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Sorry, Nathan Buckley, But Collingwood Fans Probably Would Have Booed Louder

It should be okay to boo. That’s footy. That’s live sport. You just got to know when the time is right.

Today the footy world is in an uproar. Why? In the wake of an emotional, controversy-filled, down-to-the-wire Anzac Day clash between Essendon and Collingwood, "shameful" Bombers fans unleashed a torrent of boos at Magpies skipper Scott Pendlebury as he was awarded the Anzac Day Medal, after Collingwood dramatically secured a four-point win.

"Shame on anyone that booed a champion," Magpies coach Nathan Buckley told the crowd.

But now that the dust has settled at the MCG, let’s just all take a deep breath and mull over this little ‘what-if’ for a second.

If the footy boot was on the other foot and Essendon had won, and Essendon had the run of the green with the umpires, and Essendon’s Joe Daniher had won the medal as best afield, do we all really believe the 50,000+ Collingwood supporters in the crowd would have, as one, zipped their collective mouths and sat there in respectful silence, graceful in defeat, the moment the final siren sounded?

I don’t mean to turn on my own and rain on the parade, but cooooome on, people, let’s be real.

It’s fair to say Pies supporters, like the Bombers fans on Thursday, would have also been a wee bit miffed had they just rode the highs and lows but fallen short in the biggest home and away game of the season.

Bombers fans booed Scott Pendlebury, but if the shoe was on the other foot, Pies fans would've done the same. (Image: AAP)

Pies supporters can match it with the very best in the booing stakes. I know, I’ve been there and -- hand in the air -- been one of them. Everyone who doesn’t wear black and white on their sleeves can attest to that. And, Pies fans, yes I’m talking to you... we, as the supposed “toothless, feral, bogan” supporters we’re traditionally billed as (but at the same time weirdly revel in), can’t say we wouldn’t have let Daniher and his cohorts have it if, indeed, the shoe was on the other foot.

READ MORE: Thirty Essendon Fans Sick, Four Hospitalised, After $725 MCG Lunch

READ MORE: Why Fans Who Boo Should Be Booed

Because as AFL supporters, booing and expressing our angst from the bleachers is part of the caper. We’re exposed to this unsavoury yet surprisingly relieving sound from a very early age. If you’re my father’s age, you would have tested your vocal chords in theatres like Victoria Park, Kardinia Park, Princes Park, Waverley and alike, where you’d be so close to the action players would hear and feel the full force of your frustrations. If you’re my age, you would have seen your old man do it and think it was okay to do it too.

Booing is and always will be part of the game. (Image: AAP)

Have we been hiding under rocks or in the crevasse of our own backsides all this time and discovered the act of booing only now? Frankly, we need to get a grip. It’s nothing new and we’re all guilty of pouting our lips and letting a few slip, regardless of whether the player, umpire or opposition fan in your firing line deserved it or not.

The stakes are always high on Anzac Day and Thursday’s epic was no different. It was tense and finals-like, and played at fever-pitch for the entire 120-ish minutes. And most -- if not all -- of this was felt in the stands as well.

Because footy is a sport. Sport is theatre.

We supporters ride every bump, every high, every low, every thrilling moment as much as those who take the field. We are on the edge of our seats and should be forgiven for going over the edge a little bit when things don’t go our way.

Just think: how can you throw the build up, the history, the rivalry, the ebb and flows of the game, the controversy, the thrills and spills all on top of one another and expect 92,241 people in one stadium to just... stop?

I don't believe Pendlebury himself was in the firing line. (Image: AAP)

I’m not, for a second, condoning what Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury copped while accepting his third Anzac Day medal in the post-match ceremony.

To be fair to the Bombers fans (and as much as it curdles my bloodstream), I don’t believe Pendlebury was in the firing line. And any talk that section of the crowd was disrespecting Anzac Day can get in the bin. Emotions ran high and boiled over.

I wish that Pendlebury and the man who came to his aid, coach Buckley, could have had the same deafening silence respectfully and rightly afforded to the servicemen and women and drummers and bugler in the always moving pre-game ceremony.

But I know as well as the rest of you that that was never going to happen.

While we’re at it, I wish Adam Goodes had been afforded this same level of outcry when his career was, game by game, cut short in front of our own eyes.

As we all know, that never happened.

Booing should never have a place in those moments in time nor should it rear its ugly head each and every time the champions pick up a footy.

But it does. It’s always been part of the game and, it seems, isn’t going away any time soon.

I wish Adam Goodes had been afforded this same level of outcry when his career was, game by game, cut short in front of our own eyes. (Image: AAP)

So how do we deal with it? Know when the time’s right and use it in the right spirit.

Otherwise we’ll see another great of the game be booed off stage again, and then we would really have something to talk about.