There’s a war going on and as usual it’s
hard to know who to believe. Telstra Stadium officials are saying the surface
is safe for tomorrow night’s match between the Swans and Geelong. Players
and coaches are saying they won’t play if it’s not. And as usual, fans are
stuck in the middle waiting to see what’s going to happen.

The saga started on April 11 when Mick and
Keef came to town to play a few tunes for 70,000 of their closest fans. As
Stadium management knew, the surface was going to take a battering with that
sort of traffic. Keef has a lot of guitars, Mick likes a big stage to strut, and
all those speakers don’t carry themselves in.

Questions about the rehab job (on the
surface, not the band) were raised in The SMH on Monday
when Manly captain Ben Kennedy and coach Des Hasler called the surface loose
and unstable. Although the Bulldogs have stopped short of blaming the surface
for the twisted ankle suffered by Bulldogs player Andrew Emilio, it’s not a
comforting detail for AFL players.

The Swans moving training yesterday was not
good news either. As Geelong player Cameron Ling bluntly pointed out overnight: “We’re not
playing local country footy where you have a couple of pot-holes in the ground.
There are
blokes’ careers on the line here and if an injury was to happen, I would be
pretty bloody disappointed to be honest. It is disgraceful.”

So why did it take until Wednesday, when
panic beset stadium management, for them to give the surface the attention it

Now they’re in a difficult situation. To
agree to move the game would be to admit that the spin released on Tuesday about the
health of the playing surface was untrue. But to keep the game risks the embarrassing situation of having
a player pop a knee or roll an ankle, if indeed the surface is below standard.

Perhaps they need some advice from Ian
Collins, boss of Docklands stadium and long-time defender of the most
questionable surface in the AFL.