Illustration: Cathy Wilcox.
CHARLIE gets restless at footy finals time. The blood starts to rise and Louise gets nervous. She knows that it's goodbye Saturday, well that's how it used to be when all the finals were at 2 in arvo at the 'G.
Nothing is the way it used to be and the AFL's major preliminary final is now set for 5.15pm tomorrow week. If you talk to Lewis Martin at the Seven Network, it is easy to be convinced that it's in the interest of everyone. It will pull in another million people who don't know whether they're going to be the after-dinner crowd or not. Anyway, who needs to bother about dinner after 14 pies at the footy?
Sport is the life-blood of the media. In this past year, 11 of the top 30 free-to-air programs were sports. Last year's AFL grand final was No. 2 with 4.5 million viewers and the NRL final No. 6 with 4.3 million. All the top 30 Foxtel channels are sports.
Politicians love sport at this time of the year, too, and there will be plenty of lobbying in the VIP enclosures, as well as jostling on the grounds, when political leaders put everything else aside to do battle for the cut-away television shot to the audience out there.
I was reminded again of how lobbying is an intense part of all big business when I was in Parliament House on Tuesday having meetings with various people who are running the country. Between the scheduled discussions, I made a quick dash to the coffee shop near the front door of the hallowed chambers. Actually, there's hardly any reason to venture into a minister's office if you have a good seat at the coffee shop.
I am reliably informed that this is the zone that is worked so skilfully by the most powerful man in sport in the country, Andrew Demetriou. Apparently, he doesn't chase the ball all over the park these days, he lets it come to him … and he bags more than his fair share of goals to boot. He could teach everyone a thing or two about trawling the channels of power, including the crew of the FV Margiris, which changed its name this week to the Abel Tasman, after it was driven out of America in 1999 as the Atlantic Star.
The trawler might weigh in at 9500 tonnes, nothing like the svelte Andrew, of course, but weight-for-age, I'm giving it to the old North Melbourne and Hawthorn winger who can still steer his way through the heavy traffic.
The good ship whatever-it's-called this morning, had a quota of 18,000 tonnes of jack mackerel and red bait fish and can process over 250 tonnes of fish a day. It tows a net of up to 600 metres in length, with an opening nearly half the length of the MCG. 'Ha,' says Andrew. 'That's nothing. I can do that in pies and Chiko Rolls.'
As we know, the government is proposing laws to stop it fishing in Australian waters for another two years while its impact on the environment is assessed.
Clearly the Abel Tasman's master hadn't got a table at the Parliament House coffee shop. He might have learnt a thing or two about how to handle heavy weather. Try and change a tradition like moving the Saturday preliminary final to 5.15pm by convincing everyone that it's the best idea.
What's that got to do with the price of fish, I hear you say. Well, to do that you need the likes of AbleAndrew. I reckon he'd be welcome on board any business worth its salt.
Harold Mitchell is an executive director of Aegis.