The Irish must be having a laugh today. The Australian “international rules” team copped the weekend’s eight-point loss on the chin but did find time to whinge about, gasp, some fans actually setting foot on the field.
Eagle Adam Selwood said he was unnerved and felt threatened by an Irish crowd invasion while AFL Players’ Association boss Brendon Gale said the whole thing was “unprofessional” and not up to AFL standards – where, of course, any eight-year-old fan who tries to actually touch his or her idol is beaten or maybe shot.
The Age’s Peter Hanlon wrote a piece calling on the Australian touring party to lighten up and we’re with him. It’s funny how the moment young rookies turn into serious, ultra-professional AFL stars, they forget how much fun it is/was as a kid to run onto a ground.
I once played kick-to-kick after the final siren on the MCG for so long that they locked all the gates. It was dark as my mate and I had to be escorted through the Members to leave the hallowed turf.
Many of us have great memories of rushing an AFL ground in excitement and the game is poorer for making the Telstra Dome, MCG and other major venues fan-free zones, even after the final siren.
The “race to the centre” is yet another fan-fest to have disappeared in the name of professionalism and there must be concerns for footy’s greatest fan tradition – to personally congratulate a star full forward who has just kicked his 100th goal or, in Tony Lockett’s case, a 1300th goal.
Fans should be allowed their moment of sheer joy and pandemonium. Can you imagine how sterile footy will be the day somebody reaches the century and only receives the standard pat on the *rse by a teammate before wandering back to the goal square? Yawn.
The Australian players should be thrilled that the Irish public is so excited about the current tests that they are turning out in huge numbers and showing such wild enthusiasm.
Gale spoke earnestly about player security issues but honestly, name a footballer who has been injured by a fan trying to pat them on the back? If you can’t handle that kind of physical attention, it’s definitely time to commit to a more intense pre-season.