Manly fans in telling backflip after Des Hasler and Anthony Seibold dramas
Angry Sea Eagles supporters vowed to boycott the club after Des Hasler was sacked - but it appears they've had a change of heart.
Fittingly, Manly waited until Valentine's Day eve to announce fans were again in love with the club. The Sea Eagles' membership drive is 2000 signatures ahead of the figure at the same time last year.
If it keeps tracking north, as expected, it will hit record territory. Season tickets have also sold strongly and merchandise sales are healthy.
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It makes you think someone must have forgotten to hand out invites to the revolution. Those who threatened to walk away from the club in the aftermath to the Des Hasler sacking have either had second thoughts, done a big 180 or forget to opt out of the automatic membership renewal.
For all the anger, emotion and threats at the time, there were no player walk-outs, no fan boycotts…not even a single jumper set on fire. They say goldfish have short memories but rugby league fans give them a good run for their money.
Supporters of all teams are easily placated, at least until we start playing for competition points. Sea Eagles fans have gone from bummed out to buoyant in a few short months, encouraged by coach Anthony Seibold's near seamless entry to the top job, CEO Tony Mestrov's reassuring leadership, Tom Trbojevic's successful return from the US panel beaters and a solid trial win over the Rabbitohs.
It makes a nice change from the vitriol that hit the northern beaches like a southerly change when Hasler was shown the door. I kept some comments from that time, just as a reminder to how toxic it was.
Here are a few samples: "Now Tom (Trbojevic) is speaking to his manager about his future. Apparently not happy with this idiotic decision (to sack Hasler). Just what we needed. A rebuild by Seibold and another rebuild to fix whatever mess he leaves. Very smart business decision," one fan wrote.
Another told us: "Manly is a dictatorship and (Scott) Penn is the dictator. There is no board at Manly anymore, there hasn’t been a board since Penn became majority shareholder. There is only a group of talentless cronies that do whatever Penn wants. Tony Mestrov is the latest stooge to be used up and spat out."
Then there's this bloke, who presumably won’t be watching a Manly game until at least 2026. "50 years I have followed Manly. If Siebold gets the job, I will not support them while he is coach...,"he pledged.
Tony Mestrov speaks out after dramas at Manly
Mestrov is nobody's stooge – in fact, the complete opposite. He's lost friendships over some of the decisions he made, but will always do what's right by the club no matter the personal cost.
"I know how much passion there is for this club because I started out as a fan just like them," Mestrov told Yahoo Sport Australia. "Some tough decisions were made last year and change doesn't come easy, but every decision was made in the club's best interests.
"I'm delighted our fans have responded so strongly in buying memberships and season tickets and we can’t wait to repay that support on the field." As John Paul Young might say, love is in the air at Manly.
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