'Nerves of steel': Avian pitch invader captures AFL fans' hearts

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
A stubborn pigeon sat itself in the centre circle and refused to budge as the AFL clash between Geelong and Hawthorn got underway on Easter Monday. Pictures: AFL/Channel 7
A stubborn pigeon sat itself in the centre circle and refused to budge as the AFL clash between Geelong and Hawthorn got underway on Easter Monday. Pictures: AFL/Channel 7

Geelong and Hawthorn, two fierce rivals with plenty to play for on Easter Monday, lined up before the opening bounce of their Monday clash expecting the full attention of the AFL world.

The reality didn't quite match the expectation, with a stubborn pigeon that had invaded the centre circle instead becoming the focus of AFL fans in the early stages of their clash.

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Fans and pundits alike couldn't get over the bird's refusal to budge, despite umpire Ray Chamberlain bouncing the ball to start the game and the two teams thundering into the square.

Attention was refocused on the game at hand until a first-quarter goal from Hawthorn's Luke Bruest, whereupon the Channel 7 broadcast cut back to a ground official trying in vain to coax the dogged bird off the ground.

It eventually flew away, but not before capturing the attention of the broader AFL world and prompting a series of responses on social media.

Fortunately the broadcasters were on the ball, with Channel 7 sideline reporter Abbey Holmes updating viewers as to the pigeon's whereabouts at quarter-time.

“A ripping opening term by both sides but there was the toughest and bravest pigeon we have seen in the centre of the ground throughout the opening term,” she said.

“It would definitely be tough midfielder of the bird variety. As you can see the AFL has ushered the pigeon off the ground. They didn’t capture it. It flew away itself.

“Hopefully it doesn’t come back. It seems to love the centre of the ground.”

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No nice Hawks against Isaac Smith's Geelong

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has declared there will be "no friendliness" towards Isaac Smith as the former Hawks star battles his former AFL teammates for the first time.

After a decorated AFL career in brown and gold, Smith made the move to Geelong - arguably Hawthorn's biggest rival - during the off-season.

A hero in three Hawks premiership wins, the 32-year-old has made an immediate impact at his new club, booting the match-winning goal in Geelong's thrilling one-point win against Brisbane last week.

Clarkson said it was not Hawthorn's job to make Smith comfortable in the Easter Monday match-up at the MCG.

Geelong's Isaac Smith has been greeted with a chorus of boos from Hawthorn fans after the former Hawk switched teams to the arch-rival Cats over the off-season. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Geelong's Isaac Smith has been greeted with a chorus of boos from Hawthorn fans after the former Hawk switched teams to the arch-rival Cats over the off-season. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

"I think it's a little bit like when you're growing up as a kid and you're in the backyard playing against your brothers; you want to win," Clarkson told reporters on Sunday.

"I don't think there will be anything untoward towards Isaac, but I don't think there will be friendliness. He's wanting to win, and we're wanting to win.

"Whilst we're out there, and he's in different colours to ours, we'll be going really hard I'd imagine, and he'd be doing the same against us.

"He likes getting on the lip but that's common in AFL footy."

With AAP

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