The Roar
The Roar

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Does Saturday arvo footy still have a place?

Happier, huggier days for the Melbourne Storm. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
Roar Guru
5th July, 2013
18

At the end of the season the NRL will take us back through the time portal in a bid to see whether we all feel warm and fuzzy again about Saturday afternoon football.

Nostalgia is king when it comes to the sporting arena. It plays on an emotional response that most of us have.

We started watching a particular sport because it was either ingrained in our upbringing or a positive experience left us needing more.

We long to feel the same way we did when Shane Warne left Mike Gatting bamboozled, Kieran Perkins produced his lung busting swim to win gold at the Atlanta Olympics or when Mal Meninga was an all-conquering giant on the field instead of in the coaches’ box.

Sporting administrators play on our emotional response to these situations. They introduce heritage jerseys, heritage round and replica heritage balls.

It transports us, for at least 80 minutes, back to a time when everything except home loan interest rates were cheaper.

There has been a push for the return of the earlier time-slot for some time, but now the true test of television ratings and ticking turnstiles will be judge, jury and executioner.

Five of the last six rounds feature a 3pm east coast kick-off time.

The first two look like test runs.

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The Warriors Round 21 clash with the Sharks is slated for a 3pm eastern and 5pm local kick-off.

Round 22 doesn’t feature a 3pm start but it returns in Round 23 with the Raiders taking on the Bulldogs in Canberra.

Round 24 will be the true test of its popularity. This should be the fixture – assuming Mother Nature plays nice – that determines whether there really is a passion for Saturday afternoon football in the biggest market in the country.

The Dragons play the Tigers at WIN Jubilee Oval. It should be an easy sell.

Two clubs with huge supporter bases converging on a ground with its own storied past on a sunny (hopefully) Sydney afternoon.

The counter-argument has always been that Saturday afternoon is a busy time for families.

They’re either doing groceries or mowing the lawn. They’re running from Jimmy’s football to Lucy’s netball and then to Dad’s golden oldies match.

Going to the footy or settling in on the couch rates lower on the priority list than it would after the sun has gone down.

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The problem with those theories is they haven’t been tested in a very long time.

Now, we’ll really get to see whether the push matches the passion.