Marquee games. There is nothing better in sport – apparently.
Easter Monday is a great day for sport, the Stawell Gift is beamed to televisions around Australia, which gives me a chance to reminisce about the times spent growing up in not only such a great town, but the time I spent at Central Park watching the Redlegs train and play. The fact a close personal friend has won at Stawell has added to the love I have the place.
Forgive me, I’m getting off topic.
The AFL have also decided that Easter Monday means that fans need to have another Hawthorn and Geelong clash rammed down their throat every year, a decision based on the fact that the sides have had a few great Grand Final clashes across the years.
Monday was a great game, but let’s face facts. This game is only great while these two teams are and begs the question of what is going to happen when these teams fall off the radar?
Let’s take a look at the marquee games the AFL have thrust upon us (again) this year and see if they are worthy of the spots they are given:
- Richmond V Carlton – Season opener. Two historically successful clubs who have both struggled to make an impact this millennium. Marquee rating – 2/5.
- Hawthorn V Geelong – Easter Monday – Good while the going is good. Marquee rating – 3/5.
- Melbourne V Richmond – ANZAC Day Eve – Dear AFL, when a team has only won 51 games in the last ten full seasons they don’t deserve a marquee game (let alone two), Friday night games or anything else. At least this game is a near-lock to be an upset every year. Marquee rating 0.5/5.
- Essendon V Collingwood – ANZAC Day – Don’t let Essendon and Collingwood administrators fool you, the sport could survive without this game. Marquee rating 2.5/5.
- Melbourne V Collingwood – Queen’s Birthday – It’s not the 1950’s and Melbourne are no longer broke and don’t need the help. See previous comments about both clubs and marquee games. Marquee rating – 1.5/5.
The AFL struggle with the concept of moving with the times. All of the equalisation measures that they have tried have failed desperately, and favouring clubs in the fixture list is intensifying the problem, not offering a reasonable solution.
If we must have a marquee game, have the two Grand Finalists (but do not call it a Grand Final replay, as that implies the winner gets the cup) on Easter Monday at the home ground of the winner of the previous season’s decider. Not only does that get fans excited for another year of football but it provides the opportunity to see the two best teams in the league have a shot at each other early in the season.
The game must continue to evolve if it wants to retain the status it has as the most popular league in Australia. Fixing the draw would be a great place to start.