Easter and possible traditions

If I had my way, footy would commence every year on the Easter long weekend. Of course, this would mean that either this most holy celebration of Christianity would have to stop following the moon or we’d be playing the Grand Final in October an awful lot. The latter wouldn’t be so terribly bad – ‘One Day in September’ is one of the more cringe-worthy inventions of heritage that the sport endures. (I just randomly googled ‘1935 VFL Grand Final’ and there you have it – 5 October.)

Hot cross buns, early April rains, the cooling of South Eastern Australia after a hot summer and the beginning of footy just go together. How they combine. The resurrection of hope that lasts until about three quarter time on a Thursday night and ends ever so rapidly with thrown away memberships littering Lygon Street or Punt Road. Okay, faith doesn’t even make it to Good Friday on occasion.

Our good friends who follow rugby league cannot understand as their boys play on parching brown sands at the start of March. It seems terribly foreign to play a winter game like that. The boys from the round ball code must be in a constant state of dysrhythmia, watching the A-League on warm summer nights before a nightcap of arctic chill via satellite from the English Premier League.

The start of the footy season needs more than two days – and artificial constructs such as footy on a school night will not do. Playing a game on Thursday night before a work day on occasion during the heart of the season was proven fine last year (especially at a rocking and rolling Adelaide Oval) but it hurts the momentum on opening weekend to play on Maundy Thursday before fasting until Saturday. Let alone if the season doesn’t start on the Easter weekend and a Thursday night game is played anyway. That kind of scheduling is too American in style. And let us never speak of Monday night football ever again.

North Melbourne wishes to play on Good Friday and this is with a good deal of merit. As an agnostic that respects Jesus dying for our sins on a day vaguely around this time of year, I would be more than delighted to see a game of footy. With all the greatest respect but Good Friday is the dullest day of the year by far. And it would have been worse this year if it weren’t for the miracle of web streaming of SANFL radio broadcasters, as at least one can follow the beloved South Adelaide (in audio-only) get over The Bays from their interstate locale.

Both the NRL and SANFL have been playing Good Friday games and nobody has been struck down by lightning. Bottles? Well, that’s another story.

In full awareness that in my opening paragraph that I expressed a distaste for footy’s modern constructions of ‘heritage’, I would be quite delighted to see Easter traditions created with the full approval of the AFL Commission and the Easter Bunny.

North Melbourne can have the Good Friday game in Melbourne. A late afternoon game no doubt, proceeds to the Good Friday Appeal. Let them play anyone except Collingwood as they a) have enough of these types of matches and b) would make the Kangas wear a rubbish jumper.

Even with a footy game to perk up the spirits, boredom usually does settle in during the Good Friday evening. The only solution is another footy game, beamed from the west in time for the East’s evening entertainment. And let’s make it a derby – to shake us out of our public holiday dullness and summer slumber.

Yes, the AFL did try the ill-fated idea of GWS versus the Swans at the Olympic Stadium to begin the season and that went down like a lead Citibank half time zeppelin, even with the romance of the Anzac Bridge and its bragging rights to inspire the Sydney public. But with the Easter Show next door… throw in some combined cheap show/footy tickets or some sort of equivalent deal for the families who’ve managed to find their way to Homebush Bay. That’s the propaganda sorted for another year.

A number of possibilities. The way Carlton are performing right now, the Blues could take the show on the road to their old country zone and play a game in Bendigo for the Easter Fair. Forget the hovercraft, get one of Bendigo’s beloved dragons on the field to scare off the opposing side.

Port Adelaide can host the Haigh’s Chocolate Bilby Cup with Chairman Koch personally hand delivering one to each of the Power faithful. St Kilda can pray and repent for their sins in the latest pre-game spectacle. Geelong can host a passion play at Kardina Park with a local young man suffering in the main role of Gary Ablett Snr.

Just make sure you toast and butter the hot cross buns. That and getting a Sherrin smacked right in your gob is the taste of a new footy season. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

About The Philby

Inconsistent contrarian. Barracker of Carlton FC and South Adelaide FC. Resident of Sydney. Holder of the record of shortest umpiring career with the South Australian Cricket Association.

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