherent booing is a West Coast Eagle fan’s go to tool to voice any level of displeasure, but it now has gone well beyond the acceptable and gotten entirely out of control. It is completely engrained in their organisation and it's sadly part of their fans’ psyche, so much so that their membership constitution actually stipulates that a quota of boos need filling at each game. We saw firsthand recently on the Gold Coast the near on traumatic consequences the West Coast Eagles suffer without their advantageous, umpire influencing, fans collective booing.
Believe it or not, they have midweek boo training sessions for fans! I almost absolutely kid you not, I'm in possession of a leaked document, reportedly the result of a hacking of the West Coast Eagle cheer squad computers, which methodically outlines booing initiatives. (Is that the predictable booing of the big bad scary Russians I can hear?) Anyway, purely to protect the privacy of the individuals partaking in these midweek booing drills, I will refrain from releasing it publicly.
The Coaster’s hierarchy, booing police for want of a better term, even have a boo decibel reading meter which they use to take measurements throughout games at various intervals. If the required audio levels aren't met they have a stooge who stands in front, like a conductor of an orchestra, and guides them up to that required recording level.
While we’re still having the authenticity of the leaked documents officially verified, it is safe to suggest that these revelations are scandalous and severely damaging. It's really quite disturbing and yet another example of this West Coast Eagle organisation sadly staining this great game of Australian Rules Football.
To add further context, there have been numerous examples of West Coast fans booing when they simply lose the pre-match coin toss. With a feeling of discontentment, a sense of entitlement and being unable to deal with loss, inconvenience or hardship of any form, they then subsequently boo the coin tosser until he or she disappears from the stadium. And not just off the oval, they ensure it continues until the offending coin tosser is frogmarched to the front gate and escorted off the entire premises.
It has even gotten to the point where some, seemingly radicalised, fans feel entitled to wield their self-anointed authoritative power and boo their fellow fans because they've judged them to not be booing loud enough. Scarily it appears it’s the embryonic stages of a textbook dictatorial regime propagated by the oblivious burgeoning booing masses.
The question is where does this end? Well the most recent couple of canned crowd noised months have given us great insight into the ramifications of a boo-less arena for the West Coast Eagles.
In the not too distant future, it will inevitably result in the blue and gold clad mob sitting in the stadium in their augmented reality, unaware of what is actually occurring in front of them. They’ll be holding up their mobile phones playing boo tracks they bought on iTunes, while their heads remain buried in their iPads, allowing them to continue the endless scrolling and adulation of Range Rover advertisements in the online Footy Record. It will ensure their advantageous booing will remain constant, regardless of individual or collective vocal performances. What a tragically sad state of West Coast Eagle affairs.
All tribal alliances momentarily put aside, this booing is a travesty and a scourge of the industry. Consequently, the question that regularly then rears its head in relation to the topic is: are there racial connotations to the booing? Personally I would say, “don't be so bloody ridiculous, booing isn't racist and neither are the West Coast fans.”
However, in this current era I am unsure if any of us mere mortals possess the qualifications and awareness to understand our own intent so we may have to ask the enlightened ones, the self-appointed moral superiors, Gerard and Robbo. This would allow us to benefit from their obvious and often forwarded wisdom in providing an indoctrinating and case closing answer.
It was supposedly eighteenth century French philosopher Voltaire who said, “I disapprove of your booing, but I will defend to the death your right to boo it.” As advocates of that paraphrased philosophy, we extend that courtesy to the scoundrels north of the river.
It does though make you wonder that, considering the lengths the AFL strives to be in lockstep with wider society’s ideological minorities, how, in this horrendous cancel culture existence, the West Coast Eagle’s operational license has avoided such cancelling consequence? While no one, including us here at the Restump, is cheer-leading for it, we are unaware of any legal precedent that would stop a retrospective deregistering.
The reality is us Fremantle people actually do have a soft spot for our civil war combatants from the north. Yes, sure, and fittingly considering the preseason Marsh series brought the booing to light, that soft spot is often a swamp, but a soft spot none the less. We do wonder though that given they’re entirely consumed by booing, how often during their history lesson lectures and monotonous self-referencing do the blue and gold fans confuse Coast with Ghost?
It is Derby week in this most extraordinarily bizarre season we’re all ever likely to endure. We obviously wish our Freo boys all the very best and…. yeah…. while we don’t have the same well wishes for the Coasters, we don’t wish them any genuine ill will. Now with that being said…. we won’t be necessarily shedding a tear if Andy Gaff is legally bowled over and turtled ….. half a dozen times throughout the game!
Damn it! We pressed publish before making the redactions.