Opportunity lost with the AFL grand final rematch this weekend

by Miles Wilkes

 

This weekend the grand final combatants of 2013, Fremantle and Hawthorn, will be locked in battle and yet a great opportunity is being lost by the AFL with this match-up. This is when the 2nd most important AFL trophy should be offered, the grand final rematch in April, not after a series of practise matches at the beginning of the season as per what was once offered with the pre-season cup.

 

Some may scoff at the idea, but there is a need for a 2nd AFL trophy, yet without the problems of the pre-season cup. It is common knowledge that the pre-season cup had run its course in large part because the top teams (one could particularly reference Sydney and Hawthorn) rarely made a concerted effort to win the competition, and instead stacked their teams with rookies. Yet there will be no such problem when Fremantle and Hawthorn clash this weekend, both want to win and neither side will be be stacking their teams with rookies.

 

The Hawthorn-Fremantle battle at the MCG this weekend deserves more recognition than what it presently receives. The victor should obtain more than just the four premiership points, as these teams are considered the heavyweight teams of the competition. The Hawks and the Dockers made the grand final last year after they beat 16 other teams to that honour, and with two victories each in 2014 the stakes should be higher for these successful teams than just receiving the premiership points.

 

There is no better way to reward the Dockers and the Hawks for their dominance than to have these two teams battle it out for a new trophy. The key benefit is that it would be a viable way to replace the now defunct pre-season cup and it would also be a trophy fought on emotional grounds – retribution for the runners-up or a repeat of finals glory for the premiers. We all know that there are Fremantle players, particularly some forwards, that had their colours lowered in the grand final and retribution would be a key motivating factor for them. Without a trophy as a reward, it is an opportunity missed by the AFL to increase the stakes for these combatants.

 

The suggestion as proposed here is that Hawthorn and Fremantle and every future grand final combatant from now on should meet in round three of the following season (or alternatively be given the Anzac Day slot every year) so as to ensure that this match-up becomes a highlighted feature in the AFL calendar.  The reason being is that at present the AFL is out on its own when compared to other football codes around the world in terms of it offering just one proper trophy each year.

 

The EPL, for example, has four major trophies on offer each year (the Championship trophy, FA Cup, League Cup and the Community Cup), the NRL has three trophies (their premiership trophy, the NRL9s and the State of Origin crown), and the NFL has three cup-winning moments per season (the Superbowl, the AFC & NFC championships). This puts the AFL out on its own by having only one proper trophy on offer.

 

Equalisation is seen as the answer to all of the AFL’s problems. Yet even with unhinged equalisation it still doesn’t change the fact that under the present system only one team walks away a winner each year. The key point is that supporters of both of these top teams deserve more than one chance to feel pride in supporting their team.

 

Fremantle need an opportunity to gain revenge and winning four premiership points simply isn’t enough for the six months of pain they have endured. Meanwhile, Hawthorn want the opportunity to stake their claim as the competition leaders. This is a heavyweight battle that deserves greater recognition and the best reward for victory in this clash should be a new trophy, not just the four premiership points.

 

Postscript:

Some suggestions for the new trophy title include the Challenge Cup, the Heritage

Cup or the Community Cup.

 

Comments

  1. I agree with you about more honours/rewards in an 18 team comp Miles. But I am not attracted to having 2014 honours being dependent on last season’s results. In time I think a divisional East/West structure as in most US sports is the best answer to getting a fairer fixture. A Divisional win is highly prized in US football and baseball.
    Thanks for your passion and input.

  2. I’d love to see a Grand Final re-match scheduled for Good Friday EVENING become a reality.

    The reigning Premier is the home team (with the MCG the venue where Victorian-based clubs are involved. Although if it’s Geelong V a non-Vic side, consideration be given to playing the game at Kardinia Pk).

    Also, when played in Vic, perhaps a percentage of the gate goes to the Kids Hospital?

    I agree with you and Peter that there needs to be more than one meaningful prize up for grabs over a season. I love the fact that in European football, “relegation battles” add extra spice to some matches at the tail end of their seasons. Though two of the three relegation spots are most likely sorted, there’s four-to-six teams in danger of filling that final drop spot. Obviously it would be hard to replicate that in AFL and given we have a ‘fixture’ and not a ‘draw’, there’d be a few headaches ensuring conference titles were earned and didn’t end up being won by default courtesy of scheduling.

  3. Dr McClelland says hello. Time to get the Silvo out and give his (much prized) trophy a bit of a polish.

    What’s it awarded for again? Maybe someone at AFL House knows, though you wouldn’t want to bet on it.

    Cheers, Burkie

  4. In reply to Peter B, I can see where you are coming from bu the sheen of winning a divisional title is quickly eroded if a team loses the unloseable play-off game or doesn’t progress to the Superbowl. I still think for a 22 round competition plus pre-season matches there needs to be more than one pot of gold. Fremantle and Hawthorn still have the respect of all football followers and have earnt that respect. In my opinion, they are the best teams to be given the opportunity of obtaining a 2nd pot of gold.

  5. Miles – Hawthorn and the Dockers should compete annually in the Effluent Event or the Sewerage Stakes. Is there any chance that they could both lose tonight, or at least have a couple of quality season-ending injuries?
    St Beau of the Waters is out for the rest of the season for his 27th shoulder/elbow/knee/groin reconstruction – so I am in no mood to be charitable.
    They are sh.. clubs, wearing sh.. colours – who should be competing for the Sh.. Shweepstakes.

  6. Beau Waters – he looks like a real footballer – doesn’t he? Gotta admire Beau. The Eagles should be up there this year, and maybe if luck goes their way (they will need a fair bit of luck) they can get a grand final spot this year and an automatic entry into the 2015 Anzac Day Cup or alternatively Round 3 “Challenge Cup”. Either option would work for me.

    Essendon and Collingwood having automatic access to the Anzac Day game should be questioned either way, as at present this is the 2nd biggest day on the AFL calendar and yet a place in this match is not decided on how well the selected teams are performing, but on whether they are Collingwood/Essendon or not.

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