Well, it was at first weird, then enjoyable, then gone. We started with no crowds, and in what is usually one of the best attended games of the year, it was decidedly weird. When the Blues started to make a comeback, it was just the energy of the players that we were able to feed off and not the roar of the crowd. On Friday night when the Pies flogged the dogs, you were able to focus more on the footy than anything else. It wasn’t until the Bombers Dockers game where it was coming down to a cracking finish that you really lamented the lack of a crowd atmosphere as the game came down to the wire. When the crowd would have been at its most vociferous, there was nothing.
We saw some really strong performances from the Pies, Giants, Port, Hawks and Eagles, we saw signs from teams like Essendon that their new styles of play would work, and we saw some great finishes at Docklands (twice) and in Adelaide.
Sadly, as many worried about, we couldn’t even get out of the first round of football before it was cancelled. For me, it was worth trying to see what we could get. Whilst there were many sceptics, I figured that you treated like a rainy day in Summer at the cricket. Even if you know you’ll likely get called off, you will still try and get a start to see if you might get some sort of game in. The AFL, under what seemed like a real lack of guidance from the government, were left to their own devices and decided to play the games and see what happened.
Of course, as usual, society in general weren’t able to comprehend how you could high five in football but not in the real world, much like how they aren’t able to comprehend that supermarket won’t be closing and you don’t need to buy 15 packets of pasta when two will do. Rather than just enjoy what was presented, we had to kick up a fuss for no real reason. In the end, it didn’t matter, the spread of the virus continued to grow so the States made the decision to shut their borders and go into lock down, which rendered playing football impossible to continue.
The AFL will now go into recess till the 31st May at the earliest, with it to be discussed again towards the end of April to see if that date is still possible. You would think that the A-League and NRL will have to follow suit now with borders being shut all over the place. It’s going to be a huge financial hit to the league and the clubs, and as Gil McLachlan said in his press conference today, it’s the biggest threat to our game in 100+ years of footy. The NRL and A-League will also feel the pinch but it’s the supporters that will feel the hurt more.
In a time when we are going through some of the toughest times we’ll know, when people are losing jobs, worried about their health and those of their loved ones, we are having an outlet to take us away from the real world taken away from us. It’s a sad reality but it’s a required call.
In the end though, we at least got a taste. For those that barracked for teams that have won, it’s a nice way to go in to the hiatus, for those that lost it’s an ability to take solace that when it starts up again it’s probably going to be long forgotten. And for that, we should be happy at least.