End the Anzac Day duopoly


I will be watching the Anzac Day game tomorrow. This may seem like a statement of the obvious to many but the reality is, the Anzac Day game for me is a take it or leave it affair.

There’s a few reasons for this. One is that of all the public holidays, Anzac Day is about the only instance where I actually take a bit of time to reflect on why I’ve been spared another shift doon pit.

I was quite close to my Grandfather who served a long and brutal WWII campaign and on Anzac Day – an occasion he despised – I’ll go for a walk and give a bit of thanks for the simple fact that I’ve never had to run at a machine gun, or hose what is left of my mate off the cannon shell shattered mid upper turret Perspex.

The other reason is that, well, too often the game itself is shit.

Yep, tomorrow we are going to see an up-and-coming Bombers side against a Collingwood mob that will be desperate for a big win to get its finals campaign – and much like the Bulldogs of 2010 a Grand Final and nothing else will constitute a pass mark for FIGJAM – underway.

But it isn’t always like this. For a fair period of the 2000s, Anzac Day was just a pair of bottom of the ladder teams slogging out in an early season home and away game. If you don’t get sucked in by the puffed chest Aussie flag worn as cape full moon party take on Gallipoli, which I certainly don’t, then that is what it is.

Which begs the question: why should it always be Essendon and Collingwood playing this fixture? The reality of the cyclical structure of the league means that there will inevitably be periods when both teams are down the bottom and playing crappy football.

According to The Age there’s a push on to end the Anzac Day duopoly. It is one I support. For the following reasons.

There’s no doubt that Essendon and Collingwood have done tremendously well to make the current Anzac Day fixture what it is.

I’d argue there’s an element of serendipity at work – that the fixture came along at just the right moment, as the wider Australian culture, under the not so subtle urging of then PM John Howard, developed a fascination on the Anzac myth bordering on sexual.

But this should not deny the innovative work put in by Essendon and Collingwood.

However, being innovative and working hard to develop a fixture or a timeslot does not guarantee a club exclusive access to it forever more.

Just ask North about Friday night. Interestingly, both Collingwood and Essendon went on the record as saying they didn’t think Friday nights would work early in the piece.

Lo and behold, when North made them work – also, undeniably, with the aid of other social forces like the opening up of the Melbourne CBD as an entertainment district at night – Collingwood and Essendon were keen to get a slice of the cake, and the AFL let them.

No doubt there’ll those who will claim that no other clubs could be guaranteed to fill the MCG every Anzac Day without fail. Yes and no. The two “foundation” clubs in the fixture are somewhat victims of their own success: they’ve made Anzac Day into such a huge event that it is now ingrained into the footy public’s consciousness. They have built, people will come.

That of course does not mean that we could schedule the Bulldogs vs Port at the MCG and expect 90k to turn up. That is crazy talk.

But what would work is a Grand Final rematch. Every year. It would become an iconic fixture and would attract more neutrals than it does now – that said, plenty of neutrals go now. Even if one of the sides is an interstate team, enough people would come over from WA or wherever to see a Grand Final rematch.

Essendon and Collingwood would no doubt squeal but the reality is that the fixture itself is so well established that it can be taken off them and flourish, just like Friday nights.

If anything, the new Anzac Day would get better attendances and ratings.

I would faithfully watch the Grand Final rematch year-in, year-out if it was on Anzac Day. And I can’t say that about the annual Essendon vs Collingwood affair.

Surely the fans of all clubs should come first?

0 Replies to “End the Anzac Day duopoly”

  1. dont turn anzac day into another grand final, the best thing about anzac day is that the vast majority of spectators barrack for either essendon or collingwood, if you make a replay for the previous years grand finalists it will just turn into another corporate sham where the majority of spectators dont even care about the teams playing. imagine if you had a 2016 anzac day game between gold coast and freo, you would struggle to get 10,000 legitimate fans there.

    leave it as it is

  2. I agree with your conclusion but not the assumptions you make to get there.

    You seem to still have the opinion that the draw should be non-random. This automatically introduces bias and will tend to favour particular sides. A random draw will mean that over several seasons every side will have the same exposure, the same number of Friday night games, games against top four or bottom four sides and so on.

    It is possible to generate a purely random fixture within certain bounds such as teams should play X games at home and shouldn’t have less than a 6 day gap.

    You also make the assumption that having 90k spectators is important. Why should this be the case? If all of a team’s members and X percentage of their supporters attend the game and that is 40k or even 30k, those spectators shouldn’t be disadvantaged simply because they are in the minority. Why not make laws that favour white Australians simply because they are the majority? I support the crows primarily because my parents did, does that mean i have less of a right to watch my team on a given day than someone whose parents support Collingwood?

    If it’s the only game on be it GWS vs. GCS or Freo vs. Roos then it will still get the majority of the football following public watching, simply because it’s the only game on. I for one have no more or less interest in watching either of those matches or any other match that my team isn’t playing in.

    You also seem to have the opinion that profit making should be a first principle for the AFL. While i understand the necessity of staying solvent, all increased profits means is that it costs more to follow football. Sponsors and Advertisers don’t pay to have their brand on a team for altruistic purposes; they do it because the more people exposed to their brand the more products they sell and the more profit they make. They wouldn’t collectively spend Billions of dollars without evidence that sponsorship and branding means people will spend more money. Which means Demetriou can pour millions into GWS and GCS? And why would he do that? To enter emerging markets and generate more profits. All of those dollars have to come from somewhere, and to what end?

    Another assumption you seem to be making is that the ANZAC day game should be held at the MCG. Crows vs. Port would fill AAMI stadium. WCE vs. Freo would fill Patterson. Ask yourself how you would feel if for whatever reason every AFL grand final will now be held in Perth. Why Perth? Well why not Perth? The Victorian refusal to accept that it’s a national game looks to me like the kid who makes up rules to suit him just because it’s his ball. If you don’t like that it’s a national competition go follow the VFL. (And while on the topic the argument that it’s at the MCG so the greatest number of attendees can go is flawed as only 40’000 club members actually get to go)

    Zaharaharakis, your argument is severely flawed. Syd vs. Collingwood would cover 1.955 Million supporters compared to Ess vs. Coll that would cover 1.534 Million supporters. So i take it that based on your utilitarian argument you would now be in favour of allowing those extra 421000 people watch their team play on ANZAC day? Even Sydney vs. Brisbane, WCE, Essendon, Adelaide or Carlton would be a ‘majority’ compared to Coll vs. Ess. So as the great Denis Pagan once said, Pull your head in.

    Source: http://www.roymorganonlinestore.com/News/1424—Swans,-Magpies-and-Lions-have-most-supporte.aspx

    According to Roy Morgan in 2011 supporters by team were as follows:

    Sydney 1042000
    Collingwood 913000
    Brisbane 824000
    Essendon 621000
    West Coast 615000
    Adelaide 600000
    Carlton 595000
    Geelong 475000
    St Kilda 444000
    Fremantle 438000
    Hawthorn 381000
    Richmond 368000
    WB 303000
    Port Adel 280000
    North Melb 191000
    Melbourne 183000
    Gold Coast 90000

  3. However if you want to go by the number of people who put their hands in their pockets, 2011 membership numbers tell a different story:


    AFL club memberships as of June 30, 2011:

    2010 figures in brackets:

    Collingwood 71,271 (57,408)
    Hawthorn 56,224 (53,978)
    Adelaide 44,719 (45,545)
    Carlton 43,791 (40,480)
    West Coast 43,216 (44,160)
    Fremantle 42,762 (39,854)
    Essendon 42,559 (40,589)
    Richmond 40,184 (35,960)
    Geelong 39,343 (40,326)
    St Kilda 39,276 (39,021)
    Melbourne 36,937 (33,358)
    Port Adelaide 32,581 (29,092)
    Sydney 27,106 (28,671)
    Western Bulldogs 29,710 (32,077)
    North Melbourne 28,761 (26,953)
    Brisbane 20,792 (26,779)
    Gold Coast 11,141 (NA)

    1. Adrian Appleyard, i respect someone who can make an argument based on facts.

      Memberships only count supporters that put all their money in at the start of the year. I’m a Victoria based Adelaide fan, so i buy a Crows supporter AFL membership, not sure if these numbers are counted in your figures. It also ignores the people that go to the games as general admission.

      Even if we take your figures at face value it still argues against Coll Vs Ess.

      Coll Vs Haw, Ade, Car, Wce, Freo would represent a majority against Coll Vs Ess.

      If you make the assumption that decisions should be made solely on the basis of serving the greatest number of people (which i outline above is a flawed argument) it still argues that Coll Vs Haw would be the better choice.

  4. I was pointing out that Syd v Coll wouldn’t be the top game by number of real, paid up members.

    It’s hard to see how Sydney have more ‘real’ supporters. Most people in Sydney, if forced to choose, would choose Sydney. If not forced, most would say none of the above.

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