Monday , September 16 2019
Home / Sport / NRL backs away from finals threat, but many battles ahead for Brookie

NRL backs away from finals threat, but many battles ahead for Brookie

The offender in question was arrested by police but will not be charged unless Chambers, who was leaving the field while being sin-binned, wants to push ahead with the matter.

Chambers won’t do that. It’s now in the hands of the NRL, which will wait until later in the week to deliver its own punishment.

Don’t expect the life ban that Melbourne Storm chief executive Dave Donaghy wants, but probably one of those indefinite suspensions that allows head office to have a bet each-way.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg will also step back from his threat to stop Manly from hosting a final at Fortress, er, Lottoland in the first week of the finals series.

A single angry fan is one thing. A riot is another.

The Sea Eagles have also promised more security than what’s expected at the G20 Summit to line the famous tunnel, once made of chicken wire but now Perspex, that keeps out the unwashed. Not that it did Chambers any good.

Our great game of rugby league, allegedly the greatest game of all, can look unprofessional at times, with its Bubblers (Todd Carney), poodle-crosses (Mitchell Pearce), Danny the Dolphins (Julian O’Neill), Schlossy’s shoes (also O’Neill) and the like.

You’d expect this stuff in pub footy or the bush — not the National Rugby League, the multi-billion-dollar sport that it is.

But it rarely looks as bad as when an angry fan comes within striking distance of a player as that player leaves the field after he has been sin-binned, by lunging through a gap in the Perspex fence of the tunnel.

You’d expect this stuff in pub footy or the bush — not the National Rugby League, the multi-billion-dollar sport that it is.

Previous NRL administrations must wear the blame for some of it. How such an amateurish set-up has been allowed to exist for decades staggers even people at Manly.

But most of the blame rests with various levels of government that have allowed Brookvale Oval to wither as it has over the years.

Surely this was a point not lost on NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan, who were both in attendance at Saturday’s game and are, we’re assured, as legitimately passionate about the Sea Eagles as ScoMo is about the Sharks.

For years, politicians have promised truckloads of funds to redevelop Brookvale Oval, only for the plans to never materialise.

While all three layers of government, and the Sea Eagles, will contribute to the $36.1 million centre of excellence at the northern end of the ground, the facelift is about 30 years coming.

The club’s battle with first Warringah then Northern Beaches council has been well documented. The ground is on Crown land but managed by the council.


While the Sea Eagles pay enormous hirer’s fees of close to $500,000 per annum, the council has done scant work on the ground for years.

Manly hopes the centre of excellence, which will also feature of 3000-seat grandstand, will be the anchor for the start of further redevelopment of the ground and surrounding precinct. As Parramatta is learning with Bankwest Stadium, as pro sport around the world has known for years, that is the future.

People will argue that suburban grounds matter more than the $2.1 billion being lavished on a new Allianz Stadium and an upgraded ANZ Stadium.

Unlike other Australian cities, Sydney actually needs both.

It needs functional, world-class stadiums for headline games and events, as well as club football. And it needs quality suburban grounds in places like the northern beaches and the Sutherland Shire.

But this is where clubs, too, need to keep their end of the bargain.

Manly’s crowds this season have surged because they are a different club in comparison to last year. Run a shabby club, have an unprofessional team, and fans won’t turn up — like last year when they failed to reach the finals following the Trent Barrett debacle.

My most enduring night at Brookie was the first Battle of Brookvale in 2011, when the only violence occurred on the field.


The crowd was heaving that night. That main grandstand is so close to the action, you often feel like you are on the end of the backline. Magical stuff.

Just before kick-off, though, there was a long queue for food in the tiny canteen underneath the grandstand.

As the seconds ticked closer to the whistle, fans became more agitated as they waited. Finally, the bloke in front of me got his hotdog  but was so frantic the frankfurt fell out and onto the asphalt-covered ground.

All good. He picked it up, dusted it off, put it back in the bun and took a bite before scrambling to his seat before kick-off.

Manly fans deserve a better stadium than this. And, as much as you might not like him, so does Will Chambers.

Most Viewed in Sport


About admin

Check Also

‘Cooked’: Smith feeling the pinch after Ashes series for the ages

In a series dominated by the ball, Smith stood a cut above the rest, amassing …