The licensee and the licensing police also discussed the issue of serving cider at mid-strength bars. The alcoholic content of cider is 3.5 per cent, slightly higher than the 3 per cent of most mid-strength beers.
Bar staff were told they could only serve cider in the five full-strength bars on the western side of the ground, but Sharks Leagues Club CEO Tim McAleer decided to pull the popular drink from all 11 drinks outlets.
McAleer, who has a quarter of a century of experience as a licensee and joined the Sharks in November after a long stint at the nearby Tradies club, said they had complied with all licensing officer requests.
“Thursday night was an incredibly hot night, there was a hot wind blowing and people were quenching their thirst,” McAleer said. “In the view of the license sergeant, he wanted things slowed down. We did our best to comply with that, that’s what happened in a nutshell.
“It’s a local derby and St George fans are passionate about their footy, Sharks fans are passionate about their footy. There was no violence, at no stage during the game was there any incidents of overly aggressive behaviour or confrontations. In a crowd of 14,500, there were three refusals and evictions for intoxication. That’s not a bad record.
“We normally shut the bars 10 or 20 minutes after halftime. We normally go to two drinks after halftime but the licensing sergeant made a judgement call on their assessment of the crowd during the night. We complied with their assessment calls.
“A lot of patrons at the ground disagreed with it. From my point of view, I don’t have to agree or disagree, we just comply. There’s no point arguing with a licensing policeman, you’re better off arguing with your missus. You’ll get the same outcome.”
It remains to be seen whether similar restrictions will apply at Cronulla’s next home game, against Melbourne in round four. Some fans have complained to the club about the clampdown and McAleer has contacted each of them personally to explain the situation. We understand what the licensing police want and we are doing our very best to deliver it."