GREAT Western players and officials have copped backlash on social media in the days following a 509-point annihilation of Ararat Eagles.
The Lions players and officials are the target of outspoken social media commentators, who have questioned their morals. Some in the footballing community say the Lions should have "went easy" on their opposition.
Coach Will Bell said he felt the club and team were being treated unfairly by some parties.
"There has been some support - our club and our people are pretty happy with how things are going at the club regardless of the win at the weekend," he said.
"Breaking records wasn't something we went out to achieve on the day. We went out to do what we do every weekend and play a game of football.
"There was no expectation of kicking the score we did, it was just the way the game ended up."
Bell said the score was more of a reflection of where the Ararat Eagles are at, at this stage of the season.
"The poor guys are depleted," he said.
"They've gone through all season doubling up games. You could just tell the aftermath of playing 13 rounds of football has caught up with them and they looked super tired out there.
"By half time they were just done. I noticed that, and knew that, going into the game. That's why I rested six senior players."
Bell said during selection before the game he chose some junior players to step up and play to even up the competition.
"Even that wasn't good enough in the end. It just got really, really ugly," he said.
"By all reports - there was a great respect out on the field and between the supporters and the clubs.
"There was no malice in the game. Both teams just went out and played football to the best of its abilities. Obviously we have some pretty good talent at the moment and with the Eagles being so tired it just made the game go one way so much easier."
Social media trolls was an issue Bell said he wasn't happy with.
"There's been people ripping into the football club saying it was unfair and we should of made things a bit better for the Eagles," he said.
"The Eagles are struggling there is no doubt about that. We tried to help with all the little things.
"We did a lot. We gave six to eight players in the reserves game to fill in for the day.
"We ran the boundary umpiring for them - they had no one turn up to do that role on the day.
"In the seniors as soon as they took off a player we took one off to even up the game and the numbers on the field. We tried everything we could do within the rules and guidelines of football."
Bell said every week, regardless of the opposition, the expectation is for him to coach to the best of his ability and he expects his players to play to the best of their abilities.
"We go out there to play football every week to try and beat every team as hard as we can," he said.
"The trolls have made the win a bit of a dampener. As a season goes, we set out to win 10 games this season and we achieved that on Saturday.
"It was a really great goal for our group who has come out of recess and has been struggling in recent years."
In 2017, Ararat Eagles defeated Great Western in round 15, 10.6 (66) to 6.9 (45).
"That game was only two years ago," Bell said.
"It's turned around pretty quickly and player numbers are the biggest issue at the Eagles and in country football.
"The biggest thing I got out of Saturday is how bad country football is at the moment and how large the gap is between teams which are struggling and teams which are travelling along OK.
"I hope AFL Victoria has taken notice of the scores and can see there is a problem with junior football in our region and hopefully some money and resources can be put into the sport in the region."
WHEN THINGS GET PERSONAL
Social media and online trolls aren't the only way people are expressing their opinions on Great Western.
Club football operations manager Matthew Delzotto said he received a phone call to his home number on Sunday evening.
"The phone call was from an anonymous source," he said.
"They asked me if I thought the game was a cakewalk and started talking in a negative way about the club.
"They didn't respond when I asked who they were. They didn't ask for me personally but obviously knew who they were calling."
Delzotto said he remembers when the Lions first joined the Mininera League in 2012 and the average losing margin was about 170 points.
"I'll never forget a game in that season when Tatyoon beat us in front of our home crowd, 300 to zero," he said.
"Coming from the other side - I don't think the expectation from the losing team would be for the winning team to stop because they are really good.
"It was really disheartening to lose by that much, don't get me wrong. It would have been more disheartening had we known the opposition had stopped playing and we still lost by that margin.
"We didn't even score, or look like it. Ararat was able to put a score on during last week's game."
Delzotto said it was a credit to the Ararat Eagles and the proud people involved in the club to turn up every week.
"They don't have a lot of people in terms of volunteers, but they obviously have some people who are really invested in the club," he said.
"If they didn't, it wouldn't be a club.
"I would think if they were asked if they wanted teams to go easy on them for the rest of the year I am pretty certain they would say no."
Delzotto said knowing the intent of the club, he was astonished at the amount of backlash.
"Our intent is to win football games and to play finals," he said.
"We are sitting third on the ladder and we need to gain momentum going into the finals series.
"If we are awarded the opportunity to play finals it would be the first time since 2001 the club has played finals."
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