The whole Kogarah Derby thing was interesting.
Having special trains to/from Central was good, although it seemed not too many people actually used them.
The police were hopelessly prepared and briefed. It was as if they had no idea how to manage crowds. There were a few at the station, when we arrived, but not many as we walked down the road. Rather than let large crowds gather at corners near the station… maybe stop traffic when the train comes it and let the crowd move as quickly as possible to the ground? Luckily supporters, for both teams, were in good spirits and seemed to just want to get into the ground.
I’d never been to the ground before, and it seemed like I wasn’t the only one, so it was odd that nobody seemed to be directing people to gates. Information was poor. There were no bag searches on the way in – well there were a few, but they were hopelessly inadequate.
The seating arrangements are what they are, but I’ve still no idea where I was supposed to go? Every man for themselves? The big hill? The narrow row of seats? Loads of folk seemed unsure. I had 3 x 13 year olds who wanted to be with the RBB. Terrible view. It would be impossible to sit down and watch the game. The seats were never intended to view a game with 1m high advertising boards surrounding the playing area. So it would be perfectly reasonable for spectators to stand-up, and smaller ones standing on seats.
It was odd that the hill behind the RBB was blocked off and only had 20 or so police. It would have been a better area to view the game.
The fence around that ground is simply not fit for purpose. It’s old and dangerous. The section near me was held on with a few tek screws. In the second half, I feared the whole thing giving way, like the issue at Blacktown FFA Cup game a few years ago. I got the 3x 13 year olds to move slightly back. I felt a major safety issue was avoided, because a few hundred RBB supporters had left the ground just before the goal was scored.
I don’t know the capo, but he has always seemed like a very reasonable guy. I saw him there with what looked like a wife and kid the other week. If I was the head of security arrangements, he’d be the very bloke I’d want to know and liaise with. I saw him asking people, on the megaphone thing trying to get people to get down from standing on seats both at Kogarah and Geelong. [at Geelong, it worked, albeit that there was a smaller crowd.] I’ve always thought he’s got the balance right of being a capo, passionately driving support for our team, whilst also doing the right thing. If I saw him at the pub I’m buy him a beer.
If you want to inflame a situation, you march 15 police to block views and stand in a menacing pose in front of, at that stage, a light humoured crowd. So it seemed to me that once the police posturing happened, the police were escalating the issue, which is the opposite of what I thought they were there for.
I’ve always thought the Supporter Marshalls to be a good thing and the 4 or 5 regulars seem like good guys, especially the really big guy and the bloke with the funny haircut. If I was the senior police officer on duty, I’d be using these guys the way there were intended – as liaison people. This didn’t seem to happen. When the capo was removed, with unnecessary force, I saw the bloke with the funny haircut run from his position on the field to try and intervene/negotiate with the police, but alas to no avail. This moment changed everything. By that stage, the police, like the school bully had simply decided to pick a fight. That’s wrong.
As a reasonable citizen, and seasoned football supporter, I changed from feeling a degree of safety with police to feeling threatened by them. After the game they aggressively stopped by 13 year old son from going to the toilet block and tried to usher him and his two buddies out the other way.
After the game, outside the ground, some stewards were ushering people to Kogarah station. Really sensible that. Longer walk and incoming trains are already full?
We walked down to Carlton and got the Special train which was good. There was nobody there directly people to platforms and it was tricky enough to work out which train was going where and what platform to go to.
At Carlton station, a young bloke sprinkled some water on Sydney supporters below (in a way that an 8 year old kid would do at school)… a few robo-cops below ran up the stairs and smashed him up against the roller door before manhandling him with excessive force to the ground. It was uncalled for.
And finally, it’s a long time since I’ve celebrated a goal like that.
I thought we’d missed our chance with Cox moments earlier.
But when that ball came over and Mitch rose like a hungry salmon.
And the ball looped in what seemed like, real life, slow motion.
And then smashed the net, in a way that was beautiful.
I was a kid again.
Football it’s the beautiful game.