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Strong Pies overcome the Blues
Collingwood claimed victory over rivals Carlton by 15 points at the MCG in front of the smallest Magpies-Blues crowd since 1921.
But sometimes you can’t have your cake and eat it, too, and Sunday night’s disastrous roll-out at the MCG for a one-time blockbuster fixture between the Magpies and arch rival Carlton is one of those times.
The Collingwood president’s surely ambit claim for compensation from the AFL for the missing tens of thousands from the game has predictably gone down like a lead balloon with fans of virtually of every other club, but particularly those who are on struggle street.
They’re the ones who ritually suffer the consequences of unfavourable scheduling because their teams don’t have the membership, profile nor clout with head office that Collingwood and McGuire do.
Supporters of the likes of Melbourne, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne and St Kilda know what it’s like to cop a poor timeslot, a Sunday twilight game, or that peculiar twilight Saturday match sandwiched between afternoon and evening games that is frequently completely lost in the wash.
Collingwood this season has what Collingwood, in timeslot terms, always gets, a very good run indeed.
Two of the guaranteed huge turnout games on public holidays, Anzac Day and Queen’s Birthday. Four Friday nights. Three Saturday nights. Four Saturday or Sunday afternoons. The sort of run the Demons, Bulldogs, Roos and Saints would kill for.
Collingwood and McGuire might have been complaining about being scheduled at 7.10pm on a Sunday night in the depths of winter ever since this year’s fixture was released, but to now demand compensation because for once the elements conspired against the Pies’ coffers is a pretty poor PR move.
Cynical of him, too, to equate it with potential equalisation money lost to the struggling clubs, when he was a consistent opponent of various methods of equalisation that were thrown up for discussion.
Take away the crass demand for money, however, and in the bigger picture McGuire’s wrath is entirely justified. This game, one which produced the lowest attendance at a regular season Collingwood-Carlton MCG fixture for nearly a century, was a car crash waiting to happen.
And it’s the most painful example yet of the AFL having bent over backwards this year to appease the TV broadcasters, which coupled with issues such as variable pricing and sundry other costs associated with going to the football, have the league on the nose with punters like never before.
The AFL has all but confirmed Sunday nights, and another notable backfire, Monday night football, are off the table from next year. “We had to try it” is the rationale from the league.
Unfortunately, in the current climate of distrust, all that confirms in the minds of disenchanted football supporters is the perception of a peak body that will try anything on just to see if it can get away with it, and if not, little harm done.
That’s highly debatable given image problems for the AFL that don’t seem to be going away. And it’s not altogether different from McGuire’s latest stunt, either. Little wonder then, that neither he nor the league, are exactly flavour of the month.