One of the biggest stories of the 2017 Fixture Release 12 months ago was the announcement of the first AFL game to be played on Good Friday. After years of lobbying by North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs, it was announced that both clubs would contest the historic match. Fast forward to this week and it was announced that the Bulldogs would not take part in the Good Friday game in 2018.
It is fair to say that they were less than pleased.
“The board will seek a meeting with AFL commissioners to understand whether there was any shortcoming in the Bulldogs’ 2017 support for, or participation in the game, or any principle of competitive balance or fixturing, which provides an explanation for the AFL’s decision.” – Bulldogs President Peter Gordon 31.10.17
The passive-aggression dripping from the statement would suggest that not only that the Bulldogs felt aggrieved at their removal from the game, but also blindsided by the AFL’s decision to boot them. After comments such as these, given Gordon’s experience and tenure in his role at the Whitten Oval, it would be hard for many people not to side with him and his club in their feeling of mistreatment and quest for answers.
Unfortunately, for those looking to side strongly with Gordon in his stoush with the AFL, to discover the true reason for the snub there was no need for the hysterical demands for meetings with the League. In fact, the answer lay in the AFL’s press release announcing the first Good Friday game 12 months ago.
The AFL also elected to schedule a game on Good Friday for the first time, where North Melbourne will host the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium as a Twilight game. The AFL will fixture different teams through this match in coming years, with no set match up to be locked in as per Anzac Day.
AFL MEDIA RELEASE – 2017 FIXTURE ANNOUNCEMENT.
So, if Gordon truly wanted an answer to why his team wasn’t involved in the 2018 Good Friday Game, he needed to look no further than the same paragraph that announced the club’s involvement in the 2017 fixture. While this in no way means that he and his club have no reason to be upset, it probably should have prevented the histrionics that he treated us to.
While Gordon was wrong to go down this path, the media outlets that gave the story legs are equally to blame for this non story becoming bigger than it needed to. When did the collective memory of the football media get reduced to that of a goldfish. The old saying always was ‘today’s headlines are tomorrow’s fish and chip paper’ but when did it actually become true? Rather than just act as mouthpieces for the clubs in their grievances and dedicating time and space dependent on the level of noise, it is high time the media spent time challenging the validity of some of their claims. If they did this we would be spared the pantomime of an experienced Club President demanding answers he already had.
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