By JACKSON MILLER
As AFL fans demand to know what they can "legally" say to umpires, at least one long-serving fan says there is no way to avoid disagreements on umpiring decisions.
Glenn Smith, ex-player, life member and former president of the Oak Park Football Club in the Essendon District Football League, said a lot of the time, yelling was just the fans' passion spilling out.
“It’s all about how passionate they are. If a supporter didn’t care about their team, they wouldn’t care about the umpires," he said.
“No matter what side you’re on, there will always be people who think their team is having the wrong decisions made against them.”
AFL fans this week asked the league to "please explain" after several fans were removed from grounds for insulting umpires at matches.
During Richmond’s Anzac Day eve match against Melbourne, a Richmond fan was given a three-match ban for telling another umpire to “be consistent” and calling him a “green maggot”.
As a result, the Richmond cheer squad, with the support of the AFL Fans Association, have asked the AFL for a list of exactly what they are and aren't allowed to say to the umpires.
Three times this season, fans have been removed grounds and given bans for insulting umpires.
One Carlton supporter, known only as “Frankie”, was asked to leave Saturday’s Blues vs Lions game at Marvel Stadium for reportedly calling umpire Mathew Nicholls a "bald-headed flog" as he ran off the field.
Frankie called into radio station 3AW after being evicted and said the decision was “pretty embarrassing of the AFL”.
Collingwood Cheer Squad's unofficial leader Joffa Corfe said on Facebook he would urge the cheer squad and fans to stay away from matches until AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan apologised to fans.
“I won’t attend another AFL game until Gill comes out and apologises to all supporters at the way we are being treated,” Joffa wrote, it was reported on news.com.au today.
AFLFA president Gerry Eeman told The Age many fans had complained about an "overly heavy-handed approach" being introduced at games.
"What is deemed acceptable has changed, but nobody's actually been told," he said.
Former Oak Park player and president Mr Smith said the media played a large role in the way umpiring decisions were questioned and picked at.
“You’ll often see the questioning over an umpire’s decision in the sports pages of the paper, or on sports shows on the TV,” he said.
“Journalists will report on what fans and football experts have said on the umpiring decisions, and of course this spreads the opinions of those people.”