I’ll get this out of the way straight off the bat. I’m a proud part of the Purple Haze. In fact, I’m a Dockers member. But hey, my mate requested that I do this, and the Reviewman does everything in his power to accommodate requests. In reviewing the Patersons Stadium West Coast Eagles home game experience, I will strive to be as unbiased as I possibly can.
Requester Rat Wallace actually asked that I do a comparison between the home game experiences of the Fremantle Dockers and the West Coast Eagles. However, given what transpired on Monday 3 June when the Richmond Tigers came to play, it’s impossible for me to find a comparable Dockers game that I remember, as they haven’t been doing a huge amount of losing this season, and certainly not by 41 points on their own turf. So, just a straight up review it is.
It was a full house at Patersons, and a cold Monday evening indeed. Mandrew Gorsmelly was the man who kindly gave me the ticket, seated in Block 127, Row A. In other words, probably the best damn seats in the house. Right on the wing at ground level, the view was amazing, and there was no risk of obstruction from fired up fans when goals were scored. And boy were they fired up early! For most of the first quarter, the football discussion around us was pretty educated, and accompanied by funny banter, larrikinism and encouragement. However, once the Tigers got on a roll in the second quarter, the mood changed fast.
I can honestly say that I’ve never heard a crowd so hateful towards their own players. The blue & gold army was absolutely shocking towards the team, showing absolutely no encouragement (except one woman, who yelled “go Eagles!” and some incomprehensible nonsense every 25 seconds for the duration of the match). Instead there were Bronx cheers at successful plays, and verbally decimation in the event of even the smallest errors. The umpires would’ve had a nice relaxing evening on the job – they stayed relatively untouched in comparison! And the Richmond Tigers would have been stoked, they did the job on the field and both sets of fans helped them out behind the white line. It was especially strange considering the AFL had launched their “Anti Player Abuse” campaign the exact same week… can’t exactly say it worked here in the west. It was all pretty damn entertaining though and a nice change from the near-relentless success the Dockers have experienced this season.
It would’ve been even better in comfort. The gentleman in the seat to my left was obese, so when he moved I moved, and not by choice. Due to the fact that his body was much too wide for his allocated seat space, I had to lean forward when he leaned back, and vice versa. It was like an Air Asia flight to Bali, without the promise of a tropical Aussie-bogan polluted paradise at the end. But hey, it’s the footy, he was 65+ years of age and probably can’t exercise anymore, and he was a decent bloke, so no harm done.
What is harmful and possibly in violation of some human rights laws is the price of food and refreshments. I bought a chocolate bar for $4.50. This wasn’t one of those one-kilo bars either, or some sort of fine-dining 11th course in a degustation. This was a garden variety Cadbury Boost Bar. If you take anything away from this review, it’s that you should remember to eat before or after matches, never during, unless you’ve smuggled your food in beneath a large jacket or novelty hat.
Speaking of novelties, the game was full of them! The crowd was encouraged to chant “SGIO… go Eagles go” at every break. My only thought during these weird moments was that you could probably cut the “SGIO” bit out, focus on the team, and cut the margin back to a more respectable three or four goals. It’s shameless product placement, and just because the sponsor name rhymes with “go” doesn’t mean you have to promote them to the same extent as the team.
At half time, old mate Karl Langdon had a yarn with up and coming ruckman Callum Sinclair, who, when asked what he thought the result would be, said he thought the boys would be able blow them away in the second half. I’m not sure if he’s a Richmond supporter, but if he is, the man’s a goddamn genius and should be commended on his football brain. I did like the idea of interviewing players over the PA at half time though. It’s good to be rewarded for coming to the footy with insights from players, something normally reserved for those watching on the telly.
Then there was a milk carton stacking competition. It’s always nice to have a milk carton stacking competition, but I didn’t really see the relevance of it.
It definitely wasn’t as relevant as the game itself, which was competitive early, if a little scrappy, with both teams making basic skill errors and going into quarter time a goal apart to the home side’s favour. Then the Tigers decided to kick 14 more goals, while the Eagles settled for a paltry five, which, if you do the math, simply wasn’t enough in the end. They were chased down with the ball, failed to hit long and short targets, were inaccurate in front of goal and non-competitive around stoppages, despite the mountain of hitouts accumulated by Naitanui and Cox. It was all fine by me, but it wasn’t good footy for the punters.
Overall, it was a weird, slightly uncomfortable but overall entertaining night at the football. Sure, it was cut short at three-quarter time when Mandrew decided he’d beat the queues at the waffle house, but it was a good time nonetheless. I’ll make sure I don’t arrive hungry next time though
Overall I’d give it 9 out of 10, the two ladder positions the Eagles will most likely occupy come finals time. Carn the Dockers.