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Hypocrisy the other big Brownlow winner


Chief sports columnist and associate editor with The Age

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Gary Ablett is all smiles as he holds the 2013 Brownlow Medal. Click for more photos

Ablett's Brownlow

Gary Ablett wins the AFL 2013 Brownlow Medal with the last vote of the night at a glittering event at the Crown Casino. Photo: Pat Scala

Here is an executive summary of the messages put out by the AFL this week.

Supplements are the root of all evil, except if they are made by the sponsor of the Brownlow Medal red carpet, in which case they must be - wink, wink - good for your body, even if that sponsor itself has had a run-in with a regulatory authority this year over claims of producing an everlasting glow of good health.

Alcohol abuse is a serious and ongoing problem in football - most acutely obvious in this season of mad Mondays - but please indulge this Brownlow night segment in which four medallists sit around a table, ostensibly to talk about the good old days, in fact to feature in lots of soft-focus shots of them pouring drinks, sipping drinks and pouring more drinks, also dreamy cutaways of idle drinking vessels.

Oh, yes, and two shots of them picking at a meal, the same mouthful twice, the way drinkers do.

Betting, if not massively policed, stands to destroy professional sport, including the AFL, whose integrity department will monitor the movement of every last cent, but in the meantime, here in the middle of the Brownlow Medal coverage are a handful of gratuitous updates by our corporate bookmaker, which can't be for information's sake - since they blare out only the bleeding obvious - and so can only be to habituate viewers to the idea of turning everything into a bet, and when that loses, into another, just the way the fixers like it.

It was almost enough to cause one to pine for the return of

Respect between fans is paramount in our game, which is why a Carlton cheer squad's round-two banner welcoming Mick Malthouse from ''the club of scum to club No.1'' was promptly and indignantly confiscated by authorities the moment it was unfurled, only to fly again in the Brownlow night package, because now it was no longer an affront, but a season highlight, reprising the way the league used to say how terrible cowardly king hits were and its broadcaster kept showing them ad infinitum to prove it.

Scalping is a scourge, and all you ticketless Fremantle supporters should stay away from Melbourne so that you are not tempted, because we will have spies around every Yarra Park corner and behind every pixel of social media, and will be coming down like a tonne of bricks on anyone selling five or fewer tickets on the sly and ripping off authentic fans …

Because we have people who - by throwing in a barely palatable ''meal'' and a bit of spurious ''entertainment'' - can sell many more tickets at a time for vastly higher prices, to people who couldn't give a rat's about Hawthorn or Fremantle, but know that going is good for business, and so will again turn the grand final into the most soul-less match of the series, in terms of atmosphere, and the coffers will overflow again.

You might start to forgive the mix-up in these messages on the grounds that the AFL is huge, and left and right hand might not always know what the other is doing, except that in this town it would be impossible for left or right football hands to act in isolation from the other, and on Brownlow night all hands were in the same place at the same time, and passed a few late-night drinks from one to the other without it occurring to any of them that they had spent the night and the season subliminally contradicting themselves …

You might remember that Brownlow night is not merely football's showbiz, but, as we are told importantly at the start every year, is a formally convened meeting of the AFL Commission.

You might start to think that hypocrisy is alive and well and living somewhere between Docklands and Crown.


  • If I were a promoter and hired the MCG for a Rolling Stones Concert, I could sell all 100,000 tickets. Melbourne CRICKET Club members could buy them if they wanted to, like anyone else. I can't see why the AFL Grand Final organized by the AFL is any different. At the 2010 Grand Final Replay it was embarrassing to see the nearly 6000 empty seats in the MCC Members "enclosure" - and fans of the the two competing clubs who couldn't get in to the game at all would have been devastated to see that.

    Date and time
    September 25, 2013, 6:46AM
    • Good luck Rock.

      You are up against the Melbourne Establishment here, who believe they have the right to turn up on grand Final Day at 2.00PM and get a good seat.

      In the AFL Members, we have to bok seats for many big games and there are no walk up starts. Our membership fees all go to football as well. Helpoing all the clubs. MCC members avow they barrrack for the Ds. Yet look at that clubs parlous financial situation. One day a year members.

      Can't have the suits doing that now can we? Would break with some outdated premise called tradition, that was all good 40 years ago...

      Highton (the multicultural centre of Corangamite)
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 8:06AM
    • Guess what mozza, we dont think we have that right, we DO have that right. It comes from paying a heap of money each and every year to maintain and keep the facilities that the rest of Melbourne enjoys whenever they choose.

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 9:17AM
    • James - your MCC Membership cost "ain't all that" mate - most adult club members with a reserved seat pay more than you do per year with a lot less of a return (like me). I think Rock's point is that you indeed have every right to a seat given you are an MCC Member - but you shouldn't have the right to deny loyal fans of competing teams the right to attend if you dont wish to. MCC Members should have to purchase a seat in advance like everyone else does. And if there are seats left over - instead of the MCC policy meaning you currently can choose to forgo a seat whilst simultaneously denying others "less fortunate" the chance to attend at the same time - perhaps the MCC could show some sympathy to other footy fans, the ones who go most weeks but hardly ever get to attend a Grand Final. MCC should go to pre-purchasing - you will still get to attend nearly every year you wish to James - but you also might allow a few thousand footy fans the most awesome experience of their life, and one that they may not ever get to experience again.

      DJ from Deer Park
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 12:04PM
    • the MCC has a 25 year waiting list and costs a fair amount every year + a pretty big once off fee a couple of years after you are a full member.

      WE pay for the construction of facilities. WE pay for the maintainence of these facilities. I have no problems if other people want to come in if there are spare seats but too act like you have a right too? Please...the MCC is an exclsuive club and a damn hard one to get into. We dont have to let you do anything, even if you feel like you are entitiled too it. Its our club. Not yours.

      And mozza i dont know what you are talking about but MCC members camp out overnight in order to get the good seats, the only seats available at 2pm are the noselbeed seats. You clearly have no idea

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 2:43PM
    • In the name of the footy, booze and betting and the unholy money. Just for men.

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 7:47PM
  • Always amused that the "Wags" are quite happy to be shown as nothing more than trophy clothes horses with nothing significant to contribute other than the brand of clothes they are wearing. Got forbid we learn something about them. Makes a bit of a mockery of "womans round".

    Date and time
    September 25, 2013, 6:50AM
    • Yep...pretty much captures all the reasons I don't watch the footy anymore

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 7:21AM
      • Agree Walter M..there are other reasons, like lopsided draws etc, but same end result. I miss footy, used to love it, but the suits and money have simply ruined like any other sport they get involved in.

        Date and time
        September 25, 2013, 6:40PM
    • Another great article from one of the best sports writers in Australia. I would not say it is insightful as these points were so glaringly obvious during the broadcast but brave and responsible because the game is being brought into disrepute by the bosses. This is a case of "do as I say, not as I do". Or to mis-quote Mister G. Orwell, "All men are equal but some are more equal than others". I hope you posted it off to the Andrew Demetriou and the commission Greg as they are the ones who need to read it.

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 7:34AM

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