The line in the sand

I’m going to preface this article by stating that I know that not everyone will agree with me and the points I will raise. For the fans are continuing to stay strong through the shambles that is our club, I applaud you.

I don’t have the strength left to do so. I’ve simply had enough.

Earlier in the year, I was listening to a podcast called NRL Boom Rookies (available on iTunes) when one of the podcast hosts, Dale called out that continuing to have a membership of the Wests Tigers is a vote to continue support of the administration of the club and it’s actions. While the comment initially irked me; it made sense. At the end of last year I was insanely frustrated with the club, and my renewal would not convey that message. I determined that I would wait 6/7 rounds, to see what would change and if WT deserved my membership.

The 6 weeks have passed and I made my decision not to renew my membership for this year. I cannot stand behind the current administration the club and the decisions that they continue to make. In a way, this is a trial separation between myself the football club that I love so much.

Put simply, I can no longer bear the incompetence that the club continues to demonstrate.

On my first attempt to write this, I listed down the key decisions and errors of the club for the last four and a half years but the simple reality is the Tigers Fans know the details. How the club has let Player managers drag the club through the dirt in the media (Marshall and Farah Contract / Coach dramas), highlighted by our CEO going AWOL for four days. That for every Taupau or Austin recruitment there was ten Tom Humble, Cory Paterson, Keith Lulia, Ed Pettyborne, Ray Cashmere decisions. Horrendous internal retention decisions, highlighted by Ayshford, Farah, Moltzen and keeping Groat over Fifita. Our on field results unfortunately speak for themselves. Finishes since 2012 are hardly pretty reading: 10th, 15th, 13th, 15th.

Our off field management becomes even more frustrating when you hear Mick Potter state that he had very, very limited input on roster decisions. Not allowing your head coach to heavily influence or drive recruitment is absurd. Almost as absurd as signing two rookie halves to 4 year deals that had yet to play a game of first grade.

Then Jason Taylor comes on the scene asking members and fans with a plan. A process. I wanted to believe in JT so much, it’s actually hard to put into words. We would start well, winning 3 of our first 5 games. We would then win only 5 of the next 21 rounds. He tries to move on Robbie Farah (rightly or wrongly) and is made to be the court fool when the Club Board failed to support the move and decision, and is instead left to go hat in hand to the players, asking for forgiveness.

After an enormous amount of talk over the off season how JT was going to remove the reigns and “let the boys play footy”, we now find ourselves in round 6 this year with a 2/4 record. More alarming than our current record is JT’s team selections. Jack Buchanan has literally done nothing in his 41 first grade appearances to deserve continued selection but keeps getting selected. Milone does nothing in 3 games last year but earns another go last round. We do have the depth there to make changes. Griffin, Graham, JGrant and MCK are all deserving of a shot but instead of making the sweeping changes we need, JT sticks with the safest possible change to the squad. How Milone was picked again is beyond me. JT also doesn’t appear to know how to properly use a 4 man bench – our 17th man is perpetually getting sub 20 minute stints. What’s the point?

I said at the start of the year that Brooks needed to step his game up. Unfortunately his 50th game this weekend was utterly inept. He turned over the ball with two horrendous errors (one of which leading to a Knights try), poor 5th tackle options (which have plagued him seemingly his whole career) and poor defensive reads. Yet among all this, he and Moses are chasing $650-800k plus TPAs. Can anyone tell me why Brooks deserves even half that right now? Because I cannot see it. At all.

What also concerns me is how Chris Lawrence’s contract option for next year would leave us tight on cap space. How? Where is all the money going? Where does that leave us when we need to sign Tedesco, especially if we do keep Moses and Brooks on the money they’re after?

In 2014, I saw something special in our young players. I told the other BWTF admins that if we kept out shit together, we could push and be Top 4 in 2017. That it would take some time but it would be worth it. Right now, that seems like the most delusional thought I’ve had in my life. I’m almost resigned to the fact that we will lose the best Cubs that we have, and that we will overpay for the dregs.

We have some really big recruitment decisions to make in the next 12 months or so regarding our Cubs and unfortunately, I just don’t have the faith that we will make the right ones. To make it even better, we are going to be at a point where we have to overpay to get external talent to the club because of instability and poor results, and you better believe another club out there will offer Teddy $850k to $1 million, and I just can’t see us matching it.

One of our good mates and long term contributor to BWTF has given up on Wests Tigers. To paraphrase “all talk and no action for years now, and our culture is rotten to the core.” Really, I can’t blame him. I try to be a positive person in life but I just can’t see the position of the club improving within the next 4/5 years.Yet despite all the years of pain, WT has cracked it’s highest membership number this year with 12,000 members. That’s 12,000 fans stating that they support the actions of the club. 12,000 ‘Yes’ votes when the club is in drastic need of a few ‘No’s’. I would say something needs to change but the fact is many, many things need to change.

It’s a bloody hard slog being a WT fan. I’ve tried to be the positive fan for too long. I’m sick of having to defend the poor decisions of my team both on and off field. So I’m voting the only way I can, with my feet.