Critics spouting nothing more than drivel

THE NOTEBOOK

THE success of the NAB Cup game at Robertson Oval in Wagga on Saturday has gone down badly with some in Narrandera -  and in a few other places.

Rather than celebrate with Wagga, many are doing their utmost to try to ruin the AFL party for the city.

It's a bit like the detractors have been jabbed in an eye with an ice-pick.

Not only have they suffered huge pain and anguish, they have also had their vision seriously distorted.

Undeterred by reality, they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge their fragile little world (Narrandera Sportsground) has finally been shown to be totally inadequate.

Look no further than The Daily Advertiser website for proof positive that some out there are just plain jealous of the way Wagga (Robertson Oval) made such a phenomenal triumph out of the NAB Cup game.

Distasteful comments such as "poor venue", "poor crowd" and "dismal" are there for all to see.

There is also an absolute doosy about Narrandera Sportsground being "commonly recognised as the SCG of the bush".

This is certainly news to me and most probably to the remainder of the fully-sighted population.

The SCG is an iconic sporting venue with a superbly rich history and deserves so much better than to be compared to a facility in the back blocks.

Likewise, other comparisons are equally absurd and unfair.

For instance, it is illogical to gloat about the Sydney Swans drawing a crowd of 10,000 to Narrandera Sportsground, then throw mud at Robertson Oval for attracting 7068 for the Giants versus Lions on Saturday night.

Get a grip.

The Swans v anyone will always pull a heck of a crowd in the Riverina even to Narrandera Sportsground.

Here is an exercise: Do a straw poll down the main street of any Riverina city or town and it is a safe bet that five out 10 people will say they either love, support, like or have a slight leaning toward the Swans.

Even those who are passionate about Collingwood, Carlton, West Coast etc will admit to having a soft spot for the Swans, which is only natural because the team is NSW-based and has strong ties to this region.

Matching the Swans against Collingwood, Essendon, Carlton or another famous AFL club at any venue in the Riverina would be a sure-fire way to pack a venue.

So, bragging about getting 10,000 or 11,000 to a Swans game at Narrandera Sportsground is definitely a bit rich.

Bagging Wagga and Robertson Oval for pulling 7068 for the Giants and Lions is worse still.

Nothing against either team, but their appeal is currently limited in the extreme in this area.

Down the track GWS, perhaps, will have a half-decent following in the Riverina, but Brisbane will remain generally friendless.

The Giants are doing all the right things to form a powerful association with Wagga and the relationship should continue to blossom.

As much as I will never be completely convinced Wagga City Council was right to give GWS the infamous $300,000 "handout", I can now grasp the concept.

Right at this time GWS and Wagga are trying to forge a lasting bond -  and it should come with time and patience.

This, however, will never mean the Giants are the flavour of the Riverina, but should guarantee a steadily rising degree of acceptance.

Brisbane, meanwhile, will just be an AFL oddity that once came to Wagga and left almost as quickly.

All this means is those hammering Wagga for "only" generating 7068 people at Robertson Oval on Saturday are being grossly ridiculous and blinkered.

Give Wagga the Swans versus Giants for a NAB Cup game in 2014 and Robertson Oval would be overflowing.

No doubt a drawcard like this would certainly provide a test for the official capacity of 17,000 of the ground, although the prospect of squeezing another 10,000 into the venue on top of the 7068 there on Saturday night would be rather daunting.

This aside, Robertson Oval is a superb AFL facility and will only get better with time, money and patience.

In the short term, Wagga City Council must upgrade the lighting, and buy a bigger scoreboard.

The lights were adequate, but hardly a shining justification that they cost millions.

And that scoreboard was an embarrassment - too small and too hard to read.

Ultimately, the positives still outweighed the negatives by so far it wasn't a race.

Yet critics have turned nasty and unloaded on Robertson Oval.

Try "Population Wangaratta 27,000 NAB Cup crowd 11,000. Population Narrandera 4500 NAB Cup playoff crowd 11,514. Population Wagga Wagga 61,000 NAB Cup showing 7068. Dismal", for starters.

Rationalising these figures is irresponsible and stupid, particularly as Essendon and Richmond, clubs with great tradition, played at Wangaratta.

Honestly, the dismal bit is that there are individuals who actually believe this drivel.

The fact that Tom Harley, Kevin Sheedy and Michael Voss think Robertson Oval is a showpiece will do me any day.

Wagga is, and always will be, the centre of the sporting universe in this great region.

So there.

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