Struggling Suns stirring up emotions
YOU would have been forgiven for thinking a Richmond supporter had somehow lost their bearings and ended up at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night.
There he was, a frenzied fan hurling abuse from the stand at players as they assembled near the race after a humiliating defeat.
Presumably in his 50s - and from the corporate area of the ground - he was getting stuck into his side with the kind of passion built up from half-a-lifetime of disappointment.
Only it wasn't the perennial under-performers that are the Tigers who he was directing his ire at, but the young Suns, still struggling to find their feet after six years in the competition.
No player - not even Tigers or Magpies - should have to cop the kind of abuse they were subjected to, especially when one of them is Gary Ablett, who may be struggling to recapture his best form, and may never again, but still demands respect.
And the Suns announced yesterday they would rightfully investigate the incident that saw the skipper take it upon himself to politely tell him to keep his emotions in check, before he was removed by security.
"Whilst supporting your team and being emotionally invested in the match is a vital part of the game, the club will protect the family friendly environment we have and our members expect at Metricon Stadium," the club said in a statement.
Gold Coast supporters do, however, have every right to be critical of their team, which backed up a 120-point shellacking at the hands of Geelong with a 73-point drubbing against Melbourne at home.
As diplomatic as ever, Ablett said as much after the game: "Supporters turn up every week to support us. When you put in a performance like that you expect it".
They've got their issues with injuries, but they still fielded a side evenly matched with the visitors when it came to experience - they averaged 70 games per player to the Demons' 63 - but not effort and skill. Abysmal in the second half, they lost in contested disposals (169-133), clearances (48-30) and total possessions (412-317), but won the clanger count (61-41).
This is a club that was supposed to be putting Aussie rules on the map on the Gold Coast for all the right reasons, an attractive proposition for the newly initiated to the game, as well as those ex-pats from interstate open to jumping ship and barracking for the local outfit.
But, while the GWS Giants can't do much more to positively stir up interest in the game in western Sydney, the Suns are undoing a lot of the good work from 2014 when they were within sight of their first finals series but fell at the final hurdle.
Since being 10-8 late that season, they have now lost 25 of their past 32 games.
The frustration is building among all - fans, players and coaches.
Before the ugly scenes involving that 'fan' and Ablett, there was more disturbing vision - a shot of just a few of their sidelined stars Steven May, Jaeger O'Meara, David Swallow and Trent McKenzie on the bench, and a close-up of coach Rodney Eade with his head planted face down on his desk in the box.
And this week the Suns play the Giants … fortunately for them away from home and the maddening ... ah, fan.