The suburbs of western Sydney look exactly like this year’s NAB ad…well, it would if you removed every single Sherrin!
Half Back Flanker went on a bit of a field trip for round eleven of the AFL season and ventured out into the Aussie rules footballing hotbed that could well be soon on the receiving end of the 18th AFL franchise. I thought it might be nice to gauge the levels of excitement and anticipation from the millions of residents in the west of Sydney as they count down to the arrival of their very own AFL club.
Well, having left Sydney and returned to Swine Flu Central…I can’t say that Sydney’s west is exactly swept up in AFL fever. It was like round eleven never actually happened! Not exactly sure why Andy D is so gung-ho about expanding into western Sydney..no, actually I am – there are a shitload of people out there! And they are watching plenty of footy. But let me tell you something…they ain’t watching our game!
If you wanted to talk to the locals about how the Tigers died in the arse during the second half on Friday Night football, they would have agreed. But they are talking the Wests Tigers in the NRL…not Richmond! And while the coach of the West Tigers might be in trouble, at least he still has a job…and he actually won something during his time there. Terry Wallace has neither of those things…
Richmond fans in western Sydney had to stay up past 2am on Saturday morning to watch Terry Wallace coach the Tigers to the last loss of his career.
And just say that you were keen to check out the Tigers-Doggies game and lived in western Sydney – you had to wait until after 11pm for the start of the match on Channel Seven. The Friday night marquee event AFL game and a massive audience in the largest growth area in Australia that has been targeted to adopt your code…and they are the last group of people in the entire country to see it?
And things didn’t improve on Saturday either. The ladder-leading Saints had another win? Nuh, they didn’t play until Monday night and they (being St George Illawarra) lost to the Gold Coast. And if you settled down in the family home to watch the action on a Saturday night, no AFL either. It was rugby union between the Wallabies and Barbarians…where the Lions were British, not Brisbane, and the Blues were from Auckland, not Carlton. If you went to the pub for some pay TV footy action, it was all about Johnathan Thurston and his Cowboys – not Toby Thurstans and the victorious Port Adelaide!
At least we saw some AFL action on Sunday with the Sydney Swans playing Hawthorn…it was live and everything. Sure, every pub with a TV had the rugby league on but those with a second screen were showing the Swannies. Sure enough, the Swans lost; in part to a classic Barry Hall brain-snap; and big bad Bazza has pretty much been the only AFL coverage in the Sydney media for the next three days.
Another Barry brain-snap…but it’s probably the only way to keep AFL and the Swans in the Sydney papers!
Say what you like about the hot-headed Swans spearhead but if it wasn’t for Barry Hall doing stupid things on a regular basis, the term ‘AFL’ would barely be uttered up there. Gary Ablett and the Cats keep tearing up the competition…read the scores in the paper the following day. The Crows and Bombers put on a great show with some spectacular goals…didn’t watch or listen to a second of it! Probably just as well for me…
And how about the latest teenage whizkid to hit the big time! Huh, who the hell is Jack Watts? They are talking about rising Wallabies star James O’Connor and his selection in the best rugby team in the country. They wouldn’t have the first idea about Watts making his highly (try ‘overly’) publicised debut for the worst team in the league – which just happened to coincide with Melbourne’s home game blockbuster against the biggest crowd drawing team. What a funny coincidence…
So, despite the miserable skies and hail storms greeting me at the airport, it was great to arrive back at the home of AFL football and catch up on what happened in round eleven. The guy behind the success at the Swans has doubts about the new Sydney club…and after my experience last weekend, I would have to agree.