Demetriou, it’s time to harden up on clash jumpers
AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou speaks to the media. AAP Iamge/Julian Smith
Hey, Andrew Demetriou, how does it feel to be a pushover? I know you earn a lot of money, and I think you’re actually entitled to most of it.
And at the risk of starting a code war, I’ll admit that I think the AFL is best-run league in Australia.
The television rights deal you and your buddies cooked up was incredible. Kudos for that one.
And while you’re starting to realise that your expansion projects on the Gold Coast and in Western Sydney are going to be a lot harder than maybe even you had anticipated, you’ve shown some pretty incredible vision to have built two brand new stadiums and two new clubs from scratch.
But you know what? Every time a football club walks all over you, like Carlton did on Friday night, you look ridiculous. And a little bit of your powerful mystique fades away with each avoidable jumper clash.
I’m not going to tell you the reasons why alternate guernseys should be compulsory, because they are so mind-numbingly obvious that it beggars belief some clubs and fans are yet to be convinced of their merits.
You know them anyway, Andrew. Some of those TV suits who gave you upwards of $1 billion probably reminded you. Nearly three out of every four viewers had a problem with Friday night, according to SuperFooty, by the way. Great game though.
And you already know the argument that wearing another design or colour is disrespectful to the heritage of any given club is ridiculous.
You need only two words – Manchester United – to destroy it. Actually, one will suffice – Liverpool. In fact, name almost any other sporting club outside of Australia and you win. You love the Premier League, Andrew, you know this. Branding is everything there.
Regardless, that should no longer be the debate. The AFL obviously thinks they are necessary. Gold star for AFL House. In fact, you’ve been demanding that each club has one for a while now. And they do – Carlton and Collingwood included.
But there is absolutely no point – zero, zip, nada – in having them if they’re not going to be used properly and forced down disobedient throats.
So why are you still wavering like a Deal or No Deal contestant on this issue?
Because every time you do, you spit in the face of a club like North Melbourne, who had to wear powder blue in their own home games just to please the Pies. I still can’t believe that happened.
Or a club like Port Adelaide, who had to abandon nearly a century of their very own tradition just because Collingwood thinks they own both the absence of all colours and the combination of all colours.
Now is a pretty good time to disclose that I’m a Port supporter. And I love our current guernsey. Both of them, actually. But I digress.
How can you decide that a match between Carlton and Collingwood is so significant and important that neither team has to wear something, y’know, different?
That is totally unfair and downright disrespectful to every other club in the league that plays by the rules.
What makes it even dumber is that the Pies used to wear a certain predominantly white design for close to 100 years that would have solved this trivial yet important issue. They have something dead similar to it, actually, stashed away in the Westpac Centre somewhere.
I know they were the home team. And I know you know that the home team, in any game, should always wear whatever they choose to be their home strip. And the away team should wear something that doesn’t clash. It’s pretty simple. And fair play to Eddie’s boys, their current set of jumpers solves all problems.
On Friday night, it was on Carlton to change. They didn’t. Understandable, too – I personally don’t much like that sky blue number they’ve got. Their old white one was much better. Even that Livestrong one was nicer. But they made their bed. It was their turn.
You either failed to ask the question, or the Blues told you to get stuffed when you did – and you let it slide. I’m not sure which is worse.
Still, if it was just so damn important for Carlton to wear navy, then why couldn’t you facilitate some sort of gentlemen’s agreement that would see the Pies wear that mostly white jumper every time they play their most fiercest of rivals. Like they used to. A bit of common sense. Wouldn’t Eddie be happy with that?
No? Okay then. By the way, you really messed up with that ugly grey top Essendon wore on Saturday. Grey doesn’t really stand out too much on the field. Particularly when the other team wears mostly black. I could have told you that.
Look, if Collingwood won’t wear white against Carlton when they’re the home team, and if Carlton won’t wear something that distinguishes them from Collingwood’s black guernsey, then you’ve just got to harden up.
The AFL is supposed to be a properly-run, well-organized, forward-thinking league. And most of the time it is. Except for when it comes to clash jumpers.
So you know what you have to do – send a memo to every club, telling them that if they do not obey your reasonable, sane guidelines to the letter that they will be fined an amount no less than five hundred thousand dollars. And mean it. And then enforce those guidelines with an iron fist.
Please, Andrew, this is 2012. You didn’t get to where you are by folding like a Hills Hoist. Rules for everybody or no rules. Can we just end this stupidity and move on?
Vince Rugari is an Adelaide-born journalist who cut his teeth on the sporting graveyard that is the Gold Coast. He fancies the round ball and the Sherrin, and used to be a handy leg-spin bowler before injury curtailed a baggy green push. He is a Port Adelaide fan by birth, as painful as that has been recently. He's now sports editor of The Area News in Griffith, NSW.