An Open Letter To: AFL Club Match Committees
Every Monday night DTTalk’s regular GWS guru @RLGriffin85 steps up to the plate to articulate the thoughts of AFL Dream Team coaches everywhere. Be it pointing the finger of blame at Senior AFL Coaches, setting a fire below underperforming players or just throw away comments about how bad Zac ‘Lurch’ Dawson really is; there’s no topic he isn’t willing to write about! Who’s in his sights this week?
Every Monday night DT Talk’s regular GWS guru @RLGriffin85 steps up to the plate to articulate the thoughts of AFL Dream Team coaches everywhere. Be it pointing the finger of blame at Senior AFL Coaches, setting a fire below underperforming players or just throw away comments about how bad Zac ‘Lurch’ Dawson really is; there’s no topic he isn’t willing to write about! Who’s in his sights this week?
Dear AFL Club Match Committees,
I understand that it must be stressful selecting a team each week. As a coach you get the blame when the team doesn’t go well and no credit when they do. As an ex-player come assistant coach you knew how to play but you’re not positive how others will play. As a sports scientist you know the strategies that need executing but have to select the right players for the job. And as Mark Neeld you have to throw darts at a spinning wheel and just hope you don’t hit Lynden Dunn.
What I don’t understand is why you feel the need to lie about how things are going within your playing group. Maybe it was the sacking of Mark Harvey last year that scared you all into the Ryan Crowley foetal position, just begging for mercy and no longer do you want to admit to having injured or tired players. The last thing you want to do is admit to a legitimate reason to fail come finals time like Harvey did. I mean, the man had to call up players from the Pilbara AusKick division in round 24 just to field a team, only for the club to then use that as a valid excuse to drop him quicker than being on the wrong end of a Barry Hall right cross.
But the truth is: you’re not the only ones under stress. We the fans and members, you know, the ones who fork out all the money to keep all clubs afloat (exc. Port) by buying overpriced dry pies at matches, team scarves that malt quicker than Chris Judd’s hair and memberships that mean less to the CEO than television rights, we are coping it tough this season.
Firstly, we have to sit through twenty two minutes of cross promotional tabloid melodramatic garbage, commonly referred to as ‘Seven News’, just to find out who will be playing for our club each week. This insult is then followed up with Seven only showing us the teams for the games that they will be broadcasting, and condenses the team sheets into a ten second graphic. The whole thing lasts about as long as Relton Roberts’ AFL career and is just as useful.
After being left as unsatisfied as a Scott Cummings being served a side-salad for dinner, we then have to go onto the internet to find the team sheets; that golden list of the players who are most likely guaranteed to play this round. Finally we get to feel that great joy in seeing which of our favourite superstars, developing talents and budding rookies will be running out to the club song on the weekend. We love it! We love reading through the ins and outs, discussing how the hell Cale Morton got named again and from an AFL Dream Team perspective, love settling on our weekly line-up. Or at least we used to.
Here’s where we start to feel a little narky. After putting up with the late release of information, the poor execution of it, and the lack of affection shown to the fans (no I’m not describing the career of Paul Medhurst), 90 minutes from game time, long after we’ve brought tickets to go and watch the superstars of our sport live in action, you change teams on us faster than Ricky Nixon changes his statement!
Last week Fremantle decided to name Fyfe even though his shoulder was only being attached with a piece of chewing gum and a shoe lace. Sydney withdrew Mumford despite not seeing an infection in his back, when his vertebrae are at least foot apart. Even GWS and Hawthorn decided to name Coniglio and Brichall even though they were in different cities!? You can’t play football via satellite video conference calls! If you could then Dane Swan would be calling in from KFC every week, Greg Broughton could up-link from the bench and save himself the 90 second return trip to the back pocket and Sam Gilbert… actually, don’t let that boy anywhere near image capturing equipment. Ever!
The point is as an AFL Club you know these players aren’t going to play. You think that the deception is worthwhile to throw off your opponents match-ups. Well the fans are bloody sick of it. This week you had Hargrave, Rischitelli, Birchall, Cornes and Porplyzia all named to play, and again they were all late changes that were never going to play. Well if this keeps going I’d like to make a suggestion: Clubs might as well do the fans the dignity of just naming members of One Direction or winners of Australia’s Got Talent on the field. At least that way fans won’t be disappointed if they’re late withdrawals and don’t show up.
Either as a group you genuinely have no idea what your travel department are booking, club doctors are prescribing or players are betting on doing on Thursday afternoons, or, simply you falsify team sheets. If it’s the latter then I believe parliament needs a new Speaker of the House and I’m pretty sure that’s a prerequisite. Go find another job. We want answers. Stop the lies. Stop the changes. Stop the boats. Wait… I’m off track.
Simply, Aussie Rules is a game for the fans. The Clubs represent who were are and we are invested in them emotionally and financially. The AFL has sold our right to interact directly with Clubs on Thursday afternoons, killing the hype and excitement there used to be and you Match Committee’s are selling our faith that we can still trust you. Unlike an evaluation about the Collingwood handover plan with Mr McGuire, we can handle the truth. Please; no more false team sheets, no more late changes, just give it to us straight. If a player is injured – let us know. At least then we can send him flowers and a get well card.
PS. Apologies to Jack Anthony, Zac Dawson and Andrejs Everitt; I should have found somewhere in this letter to express how shocking it is that you’re getting named each week. Maybe next week… If you’re named.