To my fellow Wests supporters,
This isn’t meant to be a grammatically well-written report. It is a letter, or more precisely me venting from my heart. It’s something I just needed to write because it tears me apart to see a great club like Western Suburbs falling apart. I ask you to read this, consider what I am saying and hopefully find some positive suggestions and thoughts that will make us not only a stronger club, but also build a stronger partnership with the joint venture.
Western Suburbs are a foundation club dating back to 1908
To lose a club with over 100 years of history and proud traditions from all levels of Rugby League would be losing one of the great assets our great game has ever had. Let the Magpies survive in the lower grades and in the juniors and keep this asset in our game. Wests were there at day 1, lets make sure none of us see it die in our life time.
We need to be providing more Rugby League opportunities for the population of South West Sydney, not less.
The South West Sydney housing corridor already provides a wealth of Rugby League talent and will do so at an even greater level in the future. The housing developments around places like Camden, Campbelltown, Oran Park, Narellan, Bringelly and Leppington are continuing at a frantic pace. Over 200,000 or more people are expected to call the Camden Local Government area home by 2040. ( http://www.camden.nsw.gov.au/files/camden2040/Managing Camden's Growth Issues Paper.pdf ). More in the Liverpool, Campbelltown and Wollondilly shires. Replacing the Western Suburbs Magpies with an Inner Sydney based (read: Concord) Wests Tigers side not only provides less opportunities for South West Sydney, it also opens the door to AFL who want to convert this traditional Rugby League area into one who will primarily play, and support AFL.
South West Sydney needs representative teams for players of all ages. It must not be forgotten that participation at grass roots levels is the foundation of a strong NRL competition.
South West Sydney requires at least teams in the Harold Matthews Under 16’s, SG Ball Under 18’s and NSW Cup open age levels. Keeping the Magpies in these competitions not only keeps a foundation club alive it also providing these opportunities to the local community.
Let the Wests Tigers run the Magpies teams.
We can not doubt that the Wests Tigers have the better resources to run the junior and senior levels of the football clubs “on paddock” operations.
Wests Tigers have access to better levels of coaching, development programs, sports science, marketing, sports management and corporate support than the Western Suburbs Magpies club. Therefore I propose that they take over all football operations of the Magpies teams to ensure that players young and old get the best levels of training and off field support. This also ensures that player development is inline with what is needed for players to easily progress to a NYC and NRL level.
The Wests Tigers should also work closely with the Wests Junior League and Group 6 to develop a solid pathway to success by promoting strong local club competitions.
The Western Suburbs district Football Club would concentrate on ensuring the Magpies brand is continued and presented in a positive light. This would also include organising and consulting along side the Wests Tigers for Magpie heritage days, functions and merchandise initiatives.
Put a Wests Tigers logo on the Western Suburbs Magpies sleeve.
Magpies diehards must accept that the kids of today and tomorrow are inspired to be Wests Tigers players. They don’t know who the Magpies are. Therefore placing a Wests Tigers logo on the sleeve of the Western Suburbs Magpies jerseys would help children identify the link between the Wests Tigers and Wests Magpies. It would also help tie our brands together and show that the Western Suburbs Club embraces the joint venture.
Mend Rifts with Wests Leagues club at Campbelltown.
I don’t know why the Wests Campbelltown Leagues member of the Wests Tigers board continues to vote inline with the Balmain members. I hear rumours it is over long held grudges with certain people and events from the past. To be honest I really don’t care.
THEY MUST GET OVER IT!
We need to work together to do what is best for Rugby League in the South West of Sydney. We must work to do what is best for Wests.
The AFL are throwing money at Western Sydney, and we are throwing knives into each others backs. This MUST stop!!!
All parties involved need to sit down, take a chill pill and sort it out. The three members of the “Wests Group” are Wests Ashfield Leagues Club, Wests Leagues Club Campbelltown and Western Suburbs District Rugby League Football Club. The infighting they are having is hurting Rugby League. I propose a reconciliation meeting takes place with all parties. Even if it takes all night. Even if it takes a week. Even if it means all sides are required to make concessions, we must move forward together. A fractured Wests Group is not making things better for anybody. It is making everything worse.
What I would like to see the Wests Tigers do for us!
Firstly, we just want a fair and equal go. This joint venture was in principle better than St George Illawarra’s and the Northern Eagles because it was meant to be 50:50 joint venture. Not a take over. Not a merger. We were to work together to make sure both proud foundation clubs got a fair go at keeping their heritage alive, whilst a new NRL identity took us into the future. Unfortunately the Wests Tigers at times is portrayed as just being an extension of the Balmain Tigers. This has made many Wests fans disgruntled with the Wests Tigers.
Some progress has been made over the years and the club has made more of an effort to rectify this misconception but more needs to be done.
Leave the Magpie alone
Both Wests and Balmain members agreed in 1999, that the mascot of the joint venture team would be the Tiger. All Wests asked in return was to permanently have our proud Magpie logo on each sleeve to which Balmain agreed. Now over the years the Magpie has not only got smaller, it has now moved down to the cuff of the sleeve. A location where players often place electrical tape garters, that all but covers our proud Magpie. This relocation was done without consultation of the Western Suburbs club or its members. To many of us it was a real kick in the teeth and comes across as a “We don’t care about your feelings attitude”. To continue wearing the Magpies on the sleeve of the joint venture jersey is a small but important token us Wests supporters and a demonstration that the Magpies indeed do live on in the NRL.
Use all three colours
This one isn’t hard. The joint ventures official colours are Gold, Black and WHITE. Too often we find reference to the Wests Tigers as the Black and Golds. Wrong! That is Balmain’s colours. White needs to be included in the majority of the clubs media releases, merchandise, websites and advertisements.
We want more at Campbelltown
Currently the Wests Tigers play 8 games in inner Sydney, and only 4 games in the South West of Sydney. South West Sydney is actively engaged in a battle royale with AFL for supremacy for this growing population. Having only 4 games a year in such an important growth area is not stamping enough authority on the region. We simply need to lock in more rugby league players and supporters and the best way to do this is to play more games in the area.
I am also tired of hearing that the Sydney Football stadium is only an hour or so from Campbelltown Stadium. Because on top of that journey, how far is it to Campbelltown Stadium for our supporters in Camden, Narellan, Picton, the Southern Highlands, etc etc. It is not convenient or economically viable for a great percentage of our young working families from the area to make the long journey to the inner Sydney grounds just so they can see more than the measly 33% of Wests Tigers home matches played at Campbelltown Stadium.
Campbelltown Stadium has developed and will continue to develop into a better and better facility. It offers levels of convenience that don’t exist at Leichhardt and the Sydney Football Stadium. Its location next to a train station is extremely convenient. There are large carparks within a short walking distance, a quality Leagues club next door, and now after the last upgrade the stadium offers better seating, lighting, access and corporate hospitality features. This ground will also continue to be upgraded in the future as the local population increases.
I still want to the Wests Tigers to play games at Leichhardt Oval. It is also a historically important part of Wests Tigers and Rugby Leagues history. I just truly believe Campbelltown Stadium needs to host more than 4 games a year.
Just a few other little things.
- Why is the official NRL heritage round always honouring Balmain and Souths?
- Why did Wests Tigers pay for Balmain to have its hall of fame night this year at the Hilton but not return the favour to the Magpies. (Maybe in the future we could have joint Hall of Fame nights?)
- How did Balmain Ryde Eastwood become the defacto feeder club for the Wests Tigers getting all the higher calibre players from both the Wests Tigers and the Magpies NSW Cup side?
Can I end this by saying I don’t want to see Western Suburbs go under on my generations watch. Nor do I want to see Balmain cease to exist. I want both to prosper under a system that does the best for each clubs local area and in turn the best for the Wests Tigers. I have had little sleep over the last few weeks due to this whole shemozzle we find ourselves in. I hope that writing this at least makes sense and maybe, just maybe there is something here that can help us all move forward together.
A proud Wests Tigers supporter
A prouder Western Suburbs Magpies member
WSDRLFC Member 366