Crowd and game violence: like player, like fan?

AFTER last season’s nail-biting preliminary final that saw Collingwood put to an end a seemingly unbeatable Richmond, fans were eager for  tonight’s game – and the highly anticipated match did not disappoint.

Richmond fans in particular have been longing for another match between the rival teams, for a chance to redeem themselves after violent scenes broke out at last week’s 33-point win against Carlton.

Excited Tigers fans can be dangerous – a video capturing the moment a young Richmond fan, Sam Bevan Shannon, punched several fellow spectators at the end of the game.

While his actions were frightening, his behaviour occurred after a successful win by the Tigers.

This then begs the question: what is actually provoking outrage and violence in the stands?

Is it the appearance of violence on the pitch?

During tonight’s game, a player from each team acted in ways that were profoundly questioned by commentators and spectators alike.

Collingwood’s Mason Cox got a reaction for his rough conduct against Richmond’s defender Dylan Grimes.

Additionally, Grimes himself was scrutinised by commentators after striking Collingwood’s Jaime Elliot in the head with his elbow.

Australian rules football is a full contact sport, yet in round two of the season, two players have been reported for unsportsmanlike and rough conduct.

Therefore, should we really be shocked by the prevalence of violence by fans of the game?

In no way are these acts excusable, but perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to see these actions from those off the field when they seem to mirror those on it.

Viewers have had their fair share to say about Bevan Shannon’s conduct, with one fan heading to Facebook to comment on 7News Melbourne‘s post about the incident.

He effectively summarised the general consensus surrounding the issue.

A screenshot of a crowdGraphical user interface, text, application

Because these actions should not be tolerated or overlooked it is re-assuring to see other spectators’ disapproval of acts like these at footy matches.

But fan’s reactions were quite different to the violence shown on the field in tonight’s game bypic players.


Ultimately, fans were astounded by the decision of the MRO (Match Review Officer) to impose consequences on the players actions.

This contrasts with their feelings of relevant punishments which should be imposed on Bevan Shannon’s actions in the stands just last week.

If fans can so easily excuse violent behaviour from the players it’s no surprise that, without hesitation, they can lash out whenever they consider it necessary.

Scarily enough, in Bevan Shannon’s case, this was after a win by his team.

Police outside the MCG in preparation for tonight’s rival match.


While fans may tweet about opposition to violent behaviour during footy games, their actions demonstrate otherwise.

If, like Twitter commenter Steve Wars, they feel that the “game is gone” due to suspensions for rough conduct, then there are greater issues surrounding violence and the game’s culture.

Player suspensions by the AFL do effectively show disapproval of unnecessary rough conduct during the game.

But harsher penalties may need to be implemented to show the utmost disapproval of unnecessary poor conduct from supporters.