Round 10 – Carlton v North Melbourne: They asked for feedback




Through the modern wonders of bar-codes and databases, Carlton were aware I attended last Sunday’s game against North. They sent me one of those online surveys about my experience of the day.


Amongst the many things they asked was the following:


The pre-match entertainment is mostly managed by the home team. What do you think the home team did well in the lead up to the game as part of the pre-match entertainment? What could they do better?


In the space provided, this was my response:


To be honest, I think this whole concept of managing our ‘match day experience’ may be the most completely pointless exercise currently attached to football. Our match day experience is was and will always be dictated by our team’s fortunes. The pre-game cacophony merely serves to produce an anti-climax at first bounce. The endless spruikers during breaks are just headache inducing. This applies across the board, not just to Carlton.


What can they do better? Just run through the banner to the club song. Let the crowd generate their own atmosphere (they always used to). And keep ground announcements to actual relevant information. Save the money on all the other palaver and spend it on the football department.


Am I just a grumpy old man? Or are you with me on this?


I leave it to the judgment of the Knackery.

About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Liveable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has passed his 40th year as a Carlton member.


  1. Manny Koufalakis says

    I think most supporters are with you on this one John.
    The only entertainment I want is the game itself and to be able to talk to the person next to me during the breaks without having to compete with the guy on the loudspeaker.
    Thank goodness for the SANFL where we dont as yet have rolling advertisements along the fence or bloody music being played during the breaks.
    On the occasions I watch the AFL on TV its not long before I turn the sound off so I dont have to listen to the commericals. Its like trying to get into the atmosphere of a good movie only to be constantly jolted out of the mood by ad interruptions.
    The same goes for footy. I’m there to get my neanderthal emotions flowing and I cant do it when interrupted by extraneous crap.

  2. Totally agree.
    I received one too, via the Swans. My reply was similar, but shorter than yours..
    Then, further down the questionnaire when it asked to rate your overall match day experience, I gave it the lowest of a zero out of 10.
    “Why?” they then asked.
    Answer: “Because my team lost”

    It is all about the footy. I loathe all the other garbage.

  3. Bob Morrow says

    Could not agree with you more. However you neglected to mention the LOUDNESS of their stupid announcements/ads/etc.

  4. Dave Brown says

    Nup, you’re on the money John. Can’t work out if MDE if some deep seated fear on the part of the league that people will lose interest, that the rest of us have lost touch with what the young people want, or whether it’s really just about shouting sponsors’ names at us. I find the constant experience surveying intensely annoying too.

  5. Cat from the Country says

    I have had two footy experiences one in the SCG and the other at the Spotless stadium
    The music was horrendous and even though my team lost I hated the loudness. It hurt my ears and I could not hear my neighbours or wear my hearing aids.
    At least the second game we did beeter, but still the noise was too loud

  6. Paul Young says

    I don’t disagree with the premise of what you are saying Josh however I think the pre-game can help build the excitement of done correctly. You only have to attend a Port game to appreciate that. I don’t like Port Adelaide but that “Never Tear Us Apart” anthem at the start really gets the hairs on the back of the neck going.

  7. aussie80s says

    Spot on John

    I used to love pre-game entertainment and would turn up at 11am when the gates opened to watch the Reserves play.

    Now with all the sponsors promotions going on I wait until the last minute rush and get in 5-10min before the game starts just to avoid it.

    Now, if only I can also find a way to avoid the half time rubbish I think my match day experience will just about be perfected.

  8. E.regnans says

    Well played, J Butler.
    At some regrettable juncture, someone of influence decided that AFL football games had a problem that needed fixing. Or, more likely, that AFL football games provided a commercial opportunity that needed exploiting.
    Why people go the footy is not a straightforward question, but I would suggest that it is to watch the footy; to be a part of the crowd and to support their team. This is different to sitting as passive observers of a show.
    Footy is a form of entertainment, sure, but attending footy is fundamentally different to attending a movie or a theatre show, in that audience members at the footy are active participants. Up until recently, crowd members themselves, as individuals and as a collective, used to be a significant part of the day.
    I hope that the current penchant for audio-visual bombardment is another example of “PowerPoint syndrome” – a syndrome in which a user is so enamoured with the array of resources available to them, that they feel the need to use them ALL; only to the detriment of their cause.
    In the PowerPoint analogy, when PowerPoint first appeared, a new user would excitedly format their presentation such that each new dot point on a list would enter the screen flying, revolving or otherwise animated, sometimes to musical effect. Young children still do this.
    Before too many applications of this technique, and after at least some critical self-reflection, the user would usually realise that audio-visual ballyhoo distracts from the true reason for the presentation itself (the content). The best PowerPoint presentations contain only images; maybe a headline word or two. And they are still images, not animated in any way.
    The current lamentable “match-day experience” disaster is not just awful; it is turning people away. It is quite easy to compare the experience at a local footy game with the audio-visual assault of an AFL game. With a bit of luck, the decision-makers at AFL are like a newcomer to PowerPoint – in thrall of the audio-visual capability of the stadia. They need to realise that less is more.

    Anyway, a match-day experience is something that happens, not something that should be contrived. The measurement and critique of match-day experience has a touch of the NAPLANs about it. Measure something, tinker with it, measure it again, evaluate… with the whole scenario being a sideline to what should really be happening (teaching and learning in the case of NAPLAN, providing people a safe place to support their footy team in the case of AFL games).

    Undoubtedly the best match-day experience is to provide a match. All bells and whistles detract, rather than add, to the day.

  9. Les Everett says

    John, when I’m rich I’m going to sponsor footy games and ask for nothing in return… no noise, no signs, no plugs. I’ll bring you as head of marketing.

  10. Going to footy on the weekend has been at the core of my identity/experience for 55 years. I go because I have always gone. There is some vague sense of tribal belonging and community. It feels comforting and I feel alive when I go. It’s “church” for me.
    Going with the Avenging Eagle’s extended family for nearly 20 years now adds to that sense of belonging. I don’t much care if we win or lose, as long as its close and a good spectacle.
    I’m a dopamine/adrenaline junkie and I find footy a safer “hit” than my past habits.
    The Subiaco audio/visual system is ancient and pretty non-intrusive. I am sure the marketers will have that “fixed” at the new stadium next year.
    I’m asking for earplugs and dolly vardon blinkers for Xmas.

  11. As with most others here, I think you have nailed the response beautifully. True footy fans align the “game day experience” to one thing, and that is – how did my team play?

    Jan, your zero out of 10 rating and your subsequent explanation encapsulates this better than anything else!

    The pre-game banter and constant announcements are white noise distractions from the actual reason we go to games. Less is more sometimes …….(most times).

  12. Rick Kane says

    What Jan said, and Les.

    I saw Hall and Oates at The Plenary (great concert) a couple of years back. This is a new concert venue in Melbourne. The first thing that caught my attention was how comfortable our seats were. Then it struck me, The Pleanary is used more for conferences where delegates spend 8 hours sitting, listening. In a not to exact comparison I think the same has happened with the AFL. Watching the footy is much more comfortable than it was 20 years ago and the AFL (or whoever) assumes that by providing a much more comfortable experience they therefore have the rights on our attention. Making it easier, on their terms, to ply their goods and services.

    Once it was that the play was the thing, now it seems the event is the thing.

  13. I love the catharsis of filling out a feedback survey and have vented similarly when given the opportunity.

    I’d be happy with just a few highlights on the big screen for half-time entertainment.

    I don’t like excessive noise from the speakers and I hope the blokes’ AFL never insults our ears with a blast of pointless music after a goal (as they did in the AFLW).

    I want the noise and excitement to be crowd generated. That’s what I’m at the game for, otherwise I’d be at home watching on the couch.

  14. Rulebook says

    Pre match entertainment is called a reserves game hurry up and get a nat res competition end of story
    JB totally agree and the loud noise advertisements garbage ( Jan couldn’t agree more )

  15. kath presdee says

    Firstly, I agree with everyone above who noted that your match day experience largely correlates with the performance of your team. My match day experience is driven by the team’s performance. Not just win or loss (particularly during 2012 and 2013), but the actual performance – did I see anything worth coming back for?

    The AFL are interested in getting fans to watch the game and while they like having warm bodies in cold stadiums, it is the Clubs who really need the fans to turn out as they get a portion of the gate. We are in a situation, however, of it costing probably the same amount to get a basic Foxtel sports package where you can see as many games as you like and getting a games membership at a Club. Anyone checked how much it was to buy a single ticket at a ground lately? That means going to the footy is being treated like an “event’ where you need to demonstrate value for money or provide constant entertainment (in its broadest sense) rather than just host the footy.

    If you’ve got kids, it helps to have some of the match day experience being focused on what to do while you’re waiting for the game to start. Face painting, skills games and the like located somewhere in the grounds are fantastic and much better than handing over phone or tablet in the long interval between curtain raising game (if there is one) and actual match.

    However having an act from my youth belting out their two hits and a filler from their most recent album during half-time over a dodgy PA is not really adding to my experience. Sure, debating whether the Chantoozies have aged well or not is one way to pass the time, but I’d rather do that at a mega nostalgia concert at a winery.

    I come from a state where going to matches, particularly if your team isn’t winning, is done by only the absolute die-hard fans. It is not the cultural norm – or it stopped being the cultural norm long ago. A game is on, you watch it on tv – even if it is at your local ground less than 5 kms away. That’s not a good thing, because you’re missing the best thing about being at the game – the atmosphere.

    Going to the game is being part of the shared experience of people playing the game, giving their all and those of us watching and cheering them on. For that you need the game and engaged fans; not the bright shiny lights or the loud crashing sounds. Maybe give us a curtain raiser; give us kick to kick; give us the Auskickers. Give us good footy at a reasonable price and we’ll be there.

  16. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    What is it with this survey infestation of late? Seems like we’re asked to fill out a survey after every transaction these days.
    I put ‘unsure’ just to mess with them whenever I can.
    At least the ‘Bluebirds’ weren’t loud

  17. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    The only pre-match I appreciated last week was the welcome to country.
    I am totally with you John! Cannot stand the Swans’ roundly obsession with ‘Sweet Caroline’ – every single home game!!! There was even a petition on to get rid of it, such is people’s frustration. And the half time ‘experience’ is so loud that it’s impossible to talk to the O’Reilly mob. Literally impossible, not figuratively. I dearly loved the quiet catch up of the old days at half time with all my O’Reilly men , the titbits of life, work etc that had twenty minutes swirling between us all. What is wrong with silence!!? and the odd squeal of the Auskick kid who has goaled on the SCG.

  18. Luke Reynolds says

    Totally agree with every word John. Though maybe I could be a grumpy old man too!

    While I agree with Rulebook’s comment, reserves as a curtain raiser simply don’t work when the game needs to be over an hour or more before the main game so the AFL teams can do their warm up on the ground.
    I attended the Collingwood v Carlton game in 2015 where there was a VFL game between Collingwood and the Northern Blues at the G. What a boring hour or more waiting for the main game to start. I’d much prefer to watch our VFL team at Victoria Park, then use that hour gap to get to the MCG.

    And please, as others have said, some silence from the PA at 1/4, half and 3/4 time so you can actually talk to whoever you’re with about the game.

  19. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Luke surely tho same for both sides back to how it was res game finished league teams then ran on to the ground no need for the on ground warm up bullshit

  20. Luke Reynolds says

    Totally agree Rulebook. Would the sports scientists and coaches let this happen though?

  21. John Butler says

    Thanks for responding folks. I was hoping to get some responses from outside my Victorian-centric view.

    It is clear the “match day experience” varies from state to state. Probably also stadium to stadium.

    Some of you have made comments much more precise than my own. I appreciate the effort.

    E Reg, I think you’re right to suggest this whole phenomena seems to be born of insecurity. Frantically fixing what wasn’t broken.

    Paul, I’m glad you mentioned the Port ritual. That appears to be the one effort that demands participation from the crowd. I think getting the crowd involved, rather than making them passive receivers, makes all the difference.

    Manny, spot on. They shout at us at the ground just like ads on TV do.

    Kath, I’ve also considered how kids react. I think they like the activities in and outside the ground, but the ones I’ve sampled are indifferent to most of the spectacle, fireworks and such. I think all of that stuff has already been done to death. Interesting observation on Sydney crowd/attendance culture also.

    Rick, do you really turn anything into an event with a few fireworks and tinsel?

    PB, I bet they have a 50,000 watt speaker lined up right next to your seat at the new digs. Enjoy!

    Phil, what always strikes me with these surveys is how they are designed to provide feedback only within parameters they define. They wouldn’t be gaming the whole process, would they?

    Mathilde, what is with Sweet Caroline? How did they arrive at that as the song de jour?

    Les, you’re on. Call me when you have the dough.

    I think this whole subject speaks to how the league views us as supporters. I also think it speaks to the limits of their understanding of that which they curate.

    Again, thanks to all respondents for your contributions.


  22. G’day John,

    I am with you. I can’t believe why your club asked such a question. Great on field performances are important to have a good match day experience.

    If spectators want entertainments, going to footy is not the right place. Footy matches are open for footy fans. Then prices have to be reasonable for supporters.

    Bluebaggers would be very happy if Blues kept playing good footy at the last quarter. Bless you…

    Players would be motivated with hearing fans saying positive things about them before the ball is bounced.



  23. I to have received the generic match day experience survey 4 times this year afer attending Adelaide home games. I’m with you in that my main reason for attending a game is to watch said game. I generally ignore the kick for cash, race the plane, count the footies and kiss cam bizzo before the game and during the breaks.
    However the thing that almost drove me insane last saturday night was for some reason the same song played on a loop for the first 90 minutes after gates opened. Maybe The Adelaide oval SMA can only afford royalties for one song.
    My other bugbear about my “experience” from Saturday was staffing numbers. I fully understand and accept that security measures were tightened in response to the the Manchester bombing. What I don’t understand is why extra staff weren’t employed to limit the delays entering the stadium. I got to the stadium at gates open because I wanted to catch up with some mates before the game. The queue moved slowly for the first few minutes as each bag was checked very closely and each patron had a metal detector waved over them. 10 minutes after gates open I got to bag check and noticed the diligence of bag checkers had already gone from close inspection to cursory look. As I had no bag I was waved through to metal detection where the security guy took one look at me and said, you’re right buddy away you go. Makes you wonder what’s the point of increased security is if it’s not fully staffed or implemented.

  24. Spot on John. I’m with Les, if I ever can I’ll sponsor a club with the requirement that there shall be no pre-game entertainment or during the breaks.

  25. One is compelled to wonder who the f### does actually demand and enjoy this cacophonous and thoroughly vacuous pre-game and mid game “entertainment”?

  26. Tony Reed says

    Time to bring back the reserves before the main match for entertainment. Stuff the hour rule!

    The other option could be before the game to interview premiership players – clearly from the past so we can reflect on our days in the VFL when we were great as distinct from the AFL where we have been the worst. This actually got me thinking, that Carlton has had a consecutive series of premiership players on its list each year since Barassi arrived in 1965 (any team better than that?). The only problem is Daisey is the last one remaining and before him Juddy, neither of whom won premierships for the blues. Got to be better than a hovercraft and 2 caped crusaders.

  27. Match day experience – give me a break! I’m starting to hate getting to the ground early. Is that what the AFL wants? Bring back the reserves. Give the teams just 15 minutes to warm up before the game starts. This would also prevent those annoying television commentators from roaming on the ground. Stop the extremely loud repetitive advertising and inane interviews – please, no one wants it.

    Went to a local NEAFL game at Aspley last week. Stood at the fence near the coaches boxes. You could hear everything the coaches, players, umpires were saying. You could hear the bodies colliding. You could walk on the ground during the breaks. You could buy a burger for $5. The quality of the game didn’t seem to matter. The only noise before the game and during the breaks was people talking and kids playing. So simple.

  28. Rod Oaten says

    Couldn’t agree more.

  29. At the AFL footy, I like to sit or talk or think without a juvenile sensory assault.

    But, I quite like the multimedia bombardment at the BBL as it’s in sympathy with the targeted demographic and nature of the entertainment/ cricket. Tay-Tay’s “Shake It Off” goes well in this space.

    I attend SANFL games at Glenelg Oval, and we hear the team songs and then score updates when appropriate. Curiously, some music is also played over the PA during the breaks. Last week I heard, “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” This I don’t mind.

    Thanks JB.

  30. I stand with most of the above. At Port games on AO the Never Tear Us Apart bizo I can live with, reluctantly. But all the rest, usually played at deafening volume, can jump in the proverbial lake. We get children from some radio station given microphones to yell mindlessly at the crowd, very loud music and all manner of nonsense. I sit with a family group of relations and friends, about 14 season ticket holders, since 1997, sometimes encompassing up to 4 generations and it could be a great time to catch up and cross-pollinate. But the volume one needs to speak at to converse is uncomfortable and the assault is unrelenting in each quarter break. As mentioned somewhere, much quieter at Alberton at SANFL games, although there is a little too much noise there, volume lower though.

  31. John Butler says

    Thanks for the additional contributions folks.

    The irony emerging from these comments is that for all the surveying we are subjected to by various football bodies, no one actually thought to ask the punters if they wanted any of this in the first place. Many assumptions have been made on our behalf.

    Cheers all.

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