HOOLIGANISM in Australian sport does not exist.
Not in cricket, not in rugby league and most certainly not in football.
Incidents such as the one that occurred at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night are not a football problem. Rather, they are a social problem, a disease that reflects our cultural inability to handle our alcohol.
You're likely to see more fights at King Street McDonald's on a Saturday night than you would at a sporting event in Newcastle.
The myth of "hooliganism" in football has been around since the days of the old National Soccer League.
Football supporters are often treated as an alien species in this country. Their "foreign" way of supporting their team is almost feared and the organisation evident in supporter groups is seen as intimidating.
But lighting flares, chanting, showing passion for a united cause and having a good time are not hooliganism.
And random acts of violence are not exclusive to football. We see them at all sporting venues and we see them on the streets.
There is no doubt that grubs doing the wrong thing at football matches should be evicted, banned and shamed.
Football authorities, club security personnel and the police are taking the right path in handing out severe punishments to combat anti-social behaviour.
Yet heavy-handed policing is not the answer and will only further inflame the rare, volatile situations.
Instead, we need a strengthened co-operative approach between police, clubs and fans in order to handle these situations, when they occur, as best as possible and banish this perception of "hooliganism" once and for all.