We want NRL atmosphere

Belmore Sports Ground from the view of Liam's seat.

After a week off Gladstone Today and CQ Today journalist Liam Emerton returns to join 4RO’s Aaron Stevens to talk suburban ground footy and the lack of loyalty in rugby league.

Suburban grounds

Liam: I had a week off on holidays mate and I got to go down to Belmore Sports Ground to watch the mighty Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs take on the St George Dragons.

The atmosphere was amazing and it was one of the best places I’ve ever watched rugby league at.

How good are suburban grounds to watch footy at?

Aaron: I don’t blame you for taking a week off last week, well done, and welcome back!

I’m a huge supporter of the suburban grounds in the NRL, I don’t know why we don’t bring them back.

Occasionally we play at Leichhardt and Campbelltown but Belmore was pumping it was fantastic.

You have to describe what it was like and how did it feel being there?

Liam: It was my first ever time at Belmore. Mum and Dad talked about going there, sitting up on the hill and watching the Bulldogs go to work.

But there wasn’t a place to sit on the weekend, just shy of 17,000 people.

It was amazing, one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life.

What I can compare it too would be if any of our readers were down at the Knights versus Eels game when they played at Browne Park.

It was a similar atmosphere but just imagine adding another 10,000 people, yelling and screaming for this match.

I was right there, it felt like I was on the pitch, it was a great game of footy.

When the Bulldogs started mounting that comeback you could feel the electricity in the air, it felt like we were on a different planet.

It’s the best thing for NRL. It doesn’t make sense for them to have it at an empty Accor Stadium when you can have 17,000 screaming fans at Belmore who all want to be there and everyone loves it.

We need to see more of it because that energy gets lost when you have a big, big stadium.

This was a Bulldogs v Dragons game, it had no right to be so special but it really was.

Aaron: I don’t want to take anything away from the big stadiums when they’re full because I love going to Suncorp and when you have 40,000 proud Broncos fans screaming at the opposition there’s nothing better.

Some of those bigger stadiums that you mentioned are great when they’re packed. The MCG when it’s big is great.

But when you’ve just got a club game that’s going to attract 15,000 people, to have it in an 80,000 stadium doesn’t make sense.

And they know these games are coming up, you know which ones are going to attract a big or small crowd.

We see what it is like at Manly at Brookvale, we know Leichhardt, Campbelltown and add Belmore to that list, they’re great for footy.

Let’s make sure that they are in the future plans for rugby league.

We know which games are the big rivalry games, for example, Bulldogs playing Parramatta you want to see that in a big stadium.

Suncorp sometimes isn’t big enough for when the Cowboys play the Broncos.

At the end of the day we just want the atmosphere, and as long as that’s there and we can be a part of it that’s all we look for.

Liam: This brings me to another point. When we looked at the Capras women having their grand final, they played in front of nobody because they played it at Redcliffe.

This game was between North Queensland and Central Queensland, this should have been played in one of those two regions.

I have no idea why they decided to play it at Redcliffe, maybe thinking it was going to be a Brissy team playing in the final.

But essentially it’s the same problem. They should have changed it to play it in front of a big crowd instead of sticking to their guns and playing it with no crowd.

Keep it here, bring it to Browne Park or take it up north to North Queensland and play it before an NRL game.

Because it was pretty empty on the live stream, but it really drained the game and how big it was.

And that special moment at the end of the game, imagine if there were thousands of people screaming at that instead of a couple of hundred, if that.

There should have changed that and I think that’s on the same path of what the NRL needs to do.

Aaron: I was on the Sideline View and was watching that finale on air.

The bounce of the ball was incredible; it just fell back into the Gold Stars hands with literally seconds on the clock.

I was on air at the time with Fletch from the Rockhampton Junior Rugby League and he was louder than the whole crowd collectively.

Once again, you’re totally right, why don’t they think about these things?

Who’s idea was it to play this game down there when they have two teams from over 600 plus kilometres away?

Someone surely should have come up with the idea of moving the game closer to the two teams.

This comes down to scheduling as well because you could have easily played the game before or after a Queensland Cup game on the weekend.

Play it before the Capras on Sunday. It just seemed strange to have it on Saturday afternoon where there wasn’t anything else happening.

It robbed the occasion of what it should have been.

But let’s go back to the game, wasn’t it terrific, tough for the Capras but a terrific game of footy.

When it came down to that massive finale and that kick, it had no right to stay in play, it should have done what you expect a rugby league ball to do and bounce over the sideline.

But that massive bounce back into the Gold Stars’ hands and they score.

It’s the bounce of the ball, Liam, you never know what it’s going to do!

Loyalty in the NRL

Liam: Moving on mate, It feels to me like the Warriors have been treated with a lot of disrespect despite sacrificing so much for the game.

To have some players and their coaches come out and say ‘I can’t commit’, it feels dirty to me.

It feels like the Warriors have been hung out to dry by their own team, what do you think about it?

Aaron: Loyalty is gone from rugby league.

I’m not going to pick on him because I love him as a player but Euan Aitken.

You think about how far he’s come since leaving the Dragons where he was a standard first-grader, he’s gone to the Warriors, become a star there and now when he is in demand he should be sticking with the Warriors.

A team that gave him a leg up, he’s now just going to the Dolphins.

I don’t want to have a go at him. There’s plenty of others like Lodge obviously, the coach, where has the loyalty gone considering how good the Warriors have been to these players.

Putting that aside, Stacey Jones should have been the coach of the Warriors five years ago so I’m glad he’s finally getting his chance.

I hope he is successful in the short term. I think players look up to people who bled for the jersey, shed tears for the club and if there’s anyone who’s done it for NZ, it’s Stacey Jones.

Hopefully Stacey Jones is the man to bring the Warriors forward.

And I agree with what you said, they haven’t shown loyalty to the Warriors, they always knew they were going to head back home.

But at the end of the day you probably want the Warriors to go, fine, if you don’t want to play for our club we don’t need you.

Go back to New Zealand, bring through those young kids who have been dying to play for the club and plying their trade.

Bring forward a strong Warriors because we need a strong Warriors squad in the NRL.

Liam: Agreed mate, we seriously do. It was a great start from the Warriors this year but then all these players came out and said they’re not committing, they don’t want to move to NZ and they want to stay in Australia.

All these people have just used the Warriors and I feel terrible for their fans, for the club, for the board, who have had to suffer through the last two or three seasons.

They finally get the chance to come home in a couple of weeks when they play the Tigers.

You need players that want to play for the badge and want to be in that country.

To have all these people give up on the Warriors after they’ve done so much for them, it’s outrageous.

I’d be furious if I was a supporter of the Warriors, it’s ridiculous.