The Oxford Dictionary defines a supporter as "A person who is actively interested in and wishes success for a particular sports team."
As a Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles fan from a young age, that's all I've ever wanted for my beloved team. Being a passionate and true supporter, supporting my team through thick and thin. For most of my time following Manly, the club has had its issues off the field that were, for the most part, covered up by the successes on it. But now that they'll be runners-up for the wooden spoon this season, that no longer happens and they've been exposed badly.
The season from hell
With all the great displeasure and pain in the world it causes me to say this, this season has been taking the absolute piss. And I know I'm not the only Manly fan out there feeling this painful combination of embarrassment and sadness whenever I turn on the TV and watch them play now.
If you could even describe it as that?
Because with some of the crap they've tossed up, an Under 12's side might have a chance against them. Can you really blame the fans for the attendances massively sliding this season? Or could we really protest if the side were to be relocated to Perth, or the Central Coast, or wherever? I honestly could say I couldn't.
This campaign alone Manly will finish second last on the ladder only beaten by the slightly more woeful Eels, a disgusting result for a talented, representative filled side that was competing in Grand Finals regularly not all that long ago. If that wasn't bad enough for the foreseeable future, unless an English Super League side agrees to take him, Manly are stuck with Daly Cherry-Evans' albatross of a contract and sometimes he plays like he's not even worth half that. While we are losing people that are actually relevant and important to the club. Trent Barrett will be gone after our final game against the Broncos and he's tried his very best this season to keep all his players shielded from the rubbish and politics going on inside the club.
Tom and Jake unhappy?
Compounding that the Trbojevic brothers are reportedly unhappy about Barett's forced exit from the club. While Martin Taupau also reportedly no longer wants to be with the club and is negotiating a contract with the Roosters. This while all season Manly have had the salary cap dramas hanging over their heads. Plus earlier in the season, at a strip club no less and after a loss, our captain and his backup had a fight, one which went public, and one which caused Jackson Hastings' to not only be exiled while he was with the club but similar to Barett, leave soon after. The club just lurched itself from one disaster to another.
Now, maybe just to spite the fans and show how truly incompetent they really are, the board supposedly want to bring in John Cartwright as our new head coach ahead of some other 'normal' candidates such as Des Hasler (Two Premierships with Manly), Geoff Toovey (Coached them to the 2013 Grand Final) and Michael Maguire (Helped South Sydney break their massive Premiership drought).
While Cartwright himself was an excellent, excellent player. He's absolutely incompetent as a coach and nowhere even close to what we need to be bringing this club into the 21st century. During his stint with the Titans he won only 86 of the 186 games in which he was head coach. The side needs someone with a proven winners mentality and that is sure as hell, not him.
Rough on and off the field
Off the field, it's evidently poor enough. Now onto the on-field results, they've been just as appealing if not more so given that both Tom and Jake T play for the club, them as well as Daly Cherry-Evans, Martin Taupau plus Dylan Walker and Jorge Taufua. But despite this absolute quality and expensive quality might I add within the side, they've won only seven of their twenty-three games this season and barring a miracle the Broncos will absolutely give it to them up in Brisbane.
The side started their dismal season with seven defeats from their opening nine games and it didn't get any better from there. They gave up 56 points at Brookie against the Chooks, while also 42 against the Titans on the Northern Beaches. Two simply embarrassing amounts. While being at our early 38-12 loss against the Tigers made me absolutely sick to my stomach and although I stayed on till full-time, everyone that I had come to the game with did not. That game made me so, so sad for my once proud club. However, the worst was losing 44-10 to Parramatta away from home (especially so after smashing them 54-0 in our second game of the season). To concede 44 points and seven tries against your arch-rivals, there's absolutely nothing that can be said about it and no explaining it.
To Manly fans everywhere, no matter where you are, you might not necessarily agree with everything I've said in my rant and that's completely fine, but we don't deserve this, no fan of any club should have to put up with what we've endured this season.
The board needs to, combined with our ownership, move on or change quick smart and start taking some accountability instead of hiding behind our embattled coach and captain. While every single bloody player needs to start showing some pride and respect in the famous Maroon & White jersey. Greats like Bob Fulton, Graham Eadie and Cliff Lyons would be absolutely shuddering at what they've seen this season. And for the first time, as deeply saddening as it is, I'm embarrassed to be a Manly supporter.
Do you think Toby is right, or has he been too hard on the struggling Sea Eagles? Let us know in the comments below.