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Footy abuse sparks calls for Patersons crowd controls
Footy abuse sparks calls for Patersons crowd controls

Geelong chief executive Brian Cook has called for improved crowd control measures at Patersons Stadium, saying Geelong's interchange and medical staff were the targets of constant abuse during the club's match against West Coast on Friday night.

Mr Cook said injured player Tom Hawkins and club doctors were abused by a few fans leaning over the Geelong players' race as Hawkins was taken from the field on a stretcher, having been knocked unconscious in a fall. Most fans were applauding respectfully.

West Coast defender Will Schofield fanned the flames of the debate by tweeting: "West Coast fans are the best in the business... #giveemhell."

Geelong coach Chris Scott labelled the behaviour of some West Coast fans on Friday night "disgraceful" and Patersons Stadium generally as the AFL's worst environment, querying if it was a fit place to bring young children.

Scott complained to security staff during the match about abuse directed at Geelong players and staff.

Mr Cook said yesterday the Cats would not make a formal complaint but he supported Scott's comments. He acknowledged that all AFL venues, including Geelong, had problems with crowd behaviour.

Cook said Patersons Stadium should flash mobile phone numbers on video screens during a match so spectators could report poor crowd behaviour on the spot.

"The turn-off for us is how our staff and players were treated down by the boundary line," he said. "That is where Patersons Stadium may need some extra supervision."

Mr Cook said a Friday night fixture which had big implications for both clubs and some controversial umpiring had contributed to the explosive environment.

Stadium general manager Gavin Taylor ruled out increasing security for the remaining games this season and defended the crowd's behaviour. He said evictions and incidents involving antisocial behaviour had decreased this season.

He urged people to report incidents that concerned them. Fans have been able to SMS issues to 0408 602 464 during matches since the start of last season, but Mr Taylor said there were only two or three complaints each week.

Shadow sport minister Mick Murray said he believed WA fans' behaviour had become worse in recent years. "I think the clubs have got to take strong steps and eliminate what is becoming a bit of a regular occurrence about their fans' behaviour," he said.

Department of Sport and Recreation chief Ron Alexander said he did not believe WA fans were any worse than those elsewhere.

"The great majority of the crowd is pretty decent but every so often in our community we have one, or two or 50 people… who turn up and aren't the best citizens in the world or probably haven't switched the brain on before they start having a crack," he said.

West Coast chairman Alan Cransberg said he believed Patersons Stadium was "absolutely" safe for families.

Dockers chairman Steve Harris agreed.

"What I do think is in Australia and particularly with Aussie Rules football, it's like a Greek tragedy: everyone cheers, everyone boos, everyone gets into it and I think it's generally done in a good spirit," Mr Harris said. "On occasion do people go over the top? I think they do."

WA Football Commission chairman Frank Cooper said the WAFC took a dim view of poor behaviour.

An AFL spokesman said no visiting club had officially complained about Perth crowds this season.