AFL vs NRL: the pre-match entertainment showdown
The broadcast rights deals are comparable. The finals play-off systems are now identical. The grand final match-ups both pit interstate interlopers against heartland heroes.
So Australia’s premier football codes must now take their appendage measuring contest to the most important battleground of all: the pre-match entertainment.
For the AFL, grand final Day 2011 was one they’d rather forget. Not even a Fight Club-inspired chant of “his name is Robert Paulson”, nor several dozen lukewarm plastic cups full of mid-strength sponsor’s product could remove the foul taste of Meat Loaf’s 12.5 minutes of shame from the mouths of the 99,537 footy fans crammed into the MCG last year.
The larger than life music legend coughed, spluttered and generally muffed his way through a medley of his classics so disgraceful that no one outside of Geelong remembers who eventually won the flag, though no one has forgotten it was Collingwood who lost it.
The only thing worse than a forgettable pre-match show? A forgotten one. It’s often said of Woodstock, “if you can remember it, you weren’t there”, but the opposite is true of the NRL’s pre-match offering in 2011.
Only those who forked out their hard-earned and were subjected to it in the flesh would remember stirring performances from Kelly Clarkson, accompanied by 300 dancers (!) according to Wikipedia, and working class Western Australians Eskimo Joe strutting their stuff on behalf of all future Perth Pirates fans in the Olympic Stadium last year.
Apparently Manly-Warringah’s 16,000 fans were delighted with the outcome of the ensuing match, as you can tell by the way they got behind their charges in 2012.
So for both codes, the 2012 GF represents the pre-match entertainment equivalent of ‘the public apology’.
The AFL have wisely continued to run with their ‘Australia’s Game’ theme by enlisting local rock legends and legends-to-be to perform before, during and after the game.
And as inspiring as it’ll be to hear Paul Kelly and The Temper Trap run through their back catalogue, nothing screams football quite like Tim Rogers almost openly sobbing the line, “I’m like a waterlogged ball/that no one wants to kick around anymore”.
Meanwhile, back in Sydney, the NRL have wisely stuck to what they know best – letting the Nine Network shamelessly cross-promote the few assets that promise to keep the debt-ridden station afloat.
Fresh from being the funny/drunk/possibly stoned ‘punk guy’ on the hit talent quest The Voice, Joel Madden (or was it Benji?) brings his band mates from Good Charlotte – including his brother, Benji/Joel – to perform all the hits, including ‘their song’ and ‘their other song’.
Sarah De Bono, fresh from her star turn on the hit talent quest The Voice, will perform the national anthem, while a band from Ireland who aren’t U2 complete the impressive bill.
Sadly, at the time of going live, we couldn’t confirm whether those four knockabout Aussie blokes from House Husbands would be on video ref duties, or whether half-time analysis would be handled by this week’s eviction nominees on Big Brother, but we’re not ruling it out altogether.
So who’s the big winner here? The A-League.
Having learned from the mistakes of their oval-balled peers on the last weekend of September, a simple trawl through the tape library will reveal to them the most memorable pre-match shows of them all.
Angry Anderson storming onto Waverley Park in a blue Batmobile (as you do), and Tina Turner belting out anthems in the middle of the SFS.
The recurring theme? Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
I can see it already. April 2013, Queensland Roar versus Sydney FC, Mel Gibson, a couple of shandies, and an open mic in the middle of Lang Park.
What could possibly go wrong?
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