Giant Jeremy Cameron grabs Hawthorn's Ryan Schoenmakers, who handballs under pressure on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images
The AFL has spent much of this year nodding empathetically about the awful impost on fans of steepling prices for pies, chips and beer at games.
It was an easy target for the league. It would be certain of unanimous support, could gnash their teeth but ultimately have virtually no capacity to do anything about it.
So the message was ''we hear you, we agree with you, we want to do something about it but well we can't. But aren't we good sports for feeling your pain?''
The reason 17,000 people turned out to see the reigning premier play on Sunday at the MCG had only a little bit to do with over-priced washed-out mid-strength beer and more to do with the arrogantly inhospitable scheduling of the game and, of course, the fact no one follows the other team nor gives a tinker's cuss about it.
Hawthorn played GWS at 4.40pm on a Sunday - and yes it was a cold wet first day of winter. A 2.20pm start time on a Sunday for parents of school-aged kids is a potential day at the footy (albeit an expensive one). A 4.40pm start time pushes it into the realm of school night outing. Getting home still meant for most people after 8pm. And then, if you haven't spent your last dollars on a pie and chips at the footy, getting dinner sorted and showers and getting to bed ahead of the first day of school for the week.
This then begs the question of whether the league was driven by getting people to games. The AFL has always furiously insisted it is primarily driven by increasing crowd attendance. But then schedules games at times unappealing to anyone but the TV broadcaster.
No season has ever fixtured so many games so hostile to the fan attending: Monday nights; Saturday twilight; Sunday twilight; Thursday nights. It is little wonder attendance is down.
Granted the league is sampling new time slots because there are now nine games a weekend and staggering them seems a better idea than clustering them. But hosting a game at 4.40pm that could have started an hour or two earlier comes at a cost and the cost is the fan who schleps to the game.
Yes the TV rights holders pay exorbitantly for the chance to show the game. They also pay for a game that has atmosphere because people attend. When you stop putting the games on when people want to go suddenly all games on TV will look and sound like, well, like GWS games.
Availability of a product is a far more significant deterrent to purchasing or consuming than price. If the game is not on when you want to go, then how much it costs is less relevant, not irrelevant, but certainly less relevant. Cost becomes just another reason not to go.
The AFL has accepted the Monday night experiment was a disaster and will not be proceeding with them. It should also do so with the wretched 4.40pm slot. The only logic in a 4.40pm game at the MCG on a Saturday afternoon is the broadcaster's desire to have three games segue into one another throughout the day - not the fans' preference for when to attend a game. So the insistence crowds are foremost in AFL thinking sounds disingenuous and patronising.
The other turn-off factor that should trouble the AFL is that typically games involving the big clubs would draw a large crowd irrespective of whether they were the home or the away team. That appears to be less obviously the case this year.
On Friday night St Kilda hosted Collingwood and fewer than 35,000 turned up. The result was presumed to be a foregone conclusion so they didn't bother. Plainly even the big clubs rusted-on, go-anywhere go-anytime fans want to see a contest.
The AFL presidents will meet on Wednesday. Clubs, large and small, might want to raise not just their share of the pie, nor even the price, but what times people want to go to a game to buy their over-priced pie.