A sign was confiscated from a fan at the Essendon v Richmond Round 23 game at the MCG on Saturday night 31 August, 2013. It was bizarre incident that bordered on impinging on freedom of speech. What is going on with our game?
Firstly, if you really wanted to be offensive and have a sign forcibly removed from you there are several levels of protest/offense one could inflict on the AFL that might justify such an action.
“Vlad the Impaler”
2. Less subtle
“Demetriou the Destroyer”
“The AFL has brought its own Game into Disrepute”
“James Hird has been denied natural Justice by the Arrogant AFL”
5. Very cranky
“Definition of Demetriou : Liar, Bully, Miscreant?”
6. Run to the Hills
“Good Evening Mr Demetriou the Australian Crime Commission are Watching”.
Now any of these could signs could be considered offensive by the AFL and laughing boy Demetriou.
But instead a literal “little ol lady” and Essendon member of 50 years held up a sign that preposterously roared: “AFL can take whatever it wants but it can’t take our Passion!”
In a nutshell, a fan wants to express their passion for their football club who rightly or wrongly in terms of severity has been sanctioned by the AFL.
Any fair minded person would agree the sign was not offensive and if anything completely understandable from an Essendon supporter in the circumstances. In other words, you can take our finals spot but you will never take our passion for Essendon.
I was located in the adjacent bay to the incident and keenly observed many fans telling MCG security to politely go away. Ok it was perhaps a bit crankier than polite especially from those around the poor woman.
However, there was no need for the intervention in the first place. As 2 then 3 security guards tried to justify their actions the protests become louder. This had the potential to boil over into something more serious. The security guards were summarily booed out of the bay and had to return with the Police to extract the sign. (Yes they called the Police)
Essendon fans have put up with a fair bit of vitriol these past 6 months and are genuinely angry with the AFL and certain media types for how they have allowed and participated in the excessive vilification of the club and its people.
It was not an occasion to mess with Essendon fans that deserved a final chance to voice their support. Anyone who witnessed the scenes post siren as Essendon players came to salute the fans will understand. (We Are Essendon – had to get that in)
Rohan Connolly mentioned the sign incident in this article:
Connolly subsequently told SEN radio that the AFL had contacted him to advise they did not request the sign’s removal.
I believe Connolly took the call from the AFL and that even in this instance perhaps that they did not specifically request intervention, but one has to wonder if the “policy” for MCG security to follow was set long ago.
The message for fans is that the AFL deems their actions beyond question. I thought the fans owned the game. The fans certainly own the football clubs who via the AFL Commission own the game.
Is dissent not allowed? Is the AFL Commission so precious to be miffed by an elderly lady who is passionate about their own club?
Something stinks Demetriou – there’s a sign.