We asked a Western Sydney Wanderers fan why he lets off flares

Hardcore A League fans like to let off flares. Particularly those from the Red and Black Bloc of Western Sydney.

by Charlie Braithwaite
01 March 2016, 9:10pm

screengrab from Google

A-League fans are anti-social hooligans ruining the game for families and are everything that is wrong with soccer in Australia. At least that's what you'd be led to think if you read or listened to anything the mainstream media has to say about the Australian game.

And, to be fair, watching flares being let off in the stands, filling A-League grounds with smoke and holding up games, it doesn't look good for football supporters.

Especially when you look at the February 6th match at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, when hard-core Western Sydney Wanderers fans, known as the Red and Black Bloc (RBB), let off a total of 25 flares during an away game against Melbourne Victory.

I spoke to a member of the RBB whose name I won't disclose because, as he put it, he'd get his head kicked in for talking to the media. So let's just call him Ryan.

Ryan was there at the Docklands stadium and said he was one of the RBB who let off flares at the game. "I let off two flares. We all knew they weren't ready to stop us bringing them in, so it was fair game."

The ongoing problem with this sort of behaviour forced the Football Federation Australia (FFA) to fine the Western Sydney Wanderers $50,000 and impose a suspended three point deduction for bringing the game into disrepute.

Considering Melbourne media identity Eddie McGuire recently said he believes pyrotechnic enthusiasts are smuggling flares into games by jamming them up their arse, I thought I'd ask Ryan how he got his into the Melbourne game.

"I managed to get two in down my pants and I was patted, they just didn't do a thorough job, there weren't prepared for us, they didn't even have sniffer dogs."

So they're not quite shelving flares, but close enough, Eddie. What's perhaps more disturbing is that Ryan told me officials working for stadiums will sometimes put flares under seats for the RBB. Including one instance where he alleges someone high up at Allianz Stadium in Sydney stashed flares for them.

But why even let off flares? "It's to show passion, when you're at a derby you can unleash this side of you where you sing, talk shit to the opposing team, let off flares and then after you go back to normal life."

But there's a fair bit of aggression there as well. "Personally, when I've lit off flares the main reason has been to show anger at a ref's decision, and if that flare disrupts the opposition then that's good as well."

This led me to ask if he felt bad that this action has cost his team. "$50, 000 is too much especially for new clubs like the Wanderers, and the three points reduction is ridiculous. The players put in 100 per cent so to have them lose points because of fans actions is silly."

Surprisingly Ryan is actually against the hooligan image and he believes some fanatics go too far.

"There are always fans that are there just to cause injury to other supporters. I know a few and I don't like them. I've seen an opposing supporter get king hit walking into the RBB crowd. The person that hit him got a 20 year ban, but it's not really about the ban, someone was seriously hurt."

He wrapped up our chat by saying he believes that the FFA should just expect flares now and the current focus on the issue is only going to make it worse. "Now people are doing it to get a reaction from the media, it's not going to go away anytime soon."

This is why we can't have nice things, A-League fans.

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