Darley takes the right steps for reputation

IT MIGHT seem odd to say after a tumultuous month that has seen Darley in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, but the Devils deserve a pat on the back.

Racial abuse, two behind-the-play incidents that left opponents with broken bones, altercations between players and supporters – it has been a month the Devils would love to forget.

But to forget it would be wrong, to forget would be seen to be sweeping everything under the carpet.

Darley celebrates after last year’s elimination final win.

Darley celebrates after last year’s elimination final win.

Instead, the club has tackled its issues head on and this could not have been more evident than on Saturday.

Club president Grant Wright had spoken to all the playing groups individually to outline what was expected from the club.

The supporters knew in no uncertain terms that if they played up, they would be out the door.

Wright knows his supporters are different to most others within the Ballarat Football League.

They are not afraid to have their voices heard and are happy to adopt the tag as the “Collingwood of the BFL”, making Darley Park arguably the most intimidating oval for away sides to visit in the league.

They were there in full numbers on Saturday and what was required of them could not have been more evident.

Signs outlining the code of conduct have been installed around the ground, making it clear any form of abuse, foul language and drunken or unruly behaviour simply would not be tolerated.

There are good people at the Darley Football Club, people who want to see a bright light shine on the often-maligned club.

Sadly, these people and the majority of the club have been severely let down by a handful of incidents that have caused great damage to the perception of the club.

Let’s not shy away from the fact and bury our heads in the sand – the incidents were nasty.

A police investigation into an on-field alleged assault cannot be ignored and, without going into details, the tirade of racial abuse hurled at Aboriginal elder Ted Lovett was disgusting, to say the least.

Wright knows the buck stops with him as president, but he is desperate to see things change.

The Darley Football Club is his life.

The right steps are being taken, it cannot be doubted, and Saturday was a great day for the Devils as a whole.

Let’s just hope there is no relapse on the horizon.

patrick.nolan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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