The Beast and its Trade Week and the Quest to Take on the Melbourne Cup

Once upon a time there was this small country where all the people were sports-mad. They loved their Soccer, their Rugby, their Cricket, their Golf, their Tennis, their Basketball, their Netball.


They even loved all the sports that were played in other countries, like Baseball, EPL and that funny game that their American cousins enjoyed so much, with the big men in the funny helmets and thousands of advertisements for viagra and beer.


They were so besotted with sport that they even loved horse racing!


But there was one sport that stood above all of these others.


The sport that the mad citizens of this happy country loved the most was, of course, their indigenous game, the one they all grew up calling Football. They loved this sport so much that for six months of the year they played it, watched it being played, read about it being played, jumped on the Internet and discussed it being played, talked about it at work and obsessed about it all day long.  They loved it so much that they even built great stadiums where they could gather together to worship it.  They loved it so much that they formed a commission and charged it with the important task of improving their favourite sport and making it even better so they could enjoy it even more.


This commission, in their wisdom, decided that what they really needed to do was protect this sport from all the others.  After all, in their opinion, the people running these second rate sports were mean-spirited and jealous of their position. In this way, the voracious Beast known as the AFL was born.


It wasn’t long before all the other sports that competed with the Mighty Beast were diminished and reduced to side-shows. They stole their players and they drove them to the smaller stadiums. They managed to banish them from the back pages of all the daily newspapers in the country. Soon, AFL was the only game in town.


Almost. There was one exception, one blight on the AFL landscape. Only one.


The Melbourne Cup!


Yes, that venerable old horse-race that stopped a nation. For four weeks, from the Beast’s Grand Final until the first Tuesday in November, the Melbourne Cup became the darling of this obsessed country. The people wore their Sunday best on Saturdays and drank copious amounts of alcohol. They returned to their traditional form of gambling, betting on horses rather than on football games. They discussed horse-flesh and fashions instead of marks and hamstrings. For four weeks, AFL was barely in the newspapers. The Beast was marginalised.


The commission was a-flutter. What can we do to stop this ridiculous horse-race, they wondered? How can we reclaim our rightful place in the hearts and minds of the people?


Finally, in one glorious moment of divine inspiration, a nameless flunky at head office had his “a-ha” moment.


“A-ha,” he said. “Let’s extend Trade Week to four weeks and deal a fatal blow to that annoying horse-race!


And so it came to pass that the people, bored to the verge of insanity by the abomination of this month-long AFL Trade Week, started making up all sorts of rumours and stories, just to pass the time of day while they waited for the next trade, should it ever come.


The Beast was content.


About Joe De Petro

My favourite period in history began with the Summer of Love and came to a sad end with the birth of Disco. It was from 1967 to 1975. What was not to like in those days? The Grateful Dead, Creedence, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and the mighty Tigers won Premierships every other year. It was a magical time, much like the current period in history.


  1. G’day Joe,

    It seems I won’t get any footy news in the Age while I am in Melbourne from 25 October to 1 November? But I will be hearing some footy stories at the Sport Writers Festival on the 28th and 29th.

    Haha four AFL trade week would be a good idea making AFL news alive all year.



  2. Joe De Petro says

    It’s ok, Yoshi. The AFL and the daily newspapers in Melbourne are like an old married couple, too comfortable with each other to bother flirting with anyone else.

  3. Ironically, the time it would take a newsreader to read the actual news (as distinct from the bluff, bluster and bulldust) from the insert-name-of-sponsor AFL Trade Week, is about the same as it takes to run the Melbourne Cup (the actual race).

Leave a Comment