Too ambitious? New North Melbourne coach David Noble doesn’t think so.
It was bad enough when we first heard the AFL would be digging up a slab of the MCG’s turf and placing it at the Gabba for the 2020 grand final.
The MCG’s Twitter page last week showed off photos of a three-metre-by-one-metre piece of the goal square being removed, to be carried via a refrigerated truck up to Brisbane. All for the sake of maintaining a ‘traditional’ aspect.
The move, sponsored by Rebel, drew immediate backlash. Some were concerned about the possible use of their MCC membership fees. Most just saw no point. Why go to such lengths to preserve some form of traditionalism in a game that would be anything but?
Then we saw where they put it.
The MCG turf that got sent up to the Gabba has arrived
— 7AFL (@7AFL) October 22, 2020
How tasteless do you have to be to consider sending a small slice of turf nearly 1800 kilometres north in a refrigerated truck only to set it down on a part of the ground that will go almost untouched?
The absurd publicity stunt has not had a warm response, nor does it deserve one. The footy-loving public had to put up with overcooked corporate hype over some fake grass only to find out that it would have no real part of the game.
Well, except for Richmond players running over it to start with. The boundary umpires might also get a foot on it at some stage in the game.
Unfortunately the AFL will be subject to intense scrutiny no matter what happens on that turf. If nothing more goes on, then it was a waste of time taking it up. Further photos of this patch will only worsen the publicity.
The turf will be virtually meaningless come the time that matters – game time.
The only way it could make a difference is if a player were to roll an ankle over the unstable-looking slab. That would turn the outrage up to 11, and the AFL would not live down the possibility that this stunt could have affected the grand final result.
Of course its pointless position renders the scenario highly unlikely and not something to be too concerned with.
Instead let’s worry about the game itself. Tonight’s game will be a grand final like no other, contested between Victoria’s best two sides of the year but far away from Victoria. This is history in the making, and no matter who wins, we will remember this game for many reasons.
That slab of MCG turf won’t be one of them.