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Ron Manager

formerly Libertine
Jan 21, 2007
Brisbane, Australia
At the start of the A-League season I posted a blog about my experiences as a newly emigrated ‘Pom’ supporting the Queensland Roar. General commitments relating to settling into the country (getting a new job, buying a car, finding somewhere to live) has meant I haven’t made it a regular thing but with a few different people asking for part two I thought I’d find the time.

Queensland Roar Blog – Part Two

The first blog saw me attend the season opener sitting with the ‘Orange Army’, an experience I enjoyed it but had some reservations. Namely the organization and uniformity of it all – I’ve always been a contrary git and if I felt it’s expected to wear a certain colour and act a certain way I normally end up doing the opposite.

My next experience was with the Northern Element. From the website and forum it is clear these are a more casual (in their approach to supporting the team and dress sense) bunch. They are also a bit more ‘British’ in their approach and have a number of Ex-Pat Brits in their ranks. Would this suit me more? Maybe, but I did have some reservations that I’ve come all the way over to Australia for a different life. Did I really want to go to football every week with just a bunch of home sick poms?

The choice of pre-match pub set them apart for a kick off. The OA drink in an Irish pub that is quite basic and I did like it. My local for football in Southend, The Spread Eagle, was a normal local boozer and that’s where I feel most comfortable. The Northern Element drink next door in more of a ‘bar’ than a ‘pub’, called Bohemia, and at first glance it did seem a bit more poncey. With the plasma screens that weren’t showing sport to the tasteful background music and Japanese and European beer on tap it wasn’t your average Aussie watering hole. I put my reservations to one side and got myself a beer and introduced myself to people I’d previously only known via the internet forum. It began to realise that it wasn’t the décor and layout of a bar that made it, but the people, and just like the previous match I’d been to I was made very welcome indeed. Everyone was keen to meet this bloke from England who’d been posting on the forum in preparation for moving to Brisbane. After a few beers and chatting to various people I forgot about the reservations I had about the place and began to feel right at home.

As for just being a bunch of home sick poms? Well about half of them are ex-pats that is true, however it is clear that they are people who love living in Australia and are not just coming along for a taste of home and a whinge about life in Oz with fellow Brits. Above all everyone, Aussies and Brits, are people who love football.

The lack of colours was a little strange for me though. As much as the sight of everyone wearing bright orange the previous match was a bit too much having no-one wear the colours of their team was equally disconcerting. I’ve come from a bunch of mates where what you wear wasn’t an issue. Sometimes you wore a shirt or scarf, other times you didn’t bother – it just wasn’t an issue. Luckily for this match I’d come straight from a family meal and was resplendent in Fred Perry so I fitted in OK.

So, into the stadium. The NE boys and girls are at the opposite of the stadium to the OA and have a smaller section reflecting their status as an ‘unofficial’ supporters group. The style of support was quite different and more like I was used to, more a bunch of mates having a chat and taking the **** out of each other whilst watching the game. Pretty much like life in the South Upper at Roots Hall where talk is far more likely to be of Lucky Gherkins than 442 formations. That didn’t mean this wasn’t a knowledgeable bunch – these guys are passionate football fans who know their football – just that the game for them is as much a social event as anything else.

That’s not to say there wasn’t plenty of singing and chanting, once the little group got going they made plenty of noise for a fairly small bunch. Being near to the away fans certainly influenced many of the chants and some good old fashioned banter between opposing fans was a feature of the match. I even managed to adapt a few Southend chants to be aimed at our rivals. A Sydney fan on a piece of string anyone…?

As for the football itself? Well I maintain that the standard in the A-League is more League One than the Championship level which many fans and pundits would have you believe. I strongly believe that if a team adopted a more lower league attitude and style of play then they may well be quite successful on the back of it. However this seems alien to the whole ethos of the A-League and all teams do try and play good football. That is probably a good thing overall and will help develop the long term future of the game in Australia better than a bunch of hoof and chase it teams. However it can be frustrating when in the heat of battle you just want your team to whip in some crosses or put in a few crunching tackles and instead they try to play like Brazil (but fail). The match ended in a 4-2 defeat to Central Coast and I would have to wait a while yet to see my first Queensland Roar victory (little did I realise exactly how long).

Then back to the bar, the usual miserable dissection of the result which always follows a home defeat wherever you are in the world. However once more beers were drunk the mood lightened and it was clear the performance of the team wasn’t going to spoil the day – another parallel with back home.

So, I’d been to both ends of the grounds and sat with the two main elements of support at Suncorp Stadium. Would I nail my colours (or should that be casuals) to a particular mast? I would be happy at either end of the ground to be honest, I just want to go to football for a laugh and meet new people over here in Brisbane and I could do that with the OA or NE I’m sure. Either that or I could be diplomatic and billy-no-mates sitting facing the half way line for the rest of the season.

Fast forward from August to the end of November and I’ve attended every other match with the Northern Element so I suppose I have made a decision. On reflection their style of support is more in line with how I view my football now. Maybe if I’d have moved over in my early twenties I’d have been more an Orange Army boy but as I’ve got older football has stopped being an all encompassing passion which I think about morning, noon and night to a social activity which I love but which more acts as a release from the stresses of everyday life.

It still isn’t watching my beloved Southend United from my old seat and I do get the odd pang of home sickness when I think of what I left behind. However when I did finally break my duck and see my first Roar victory in the flesh last weekend I celebrated all four goals by jumping around like a loony. I joined in with the songs and applauded the lads when the game finished and I really do dream of a team of Charlie Millers. I even now say ‘we’ when talking about Queensland Roar, so I have been sucked in to caring.

However if by some miracle the two teams ever played each other I’d definitely be wearing a blue shirt and dreaming of a team of Adam Barretts.