It may not have set the world record for largest crowd since the COVID-19 pandemic, but the massive gathering of fans at the MCG on Thursday night sparked a global frenzy.
Some 51,723 fans turned out at the MCG for Collingwood's clash with Carlton in the AFL - the biggest for any sporting fixture in the southern hemisphere since the shutdown of sport last year.
On Tuesday, Victorian authorities had lifted a cap on crowds at sporting events from 50% to 75% of stadium capacity after declaring the state officially COVID-free.
That would have allowed a maximum of 75,000 fans, without masks, to pack the 100,000-seater MCG for the Carlton-Collingwood match.
Only 51,723 showed up, but that number bettered the 49,218 who turned out at the MCG last week for Carlton's match against Richmond.
However it was well short of the world record of 67,200 and 66,352 fans that watched the first two Twenty20 cricket matches between India and England at the 132,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad earlier this month.
Nevertheless, fans in Australia and overseas were drooling over photos of the huge crowd that packed the MCG.
75% capacity crowd - 75,000 fans at the @MCG - last year, who’d have thought! Scenes we know, make us the envy of the world. If you’re in Australia right now, don’t take these freedoms for granted. We are fortunate to have avoided so much of this ugly pandemic #afl #grateful pic.twitter.com/6XejDzjnL3
— Maria Pasquale (@HeartRome) March 25, 2021
People around the world are going to see that and be asking their own governments', "WTAF?"....
Well done Victoria!
— When the Flame Turns Blue 🖤💛❤️ (@WhenTurn) March 25, 2021
Australians need to recognise the hard work done by our Premiers has allowed us to do what other countries can only dream of
— Lynda Shortis (@Lyndylousauces) March 25, 2021
— Rose Jost (@rosejost) March 25, 2021
You've gotta love ELIMINATION.
Hard to believe Morrison wasn't interested in pursuing such a strategy...
— Can't Stand Hypocrisy (@t_hypocracy) March 25, 2021
I loved Melbourne and the MCG is unreal!
— Daniel Fletcher (@DanielFletch89) March 25, 2021
— Jill Scanlon (@jdscanlon) March 25, 2021
The AFL will be confident of surpassing the world record at the MCG before too long.
The iconic ground hosted 86,174 at the Women's T20 World Cup final between Australia and India in March 2020, before social-distancing rules banned mass gatherings for several months.
Collingwood get better of Carlton in AFL clash
Collingwood put an off-season of tumult behind them to hold off arch-rivals Carlton by 21 points.
Inspired by dynamite forward Jordan De Goey and defender Darcy Moore, the Magpies carved through a leaky Blues defence while their own back-half stood up admirably.
Collingwood survived multiple challenges from Carlton but the Magpies' 30-point lead early in the second quarter proved enough as they won their first game of the season 16.10 (106) to 13.7 (85).
The Blues dominated the third quarter and had opportunities to push in front, but simply could not penetrate a Moore-led Collingwood defence.
Carlton dominated the term with 17 inside-50s to the Magpies' eight entries as the ball was camped deep near the Blues' goal for extended periods, but they were unable to capitalise on the dominance.
On the other hand, Collingwood were far more efficient going forward with their 48 inside-50s to the Blues' 60.
"We didn't play particularly well (against the Western Bulldogs) last week and we think there's still so much growth on what we put forward tonight," Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said.
"But we think that was a more Collingwood performance in regards to our effort and our defensive shape and we've kicked 100 points."
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