Nobody is born a Glory fan – but everybody can become one. Let’s hope we gain a few more this weekend. C’mon the Glory!

It-s kind of fitting that among the people who walked to the elimination final with me on Sunday evening was a close mate of mine and his Dad.

After all, it was they who years ago introduced me to Perth Glory by way of a game against Sydney Olympic at the old Perth Oval. Back then, I was a schoolkid with a penchant for Chicken Treat and not being able to sit still on the old seats at the ground. These days, I-m a beer-drinking, card-carrying, song-singing member of Perth Glory Football Club – a fact which probably hit home to my mate and his old man on the march to the ground before Sunday evening-s game.

The game itself of course was fantastic. Okay, so the first sixty minutes weren-t great – there were tight battles, midfield struggles, and very few shots on goal. But in the end that just served to build a tinderbox-like atmosphere, one that would ignite with a single spark – and that spark of course came from who else but Shane Smeltz. As soon as Smeltzy-s goals started banging in, especially after number two – that insane header that was the first thing discussed at work this morning – the crowd was up and about, singing and chanting, heaving and rocking and bringing back the atmosphere of Perth Oval all those years ago.

So it-s surprising then that I still hear scorn being poured on people for ‘jumping on the bandwagon- and rocking up to Glory games when they-re winning. It-s a strange side to the football fanatic – and fan is of course short for fanatic – that they feel somehow morally superior to, or threatened by, those who didn-t come to games while the going was rough. To be honest, it-s not something that I understand a great deal.

After all, I too was a bandwagoner once – a tagalong to somebody else-s day out. Even after I came and saw players like Vas, Bobby, and Con, and heard the Shed singing loud and proud, I still didn-t come back for the next game. I was a kid, after all – the connection needed to become a ‘true- fan (whatever that is) wasn-t there yet. It would come later, after things like a licence, girls, and the legal drinking age.

Likewise, there are those who started off coming to Glory games as something to do on a weekend, and have since become nailed-on fixtures in the Shed. There are those that were fixtures, but now have family commitments that keep them to one game in a blue moon. They are no less a fan than you or I – just as the young middle-class family in the eastern stand is of no greater or less importance to the workmate that you-ve brought along for a night out. It-s true that home ends worldwide add an important element to gameday – the atmosphere that is worth paying for in itself, let alone the football that-s on the park. As Nick Hornby once stated in his excellent book Fever Pitch, “Without them, nobody else would bother coming… Who would buy an executive box if the stands were filled with executives?”

But those outside the home end have an important role to play, too – they are, in essence, keeping the club and the game alive. Imagine if football was only played in front of home ends around the country – if A-League clubs are struggling for cashflow now, they-d be non-existent in such a scenario. Besides, as someone who has spent a decent amount of time in the home end myself, I know that ‘performing- for 16,000 people is a hell of a lot better than yelling out in front of 1600 (trust me, I-ve done it).

To those who came on Sunday night, I really hope you had an absolute riot of a time – and I would encourage you to do all you can to secure tickets for this Saturday night-s game against Wellington. For those feeling a bit jealous that you have to share ‘your- Glory with so many new faces – embrace it. The massive crowds at the WACA and Subiaco are memorable in themselves, and there were plenty of new faces in the stands on those days, too.

Nobody is born a Glory fan – but everybody can become one. Let-s hope we gain a few more this weekend. C-mon the Glory!

David Meacock

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