'Never again': AFL fans fume over 'terrible' grand final switch

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·5-min read
AFL fans, pictured here entering the Gabba before the 2020 AFL grand final.
Fans queue to enter the Gabba before the 2020 AFL grand final between Richmond and Geelong. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The AFL’s decision to hold the 2020 grand final at night has left footy fans around the country feeling flat.

Saturday night’s clash between Richmond and Geelong will be the first-ever twilight AFL grand final, with first bounce moved from the traditional 2.30pm timeslot to 7.30pm.

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With just hours to go before the start of the season finale at the Gabba in Brisbane, fans and commentators were left complaining that the later start ruined the build-up to the big game.

“It doesn't gel with me,” Collingwood great Tony Shaw told 3AW radio.

“I think this day should come to an end early so we can then all celebrate.

"Finishing the game at 10:30, I wouldn't want to do it as a player.”

Essendon champion Dustin Fletcher wrote on Twitter: “I’ve got to fire up, I’m not not feeling the GF vibe yet.”

Sydney Swans great Jude Bolton also said he wasn’t feeling it, as did comedian Wendy Harmer.

Titus O’Reilly described it as “terrible”, saying: “This is like waking up in Christmas Day and then being told you can’t open your presents until tonight.”

While journalist Rohan Connolly wrote: “Is it sinking in about now a night GF was only ever a good idea in the minds of TV executives scrambling for a few more thousand viewers, and “event” types who don't give a sh*t about the game & will probably talk more about the entertainment? Both can FRO.”

Weather wreaks havoc on AFL grand final

The first AFL grand final to be played outside of Melbourne looks set to be won in the wet after heavy rain hit Brisbane just hours out from Saturday's Gabba decider.

And with the possibility of lightning later in the evening there is a chance the game could be delayed, in one final twist to a season like no other.

Up to 89 millimetres had fallen near the Gabba as of 5pm, sweeping through to soak the playing surface just as the Bureau of Meteorology delivered an official thunderstorm warning for a host of regions including Brisbane city.

But the AFL’s first night final could be a blessing given the initial storms will have passed by the 7.30pm AEDT first bounce, however more rain is expected later in the evening.

Torrential rain, pictured here lashing the Gabba before the AFL grand final.
Torrential rain lashed the Gabba before the AFL grand final. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

If there is lightning within 10km of the ground, the game would be stopped in line with AFL protocols for up to an hour and players sent inside.

It would then resume if there was no lightning within 10km of the ground for 30 minutes.

Rain and slippery conditions would add another layer to Richmond coach Damien Hardwick’s theory that the grand final will be a tough, contested affair.

Richmond have won two of the last three flags and Geelong have played four preliminary finals in five years.

The Tigers won lead-up finals against the Cats in 2017 and 2019.

But the two clubs have not met in a grand final since Richmond won a thrilling VFL decider in 1967.

“We're two pretty good sides who have been playing a great brand of footy for a long time and I'm looking forward to the challenge,” Hardwick said.

“They've been a yardstick, along with our football club, for a number of years and it's about time we played off in a grand final.”

with AAP

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