The AFL fumbles the ball

John Bushby Roar Rookie

By , John Bushby is a Roar Rookie

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    Barry Hall of Sydney look dejected after the AFL 2nd Semi Final between the Western Bulldogs and the Sydney Swans at the MCG. GSP Images

    My Irish mate Fitzy, as usual, met me in the pub on Friday night. With the continuing lack of success of his AFL team, he increasingly finds satisfaction in unrelenting criticism of the AFL. So it was another few hours of angry input from my mate that led me to wonder just how deep dissatisfaction runs amongst the true fans, as distinct from the pampered superbox crowd.

    The initial trigger was over the match draw for next season.

    Fitzy contended that not only had the AFL ruined his 2009 season before he had even renewed his membership, but apparently had the hide to admit that the draw favours the top sides of the 2008 season at the expense of the sides battling for success.

    The free to air TV rights have been allocated so that Fitzy’s mob can only be seen on cable, which he can’t afford.

    “What bloody future have we got? An irrelevant draft system designed to feed new teams and nobble my mob from attracting sponsors.”

    I reminded Fitzy that the AFL is in the entertainment business and has the need to maximize income.

    “What happened to the family game? All my family and I want is a fair go, and it isn’t happening.

    Under the current plan of expansion, it wouldn’t surprise to see Sarah Palin approached to become a footy mum and have Alaska play away matches in nearby Russia.”

    His difficulty in bringing his family to night matches at the MCG in the middle of a Melbourne winter, pay exorbitant food prices, and attempt to survive the unsafe train travel home were also emphasized in an angry voice.

    Having settled down over a couple of more beers, he then pondered as to whether his passion would continue as it has for 30 years.

    The relentless change in the rules and the use of the pre-season competition for testing sometimes-bizarre concepts clearly had him confused. He reckoned that the AFL couldn’t help themselves.

    Yearly rule changes are the norm.

    Just as I began to think we could have a quiet beer, the TV came on with the hybrid Australia V Ireland series.

    Fitzy quickly became animated and, much to my surprise, barracked with a fervour unseen since his team’s last win over the Adelaide Crows.

    The one point win cheered him immensely.

    “Isn’t that anti-Aussie, mate?,” I asked him.

    “No, anti-AFL, mate,” he answered, with a smile.

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