AO and AFLW: Creature Comforts

Now that the tennis is over, I’m turning my mind to the week ahead and the beginning of my expected overspend on the travel budget for yet another year.  I will head to Adelaide, or more precisely Norwood Oval, for the opening AFLW match between the reigning premiers (and my team), Adelaide, and a very talented Brisbane.


I can’t help but consider some similarities between what has happened in the last fortnight as I’ve sat glued to the television and my tennis app (which, by the way, was rubbish for the first few days) and the eight games from last year’s AFLW inaugural competition.


The key similar issue was player and spectator comfort.  For the life of me, I cannot comprehend a heat policy in the Australian Open that sees players baking, fainting and suffering on courts that have a retractable roof.  Truly bizarre.  And no explanation of humidity versus temperature can resolve this issue.



And then the little issue of late nights, predominantly for the women.  I get that this was about television scheduling, but it was insulting – especially to spectators.  I sat up on the first Wednesday, waiting for Daria Gavrilova to come on.  There was a thriller of a match on centre court before her match between Dimitrov and McDonald with the Bulgarian pulling a rabbit out of a hat in the fifth set.  The match went on for nearly three and a half hours.


“Dasher” came on at 11:59 pm.  Tell me who does their best work at 11:59 pm?  She said she didn’t mind.  It’s more than about Dasher, though.  The Australian Open organisers exhorted the attending public to leave their cars at home.  Which they did and caught public transport.  However, while there are few trains between midnight and 12.30 am, mostly the trains and their drivers have gone home to have a rest too.  So, the court was light on for spectators.  The match finished around 2.30 am.


The up side of this late finish, however, meant that my friend up the road was able to witness first hand her puppy having a grand mal seizure.  In the hullabaloo that followed the seizure, the puppy bit my friend on the hand – she needed a tetanus shot and antibiotics delivered early on the Thursday morning to ensure everything was ok.  Puppy is progressing well now.  My friend is ok too, and full bottle on dogs having seizures.


Which brings me to the AFLW.  Last year I wrote about my concern for the players, umpires and spectators on some of those really hot days when matches were scheduled during the day.  I pointed out that AFL is a winter sport and here we are, bang smack in the middle of the heat of summer, expecting these exceptional women to defy even the heat to play their chosen sport.


The worst of the matches, in my view, was the game between Collingwood and Adelaide in the last round.  It was played at Olympic Park Oval.  At about 2.30 pm.  The temperature was early 30s, but the apparent temperature was in the high 30s.  There is no seating at Olympic Park Oval – unless you are a member of Collingwood.  There is no shade at Olympic Park Oval, unless you are lucky enough to get into the Glasshouse.  As I reported at the time, there were people lined up around the light poles, fighting for a bit of shade.  The toilet facilities are woeful, unless you are a member of Collingwood.


Well blow me down, Round 7 for this season for Collingwood and Adelaide has been scheduled at the same venue, at 2.35 pm.  This is just grossly unfair to spectators in particular.  There are many of us who are travelling Australia to see our women put their heart and soul into making sure this competition is high quality.  We’re more than happy to travel and see our teams play.  But we can’t take our picnic chairs on the planes with us, nor our beach umbrellas, so that we can be comfortable in the stinking heat at an inappropriate ground.


Of course, the issues I have raised for tennis and AFLW can be easily solved – if the hosting organisations have a modicum of respect for spectators.  The Australian Open should adopt a rule that if a preceding game runs over the 10.30 pm time slot, then the following match will be rescheduled.  For the AFLW, abandon the idea of afternoon games for a winter sport being played in summer.  Twilight is good.  And for goodness sake, don’t schedule any matches at Olympic Park Oval.  It’s not too late to move the match scheduled for 18 March this year.


You’re welcome.

About Anne Cahill Lambert

One of the first females to be admitted to membership of the G. Thank you Mr Cain. Nicknamed The Hyphen by Alamanac Editor, despite the fact I don't have one.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Well said Anne. Totally agree re scheduling of time and place. Between storms and hot weather at Casey Fields, heat at Collingwood for a practice match last year (we stood and sat on seats attached to outside of Glass House Cafe), the comfort of crowds are at minimum. I know it’s Collingwood or Melbournes home grounds, but they are not built for the many who want to come and watch.

    I don’t know how audiences and players do it at the tennis. I stopped going to Test Matches in Melbourne because of the heat 30 years ago!

    See you soon

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Anne couldn’t agree more classic examples where tv broadcasting deals are the only consideration

  3. Melbourne is clearly worryingly unsophisticated when it comes to footy, Anne. While we are able to take a seat in a spacious 90 year old grandstand in the twilight at the home of night footy, our Victorian cousins must sweat it out in unsuitable facilities at unsuitable times. Very surprised (actually, no, I’m not really) the AFL has done so little to ensure the suitability of venues (and times) for the second iteration.

  4. Ben Footner says

    I’m with you Anne (and Yvette about the cricket, just can’t sit through it live, particularly being a fair skinned red head – spontaneous combustion is a very real possibility!).

    All games should be night games IMO – and if that can’t be achieved due to scheduling, then twilight at the very least.

  5. bring back the torp says

    100% Anne -all AFLW games should be twilight, or 8 pm starting times in summer, even if this means having some games on Sunday starting at 6pm ;or Thursday 7 pm start.
    I was at the hot game at Oly. Park between Coll. v. Adelaide. It was comical, in a way, that so many people were deliberately trying to position themselves carefully in front of the light towers -fighting for some shade!

    Oly.Park, basically flat, with accordingly poor sight lines, no seats & very little shade, is a dump for a playing venue. The mighty Vic. Park is vacant! Still a great venue, can easily take c.15,000, lots of seats & covered or shady areas. Why is Maguire silent on not having the AFLW at Vic. Park?

    Melb’s. Casey Fields is a much more complex issue, even though it is also basically just a suburban oval, with very poor spectator amenity. I can understand the MFC need to cultivate the huge population in the S/East, to establish/build its supporter base in a very fertile area. Is there another ground in the summer in the S/East, that can accomodate 6000+, with some seating/shade, & is not flat?

    Playing in 28+ degrees heat is so disrespectful for the AFLW players. Women (& men) cant execute their skills properly with sweaty hands, sweat in eyes etc -& skills are essential, to maximise crowds & ratings for the AFLW.
    It is disappointing that the media , AFAIK, have not directly taken the AFL to task over playing AFLW games during the day. Up in the NT, Brisbane, & often Western Sydney, there is often oppressive humidity to cope with -like playing in a sauna, VERY sweaty for the players. It is simply not good enough.

    It is imperative that the AFLW play in the off season -to get clean air from the AFL, & with a big break after the end of the AFL GF (so fans are “hungry” for footy action again).

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said Anne. I’m a Collingwood member and have seen many VFL games at the Holden Centre/Olympic Park. Truly horrible place to watch football. The majority of Pies fans want AFLW and VFL games to be played at Victoria Park. Magnificent venue with so much great infrastructure still in place.
    As for AFLW scheduling, I’d love to see, as the competition expands, for it to start 4-5 weeks before the AFL. 4-5 weeks of clean air. Then run concurrently with the AFL. Maybe give AFLW Thursday nights as a night of their own?
    Of course let’s not forget Australian Rules is a winter sport. Give the AFLW it’s own prominence just before and during the AFL season. As damaging to the AFL’s hopes of becoming a 52 week a year sport as this may be…..

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