Harley Reid celebrates the Eagles' win with the fans after the match between Waalitj Marawar (West Coast) and Narrm (Melbourne) at Optus Stadium in R10, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

WAALITJ Marawar is regaining its home ground advantage through the early stages of a rebuild, according to coach Adam Simpson, as "new toy" Harley Reid inspires a fanbase that had dwindled in recent seasons. 

The Eagles drew their third crowd this season of 50,000 or more on Sunday as they recorded one of the upsets of the year against premiership contender Narrm, recording a third win from their past four home games. 

EAGLES v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

Reid was central to the performance with a game-high 10 score involvements from his 21 disposals, including two brilliant goals as the 19-year-old electrified the home crowd and outclassed a decorated Demons midfield.  

Simpson said the Eagles were drawing on the energy Reid and his teammates are generating with the home crowd and using it to rediscover their Optus Stadium advantage.

"I think we're getting harder to play against at home, which is always the first step on a rebuild," Simpson said on Sunday night. 

"We're trying to connect with that crowd as much as we can, and I think it's a real advantage. If we get 50,000 rock up, it doesn't matter if it's Harley, or first gamers, or (Jeremy) McGovern, we think it's an advantage.

"We've lost that for a few years and that's on us.

"So we really want to engage our supporters as much as we can, and Harley obviously is the new toy, but he's pretty good to play with."


Simpson said he knew instantly that Reid's goal out of a centre bounce in the opening quarter would "blow up social media" after he burst from the defensive side and took three bounces before converting from just inside 50m. 

The coach said he was trying to remain "even" with his No.1 Draft pick, who was enjoying playing with his new teammates and playing to win. 

"It just looked like he had fun tonight, and that's our goal for him – to enjoy being an AFL player," Simpson said.  

"When he's enjoying the game for what it is and playing to his strengths then we're all happy, and if he plays well we'd take that, but if he doesn't, then that's okay too."


Opposition coach Simon Goodwin was full of praise for the young star and conceded his team didn't handle the 19-year-old as well as they wanted in a costly defeat that saw them slide from fourth to seventh. 

"He's an incredibly exciting player and I can understand why there's so such hype around him. He's a high-quality player," Goodwin said. 

"His ability to impact stoppage, especially at centre bounce, and then go forward and have an impact forward of centre was significant in the game. He's a high-quality player and he's only going to get better.

"We had some plans in terms of what we wanted to do with him, but once you put him in space in a stoppage situation he's incredibly talented, he's quick, he's powerful, and he gets the ball out into space. He's someone that we didn't handle well today." 


Goodwin was scathing on the Demons' overall performance, paying credit to the Eagles before lamenting that his team had been beaten in every phase and was "just not where you want to be as a team".

The Demons lost the inside 50s (57-36) and were forced to play the game in their defensive half for long periods, allowing Waalitj Marawar to control possession with marks (111-60) and then succumbing to the home team's pressure when they did have possession.


"We're really clear on the type of team we are. And I've said it for a number of years about what we stand for as a footy club. And we're nowhere near that today," Goodwin said.  

"That's why you lose pretty convincingly, and we've got work to do – players, coaches, everyone – to get the game looking the right way for us, and then try and become the team that we want to be. That can take time. 

"There's going to be times in a season where you have periods where you're not playing your best footy, but it gives you an opportunity to grow, gives you opportunity to try things and learn things about your team and your personnel and find a way to be a better team. That's where we're at. 

"We're not happy with where we sit today. That was a really, really poor performance and we'll go away address it. We'll find a path forward, we'll have optimism. We'll look at opportunity and come out a better side down the road and that's our challenge."