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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

" Behave, but have fun": 250 strong security force mobilised to protect esky and beach ball exclusion zone

Today The Advertiser's print edition ran an article on p7 with the headline "Behave, but have fun", which was reproduced on the companion Adelaide Now website as "Have fun - but behave".

A 250 strong security force comprising more than 90 police and 140 security guards will be deployed not, as you might be forgiven for thinking, to assist in the restoration of order somewhere in the South Pacific "arc of instability", but to exercise zero tolerance of the expected 30,000+ crowd at the Test.

SACA chief executive Mike Deare said the measures, which had been eight months in planning, were designed to increase patrons' enjoyment of the cricket...."Because of the huge attendance and the strong desire of the International Cricket Council and Cricket Australia, as well as my own board of management, to ensure that everybody has an enjoyable day, we have significantly increased security activities this season. Hopefully there will be no suppression of the crowd's enthusiasm. We are certainly not intending to do that . . . we're intending to do exactly the opposite by making sure those unpleasant incidents . . . don't occur."

Chief Inspector John Gerlach, the officer in charge of the operation, said police would have zero tolerance. "We would be urging people to have fun at the cricket but what is important is that people don't do things that interfere with the comfort and safety of other people at the event," he said.


Mr Deare confirmed the Barmy Army would not be permitted to bring a trumpet into the ground. Beach balls would also be banned. The Mexican wave would be permitted but patrons seen throwing items into the air would face eviction.

Other media are picking up on the killjoy tactics employed in Brisbane: for example Gideon Haigh's Eye on the Ashes and The Surfer blogs on Cricinfo , Greg Baum in The Age , and this from the Gold Coast Bulletin, reporting on the first four days of the Brisbane Test:

People were thrown out for a whole range of sins, including blowing their own trumpet, waving the Aussie flag, trying to start a Mexican wave and even, dare we say it, inciting an 'Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi' chant. A Gold Coast cricket fan was told by police to leave his seat because he was sneezing too much. True story. The last straw came when police ordered that an inflatable kangaroo, this country's national icon, be deflated or the owner would be turfed out. Ironically, the fella who somehow smuggled a blow-up doll into the stadium evaded the clutches of about six wallopers.

The fun police have simply gone too far. They are getting the Barmy Army mixed up with the British soccer hooligans.The stiff suits in Brisbane have turned the Gabba into a prison for spectators while at Surfers Paradise, an hour's drive away, 18-year-old school leavers are partying in style, with few arrests.It's not often that the Poms have a legitimate beef but by separating the English spectators at the Gabba, Cricket Australia erred badly.The Barmy Army is one of the best-behaved groups of spectators in the world. They are an extremely well-organised group made up of mostly middle-class Poms who simply want to have a beer and a laugh, combining their love of cricket with an Aussie holiday. By splitting them, denying them the chance to sing en masse, the fun police took away a lot of the atmosphere which has become part and parcel of an Ashes series between the two countries.

Update 30 November: Today's Australian has an editorial "Leave fun in cricket" which now compares SA unfavourably with more tolerant cricket administrations elsewhere:

Heavy handed fun police at Brisbane's Gabba who threw Barmy Army trumpeter Billy Cooper out of the ground on the first day of Australia's Test against England didn't do spectators any favours...Now the South Australian Cricket Association has also shown it shares the Gabba's killjoy colours by banning Mr Cooper's trumpet from the second Test...He will be allowed to rejoin the fun when the cricket circus moves on to Perth and Sydney.

South Australia struggles to compete for a larger share of the international tourism market, and it can't help to have us branded as a killjoy state. Queensland has many other attractions so will be able to deflect the criticism more readily ("killjoy one day, beautiful the next"), leaving South Australia with a tougher job to counter the negative reputation.

The Australian has just posted a story"Banned bugler ' culturally relevant'"where an Adelaide University professor of musicology has added his voice to the swelling chorus of criticism.

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