'Absolute joke': AFL world erupts over 'embarrassing' photo

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·5-min read
The MCG turf, pictured here outside the boundary line at the Gabba.
The MCG turf has been placed outside the boundary at the Gabba. Image: Mark Gottlieb

AFL fans and commentators are in a frenzy over a photo of a tiny piece of grass.

The AFL came under fire recently over a bizarre stunt that saw a piece of MCG turf transported to the Gabba for Saturday’s grand final between Richmond and Geelong.

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It will be the first time the grand final has been played outside of Melbourne, so Rebel Sport and the AFL decided it would be fitting to have a little piece of the MCG there in Brisbane.

The idea, paid for by Rebel, went down like a lead balloon among AFL fans and commentators.

But that was nothing compared to the backlash on Thursday when a photo emerged of the 3x1m piece of turf’s final location.

Mark Gottlieb tweeted a photo of the new grass, which has been placed outside the boundary line in front of where Richmond will run out onto the field.

The fact that the turf wasn’t even placed on the playing field was widely mocked.

“Honestly what the hell is Victoria doing! This is embarrassing,” wrote Ben Weatherly.

Titus O’Reily wrote: “Totally worth it and not a complete waste of time and money at all.”

Colin Rowston said: “Is there anything more cringeworthy in the history of time than this?”

Aaron King wrote: “Absolute joke can’t go interstate to see family but can transport a bit of grass across country for no reason well done Australia.”

While Jamie Mounsey said: “I heard when they unrolled it 10 Victorians jumped out and made a run for it!”

Former players fume over ‘ridiculous’ stunt

Executive Manager of Turf at the MCG Michael Salvatore defended the move last week.

“I think it’s a great idea, and I think there’s a bit of romance to it was well – to think that the MCG will be there on the big day,” Salvatore said.

“I hope that it might cross the players’ minds at one stage and give them a little boost.”

Rebel Sport Managing Director Gary Williams added: “As fans of the game, and sponsors of the AFL, it’s a privilege to see our name on the goal square week in, week out.

“So, from the minute we knew the AFL grand sinal would have to move from its spiritual home in Victoria, rebel has worked hard to help keep that tradition alive.

“Taking a piece of the field from the MCG to The Gabba to keep the tradition alive for the fans, the players and for the game we all love, is something rebel could not be more proud of.”

The MCG turf, pictured here being transported to the Gabba by Rebel Sport staff.
The MCG turf was transported to the Gabba by Rebel Sport. Image: MCG

However a number of former players slammed the stunt.

Hawthorn champion Shane Crawford called it “ridiculous”, while former Melbourne Demons player Bernie Vince said: “I’ve never heard anything so stupid in all my life”.

“F*** me,” Vince said on Triple M radio. “What if it had have been Port v Brisbane? They wouldn’t give a f***!”

Former Adelaide Crows player Stephen Rowe said it was a bad look, particularly at a time when many Victorians are struggling financially.

“This is the dopiest decision this year. The look of it stinks,” Rowe said.

“It just plays into the hands of those of us that think it’s still the VFL. Could they be any more insecure?

“If Richmond actually win through and as a team they kneel down and kiss that patch of turf, I’ll spew up.

“Don’t hide behind a sponsor paying for it … Mark Marketing would have rung a dopey sponsor and said, ‘Can you help cover the cost?’

“This would be thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. I hope every cent of it goes into junior football and game development.”

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