Extra time is the way to go

Imagine epic music, TV preview style, in the background as you read this paragraph.

The anticipation builds in the moments leading up to the first bounce in the last match of 2010. In just under 3 hours, we will know who will hold aloft the premiership cup at the end of this long, grueling 2010 season. Will it (shudder) be the Pies? Or will the Saints perhaps perform a great upset to win their second premiership?

Now imagine the crude sound of a turntable scratching as everything in the above paragraph resets. Neither the Pies nor the Saints walked out happy and victorious, none of the 100,016 fans in the MCG walked out celebrating their team’s grand final victory. After all the hype, all the anticipation, all the build-up, we have to come back and do the exact same thing next week. You can’t help but observe the parallel irony, considering the recent events of the Federal election. Maybe it’s nature’s way of keeping the world in balance so that tonight there will be no raving Collingwood fans trampling the inner-city streets in jubilation, or in fury. Maybe…no, it’s a total farce.

You could see the agony on the tormented faces of both sides. The prospect of enduring all the physical and mental strain a Grand Final inevitably produces one more time clearly seemed unbearable. No resolution, no finality. They had battled like gladiators on the field, recklessly putting their bodies on the line with adrenalin pumping through their veins, and yet here they were, in exactly the same situation they were after winning the preliminary final, as if none of the previous week had happened at all.

“This is a joke that we don’t play extra time,” Nick Maxwell said to Richo. He is right. It is a fallacy of the AFL, and a unique one too – look around the world and count the sports that don’t utilise some form of tiebreaker in a championship match. Years ago, when the AFL changed the rules to allow extra time to be played in finals, why did they choose not to extend that to the Grand Final?

Sure, drawn Grand Finals are a novel part of the Australian game and are always memorable “Where were you when…” moments, but the fact is, the result isn’t fair on either team. The Grand Final of 2010 will not be remembered for the stellar, drought-breaking effort of either team but for the fact that neither team could pull out a victory the first time. The rematch will take a back seat in the history books and the memories of all those who viewed it, and neither St Kilda nor Collingwood would want to win a premiership in this way.

Extra time simply has to be implemented in Grand Finals. Sure, some may see this as an un-Australianisation of our game, but it is just common sense. We don’t see FIFA insist the World Cup finalists march out a second time. We don’t see a second Super Bowl in the USA – given the incredible popularity of American football there and the glitz, glamour and commercialization that prevails in the preceding week, having both teams run out again to decide the winner would be an enormous anti-climax. And here in Australia it is no different, albeit on a smaller scale and mostly confined to Melbourne. But nonetheless, an anti-climax is what we witnessed today. Extra time totally obliterates this anti-climax and creates one grand, memorable event that will still keep the sweetness of victory for the eventual winner.

Maintaining a ridiculous, archaic tradition in this situation is clearly not the way to go. Sure, Demetriou and his cronies may be smiling at the prospect of the extra revenue the second Grand Final will generate, but the anti-climactic feeling a non-result brings to the fans and especially the players, who have geared themselves mentally and pushed the boundaries of physical and mental endurance through their determination to taste victory, is unacceptable. Extra time is definitely the way to go.


  1. Why in this ‘instant’ society do we need a ‘result’.
    I beleieve extra time is unfair due to injuries and momenetum in the game.
    No extra time for me and no replay next week.
    As a draw is the same as dead heat in the melbourne cup both get a trophy.

  2. I feel like it wouldn’t be fair for such an important game of Australian Rules Footy to be decided by an extra 5 or 10 minutes of gametime. The premiership needs to be awarded for four quarters of guts, blood and determination, it needs to be awarded to the team who is in front on the FINAL siren of the day. Both sides were locked level yesterday, so we must do it again next week. Makes sense to me.

  3. “We don’t see FIFA insist the World Cup finalists march out a second time.” No Adam, we see the ridiculous farce of taking it in turns penalty shots to decide the once-in-four years winner of the World Cup. What would you propose if it’s still tied after extra time then? Goal shoot-outs like FIFA? Now THAT would be farce. Then to use the NFL as a comparison? I defy any Australian to come out & say they would like our game to be more like the NFL. Am I to take from your article Adam that another Grand Final, more AFL – which I presume you are a fan of – is a bad thing? I for one am looking forward to an extra unexpected week of footy! Another game of “battling like gladiators on the field, recklessly putting their bodies on the line with adrenalin pumping through their veins” sounds great to me! Will you watch it Adam or are you so non-plussed by the ‘anti-climax’ that you will not feel the tingle of excitement during another Grand Final week build-up? What, apart from (as ‘Saintly’ says) the need for instant gratification, makes you resent the prospect of doing it all again? Bring it on & keep it this way!

  4. Can’t agree Adam.

    “The rematch will take a back seat in the history books and the memories of all those who viewed it, and neither St Kilda nor Collingwood would want to win a premiership in this way.”

    Absolutely incorrect. Not sure how old you are but the 1977 Grand Final replay was a very memorable game and North Melbourne’s victory was celebrated long and hard – and deservedly so.

    Just because somewthing is done overseas is not in itself a justification. In fact, it might be a good reason NOT to. FIFA, Superbowl – who cares what they do.

  5. I agree with extra time – about 120 minutes of it, after a seven-day huddle.

  6. Dips,

    In my defence, the 1977 Grand Final was 15 years before I was born – I’m 18. In my mind, when I think of ’77, I think of the draw and of Twiggy Dunne.

    Maybe I could have worded some of my phrases better – what I meant to say was that St Kilda or Collingwood would probably prefer to win whilst playing only one match and have their year be remembered primarily for their gutsy win, rather than the draw. Reading it now, I can see how it may have been misinterpreted.

    James – They do play extra time first though in soccer. Although a penalty shootout is far from perfect, they can’t keep playing extra time forever. Sure I’ll enjoy watching the replay just like everyone else, but there’s no guarantee it will be an extremely hard-fought, intense battle like Saturday was. Quality over quantity in my view.

    Josh – I disagree on your definition of “fair”. I’m sure if you asked every single one of the players after the Grand Final, they would have preferred to play extra time at that point. Same with almost all of the fans in the stadium, many of whom paid big bucks in order to get a seat in hope of seeing their team hold the cup aloft with their own eyes.

  7. I’m with you Gigs.

  8. I’m not with you Gigs, but I chuckled regardless.

  9. 6: Adam, did you see what most of the crowd did a minute after the final siren went? They stood and applaused all 44 players on the ground. They were happy.

  10. And maybe not now, maybe not this year, but later on, everyone who played in that game yesterday will have the fondest memories of it. The players are now gearing up for their second Grand Final in as many weeks. Brad Johnson didn’t play in one in his career. How lucky are they? Sure, it’s a bit unfair to all of the blokes that gave their heart and soul yesterday for no result, but I think they’ll forget about that pretty soon, if they haven’t already, and move on.

  11. There was no guarantee the first GF was going to be an “extremely hard-fought, intense battle” either. I can’t see any reason why the replay wouldn’t be though, can you? 2 Grand Finals over 2 complete matches betweem 2 obviously very evenly matched sides is quantity over quality? Personally I am chuffed we will get another QUALITY Grand Final! So what SHOULD happen if scores are still tied after extra time? ARE you advocating some sort of goal shoot-out? No doubt whichever side wins will be remebered not only for the premiership, but for the gutsy draw they fought out the week before. I mean, you make the case for this yourself – you think of 1977 you think of the draw. If it weren’t a draw? eg. what do you think of 76? Or 78? Without looking them up?

  12. Extra time in our game is rubbish.

    Why not just throw the current live situation out the door and have a ‘virtual’ game where we can all sit at home and play our team against a computer, gen “y”

    Get real. What we saw yesterday was a game of footy as it should be.

    Stuff the Bali bit and all the other inconvience. Half the supporters of both teams who played would, if there had been extra time played, love a replay right now.

    Get real bannana peel. What we saw may not have been the best game ever but it was footy at it’s purest. I loved it.

    And don’t think the AFL gives a hoot about the result from a fans point of view because it ‘make a lotta money” and the marketing leverage is sensational.

    If they had any credibility they would cut the prices to let a few strugglers in.

    Bring the replay on.

  13. Steve Healy says:

    Adam, all you’ve done here is compared it with other sports- our Australian game is meant to be set apart from all the others.

    The replay after the draw only builds up suspension and excitment and makes the season extend- and who could complain about that?

  14. 13- oh hush healy!! :P

  15. I look at this way:

    – if you can’t separate the 2 best teams in the comp over 3 hours (or, you might argue 26 weeks), why would it possibly be doing anyone justice to try and separate them over 10 minutes? sure other sports do things like penalty shoot-outs, and everyone in those sports complains that it’s a terrible compromise of a result; why do we feel the need to follow suit (isn’t it bad enough that we’ve imported flooding and diving from soccer, do we really need more from that sport?)? I reckon coming back next week and playing another full game is by far the fairest result (whilst recongising that “fair” isn’t something the AFL normally goes for, and this is clearly a legacy of fairer-minded times rather than a conscious recent decision)

    – as a neutral, the games I want to watch are those involving the best teams playing each other, with something at stake (and I’m sure most footy fans would feel the same way); hey, guess what: we just got another great game between 2 gun sides scheduled! for next week! we don’t have to wait until late-March! isn’t that a great thing for footy?

    – the thing we all hate about GF day is how the tickets all get taken up by corporates, and not by club members – well, now we’ve got a chance for more real fans to get in and see their team play off for a premiership! that’s magnificient! or should we suddenly be overcome with sympathy for those poor corporates who went along on Saturday thinking that they were going to see the outcome decided, and now those poor corporates got an incomplete outcome and are going to have to give up thir seats for people who actually care?

  16. Brad – Well reasoned argument. I agree with some of what you’re saying. Especially the last bit – I think it’s great that actual supporters are going to see the Grand Final. I hadn’t heard about the extra members seats when I wrote the article, you see. And I’m looking forward to watching the replay, especially if it’s of comparable quality to the first grand final!

    James – Since you asked, when I think of 76 and 78, I think of Hawthorn winning, and by association I think of Peter Crimmins (76, not 78, thanks Barney). That’s the point, those Grand Finals are mostly remembered for who eventually won. I’m sure St Kilda and Collingwood would prefer their Grand Final to be remembered for who eventually won, rather than the fact that it was a draw the first time.

    But here’s a hypothetical scenario – imagine if West Coast and Sydney had drawn in 2006? With all the interstate fans paying big bucks for flights, accomodation and tickets? It wouldn’t exactly be fair on them having to go back and pay for it all again a second time. Unfortunately, as Phantom alluded to, the AFL cares more about the bottom line than the fans.

    I appreciate everyone’s input, even if my opinion is almost entirely being disagreed with.

  17. John Butler says:


    Welcome to the reality of going public with your opinions. :)

    I think the argument you put will have many agreement.

    It’s a good question, have times moved on in this regard?

    Personally, I’m quite happy there’s another game next Saturday. I hope i lives up to its predecessor.

  18. As a supporter of an interstate club, and one from Perth can I ask those that don’t favour extra time how fair it would be for either West Coast or Freo’s players, or it’s thousands of supporters to be expected to have their preparation completely disrupted, and unable to get back for the 2nd week in a row, while potentially a Victorian opponent can prepare as normal and pack the MCG with even more of their supporters?

    Tradition can only go so far; it’s not the VFL anymore fellers. 10 minutes each way to decide a victor, it’s surely the only fair way.

  19. Jonathan, that’s a fair point, and one that I (as a fellow supporter of a WA team) can empthasise with you on. You’re quite right, it would be terribly unfair on a WA team to back up twice in a row for a GF on the other side of the country. That said, I still don’t like the notion of trying to (quite artificially, in my view) decide a whole season on the basis of 10 minutes.

    It was interesting to see Gerard Healy & Mike Sheahan (both being firmly of the anti-replay camp) debate this with Demetriou on “On the Couch” on Fox last night. Healy (who travels interstate regularly himself with Fox and now understands the travel burden of WA clubs quite well) argued it quite eloquently from the same perspective as yourself. By contrast, Sheahan (who I’m convinced has never left the state, and still seems to think it’s within his power to wish away the existance of interstate clubs) offered up no reasoning or justification for his anti-replay view at all.

    I would argue it this way:
    1. the Replay is a good thing for footy, as a (bonus) spectacle, and as a fair way to decide the outcome;
    2. in such an event, the travel burden should be shared, so (acknowldeging that the ‘first’ or ‘main’ GF will always be palyed at the MCG), if a WA/QLD team travels to the south-east and gets a draw, then stage the replay at Perth/Brisbane

  20. Brad, appreciate tha perspective but let’s be realistic, the AFL would never countenance moving it away from the G. I’d hate to have the Grand Final at a dump like Subi anyway.

    Could we possibly restrict extra time to those games featuring one or perhaps two interstate opponents? Probably not.

    Once they introduced extra time for all other finals they opened the way to introduce it for the Grand Final. For the sake of fairness it has to be done, and from next year.

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