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Listen to the fans: No-one wants a night-time AFL grand final

The first bounce of the 2012 Toyota Grand Final match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Sydney Swans at the MCG, Melbourne. (Photo: Tim Terry/AFL Media)

IT seems we can’t go through a single AFL season without the debate about moving the grand final to a night timeslot rearing its ugly head.

The proposal – which, if the AFL actually listened to fans would be long dead and buried – was reignited by league commission chairman Richard Goyder on Saturday.

Speaking to Clint Wheeldon in a radio interview on ABC Grandstand, Goyder was in favour of a night grand final.

“We haven’t got one this year. I would love to try it one year. I know that will elicit all sorts of responses from people, but I think it would be fantastic,” he said.

“We would have to have the right pre-game entertainment, the broadcasters would have to support it and we would have to take the AFL community with us.”

One on One Sports SA received a huge response after posting an article earlier this month criticising the AFL’s obsession with changing the game.

The backlash has been equally as swift from fans following Goyder’s latest comments:

Little by little, the league is eroding all the elements that make the great sport of Aussie Rules football unique.

In 2019 alone there has been a raft of adaptions to the game, and a whole host of suggestions made to change it in future years – none of them necessarily for the better.

We saw starting positions introduced to try and alleviate congestion, yet there have still been dour, low-scoring affairs – the round seven match between Adelaide and Fremantle was one of the worst slog-fests fans have seen in years.

There were only three goals scored to half-time.

Worst. Game. Ever.

Then came the mid-season draft, which pilfered talent from state leagues right across the country – denting their premiership campaigns simply so AFL clubs can get their hands on young players ahead of the draft.

Unsurprisingly, that’s not how the AFL intended it to be used, but clubs are crafty – seemingly more so than AFL boss Gillon McLachlan and his band of merry helpers – and will always find loopholes to exploit.

We’ve recently seen photos circulating of ‘anti-social behaviour supervisors’ that were introduced at games over the weekend to keep a watchful, almost dictatorial, eye on crowds to make sure fans aren’t having too much fun.

I mean, they’ve only forked out a small fortune for their ticket to the game – why should they be allowed to barrack loudly?

We’ve also endured talks of mid-season trading, which if implemented would make the art of list management – a lynchpin in the make-up of an Aussie Rules premiership campaign – far less of an art.

Clubs have 40 players to pick from on their lists; the bad list managers shouldn’t be bailed out by being able to trade mid-season, purely because they stuffed up their selections at the draft or trade table.

All this does is penalise clubs who do their due diligence, and draft and trade players according to what they need.

Carlton list manager Stephen Silvagni has been criticised for his club’s recruiting strategy.

And now we, as fans, have to suffer through more talk of moving the grand final from its traditional 2.30pm timeslot in favour of a night fixture.

The suggestion from Goyder over the weekend is another prime example of the AFL ignoring supporters to further its own agenda.

Every poll I’ve seen has overwhelmingly been in favour of a day-time grand final.

A survey was conducted by 7AFL on Twitter in May, and of the more than 3000 responders nearly 80 per cent opposed a night grand final.

It seems pretty clear-cut, yet – as is a worryingly growing trend – the AFL doesn’t appear to be listening.

Fans love a day-time GF because they can make a day of it.

They can organise a barbecue with mates, enjoy a few beers while watching the game, and then kick on into the night – if that’s what they want – after the match wraps up around 6pm.

A night-time match makes it a lot harder to do that.

A lot of what the AFL has been doing lately is change simply for change sake.

Hosting the final game of the season during the afternoon has been an AFL tradition since the beginning of time.

On this occasion – in an age where the AFL seemingly is doing all it can to remove what tradition the game has left – it’s time to listen to the overwhelming majority, and leave the grand final as it is.

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Grady grew up in Bordertown in the state’s South East, around 10 minutes from the Victorian border, and is a Geelong Cats tragic and a lover of sports. Grady has worked in the journalism field for more than six years at a number of regional newspapers. He plays cricket for Trinity Old Scholars, and doesn’t mind teeing it up at some of the fantastic golf courses scattered across Adelaide and its surrounding regions.