Stumbling away from the horror that was the 2017 AFL Grand Final, the Crows and their supporters were lambasted from pillar to post about the performance. Adelaide had made it’s first Grand Final since the 1998 premiership, they had claimed the minor premiership and had flogged the Tigers earlier that year.
But we didn’t and it was a tough pill to swallow.
The MCG alone didn’t lose us the match, but it was a factor.
I had always thought about the MCG as a great place for footy, winning in Melbourne is important but the advantages to a side who calls it their home can’t be ignored.
When the minor premier plays in front of a crowd 100k people strong and it is split 70-30 against them, it’s not a neutral ground and that means it’s not fair. No non-Victorian side has won a free kick count against a Victorian side in a Grand Final since Brisbane played Essendon in 2001. That’s nine times in the last 16 years. The ground is unique in its dimensions, much wider than Adelaide Oval and we have seen non-Victorian sides lost in the space. To make this worse contenders like Adelaide and WestCoast were only afforded two games at the MCG in 2018 compared to Grand Finalists Collingwood who played there 14 times.
On top of those effects on the game, you also have all the intangibles. Sleeping in a hotel for 3 nights vs your own bed. Research from Brown University has shown that the left hemisphere of your brain struggles to shut down when you are sleeping in a hotel. Couple that with heightened senses and anxiety from the Grand Final coming up and you have some very strung out players. Josh Jenkins in a recent interview said that he was “Completely shot” before the ball was even bounced.
When you are playing Formula 1 football, every factor is significant every advantage is exaggerated so if one side starts with so much already in their favor it’s just simply not fair. Leigh Matthews said in an interview this week that it’s a 3 goal advantage.
The arguments for keeping it there are tenuous at best. It’s the home of football, sure, it might be, but it’s a national competition now.
The next one is that it can hold more people, well with the majority of people watching it on broadcast anyway does it matter? Especially when long-term loyal members can’t get a ticket.
Gill’s decision on behalf of the AFL to lock it away until 2057 shows that the AFL is regressing in terms of a national competition.
The pain of 2017 will never go away, the MCG wasn’t the only reason that we had a shocker, but that doesn’t mean that we should accept the instituted unfairness either.
Looking back through past results I found this little gem:
“Note: Adelaide played its “home” final at the MCG despite being ranked above Melbourne due to the agreement then in place with the Melbourne Cricket Club that at least one game each week of the finals be played at the MCG.”
So just because it was, doesn’t mean that it has to be, change will come if we keep the pressure on.