While Manly supporters are deserting their high-flying Sea Eagles in droves, Jason Ryan travels 6500km from his hometown to Brookvale Oval for every home game — sometimes in one day.
Meet the Manly super fan who has forked out $30,000 over the past two years to support his beloved Sea Eagles.
Jason Ryan travels the 6500km round trip from his hometown of Perth to Brookvale Oval for every home game — sometimes in one day.
Ryan, 48, grew up on Norfolk Island where, like most places outside Sydney’s northern beaches, the majority of residents disliked Manly. So he decided to be different and has been a passionate fan ever since.
Last year, Ryan flew in from Western Australia for all 10 Brookie home games and plans to attend all eight this season.
Airfares can be up to $1400 return, then there is the accommodation at the Novotel on Manly Beach.
He pays $900 for a season ticket in the Jane Try Stand but often upgrades into the Mitsubishi Lounge for an additional $250. There’s also the taxi fares from Mascot to Manly.
Ryan will often fly in on game day and catch the red-eye home — that’s 10 hours in the air in a day. He even travelled to Sydney for Manly’s season launch.
“The flight over is good, the flight home can be a bit of struggle, especially if we get beaten,” Ryan said.
“Five hours seems like 10.”
We went in search of ardent Manly fans at Brookvale Oval for Sunday afternoon’s clash with Parramatta, after revealing on Friday how the Sea Eagles had 150,000 fewer fans through the gates than a decade ago.
Manly fans who live near Brookvale have long been criticised for not attending games. Ryan should be their inspiration.
“It costs me quite a bit,” said Ryan, who works for Virgin at Perth Airport.
“But I just love Manly, that’s what it’s all about. I love the joint. This is the place.
“Brookvale, it’s magic, absolutely magic. This is my happy place. What isn’t there to like about Brookvale, especially on a Sunday afternoon when the sun is out. It’s the best place to be.”
Asked did his mates think he was mad for travelling such long distances to cheer his team, Ryan said: “A lot of people do. Each to their own.
“It’s got that Manly feel back again. It’s starting to feel home again. Manly is Manly, there is a certain feel about it.”
Ryan’s dedication has been rewarded as he’s now got to know the players he travels 6500km to watch
Ryan has been travelling to Brookvale for each game over the past three years. In the previous four or five years, Ryan would come to Brookvale but not regularly.
“Growing up on Norfolk Island, everyone hated Manly so I thought someone has to support them. I have supported them ever since I was five, six years old,” he said.
“I went to Perth because a mate was working in the mines so I went across there to help him out for a few weeks and stayed in WA ever since. That was 26 years ago.”
Ryan’s wife, Belinda, is a mad Souths fan.
“Half the house is green, the other half in maroon,” he said.
“I’m waiting for her to go away so I can change the green to maroon.”
Manly media manager Wayne Cousins said: “Jason is part of the Sea Eagles family.”