AARON SENZIO’S our footy writer. He loves the game, but reckons the AFL should take a lesson from the local boys on how to put on a show that doesn’t leave your ears bleeding and your enthusiasm waning.
WHAT a weekend of football it was in WA!
Two thrilling games; Saturday’s national league clash between West Coast and Collingwood, followed by a Sunday afternoon classic between South Fremantle and Claremont in the state league.
But it is easy for me to say which game I enjoyed more (and only part of it comes down to my support for the Bulldogs). Like many other football fans, I am slowly being driven away from the AFL.
The entertainment factor of the game has undoubtably slipped from even 10 years ago, let alone from 20-30 years ago.
But what is really driving me away is the AFL Commission’s attempt to fill that entertainment void with a constant barrage to the senses from speakers and lights.
Going to a game at Optus Stadium (it should be called Perth Stadium but I will not digress) for me is close to unbearable.
Before and after the game they flicker the lights which illuminate the roof, play music as the umpires run the football back to the centre of the oval after goals are kicked, and there are video screens that run along the fence line of each tier that continually remind us to gamble, buy insurance, a car or some other non-essential product.
It is a sterile environment, built for efficiency and consumption.
Contrast this with the WAFL grand final controversially (but rightly) held at the old Fremantle Oval.
With the beautiful Victoria Pavilion featuring prominently on the western wing, the high limestone walls of Fremantle prison visible on the other side, and tree roots ripping up concrete, it is so much more authentic. Also contrast the seating arrangements at the two games. Both had limited capacity to comply with Covid guidelines.
At Optus Stadium spectators were seated in every other row in concentric rings I can only assume to ‘stop the spread’. I hope they all left the ground one by one so as to not come in contact with another potential ‘super-spreader’.
At Fremantle Oval I gladly stood shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other fans on the eastern wing, all attempting to spur their team to victory.
Laughably, the crowd was reminded to respect the government’s Covid-19 guidelines. The WAFL is sadly not immune to the same disease afflicting the AFL.
A vain attempt was still made to stimulate the crowd during quarter breaks with an announcer trying to draw attention to a large screen showing highlights of goals and marks during the 2020 WAFL season.
It was unsuccessful due to the screen being obscured by sunlight and shadow.
When will these people responsible for organising events realise that much of the effort to amuse is futile.
Let the footy do the talking.