Sport AFL It’s time for the AFL to leave the grand final alone

It’s time for the AFL to leave the grand final alone

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You’ve got to love the AFL, an organisation that can wipe out 118 years of history, four rounds into the season, at a Commission meeting.

That’s what league honchos did on Tuesday, over tea and Granitas, when it was announced the grand final replay would be scrapped – effective immediately.

Instead, extra time will be played – two five-minute halves, plus time on – and, in the highly unlikely event that fails to produce a winner, then golden point: first score, of any value, wins.

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It makes sense, but surely the league owes its clubs, players and fans a bit more consultation.

They did some – a survey of 20,000 fans on the league’s website showed 70 per cent were in favour of the move.

But, if we may be so bold, a web-only survey of visitors to the official AFL webpage may not be the best place to get the thoughts of dyed-in-the-wool, pie-in-the-outer-with-a-transistor-radio types – the very species to whom this sort of tradition resonates.

It was also reported that AFL players were in favour of the change, although The New Daily’s attempts to contact the Players’ Association to ascertain how that research was carried out has not yielded any answers.

So, what if next year, four rounds in, journalists are summoned to an equally serious-sounding press event at AFL House, only to be told that in 2017 there would be a twilight or night Grand Final?

The last drawn grand final was in 2010, when Collingwood and St Kilda tied. The Magpies easily won the rematch. Photo: Getty
The last drawn grand final was in 2010, when Collingwood and St Kilda tied. The Magpies easily won the rematch. Photo: Getty

AFL Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick is adamant the league does not alter rules or scheduling on a whim.

“We don’t make change lightly in our game – we respect its uniqueness and traditions,” Fitzpatrick said.

“We are confident this decision reflects the views of the majority of clubs, the majority of players and the majority of fans.”

Well, Mike, listen up and listen good – here are some things about the Grand Final you absolutely shouldn’t be messing with.

No night grand final

Frankly, we don’t give a stuff about TV ratings, or setting the scene for a pre-game fireworks display. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

A 2:30pm bounce down on a Saturday was, is, and should always be when the biggest game in footy kicks off.

Always at the ‘G

No, it’s not exactly fair that in each of the past two years Sydney and West Coast have been forced to play a Grand Final at their opponent’s home ground, despite finishing higher than them on the ladder.

But the MCG is the home of footy, and as the country’s biggest and best venue, so it should be.

No half-time show

Not seen since 2012, when The Temper Trap performed at half-time of Sydney’s win over the Hawks, the half-time show should remain a thing reserved for American sport and the NFL. The AFL did the right thing in refusing to bring it back.

Pre-game? Fine, we’ll deal with it. Post-game? No problems. But the only show we care about between 2:30 and 5:10 on grand final day is the one involving 44 blokes and a Sherrin.

Keep the double loading

The double loading for suspensions in the grand final should always stay, lest we go back to the bad old days of sniping at the first bounce with teams looking to target the opposition’s best.

The prospect of missing half the season should you step over the line is a great way to keep players’ eyes well and truly on the ball.

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