In was in late March 2018 when Cairns hosted its last AFL match. On the day, Tropical Cyclone Nora kindly dumped monsoonal rain over the Cairns region, turning Cazalys into a fairly decent outdoor swimming pool.
After years of declining attendances at the Cairns venue for AFL Premiership matches, a decision was made to host a Round 1 match in March (instead of the usually dry August). It was a calculated gamble to try and produce an excited and enthusiastic crowd to appease the AFL, boosting numbers again to secure a future for these matches in Cairns. Sadly, the weather intervened.
Only 3722 people braved the conditions that night, and subsequently the AFL did not grant another game in 2019 to Cairns. Instead, fierce southern rival Townsville hosted their first AFL Premiership match. Those in the footy industry in Cairns were shattered and some believed that the damage done might see a 10-year wait for the city to host another match.
The AFL community is stunned by the announcement today that Essendon’s Irish speedster, Conor McKenna, has tested positive to the coronavirus. Details are still sketchy, with further medical investigation and contact research to occur, but AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan announced today that tomorrow’s Essendon v Melbourne match will be postponed.
The precaution is in line with the AFL’s COVID-19 protocols, with a postponement decision meaning that the match can potentially be played mid-week later in the season. Shorter quarters were brought in by the AFL to lessen the playing load on players in the event that postponements did occur, which is now the case.
Initial fears that McKenna brought the disease with him from overseas, after returning home to Ireland just a few weeks ago, have been allayed somewhat. McLachlan stated that McKenna tested negative last Wednesday, showed a “low grade irregularity” on Friday and a positive this morning. This would indicate that he may have contracted the disease since returning to Australia.
I doubt that there has ever been a Round 2 of a season that has carried such a weight of expectation, whether that be at the highest level of the AFL, or the suburban juniors anywhere around the world. Yet, Collingwood and Richmond have played in one of the most, dare I say, important matches in many, many years.
Pitting two great traditional clubs against each other certainly raised the excitement. The canned applause was for the most art innocuous, although at times the crowd appeared to be cheering the wrong thing. That’s technology! The mere spectacle of a game – a live game - returning to the lounge-rooms across the world raised spirits.
However, more important that any of the above, arguably, is the fact that the ‘Pies and Tige’s are the catalyst for a new footy beginning. The fact that they both entered the field of battle tonight heralds what will come.
Of course, All Lives Matter. However, gatherings across the world have been raising awareness to the fact that black lives are a part of that statement and deserve recognition to be included within the term “All”. As a show of respect and support, the following list shows the names of indigenous Australian men and women who have played at VFL, AFL or AFLW level.
Winston Abraham, Matthew Ahmat, Robert AhMat, Joe Anderson, Tony Armstrong, Jarrod Atkinson, Les Bamblett, Chance Bateman, Laurie Bellotti, Harley Bennell, Jamie Bennell, Eddie Betts, Peter Bird, Alan Bloomfield, Ashley Blurton, Shane Bond, Troy Bond, Peter Burgoyne, Shaun Burgoyne, Ronnie Burns, Norm Byron, Barry Cable, Shane Cable, Fred Campbell, Matt Campbell, Warren Campbell, Kevin Caton, Sean Charles, Scott Chisholm, Allen Christensen, Raphael Clarke, Xavier Clarke, Eric Clarke, Che Cockatoo-Collins, David Cockatoo-Collins , Donald Cockatoo-Collins, Adam Cockie, Richard Cole, Clayton Collard, Cyril Collard, Reuben Cooper, Anthony Corrie, Shannon Cox, Percy Cummings, Robert Cummings, Trent Cummings,
Take part in our poll at the bottom of this story and on the website's side panel to gauge interest in whether the AFL should move towards a night grand final. The story below looks at the concept based on Eddie McGuire's beliefs.
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire added further fuel to to fire concerning the AFL moving towards a night grand final. The argument has been emotive for a number of years now without any firm decision being reached. However, McGuire today suggested that the AFL might be forced to consider the change in light of the season postponement due to COVID-19. With the MCG being booked already to accommodate cricket fixtures, and the cricketing powers at state and national level unwilling to budge, McGuire believes we could see an "historic" end to this season.
McGuire told radio station Triple M, “If everything goes according to plan I think we’ll have a night Grand Final this year.”
“I think we’ll have the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley on the Friday night, I think we’ll have the holiday on the Friday, then Saturday will be the Cox Plate and Saturday night will be the Grand Final.
“I think for AFL football, Channel 7 and Fox Footy would be very, very keen to get as much viewership as possible on the Grand Final given the restrictions that have happened so far this year.”
Whilst the AFL is yet to formally state how and when the AFL season can restart after the enforced season postponement due to COVID-19, two northern cities might be the keys to fast tracking a start date.
Darwin has emerged as a potential location for a player hub (where all teams would be based for a set period of time to play out rounds) with its potential to have matches played in front of crowds as early as June. Cairns has also emerged as a potential hub for matches and teams with AFL Cairns having confirmed its interest in playing that role.
Both cities possess multiple venues, milder winter conditions than the colder southern states, strong following of the game and, most importantly, have low cases of COVID-19. The Northern Territory had recorded just 28 cases, whilst Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service had reported 33 cases. Both figures are extremely low compared to the major Australian cities.
To kick off a series of articles from around the world that look at footy life in COVID-19 times, this story looks at some aspects of footy life in Far North Queensland. It is hoped this story may trigger more stories from people, clubs and leagues across the world as they negotiate events unthought-of at the end of their last seasons.
On my way home from work last week I dropped by the home ground of my former club, Gordonvale's Power Park. It is the home of the Pyramid Power club, set in canefields and overlooked by the mighty Walsh’s Pyramid. It is, in a word, beautiful.
It was around five o’clock – a time when junior footy training would be under way in the first week of April, preparing for the first matches for the new season.
Today, however, the ground was devoid of kids. Only teams of plovers graced the playing surface. Seeming to enjoy themselves, it wasn’t clear who was winning. Perhaps, for them it wasn’t about that – it was about fun.
The AFLW season has been cancelled and AFL season has been postponed to May 31st, due to the coronavirus pandemic taking hold of the world.
And we all knew that the axe that has fell on sport globally was eventually going to fall on the AFLW and AFL.
It's disappointing that the AFLW season has come to an abrupt end, after such an exciting finals series and enthralling home and away season, but this coronavirus is bigger than sport and through these trying times globally we have to accept that there are more important things than sport right now.
The first week of the AFLW finals certainly delivered with four cracking matches and who would have thought they would be the last women's football matches in 2020.
The AFL today announced that it would immediately move to suspend the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership season at the conclusion of this weekend's matches and conclude the NAB AFL Women's season as a result of the continuing spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Today's match between West Coast Eagles and Melbourne will be the final match before the AFL season goes into a temporary halt with the suspension of all games until May 31, 2020.
The AFL will review the situation by the end of April to determine whether a further suspension period would be required.
Today's AFLW semi-final between Carlton and Brisbane Lions will be the last NAB AFL Women's match to be played with the 2020 season ending today. Given the twin conference structure and that the finals series was not completed, the AFL Commission has determined no premiership will be awarded for this season, following a recommendation from the AFL Executive.