Manly fans can't be expected to travel Steve Hitstirrer 15:30 AEST Mon Sep 12 2011 Steve Hitstirrer is a well-travelled, sports-hardened, armchair expert, prepared to tear the scab off a whole range of sporting wounds. Love him or hate him, youâ€™ll find indifference is not an option. The NRL should be ashamed of itself. Manly Sea Eagles have had a magnificent season, finishing second to Melbourne Storm on the NRL ladder and guaranteeing themselves a second chance in the finals. They also earned themselves a home final, but in a ridiculous enforcement of a decision endorsed by all NRL clubs at the beginning of the year, Manly were forced to play their home final at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night. To understand the imposition this home game relocation represents, you have to know that the heart of Manly territory lies on the Northern Beaches. This affluent peninsula is located to the north of Sydney, and is isolated by both water and self-importance. One of Sydney's powerhouse clubs, which regularly packs out its state-of-the-art suburban ground with 18,000 patrons, could only manage a paltry 12,592 fans to watch them dismantle North Queensland Cowboys. Sea Eagles fans will tell you they are the most passionate in the land, but to get them to travel, you'd have to tell them a tsunami was heading their way â€“ even then they'd want to hang around to see if they ended up with a waterfront property. For these extremely passionate fans to attend the preliminary final against the Cowboys at the SFS, meant undertaking an arduous 20km drive along some of the most congested and difficult roads in the world. So tough is that journey that prior to the game Manly officials called on the NRL to provide buses to ferry the faithful â€“ the NRL turned them down and the buses never arrived. Manly chairman Scott Penn was so disappointed; he called for an immediate review of the NRL finals system. He rightly blamed the fact Manly were playing an out of town club for the appalling attendance. "We had two bays at the SFS which were filled to capacity, but the Cowboys also had two bays and there was only a couple of hundred people in there," Penn explained. It seems Cowboys fans just couldn't be bothered making the 2,091km drive to the ground and their non-attendance really hurt the bottom line for Manly. The NRL's reasoning behind shifting finals from suburban grounds is that no fan should miss out on a ticket to such a big match. Clearly in this instance they have overestimated by a long way the desire of Manly fans to buy those tickets. When playing a team which won't provide at least half of the crowd, Manly's pulling power may just peak at the 18,000 capacity Brookvale accommodates. Wests Tigers will play New Zealand Warriors this Friday night at the same 40,000 capacity SFS. Tigers' fans are being asked to travel from as far away as Campbelltown, some 56km to the south west. New Zealand fans not living in Bondi face a three hour flight across the ditch. Surely the NRL faces the same embarrassment this week. Surely the match should be moved to the 18,000 capacity Leichhardt Oval. Or maybe, just maybe, Tigers fans will show a bit more heart when it comes to getting behind their team, no matter where they are playing. -------------------------------------------------------- Sorry Dan for posting this here but I tried to submit it via submit article area but it wouldn't work.