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West Coast Eagles
West Coast Eagles
The football equivalent of McDonalds.
Most AFL clubs have a lot of cultural character that comes from a combination of their history, mascots, suburban associations or stereotypes of their fans. Paradoxically, the West Coast Eagles are somewhat unique in that the club is extremely generic. Without the character that comes from a unique breed of supporter, an association with a city or suburb or even a left-field mascot, the West Coast Eagles are little more than a financial behemoth that could best be described as the football equivalent of McDonalds.
The generic nature of the Eagles can be traced to their establishment in 1987 by Indian Pacific Limited, which had been a publicly listed company of the Australian Stock Exchange. In the 1970s, various stakeholders in the WAFL, SANFL and VFL had discussed the possibility of a national competition comprising the best teams from each state league. The national league never came to fruition because the VFL teams closed ranks and simply stated their league was the best and the teams from the other leagues should pay a license fee to enter the VFL. Naturally, WAFL and SANFL clubs with nearly 100 years of tradition declined the invitation. It was left to an assortment of corporate investors driven by a profit motive to give the Victorian clubs what the WAFL refused to do.
As neither the WAFL nor the Perth clubs were involved in the establishment of the Perth club, Indian Pacific Limited took a path of being as non-offensive as possible in order to appeal to football fans in Perth. In short, they identified that their unique selling position over WAFL clubs would be a higher standard of player. To prevent any competition based on suburban or even city identity, they chose “West Coast” for the name. Admittedly, their marketing department said it was because the club wanted to represent everyone in Western Australia, not just Perth, but almost all Western Australians lived in Perth anyway. The choice of an Eagle was another safe option for a league that already had plenty of birds.
Admittedly, the club tried to get a tiny bit of character with a theme song that included the anti-Victorian verses of
Referencing the "historical injustice" of West Australians choosing to play in the VFL was quite ironic considering that the Eagles had likewise chosen to go east. Unlike past players who were well paid to play in VFL, however, the Eagles were paying a licence fee to the Victorian clubs that was preventing the VFL teams from going bankrupt. (Ironically, part of the reason the VFL clubs were in so much financial difficulty was that they had over spent recruiting players from the WAFL.) Aside from paying the VFL clubs a license fee, the Eagles were paying the Victorian clubs' travel costs to come to Perth but the VFL clubs were not paying the Eagles costs to go to Melbourne. The Eagles looked even more un-wise as they lost $13 million in their first three years and were forced to sell their shares due to likely bankruptcy of their own. Certainly the situation had made the men in the east look wise and the Eagles looked unwise by comparison.
Fortunately, the WAFL bought 75% of the club’s shares and then delisted the club from the stock exchange. The simple change in ownership meant that Eagles ceased losing money by renting its home ground from the WAFL. In short, it just paid money to itself and used the payment as a tax deduction. More good fortune came when West Coast made its first grand final in 1991 and won its first in 1992. Over the subsequent three decades, the Eagles managed to build assets of around 100 million dollars. By 2018, it was also returning around $10 million annually to the WAFL with a profit of around $8 million of its own. Given how profitable being in the Victorian league had become, it lost many of its grudges and dropped the anti-Victorian verses from its victory song.
Aside from lacking an association with a city or suburb to give it an identity, West Coast also lacks a visible fan base to give it character. Because it is not a members owned club, fans are not able to do things like dump chicken manure on the door step as a rallying cry for challenge to the board when the Eagles lose. Nor does the board need to acknowledge and address fan concerns for fear of losing their job. Consequently, West Coast fans are noted for little more than simply turning up to watch football. Perhaps a rare exception has been an ongoing rivalry with Essendon fans that is expressed in the waving of club colours after a win. This rivalry had its origins in 1993 when Essendon beat West Coast on its way to the Grand Final and coach Kevin Sheedy waved his jacket in celebration. The following year Essendon lost to the Eagles and West Coast fans waved their jackets in celebration. Upon their next meeting, Essendon won and their fans waved jackets. In 2004, Kevin Sheedy collapsed in the heat while coaching Essendon in the west. When he came to, he saw thousands of Eagle's fans waving their jackets.
It is really only the players who have given the club some sort for cultural character. Sometime in the new millennium, the players likewise felt that the club was a little boring and so they decided to remedy the situation with a few pick-me-ups. The drugs of choice were cocaine, ice and ketamine. The drugs had an interesting effect on the culture of the club. Players found themselves on police tapes, linked to underworld figures, passing out in all manner of unusual locations, crashing their cars, running from the police, fighting taxi drivers, fighting each other, yet still playing exceptionally well. The aggression, self-confidence, and heightened awareness that the drugs gave them off the field appeared to be transferred onto the field as well.
It was 2005, when the club again made the Grand Final, that the Eagles really started to stir the pot with drug use. Unlike their previous campaigns, which were built on an incredibly boring style of play, the Eagles had flair on the back of a highly creative midfield, and of course, speed. Although the Eagles showed white line fever in the final, their opponent, the Sydney Swans, were able to foil their plans. Although the loss was a blow, the following year, they had another crack at it, and some more transactions later, the Eagles again made the Grand Final. Mid-way through the contest, it appeared as though the Eagles would come up short as they suffered joint injuries to key players. Iced up in the breaks, the players returned to the grass, showed a commitment to the pill, and turned a sniff into a victory. For many, the Eagles' ability to fight back against such adversity was a sign that they had truly passed the acid test.
In the post-match ecstasy, it was slowly revealed that the players had more than hard work to thank for their success. Players started making admissions that when they thought of coke and ice, they weren’t mulling over Hungry Jacks, their proud sponsor. Eventually, Ben Cousins, arguably their best player of the last five years, was suspended for favouring drug use as his preferred form of training. Cousins had been needling the club for a while so to nip his drug use in the bud, the club asked Cousins to take a trip. Unfortunately, it continued paying Cousins the $800,000-a-year salary that he was using to finance his $3,000-a-week habit. Because asking Cousins to leave his gear at home amounted to little more than smack on the wrist, it raised questions about why the club was reluctant to inflict a blow on the revenue streams that maintained Cousins' addiction. Drug use is strictly forbidden in the AFL, and Cousins' admission could have easily been cause for the Eagles to cut him. Perhaps then, the Eagles had known about Cousins' training gear for some time, but for one reason or another, never drew the line in the sand.
Rather than go bush and boil a billy away from distractions, Cousins's took a trip to the US to get himself cleaned up, only to then overdose again. When he returned, the club rehashed an old message about how he should carry himself. Instead of acting like a rock star, the Eagles wanted him to carry on like a Jamaican on valium. Unfortunately, Cousins was a bit of a dope and took the club a bit too literally. On a short trip in his car, Cousins was pulled up by the police drug squad and found with a valium tablet in his possession. For the Eagles, this was the final straw; and Cousins would never again participate in circle work or dance around cones at the Eagles.
To make matters worse for the Eagles, club legend Chris Mainwairing had recently died from heart failure brought on from a misused drug cocktail. While its local rival Fremantle carried the slogan of the purple haze, it had become very obvious that it was the Eagles was a cut above the rest when it came living the high life. While there have been some attempts to weed out the worst offenders, it is only a matter of time before problems mushroom again.
Roy Morgan research
West Coast Eagles supporters are:
2001 when compared to other Australians
2004 when compared to other AFL supporters
2006 when compared to other AFL supporters
Club song west coast eagles theme song
We're the Eagles - West Coast Eagles
Perhaps a Lou Reed song would more appropriate these days.
Essendon Bombers - In 1993, Essendon beat the West Coast and coach Kevin Sheedy waved his jacket in celebration. The following year Essendon lost to the Eagles and West Coast fans waved their jackets in celebration. Upon their next meeting, Essendon won and their fans waved jackets. Some Essendon fan then wrote a song about waving jackets and sticking it to the Eagles. In 2004, Kevin Sheedy collapsed in the heat while coaching Essendon in the west. When he came to, he saw thousands of Eagle's fans waving their jackets. (The jacket is now on display in the medallion club at Melbournes Dockland Stadium.)
Fremantle Dockers - West Coast started in the AFL 8 years earlier, have two premierships and have dominated the Western Derbies.
The Dockers like to portray the Eagles as a silvertail club and themselves as the battlers. The Eagles like to portray the Dockers as perpetual losers with hideous colours and a stupid anchor.
The rivalry was given some real grunt in 2000. In their first clash of the season, West Coast continued its tradition of humilating Fremantle in the western derbies. This time, the margin was a mere 117 points.
In the year's return clash, Fremantle decided that if they couldn't win on the scoreboard, they would win on the casulty count. In all a total of 18 players were reported. Most severely punished was Fremantle best-and-fairest winner Dale Kickett ho was subsequently rubbed out for nine weeks. As for the game itself, Fremantle won by a point.
West Coast Jokes
Whats a similarity between Tasmania and coke?
What did Cousins do after West Coast warned him to stay away from drugs?
Why did West Coast players snort artificial sweetner?
What are the first five words a West Coast player in a three piece tailored suit hears?
Why did West Coast put its players on meth?
Ben Cousins is out walking one fine evening. He finds a poor person on the street and helps him up. The poor person says, "Son, I'm a genie. And since you helped me I'll give you three wishes." Cousins says, "I want a big bag of meth!", the genie says."Okay." POOF, the bag appears! They prepare some thick long white lines and share it between the two of them. The next morning the genie asks "What's the second wish?", "I want two big bags of meth", says Cousins. "Okay," says the genie. POOF! And they prepare it and snort it between the two of them. The next morning the genie asks "And the third wish?" "I want four big bags of meth!" POOOF!! So, they prepare lots of big lines and share it between the two of them. Much later the genie gets up and says, "Okay, it's time for me to go." The genie takes a couple of steps, pauses, turns around and says, "Okay, just one more wish."
What did one West Coast player say to the other when he ran out of weed?
Cousins and Mainwaring are sitting on the porch of their house, tripping on LSD. Suddenly, a firetruck races down the street, flashing its lights and howling its sirens. After it passes, Cousins turns to Mainwairing and says, "Phew! Man, I thought he'd never go away!"
John Worsfold - Tough, no frills backman. Very reliable.
Karl Langdon - Bleached blond hair who evoked mixed feelings. Was called "nearly" because he nearly took marks and nearly kicked goals.
Glen Jackovich - Centre half back who consistently had the better of the Kangaroo's Wayne Carey - who was considered to be the best centre half farward of all time.
Chris Mainwaring - Stoic wingman who always looked like he would prefer to be off surfing rather than playing footy, yet played footy so well. Died from heart failure brought on by misuse of drugs.
Peter Matera - Flashy show poney.
Guy McKenna - Aka the professor. Looked like someone you would find in a chemistry class.
Ben Cousins - A player most fond of the chemistry class.
Why kind of country has four codes of "football"?