Heath Moore is a writer on the NZ Herald and has spent the last few weeks following the Lions fans around the country on their crusade to support their team.
He thinks that the All Black fans could learn something from their attitude –
Herald reporter Heath Moore is spending five weeks in a Maui campervan following the Lions fans.
Recycling bins were full to the brim. Empty Steinlager, Tuatara and Lion Red bottles were left to collect dew as the night wore on. The aftermath of the second test was apparent in the campsites. Lions fans had drunk the town dry.
They sung their hearts out through into the wee smalls after a famous victory over the All Blacks. The next morning some fans emerged from their campervans with a wry smile and alcohol-infused breath. They were ecstatic, joyous, and humble.
After living in the Lions’ den for five weeks I feel somewhat disillusioned with how New Zealanders support our sporting sides. When the All Blacks drop a game it feels as if the country sweeps into a frenzy of panic. Fans call for a raft of personal changes and demand our sides wipe the floor of any opposition who step in our way. We get personal and ugly.
I enjoy the fact Kiwis don’t accept mediocrity on the field but when it comes to loyalty we swiftly jump off the bandwagon at any sign of failure. Look no further than the Blues and Warriors. When the All Blacks lost the second test there were sour faces among the Kiwi fans. The friendly banter that had been so prevalent during the series swiftly disappeared.
In contrast Lions fans support their team like it’s their last day on earth. After a less than convincing tour down under you’d forgive their fans for calling it a day. But they haven’t. What has remained consistent is their passion and pride, their commitment and patriotism. But equally, the joyous faces and quirky chants have remained on show even after losses to the Blues, Highlanders and All Blacks.
We were in NZ in 2005 and the All Black fans were generous and great company – but then they were winning at a canter. Maybe Heath has a point.