You have to park some way away from the stadium because the place is quite full, and it is 2 hours away from kick-off! The braais are going and the music of “Maak die bulle almal Bokke” and “die blou blul” is blaring from cars while fans sporting Bulls jerseys trade insults with those wearing Cheetahs ones. This is the likely situation that will greet neutral observers if they brave Loftus on Saturday the 31st of October.
But think what Loftus looked like when the Bulls were losing in the 2008 Super 14, or even the last time the Cheetahs visited Loftus in this Currie Cup? People will most probably start queueing for tickets from about 05h30 on Monday morning if tickets go on sale on monday. They will wait for hours to part with their money in exchange to witness “die blou masjien”. But the situation was different before the weekends events.
After the game you can expect more than a few fights, and if you are unfortunate enough to be supporting the losing team, you will be mocked and heckled pretty much all the way to your car.
But was it always like this at Loftus? Are all Bulls fans of the sort that paint themselves blue and put rings in their noses and wear hard hats with cow horns attached to them? ( I saw one obviously confused guy with a blue hard hat with wildebeest horns attached to it at the Bafokeng stadium during the Bulls-Leopards game, but that is another story ) Is this what it means to be a true fan? To paint yourself in the colours of your team and wear the jersey or any item of clothing that may vaguely resemble the jersey of the team you support?
I would think not. Where are these guys when the team is playing poorly? Most of the blue (and orange) clad horde which will inhabit Lofus during the Currie Cup final probably do not even know the opponent that their team played before the semifinal, let alone the score, no these are the “fair weather fans”. These are those that only identify with their team when they are winning. While I have been having a go at Bulls fans, they are not the only culprits of this. They are the obvious example only because the Bulls are, no matter how much it pains me to say this, without a doubt the most successful South African team of the last decade.
I cast my mind back to last year’s Currie Cup final. After the final whistle blowed our “peaceful” neighbourhood erupted into loud cheers and hooting. What was funny about that is that I had hardly seen any Sharks fans around before then. This year’s Super 14 is another case in point, there were many loud-mouth Sharks supporters making their voices heard when the Sharks were on top, yet they were strangely silent when the Sharks crashed and burned. And the same will probably happen now, with those guys who gave us Sharks fans a bad name suddenly quiet this coming week.
Obviously people want to identify with a winning team as this obviously makes them feel better about themselves. But I say that a true fan is one that sticks by his team through thick and thin, a fan that does not stop watching his team because they are going through a bad patch. A true fan does not mock fans of teams who are experiencing tough times because they can empathhise with those fans when they were supporting their teams through the tough times. True fans are more likely to go to rugby to watch good rugby rather than drink more than their body weight in alcohol and mock opposition fans.
Let me cast your mind back to the Currie Cup final of last year. When that final whistle blew, i just jumped up and down uncontrollably for a few minutes. I was on “rugby cloud nine” for weeks after that. That win was so much sweeter because I had stuck through the tough times with the Sharks, when they finished last in the Super 12, when they missed the Currie Cup semifinals. After countless semifinal and final defeats over the years. All the bitter made the sweet that much sweeter.
So while I am still angry and frustrated with the Sharks for losing a game that they should have won, I am still completely behind them, while there is more promise of bad times ahead than good times, still I will stand firm as a fan, I wore my Sharks shirt today and faced the ridicule, they are my team through thick and thin.Tweet