Adrian’s call

by Damian O’Donnell

The sun came up as expected this morning, people will die of old age today as usual, governments will extort taxes from their hard working citizens because they can, and the AFL has announced that the new NAB Cup format is a success. All very predictable really.

Adrian Anderson proudly announced, ”We thought the format worked well. Attendances were up, TV ratings were up – 760,000 people watched the Collingwood-Richmond game on Saturday night.”

Really? I reckon 760,000 would have watched two flies crawling up the wall on Saturday night such is the pathetic array of television viewing on offer. I mean, fair dinkum Adrian. Also the ‘attendances were up’ thing is a furphy. Of course they were up because each game featured THREE teams and THREE lots of spectators for cryin’ out loud! (Normally there are only two Adrian). Divide the crowd numbers by three and multiply that by two and get a true reflection. Anyway it doesn’t mean people LIKED it. They probably just suffered it.

But it was his next comment that was most telling, ”We’ll sit down after the NAB Cup and review all of the elements … and talk to the broadcasters………..” Hmmm, what about talking to the spectators? What about asking if this tiddly winks, micro waved, homogenised and pasteurised version of the game is actually good for its future? What about asking the question, ‘what are we really trying to achieve here besides good ratings’? What about testing whether or not a meaningless round robin concept that gives each club a participation ribbon at the end actually attracts youngsters to the game? What about assessing whether Australia’s growing migrant population (the next wave of supporters for the game) can actually understand what the hell is going on?

The football was always going to start well this year. Why? Several reasons:

1 – The Aussies got belted in the Ashes and we are all ready to put that well behind us,

2 – Collingwood won the flag last year so footy followers are keen for the season to start to watch them fall this year (we hope),

3 – The new teams in the competition love them or loath them, will create interest.

4 – In times of hardship such as the country has seen of late people naturally turn to the sports they love as a distraction.

Please Adrian, don’t put it all down to the NAB Cup format. Please!

Am I fretting over nothing? Maybe, but the developments in the game are greatly concerning me. Not only this squashed up, jumbled format of the NAB Cup, but also the rule changes being tested. Why is the ‘last man to touch the ball before it goes out of bounds’ concept even being contemplated? What will it achieve? As the game is currently played teams are very anxious to keep the ball in play if it is to their advantage, and run the risk of being penalised if they deliberately put it over the line, so where’s the issue? Thankfully it looks like it won’t last but what troubles me is the moronic thinking that gets these things in the spot light in the first place. The only way to really solve the out of bounds problem (if indeed it is a problem) is to have an arena the size of NSW.

And don’t get me started on the nine point super goal! I can see it now, a player gets a free kick outside fifty, the coach immediately ‘subs’ him off and replaces him with the designated kicker (don’t laugh we are seeing the thin edge of the wedge already) . Sorry but that just doesn’t sound like Aussie rules to me. Combine this crap with a night Grand Final and they may as well rename it the Super Bowl.

When it comes to footy I am a Darwin disciple – let it evolve. Let the forces of nature take it where it will go. The obsession with analysing every last ball movement to see if it could be done more attractively for TV audiences is self defeating. The game will be tinkered out of existence as we know it. Abolish the rules committee. The game already has its rules. Everybody knows that if a committee is established it will come up with SOMETHING. Whether it’s good or bad is irrelevant.

When I’m 87 and sitting in my rocking chair I will say to my grandchildren, “I remember when I was younger they used be allowed to tackle each other in the footy.” And sadly my grandchildren will say, “Really grandpa!”

About Damian O'Donnell

OK - which is the odd one out: Love the Cats and flannelette shirts, especially in winter. I get on extremely well with red wine. We just seem to hit it off. Love horse racing in Spring. Used to love cricket. Go to Stawell every Easter and contemplate life around the fire. Love water skiing, especially in summer. Love a great oil painting. Will read most things put in front of me. Thought 'The Sorpranos' was the best TV show ever made - by miles. Run an accounting practice in Melbourne's suburbs.


  1. You don’t have to be a migrant to not ‘actually understand what the hell is going on” Dips. I haven’t a clue. Have I missed something? Maybe I need re-formatting.

  2. Andrew Fithall says:

    Dips. You are getting old before your time. Maybe it is the glow of a win that has coloured my glasses rose, but I actually enjoyed the first weekend – from the armchair, not the venue. I agree that the “last person to touch the ball” out of bounds rule has no future. However, prior to its implementation, I had been intrigued that football was one of the few sports that didn’t have such a rule (there is a rule in lacrosse that allows the team that causes the ball to go over the end line to get the throw-in, but I won’t go into all that here). It was interesting to see the impact on decision making that it caused, and we now have the evidence to ensure it is not part of any future rule change.

    Besides, how can anyone be sad on a day when Collingwood beat Carlton?

  3. #1. You’ll be OK, Phantom. Just press play on the DVD machine. (I assume the 2009 Grand Final is still in there?)

  4. Thats a great idea Gigs. I haven’t watched it today and it’s already 9.00am

    Feeling better already. Aaaaarrrrhhhhh…….feels so good.

  5. I liked the results on Saturday night too, Andrew, but Dips has a point. No other sport changes its rules as regularly or as bewilderingly as Aussie Rules. The then VFL rewrote ruck play for the past thirty years on the basis of one Finals match in which Peter Moore and Gary Dempsey wrestled instead of going for the tap-out. You may be a Darwinian Dips, but the AFL and the VFL before it are fundamentalists. They believe in constant intervention by the hand of God – and they believe the Commission is God and the Rules Committee are his angels.

  6. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Passionate and valid rant Dips,

    I found myself yelling “well left” during a game of footy!

    #5 Beautifully put Dave…definitely a few creationists at the AFL.

  7. #6. “…definitely a few creationists at the AFL” – interesting to note that CREATIONIST is an anagram of I REACT TO SIN. Maybe that’s what the AFL are doing.

  8. #7. Or perhaps “I CATER TO SIN” is the more apt anagram.

  9. Cheers gents.

    #2 – Andrew I think the Pies premiership has actually been bad for you. One of the great things about our game is its uniqueness. I fear that our game (like many things at present) is being dumbed down so that it is more like other sports. It will lose its identity. It will become a jumble of stupid ideas all trying to please different masters.

    The last game of football that was pure genius, pure Aussie Rules as as it should be played, was the 2007 GF. (smiley face).

  10. John Butler says:

    Dips, I’m with you on almost every issue (not that comment #9 though).

    The most telling thing about Saturday for me was that Carlton was playing Collingwood and I just didn’t care about the result. The game appeared so tricked up that all I ended up worrying about was that no Blues got injured.

    If that’s supposed to be a good advertisement for the game then I give up.

  11. Interesting that today (2/3/2011) there are those saying the NAB Cup is a dead duck. Generally the players don’t like it and neither do the crowds – only 9650 at Geelong v ST Kilda when it reverted from the stupid 3 team format to a normal game.

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