Someone at the Brisbane Lions must have broken two mirrors, as the club’s rotten run with luck continues into its 14th year, missing out on hosting the AFLW grand final.
In 2004, contract terms with the MCG saw the Lions cheated out of a home preliminary final that, on ladder positions, should have been rightfully theirs. And although the Lions fell over the line in that game at the MCG, the strain of back-to-back road trips took their toll as they ran out of legs in the next week’s grand final.
The Lions men’s side have been barely competitive since, only making the finals once in the subsequent 12 seasons. Luck has continually deserted them as recruit after recruit becomes injury-prone, scandal-plagued and homesick as soon as they are drafted.
And now it’s happened again. Despite finishing top of the ladder after an undefeated season, the Brisbane Lions will not be hosting the AFLW grand final.
Instead it will be played at Metricon Stadium. As a curtain-raiser to an AFL men’s game.
A game where the Gold Coast Suns, who don’t have an AFLW team, will have the hosting rights. Where, unlike the free entry that has been part of the AFLW model, tickets will have to be purchased at AFL men’s prices.
Suns members will sit in the prime seats, if they even bother to arrive before the AFLW grand final is over. Suns sponsors will be on the ground signage and sitting in the corporate boxes. With the AFLW game a before-thought, their fans almost invisible in isolated corners of the ground.
It shouldn’t have been that way.
In the football tab of The Roar last Friday, Mike Tuckerman wrote a piece that in part lamented the poor quality of surfaces that the Socceroos have to play on.
Among the comments, there was talk of the danger to the turf from having a Waratahs game at Allianz Stadium on the eve of a possible A-League grand final.
It’s not an ideal situation. The world game certainly is a better spectacle on a good-quality surface.
But at least the Socceroos still get to play. At least Sydney FC, should they qualify, will still get to play a home grand final.
But for our game, the Brisbane Lions AFLW team are denied even that.
The Gabba reportedly failed a ground inspection. The surface had been damaged by Adele concerts there.
But those concerts were weeks ago. Etihad Stadium and Adelaide Oval, which hosted Adele more recently, are fine to host AFL games this weekend. ANZ Stadium will be hosting NRL games.
The competence of the Gabba ground staff must be questioned.
But the most bizarre excuse for not wanting to host the AFLW grand final was that they’re worried about what effect it would have on the wicket for the Ashes Test.
That game isn’t until November! Eight whole months!
Ground surfaces have been dug up completely and re-turfed into pristine cricket conditions in barely a fraction of that time. That excuse fails any common-sense believability test.
Yes, I’m sure the Gabba wasn’t expecting to be asked to host the AFLW grand final. The Lions exceeded all expectations to finish top of the ladder.
Yes, it’s been wet.
But for any other stadium, the prestige of having this game would be enormous.
Sadly, Australian football doesn’t seem to be a priority for the people running the Gabba.
It’s a shame that the climax of the AFLW season has descended into such a farcical shambles. There’s been so much to celebrate about this season.
From the opening night lockout, we’ve seen some solid crowds. The media has been positive, and the standard of footy has improved as the season progressed.
There’s no shortage of players who, in the last few weeks, have developed into stars. Saturday night’s grand final will see the likes of Tayla Harris and Sabrina Frederick-Traub taking on the likes of Erin Phillips and Sarah ‘Tex’ Perkins – names that we’ve enjoyed seeing in action over the last two months.
It’s such a shame that, when the winner thanks the fans for their support, all you’ll see are red seats and the odd early-arriving apathetic Suns fan. While the fans are relegated to some invisible pocket up in the nosebleeds.
It shouldn’t have been this way.