Footy is… back
People have aged since it began but Round 1 of the AFL season is now over and the AFL were spruiking on Twitter how it was the third highest attendance to an opening round ever. Well I would say that’s disappointing, not something to be celebrating, given there are now 9 games per round up from 8 in previous years. Anyway the more comparable statistic is average attendance per match which for Round 1, 2013 was 40,562 down slightly from last year’s 40,866. Where does this place 2013 compared to opening round average attendance over the past 10 years? 6th. Yep, well short of the high of 45,568 in 2007.
Mature aged recruits: Nic Kommer (22, Essendon via East Perth), Matt Jones (25, Melbourne via Box Hill) Sam Dwyer (26, Collingwood via Port Melbourne), Brett Goodes (29, Western Bulldogs via Williamstown)
It was good to see smart recruiting on show in the first round with established players drafted form the state leagues having an impact. Jones and Goodes even made it into their team’s best so I will give the final word to 29 year old Brett Goodes when asked if clubs had made a mistake overlooking him in recent years:
”Yes. Look, I think I was probably ready at the age of maybe 22 or 23.
Food for thought for recruiters.
According to The Age
But the AFL chief executive [Andrew Demetriou] was adamant there would be no change of playing a game on Good Friday, as the league did not want to impinge on the Royal Children’s Hospital Appeal.
This one has got me beat. What’s next? No games on Mother’s Day so as not to impinge on the Mothers Day Classic raising money for Breast Cancer Research? No games on Run for the Kids day so as not to impinge on those charitable efforts? The AFL & in particular Demetriou will happily lock horns with pretty much anyone over anything (WADA, ASADA, the MCC, Cricket Victoria, Etihad Stadium management, TV networks, their own clubs) yet they cede to a charity.
I stand by my earlier statement that the Royal Children’s Hospital pays part of Demetriou’s salary.
Melbourne Football Club – the whole operation & continued existence of this entity is a lowlight.
New Etihad stadium boss, Paul Sergeant, an Englishman who previously ran Wembley and Millennium Stadium in Cardiff wants to introduce countdown clocks to Etihad.
“You have to change with the times because there are also thousands and thousands of people who want to know how long there is to go. And as time is going by there’s going to be more of those people than the other people.”
“It’ a very emotive subject. We went through it in [English] football years ago, but now everybody’s used to it. It’s a small point, but I think it can make quite a difference … it’s about keeping the audience informed.”
Having not been able to find anything on the internet about a ground clock revolution in English football I will relate my limited experiences of half a dozen or so premier league games in 2009. In the first half the ground clock would count up to 45:00 minutes then stop, at which time the assistant referee would hold up an electronic board with the minutes of extra time to be added and the ground announcer would say, “ there will be x minutes of added time.” The clock would remain fixed on 45:00 and the minutes of extra time would be played out (without the benefit of a clock running so spectators knew how much play was left) until the referee blew his whistle. Repeat for the second half with the clock starting at 45:00 and stopping dead on 90:00. Not a countdown clock in sight.
I’m only guessing but I’d say 2009 was post time clock revolution so what happened pre revolution – no clocks anywhere n the stadium? Clocks that didn’t keep time? No indication of how many minutes of extra time? Wow things have really changed dramatically no wonder fans were emotive about this subject.
Andrew Demetriou’s talk of spending $150 million turning Punt Rd Oval or Princess Park into the 3rd AFL venue in Melbourne is just that – talk. It’s not going to happen. This is a perennial favourite of the AFL and it goes something like this. Clubs complain about making losses hosting games at Etihad Stadium, The AFL say they can’t do much about the cost of hosting matches until they take ownership of the stadium in 2025 but will investigate a 3rd ‘boutique’ 15,000-20,000 seat stadium in Melbourne, Etihad Stadium management remind the AFL they are contractually obliged to play x number of games at Etihad each year including a quota of “blockbusters” and so the cycle continues – raising it’s head every 4 years or so.
Last time this issue was raised, April 2009, a new stadium in the E- Gate railyards in North Melbourne was proposed and look how far that has progressed – it hasn’t even got a mention this time around.
Let’s now look at some facts: Carlton and Richmond have both in recent years built multi-million dollar training facilities at their respective bases to which the AFL committed $2 million (Richmond) and $3.45 million (Carlton) in 2007. http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/AboutCouncil/Meetings/Lists/CouncilMeetingAgendaItems/Attachments/1267/FGC_511_200711200630.pdf
Presumably these elite training facilities would have to be altered/demolished/removed to build stands for the boutique stadium. Doesn’t sound like great forward planning by the AFL to me. Also Punt Rd Oval has just been reconfigured to have a playing surface the same dimensions as Etihad Stadium and there would now be all of 12 metres from the edge of the playing surface to the road surface of Punt Rd. If the AFL can build a stand in that space well good luck to them.
Buying Etihad 12 years early for $250 million is too expensive for the AFL but redeveloping a boutique stadium for $150 million is fine. So here’s an idea that will cost even less, continue to play games at Etihad and divvy up amongst those clubs who have shitty deals there say $10 million a year until 2025 – that would only cost $130 million. I just saved the AFL $20 million. Amazing.
The VFL started with a bang with an AFL style first weekend of just 2 games. But they were a quality couple of matches with last year’s preliminary finalists doing a docie do and swapping partners to kick off proceedings. The Port Melbourne v Werribee game was actually a rescheduled Round 16 match as both teams need a spare weekend in case they make it through to the grand final of the country’s premier state league competition – the Foxtel Cup. Werribee did a number on Port too, inflicting Port’s biggest loss with Gary Ayres as coach thanks to 11 goals to Ben Warren. Reigning premiers Geelong beat Williamstown in the 3rd annual Easter Sunday clash at Torquay. Maybe Williamstown will be regretting limiting their senior team to having a maximum of 11 Western Bulldogs listed players in this final year of their allignment. Jarrad Grant for example didn’t get a game.
What they should do
Cricket Victoria and the AFL should join forces to build the thing they both say they need.
Cricket Victoria want to turn the Junction Oval into an elite training facility and bring it up to first class standard [Women’s T20 internationals, England A v Victoria List A games have both been played at the Junction this year so I’m not 100% convinced it’s not up to first class standard currently] but don’t have the money to do so after the state government changed and no funding was forthcoming. The AFL want to extend the season to 24 games, start 2-3 weeks earlier in March, use the MCG and have a boutique 3rd stadium in Melbourne and are willing to spend $150 million. The answer is clear to me: Cricket Victoria and the AFL should wor together to build the elite cricket training facility/ first class cricket venue/ boutique 3rd AFL stadium at the Junction Oval.
Primarily this would be a cricket facility given over to football for about 3-4 months of the year. Cricket would control the ground from the start of September through to mid April. Football would have control from mid April through to the end of August – enough time to slot in all those annoying low drawing fixtures perfectly suited for the boutique stadium. The VFL might even want to get involved to use the Junction Oval as a finals venue.
The Vics could split their games between the MCG and the Junction Oval and vacate the G by the start of March clearing the way for an earlier start for football at the MCG. A possible Shield final could be hosted at the Junction Oval (as it was in 2008) and Premier cricket finals could still be played at the venue on the last weekend in March (as was the case this year)
Geographically it makes sense as the Junction Oval is closer to the geographic centre of Melbourne – Glen Iris – than the MCG and Etihad. Plus the Junction Oval is no stranger to football having some history as a VFL venue. It was St Kilda’s home ground up until the 1960’s, then Fitzroy’s home ground for a period in the 1980’s and more recently the training venue for Melbourne.
The redevelopment of the Junction Oval would be sensitive to the aesthetically pleasing aspects of the ground. The scoreboard and the two grandstands on the western or Albert Park Lake side would remain – giving the ground certain ‘boutique’ characteristics that I feel are lacking at bigger, sterile, ‘non-boutique’ venues. [I’m feeling all Kevin McCloud/Grand Designs right now] In fact under the smaller of these two grandstands is where Chris Connolly conducted his famous Vault sessions with the Melbourne FC hierarchy. Chris could take a break from his hectic gardening leave schedule to give guided tours of ‘The Vault’ on match days and detail just how much swearing went on in their each time Melbourne won a game in 2009. But I digress.
The eastern side of the ground could be given over to the requirements of a modern AFL venue but with certain restrictions and bespoke planning [very Kevin McCloud] required to minimise the environmental impact of the stadia. The change rooms would be separated by a communal shower and ice bath area used by both teams. The corporate hospitality suites would be standard seats surrounded by meter high wooden panels and the media centre would be perfunctory with lots of natural light adding to the energy efficiency. There would be no ground announcer or DJ required – any important information would be on the scoreboard. There would also be no music blaring save for the team songs, no live odds, no gambling ads, no Tom Waterhouse wondering how they do it and no interviews with pundits or crowd members during the breaks. People could sit in the stands and discuss the game. Vital information like stats and supercoach points could be found on your smartphone.
This would be the first AFL venue to be completely green friendly & good for you. The ground would not have lights – this is a boutique ground remember and think how much electricity generated by burning brown coal is used to power a set of stadium lights.
There would also be no car parking available at the ground whatsoever or anywhere nearby. Dirty gas guzzling, polluting road vehicles would not be welcome, instead there would be Melbourne’s biggest bicycle rack . This would encourage different groups of society to embrace AFL football ie Hipsters riding down on their fixies and hippies who jump on the bandwagon of anything that is ‘green’. The stadium would also wage war against obesity/ promote healthy living with its no car policy forcing people to ride to the venue or catch public transport – tram, train and bus services are a healthy distance from the venue meaning a brisk and invigorating walk to and from the ground for all non-cycling patrons.
The food sold at the venue would consist solely of UN approved super foods – that means lots of broccoli, cinnamon and quinoa and no meat pies, chips or hot dogs. Also it would be at prices that make your mouth water rather than your eyes. No refreshing multinational beverages of any variety would be available instead there would be a series of fountains around the ground bubbling forth good old tap water and patrons would be encouraged to bring their own re-usable water bottles.
Ticket prices would not be fixed instead you would pay for how much value you think the spectacle of football will be on that given day. [Unfortunately I might have to rethink this idea due to Melbourne potentially playing games at the venue]
And most importantly, you could have a kick on the ground after the final siren!
”Rather than play stupid games seeing who can grow the longest beard, how about train? They are a shambles.”
Wayne Carey on Triple M about Melbourne players