The AFL has come under fire from viewers after allowing what many described to be an obvious jumper clash go ahead in the Anzac Day match between Collingwood and Essendon.
In the biggest match of the season in front of an astonishing 78,113 fans at a packed MCG on Sunday, the Bombers piled more misery onto the Magpies with a 16.13 (109) to 13.7 (85) win.
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The massive crowd was a world record for a venue since the COVID-19 pandemic began - topping the 67,000 that attended a Twenty20 cricket match between India and England in Ahmedabad last month.
Unfortunately for many of those in attendance and viewers watching on TV, the difficulties in distinguishing which team was which overshadowed the contest.
Both clubs wore specially designed Anzac guernseys for the match but they were both predominantly black, making the action particularly confusing for many watching on.
The one-off strips had been a talking point during the build-up because of the perceived clash, but AFL footy operations boss Steve Hocking said he was “very comfortable” that it wouldn't be an issue.
While Collingwood's strips had faint patches of white and Essendon's featured a sash of red poppies, the mainly black guernseys created all sorts of confusion for many viewers.
“The wide shots are where it’s really difficult to work out who’s who,” Saints legend Nick Riewoldt said during Fox Sports' coverage.
“To be honest, it takes me a second to figure out who’s actually got the ball, as in which team has got the ball, only after they’ve possessed the footy.
“Forearmed is forewarned, boys, we warned them about this on Monday On The Couch and no-one listened.”
Melbourne great Garry Lyon delivered the AFL a massive spray, calling the decision "dumb" to allow the teams to play in such similar colours.
“You’ve got the biggest home and away game of the year, and you’ve put two teams out there in black jumpers,” he said.
“It is dumb. It makes us look amateurish, that’s the bottom line. How it happens is beyond me.”
Plenty of viewers were having the same problem identifying which guernseys were which, in an issue that lit up social media.
Pressure mounts on Magpies coach
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley was even forced to ask his players whether he guernsey clash was an issue after another disappointing display from his side.
“I actually asked the boys at halftime, is there anything in the guernseys?” he said post-match.
“Are we not picking our players out who were 35-40 metres away, because it looked like we were not picking them. But that was not an issue.”
Collingwood lost Jeremy Howe (hamstring), Jordan De Goey, Chris Mayne and Levi Greenwood (all concussion) before Sunday's 24-point loss at the MCG, with the experienced quartet joining Jamie Elliott (leg) and Taylor Adams (knee) on the sidelines.
However, Buckley refused to use the injuries as an excuse for the result as a raft of skill-based errors proved costly against the desperate Bombers.
The out-of-contract coach also denied speculation over his future beyond the 2021 season was a distraction for his players as the Magpies (1-5) turn their attention towards a crunch clash with Gold Coast in round seven.
"We want to win games of footy but we're not playing well enough at the moment," Buckley said.
"There's positives to take from (the Essendon game) but we just didn't have the weight of numbers go our way tonight and we just didn't play with any efficiency at all.
"The challenge in our season is to improve those first and foremost, regardless of who we play or who plays."
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