Like every finals series, there are always talking points and controversies that emerge. Here, we give you a run-down of all the hype leading up to the AFL’s biggest day of 2012.
All Australian team announced
Debate always rages about who should make the cut, despite the fact that the All Australian team is only chosen on paper and never actually plays.
Still, it’s a big honour for the players named and a source of pride for their clubs and fans.
Fifteen players were first-time selections on this year’s team, captained by West Coast’s Darren Glass – the most since 1982. Of the returning players, Gold Coast captain Gary Ablett and West Coast ruckman Dean Cox joined seven other players as six-time selections.
The West Coast Eagles had the most selections (four), while North Melbourne was the only finalist not to have
a player feature.
Meanwhile, Richmond fans were outraged when Jack Riewoldt was left out, the first Coleman medallist omitted in the same season since Fraser Gehrig of St Kilda in 2005.
Players will be dusting off their suits for the AFL’s annual night of glamour on Wednesday evening.
Gold Coast’s Gary Ablett, considered the league’s best player by many fans and critics, is the bookies’ favourite to take the award, although he will have to see off a strong challenge from Richmond’s captain-in-waiting Trent Cotchin, who recently won his club’s ‘best and fairest’.
Essendon’s Jobe Watson rounds out the top three ahead of hopefuls Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide), Scott Thompson (Adelaide), reigning medallist Dane Swan (Collingwood), Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn), Josh P Kennedy (Sydney), Dayne Beams (Collingwood) and Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood).
The WAGs will be glad with Channel 7’s decision to ditch the ‘WAG-On Wheel’ gimmick that had the ladies standing on a revolving wheel to give fashionistas a 360-degree view of their outfits.
The rotisserie was always a controversial move, one critic labelling it a “giant lazy Susan”.
AFL video review incident
The AFL was moved to defend its video review system after the reviewer intervened seconds after a Collingwood goal in the Eagles v Magpies semi-final, ruling that an earlier rushed-behind attempt at play from West Coast’s Andrew Embley was indeed successful.
Collingwood fans, whose team eventually won by 13 points, were furious with the call after Magpies utility Tyson Goldsack had appeared to grab the ball on the line and not let it cross entirely.
“The video umpire has that power, but only six calls have been made by the video person this year as the majority are made by the goal umpire,” the league said in a statement.
“The video umpire can call for a review if he sees something before play restarts and the on-field umpires are alerted by audiolink.”
Goldsack also defended the review system.
“It’s a good thing to have – if it went the other way, then you’d like them to call it back,” he said.
AFL/ NRL go head to head
AFL might be king in Melbourne, but in Sydney this weekend ticket sales were head to head with its rugby league rival.
More than 100,000 tickets were sold to ANZ Stadium’s football feast, as the Sydney venue hosted Swans v Collingwood in an AFL preliminary final on Friday night, before Canterbury and South Sydney met in the NRL equivalent the following evening.
It was the stadium’s biggest weekend of sport since the 2000 Olympics.
Friday and Saturday’s combined attendance comfortably beat the numbers that were seen the last time the ground hosted back-to-back preliminary finals.
In 2006, more than 60,000 fans went to the Swans-Fremantle AFL clash and a little more than 40,000 attended St George Illawarra’s NRL match against Melbourne.
But the top-priced tickets to the AFL clash (£100) are double the price of those for the NRL (£50), with even the cheapest tickets to the AFL (at £45) twice as much as those for the 13-man game.
AFL rises by 27 per cent in western Sydney
AFL’s participation in western Sydney rose 27 per cent this year, with administrators saying the full impact of the region’s new AFL club is yet to be felt.
Greater Western Sydney may have experienced limited on-field success in their first season, but AFL NSW/ ACT won almost 10,000 new players in the region – up from 28,306 to about 37,000 in 2011.
The ethnically diverse region covers 14 local government areas and is a hotspot of population growth – one of the factors that attracted the league.
While the figures may rile those in the rugby league stronghold, Dean Connors, AFL NSW/ ACT’s manager for GWS says they’re not fudged.
“A participant is classified as a no-less-than-six-weeks paying customer, and emerges through Auskick programmes, through our clubs and our community programmes,” he said.
Connors said he would be promoting the club by engaging volunteers and universities, and “trying to spend money in better and more efficient ways”.
He also promised there was still more ground that could be made up by the AFL. Game on, NRL.
The drugs don’t work: Coaches to be tested?
The AFL already tests its players for drugs, and is now considering scrutinising its coaches after the revelation from former North Melbourne assistant coach Gavin Crosisca that he was addicted to drugs throughout his 25-year playing and coaching career.
Crosisca, who starred in Collingwood’s 1990 premiership team, confessed to an alcohol, cannabis and amphetamine addiction that he kept secret from teammates, his wife and his children.
As a result, he lost his home, his business and his coaching career.
Crosisca said he had been drug-free since May 2011, after being confronted by wife Nicole, who ‘‘kidnapped’’ him and took him to a clinic for treatment.
AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson said: “If the coaches wish to explore being party to a policy, then we’re happy to talk to them about that.”