It’s been a lot of fun and all that, and thanks for making the game rich and not sacking any clubs and introducing us to the joy of watching the Giants, but your job is not done.
Here is a back-of-the-envelope list of what we want fixed before you stuff your payout in your AFL-approved backpack and head for corporate pastures.
Get a dictionary, look up tanking and fix it
If your SNAFU on James Hird’s pay was your biggest blunder, then tanking came a close second. In the end, you were the only football follower in the country who did not believe in it. That makes you more stubborn than Kevin Bartlett. The result of this ostrich syndrome was that Melbourne ham-fistedly blundered into the trap and had to be punished – but not, of course, for tanking. Any follower of a bottom team can tell you that barracking for your team to lose in pursuit of draft picks is a soul destroying experience and a blight on the game. You need to see the error of your ways and give all matches meaning – and integrity – by changing the rules. A lottery for draft picks among the lower placed clubs, or determining the draft order earlier, such as after each team has played each other once, are ideas worth considering.
Keep fighting the coaches
Didn’t they bleat when you took away one of their interchange players last year? It was going to be the end of the world as we knew it. If the coaches had their way, there would be 25 on the interchange bench and 10 minute quarters. In fact, removal of one interchange player last season improved the game ever so slightly. Funny that, but it keeps the good players on the ground longer. And why shouldn’t battling exhaustion be part of the action? As a former teammate of Wayne Schimmelbusch, surely you enjoyed watching him dig deep in the last quarter as much as the punters? Go the next step, Andrew. Make it two interchange and two subs and let the fun begin.
We know you are a fellow traveller on this issue. We might be a little obsessed, but we have yet to hear a convincing argument as to why Australian football is the only sport in the known universe that allows non-combatants to run around the field of play. As you know, they are unsightly, unnecessary and annoying. Worse, they get in the road in what constitutes a form of low-level, sanctioned cheating. Make them pay for a ticket like everybody else – although the coaches won’t be happy.
Don’t bounce the bounce
Whenever we despaired at the direction in which you were taking the game, we remembered your affection for the bounce and were reminded of your basic humanity. Ah, the glorious, unpredictable, idiosyncratic bounce. How to protect it after you are gone? Get Tony Abbott to enshrine it in legislation, just like John Howard passed special laws to protect Bradman’s name from commercial predators.
Battle the bulge
No, that is not a personal observation, although we could not help noticing that you’re not exactly at your playing weight these days. Notwithstanding that Mike Fitpatrick says you are the conscience of the game, we’re not naïve enough to imagine you will turn down big bucks from peddlers of booze and junk food. But why is it that the smallest serve of Coca-Cola at many AFL venues is 600 mls? That’s almost twice the size of the largest soft drink cans your Mum and Dad used to sell in the family fish and chip shop in Coburg. If you can create miracles (a team in Sydney’s west, footy at the Adelaide Oval, peace with Essendon), then surely you can get the sponsor to downsize the product so that kids treated to a softie at the football do not end up pouring 600 mls of sugar down their gullets. It can be done.
Slay the gambling giant
Actually, forget it. No one can defeat that juggernaut, not even Andrew the Impaler. When Tim Lane is spruiking the odds on radio, you know the game is up. Just promise, please, that you will never employ Samuel L Jackson or Tom Waterhouse as children’s ambassadors.
There. That should be enough to keep you going for a few months.
Yours in footy,