Wests Tigers' multiple mid-season signings are testing the loyalty of their fans



  • By Duncan Huntsdale

    There’s that moment, normally in childhood, when you find yourself choosing a team or having one chosen for you.

    What you don’t know then is that you’ve made an emotional investment that will last a lifetime.

    Spare a thought, then, for Wests Tigers supporters, whose emotions have been tested this year like never before as the front entrance of the club becomes a revolving door of players and coaches coming and going.

    The Balmain Tigers had some near-misses in the 1980s (beaten in the 1988 and 1989 grand finals), but supporters knew they had loyal players who cared.

    Tigers fans were devastated when captain Wayne Pearce was hunched over on the turf after his team had been beaten by Canberra in extra time in that famous 1989 grand final.

    They’d been through the lean times with ‘Junior’ and felt he deserved a premiership ring.

    I’ve spoken to some long-time Wests Tigers supporters in recent weeks and their passion is fading. They’re still turning up to games but they’re disgruntled.

    How can they invest emotionally in a club that has players who don’t want to be there because they’ve signed with another team?

    Just this week, five-eighth Mitchell Moses was released by the Tigers and will play for his new club Parramatta on Saturday against Canberra.

    Moses was deservedly the club’s player of the year in 2016, but his last performance in a Tigers jumper was arguably his worst.

    Also this week, Dragons prop Russell Packer signed a four-year deal with the Tigers.

    Club captain Aaron Woods is set to return from a hamstring injury and will be off to the Bulldogs after this season.

    It’s hard to keep up with, and falling crowd figures would suggest fans have had enough of it and are voting with their feet.

    For supporters to invest in their club (for example, by buying $150 jerseys, signing up as members, attending games) they want to cheer a group of players who belong to them, not one that contains players who are currently at the club but won’t be next year — or even next round.

    Last Friday’s game between the Tigers and Souths at the Olympic stadium attracted 12,213 (in a stadium that seats more than 80,000).

    At the same venue in round seven, the marquee Easter Monday game between Wests and Parramatta on a sunny afternoon pulled a crowd of 28,294. The corresponding game in 2014 had 50,668.

    The captain is the face of the team. A leader on and off the field. A figurehead for the fans. He’s what the club is all about and Woods fitted all of this criteria for Wests Tigers.

    He even grew up near Leichhardt Oval and boasted a tattoo of the suburb’s postcode, 2040. At the end of this season he’s off to Belmore to play alongside great mate David Klemmer — perhaps a new tattoo artist will be inking the numbers 2192.

    Players cannot be blamed for seeking the best deal, wanting to avoid club unrest or moving to a club where they believe finals football is more likely. Or all of the above.

    When it happens in the middle of the season it tests the loyalty of fans.

    What does a parent say to the little boy or girl who has a Wests jersey with Tedesco on the back?

    ‘Don’t worry, we’re in the market for Tui Lolohea, and if we get him soon, he’ll play five-eighth until next year when we move him to full-back and he’ll be just as exciting as Tedesco. Tui can’t get a game for the Warriors now but they won’t release him because he could be handy later in the season. He may be released if the Warriors can get Te Maire Martin from Penrith. We used to have Te Maire Martin but didn’t need him because we had Moses.’

    Even seasoned league fans find it hard to get their heads around this stuff.

    AFL supporters will tell you their loyalties are tested when favourite sons leave a team, but at least it happens when the season is over, not less than halfway through.

    This season the Wests Tigers’ story has had more twists than an Agatha Christie novel and fans would prefer to be reading about it in the off-season.


    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-18/wests-tigers-fans-caught-up-in-club-saga/8534520



  • its not testing me… im loyal as…
    if anything i am more loyal now…
    bye bye to the cry babies…
    hello to a new era and a premiership…



  • Let’s not mention that true Tigers fans are not disgruntled or disillusioned, they are hanging in there because we are getting rid of the dead wood at last and the money hungary big heads that were holding the club to ransom.

    Let’s also not mention that there are more members signed (now over 17,000) than anytime in the club’s history.

    Duncan Huntsdale - you are like most of the journos (and I use the term lightly) don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

    Maybe you should have taken up brick laying.



  • Wow, you’d think in the age of social media where anyone can have a voice, they would use that medium as a true gauge of how the supporters feel, as opposed to asking one or two ham and eggers on the street. If they did, they’d know our supporter base is united for the first time in the clubs history. Do some damn research you idiots.



  • So clubs should not sign new players or let existing players go.

    Got it!



  • This is the upheaval the club had to have….Ivan Clearly has been the best signing in the history of the WT and time will support this…even though we are having a crap year results wise I’m more engaged and looking forward to the future than ever in my 7 years of being a WT member!

    Shame these Journos don’t want to report the truth



  • Who could not be excited about next season?


  • Banned

    I really want to know who has pissed off the media so bad that they have to have us in the news on a daily basis and for the majority of the time its negative. First it was one or two, now its the whole lot. Why the wests tigers agenda?? Even our great signings are turned into a negative. Surely something has happened for this to be the case.



  • My kid is a marginal league fan despite my best efforts, but recently he asked me very day who we signed and who are we going to sign. It’s only a good thing if you ask me



  • It was a good article and it has a really good point about all this mid-season drama. This should all be done in the off season. I also think a lot of fans are spewing about the current situation. I am happy to write this season off and I think with our squad we should have made the finals this year.

    In stating that I still think that it’s clear that the players especially the three traitors are the ones causing the drama within the club. It’s just given the media and especially gutter journalists the chance to aim at the club and fire their made up fairy tales.

    I want these guys out of our club. The petulant behaviour by these guys is beyond anything that I have ever seen.



  • The other clubs in Sydney must be very boring places with nothing to write or talk about as every thing coming out of the media is all about the Weststigers.

    Like others I see the events of the past few months as probably being the turning point in our clubs short history. With the three egos deciding to move on and Cleary moving in the platform has been set for some real positive change. We are now signing players that you know what you are going to get week in and week out.

    This year could end up a disaster as far as the comp goes, but it could be the best year ever as it has forced change and change for the better


  • ForumSupporter

    Umm…. I would say it’s united the fans more than the 2005 premiership ever did…


  • Banned

    @:

    The other clubs in Sydney must be very boring places with nothing to write or talk about as every thing coming out of the media is all about the Weststigers.

    Like others I see the events of the past few months as probably being the turning point in our clubs short history. With the three egos deciding to move on and Cleary moving in the platform has been set for some real positive change. We are now signing players that you know what you are going to get week in and week out.

    This year could end up a disaster as far as the comp goes, but it could be the best year ever as it has forced change and change for the better

    Agree 100% and cant wait for next year. We finally got a coach who is the boss. We finally got rid of player power. And we are finally recruiting decent players who will turn us around. Lets blood the juniors and write off this year and start a new page in 2018.



  • A true fan sticks solid, players come and go

    These 3 grubs that left the club did it in a way that was disgraceful, at least Ava didn’t beat around the bush or take 12 months to decide



  • Should be titled “Dear Players”

    Tell it to the players mate, you’re only saying what we already know.


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