The South Sydney Rabbitohs banners that permeated Randwick City Council suburbs and outraged many Sydney Roosters fans were raised in what the Australian Bureau of Statistics define as the “eastern suburbs” — and the Council has so far failed to respond to numerous questions on how the flags were funded.
It was also revealed that the council “liked” a what man Roosters fans consider a disparaging comment aimed at them on its Facebook wall, and despite the anger of Roosters fans who voiced their displeasure on the wall, the RCC posted a photo of the flags at the Kingsford roundabout (left) just three days after the initial complaint.
The banners were raised “to mark the start of the 2013 NRL season and to wish our local side well in the season” according to the spokesperson, who said Randwick City Council’s (RCC’s) government area “runs from Centennial Park in the north to La Perouse in the south taking in 14 eastern beaches”.
The banners elicited an outcry on the council’s Facebook wall following a comment from a Roosters fan on March 19, with many fellow Roosters fans echoing his sentiments in the subsequent comments. The stream can be found here.
“Why is Eastern Suburbs’ Randwick City Council erecting GO RABBITOHS! flags in the middle of Roosters strongholds like Coogee & Clovelly?” said the initial complainant. “What a way to get rate payers offside!”
“What a bloody disgrace,” said another. “Pull your head in council. Seriously.”
“Every rate payer in Randwick who don’t (sic) support South Sydney or don’t (sic) follow NRL in general should be fuming!” said another Roosters fan. “What a waste of their rate money which could be better spent!!”
26 Rounds spoke with a council spokesperson via email and asked: were the flags raised as a result of a bet; did Souths pay for the flags; did the Council purchase the flags themselves; whether Redfern comes under Randwick council’s jurisdiction; why the flags were in Clovelly; and whether they had a map which displays the territories Souths lay claim to.
Following confirmation from the council that the flags were not raised as a result of a bet, the spokesperson said via email:
“Randwick Council is flying Souths banners to mark the start of the 2013 NRL season and to wish our local side well in the season. Council produces a variety of banners each year to activate and bring colour to our town centres and beaches and to help celebrate major events and occasions.
“The banners have created some lively discussion and seemed to have opened up old-fashioned Easts verses (sic) Souths rivalry. Generally, Randwick City is considered the home of the Rabbitohs. Our government area runs from Centennial Park in the north to La Perouse in the south taking in 14 eastern beaches. Souths Juniors is located in Kingsford and Juniors at the Junction in Maroubra. Council works closely with the Rabbitohs on a number of social projects including helping disadvantaged children in the southern part of our city.
“The actual boundaries of areas that ‘belong’ to a football team are a bit grey – and it’s likely we have many residents who are neither Souths nor Easts fans. Many of the Clovelly and Bondi junior rugby league teams play in the Souths Juniors Competition – and even the name of the Roosters was changed from Easts to Sydney City reflecting a different area. We’re proud to support our local side and hope they continue their good form.”
Randwick City Council did not respond to several follow-up questions by the time this article went live, including the following:
– Were the flags paid for by ratepayers [i.e. rates collected by the council]?
– Does this mean that Clovelly and Bondi are now considered part of the general South Sydney area?
The Council has so far not responded to these questions.
The Council’s “Like” of a disparaging comment on Facebook.
It was revealed after several follow-up questions that the council “liked” the following post, playing sarcastically on the common Roosters criticism that the club has no fans:
Randwick City Council’s Like of the comment can be found here (fifth from the bottom).
The council then posted the image (at the top of the article) of the banners at the Kingsford roundabout three days after the initial complaint on Facebook.
Randwick City Council Mayor Tony Bowen, elected late last year to become the first Labor Mayor since 2005, is a “Lifelong South Sydney Rabbitohs Fan” according to his bio on Randwick City Council’s website. Several other councillors are also members or fans of the Rabbitohs according to the bios located here.
26 Rounds then asked the following questions:
– In light of everything that has been discussed, was this post [the image of the flags] the best thing to upload to Facebook especially when clearly so many of the people who live in the area are actively upset at the flags being erected? And was it the best idea to like a post that actively mocked many of your ratepayers?
26 Rounds has again yet to receive a response.
What is an “eastern suburb”, really? Isn’t Coogee as “east” as it gets?
The Council’s statement failed to outline what is defined as an “eastern suburb”, claiming that:
“Randwick City is considered the home of the Rabbitohs. Our government area runs from Centennial Park in the north to La Perouse in the south taking in 14 eastern beaches.”
While there are no arguments on Randwick’s government area, whether that should be considered the home of the Rabbitohs is clearly up for debate.
According to the ABS’ National Regional Profile of the Eastern Suburbs, the Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra councils come under the Eastern Suburbs division.
Further, according to a map displayed as part of the 2011 Census, the Eastern Suburbs are highlighted (below in blue) as all suburbs from Vaucluse down to La Perouse in the south along the eastern coastline and includes Randwick, Pagewood, Coogee and Clovelly:
Many Souths fans have argued that since the Roosters have changed their name to the Sydney Roosters then it is a completely different area that they cover – an argument alluded to in the council statement which says:
“…and even the name of the Roosters was changed from Easts to Sydney City reflecting a different area.”
The statement – while technically being wrong in that the Roosters changed its name again to the “Sydney Roosters” – argues the name change reflects a different jurisdiction that the Roosters now represent i.e. the Sydney CBD.
However, given the name is the Sydney Roosters, and going by that argument, then the Roosters represent the whole of Sydney and should have flags stretching from Bondi to Bankstown.
The club was founded in 1908 in Paddington, Sydney, under the name Eastern Suburbs; in 1995 the name was changed to the Sydney City Roosters and, in 2000, to simply the Sydney Roosters.
When the club won the premiership in 2002, despite being named the Sydney Roosters the team returned to celebrate at a place called “Easts Leagues Club” located in Spring Street, Bondi Junction — which further confirms that the club still identifies with the eastern suburbs name. In addition, following the recent win against the Eels the club’s victory song blared through the speakers at Allianz Stadium, a song which features the following lyrics that further back up the club’s claim to the eastern suburbs:
“Here come the Roosters, the best you’ve ever seen. The red, white and bluesters, the eastern suburbs team.”
Finally, the Roosters are the only club to play anywhere near the areas where the flags were erected, playing home games at Allianz Stadium at Moore Park.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs train at Redfern Oval and play all their games at ANZ Stadium in Homebush, more than 20km west of Randwick City Council’s offices in Frances Street, Randwick.
The council did not respond to a question asking for their opinion on whether the South Sydney Rabbitohs should change their name to something that reflects the area in which they actually play: the Homebush Rabbitohs.
Eastern Suburbs Junior Rugby League Clubs dating back to 1908
26 Rounds brought to the council’s attention the allegiance of the Clovelly Crocodiles, an Eastern Suburbs Junior Rugby League Club, following the banners being flown in Clovelly and the statement issued by the council which said:
Many of the Clovelly and Bondi junior rugby league teams play in the Souths Juniors Competition.
While the Crocodiles do play in the Souths Juniors competition – as do the Paddington Tigers, Bondi United and St Charles – the club has been an Eastern Suburbs club since inception. 26 Rounds sent the spokesperson an image from the club’s website which clearly says “GO THE ROOSTERS” in large font at the bottom.
Further, the clubs mentioned above are all recognised as Roosters junior clubs on the Roosters’ website here.
Several other clubs were also formed as Sydney Roosters clubs but have since either folded or become affiliated with the Souths Juniors competition following the redrawing of junior league boundaries in the 1950’s due to the “industrialisation and depopulation” of traditional South Sydney areas including Redfern and Waterloo:
Paddington (Paddo) Colts (became affiliated with South Sydney shortly before folding); Coogee Dolphins (formed under the auspices of the Eastern Suburbs Junior League but now affiliated with the South Sydney League); Dunbar United (Paddington); Nelson Sharks (Bondi Junction) – known as Denison Devils from 1958-1982; East Randwick; Rose Bay Rams; Woolloomooloo Warriors; Brothers (combined Eastern Subs Catholic Club & Marcellin College, located on Alison Rd, Randwick); Paddington CYO; Brighton Hotel Jets (Darlinghurst); Coogee Bay Hotel; Astra Hotel Knights (Bondi); Bondi Royals; Bondi Sharks; and Waverley Waratah.