“It’s good quality football, that excites the fans, gets them on the edge of their seats, so that you’re excited by what you see, or what you are about to see. When I was a kid growing up, I used to go to Manchester United, and I’m old enough to remember Bobby Charlton, Dennis Law, George Best. I was awestruck. As a 5, 6, 7 year old, I’d be in there, and suddenly Bobby Charlton would get the ball, and people would get off the edge of their seats because something exciting was about to happen. I want that same experience for you guys. But I want to win as well.”
These were the words of coach Mike Mulvey a month ago, when talking about ‘the Brisbane Roar way’ at a fan forum held in East Brisbane. They were some of the more popular among the small, yet passionate crowd in attendance that night, and why wouldn’t they be? People like to be entertained, and success doesn’t go astray either. It makes sense that any coach, in a position to do so, would make these their goals. That we all agree on. It’s fair to say that a little deeper analysis is required in identifying the room for improvement within a team, and a club.
As someone who heard those words first-hand, I would like Brisbane Roar supporters to know, in Mulvey, we have a man with a will. What is yet to be seen is do we have a way? Of course, this is not really one question, and it’s not really for one man. With discussion of the team very much Mulvey’s department, Managing Director Sean Dobson fronted up to questions regarding matters off the field, including bravely tackling one of my own.
These were largely to do with crowd numbers. Mine read, “As a Roar season ticket holder from season one, I feel that the Roar match day experience, as the club has grown, has become increasingly artificial due to too much over-policing from Suncorp Stadium staff (also on the advice of the club as I understand). I believe a big part of Western Sydney’s success in one season, apart from their demographic, is the atmosphere they provide. Football fans are treated differently to other codes in Australia, and particularly in Queensland, despite followers of AFL, but especially cricket and rugby league being just as, if not more rowdy. My question is, what steps are you taking to create a Parramatta-esque fortress? One suggestion I have is that members still dominate the ‘Den’, but no more wrist-bands or aisle monitoring, you don’t want to alienate people, we are not dangerous!”
Even though I earned ‘most political answer of the night’ for this, I was pleasantly surprised by chunks of it. Most notably, by the club’s intention to find a commercial partner to assist lowering the price of Den memberships, with the aim of the club to increase the overall membership to around 8,500. While this figure is less inspiring than the 10,000 many fans had in mind, if the target average crowd of 15,000 is met, then the club is steadily growing. I was less impressed by the attempt to reassure me with the knowledge that the new head of The Queensland Police Service’s involvement was a “football fan”, but such a response was to be expected.
Yes, there is a reason those words from Mulvey are the headline. Despite refusing to waver from his ever-dry delivery, they contain a love for the game, something we can all appreciate. All the other answers of the night were filled with pragmatism, but this is not a bad thing. Just as the master of dryness himself, Wayne Bennett, gave rugby league in this city, so too does Mulvey want to deliver sustained success to this football club, which already has two championships and one premiership to its name.
This is evident in the clear prioritising of matters on the pitch, with the marketing budget spent on bringing back Matt McKay. It seems to be working, with an undefeated pre-season against A-league opposition so far. In terms of maintaining this success in the future, it all goes back to ‘the Brisbane Roar way’. Mulvey is part of the fabric of youth football in Queensland, famously fielding the youngest A-league eleven when briefly in charge of the now defunct Gold Coast United. It was a side that included Ben Halloran, who since joined him here in Brisbane, and has now gone on to Fortuna Düsseldorf in the German Bundesliga 2. Now, Mulvey has already earmarked youngsters Lachlan Jackson, Patrick Theodore, Brandon Borrello, Ben Litfin and Kwame Yeboah as those to look out for. They train with the first team every day, and are more than likely to play a role this season, with Yeboah in particular having impressed with three goals this pre-season.
Watch Yeboah’s standout goal and celebration!
So it appears there is more to come from this young, yet already decorated football club. With the promise of fan forums becoming a more regular thing, and the season now only two weeks away, I for one, am looking forward to more of ‘the Brisbane Roar way’.
Published in permission with Darby Laughren