At NRL News we are lucky to have a large group of active fans who regularly provide their feedback through the ‘Shout Box’ on the website. Any NRL enthusiast can quickly post their thoughts and discuss current Rugby League issues with fellow supporters of the NRL.
One of our more active users that goes by the nickname ‘HateQld’ has provided us with the first ever – ‘Fan Feedback’ article. We always encourage visitors to send us detailed feedback or articles, so if you’d like to have your article posted at NRL News.com simply email: NRLfeedback@gmail.com
Suburban Home Grounds
Think of the suburban home grounds etched in the memories of so many Rugby League players and supporters; the likes of Belmore Sports Ground , Kogarah Jubilee Oval, Brookvale Oval, Leichhardt Oval, North Sydney Oval,and the SCG.
I remember hearing stories about the home teams hosing down the
visitors dressing rooms before a game leave them feeling cold – trying to put them
off their game or leaving the grass slightly longer to combat a kicking game that might be employed by a certain team.
The atmosphere was always electric as you approached any of those grounds.Two to three vendors selling hot food outside the grounds, with young kids selling the big league programs as you filed into the ground.
Regardless of the suburban Rugby League ground, the opposition feared enemy territory. The fans from both teams loved to travel to those grounds to see the teams do battle. Some of those grounds would hold between 20,000 to 30,000
with an atmosphere strong enough to run a small power plant.
Where the seating capacity was smaller, you still felt the power of the hits and you were able to sit close enough to the game to provide the crowd support and cheering of twice as many people in a bigger venue.
Come September all the finals and grand finals would be played at the SCG or the Sydney Football Stadium. Teams from both sides would not an advantage due to the mutual venue.
I’ve been to ANZ Stadium (formerly Telstra Stadium) several times and it’s impossible to experience anything like the atmosphere a traditional venue can produce. The advantage to the home team is non-existent, even with a large home crowd – most of the players admit they can’t hear them at the large Homebush Stadium.
It’s simply hollow.
The ANZ stadium is now used by four clubs and it doesn’t feel like a home ground to any of them at all. Everyone you talk to says the same thing; they all want their clubs to have a specific local venue.
While corporate sponsors and amenities must be considered, the attraction of a suburban home ground still holds many advantages for clubs. When done right, a balance between a traditional ‘hill’ such as at Leichhardt Oval or Brookvale Oval combined with state of the art amenities, media and corporate areas – the best of both worlds could even be possible.
As clubs look for a quick cash grab and move operations to ANZ, they are failing to see the big picture – their future direction and earnings are being forfeited. The short sighted ‘stop gap’ solution is happening too often and hurting several clubs as the Sydney crowd squeeze continues.
After watching the NRL clash today between the Wests Tigers and the NZ Warriors at Leichhardt Oval, the venue was near full even before the preliminary matches got underway. The vibe, the roar and all the family atmosphere that Rugby League was built on was totally evident. Even the lower grade players got to experience it, the place was packed.
The strong local support was most evident when a Warriors player was attempting a sideline conversion. You could see and feel the roar’s and boo’s from Wests Tigers fans putting the the kicker off. Youngsters were literally metres away from their hero’s as they watched them do battle right before their eyes; a far greater experience than sitting in a deserted ANZ Stadium and trying to get a peek at the action on a TV Screen Replay.
As the clock winds down on Sunday afternoon at Leichhardt, the sun casting a shadow over the stand, the great Australian salute is in full cry as people on the hill shield the sun from their eyes, some of them making an early exit to avoid traffic.
Some say the game must only look to the future and build bigger stadiums. While progress is always important, you still need to give the fans what they want. With crowd figures so far in the NRL season being average at best, maybe it is time to truly go ‘Back to the Future’ and use suburban grounds albeit with some future proofing? Lets try for that ‘balance’.
All that was missing from Leichhardt Oval today was Laurie Nichols shadow boxing on the sideliens, as his team did battle right before the fans eyes.