It's fair to say the AFL's decision to install a little piece of the MCG at the Gabba for this year's grand final, has gone down like a lead balloon with supporters.
A section of turf from the famous MCG stadium will make its way to Queensland to be used in the AFL decider, following the decision to move the showcase event away from its traditional Melbourne home.
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The AFL made the historic decision to play the grand final outside of the MCG due to the coronavirus crisis in Victoria, with Queensland winning hosting rights after housing most of the teams in quarantine bubbles this season.
However, in order to keep hold of some semblance of tradition, the AFL sanctioned a strip of turf from the MCG goal square to be cut out, transported to Brisbane and relaid at the Gabba.
Executive Manager of Turf at the MCG Michael Salvatore said he was delighted to help preserve a tiny piece of MCG tradition in a crazy year of footy.
“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.”
Sporting retail giant rebel - one of the AFL's major sponsors - is funding what will be an extensive logistical operation.
“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," rebel Managing Director Gary Williams said.
"So, from the minute we knew the AFL Grand Final 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.”
AFL supporters slam move
Even despite the fact that rebel are funding the MCG turf plan, AFL fans have hit out at the move.
Many supporters feel it's a terrible look to be wasting money on a sentimental stunt when so many people around Australia are doing it tough financially, during the coronavirus crisis.
Totally unfair on people doing it tough. Doesn’t make any sense at all. Waste of time and money. As if players playing will realise it’s the MCG turf and actually care— Glen Edwards (@royslions) October 14, 2020
Why??? Crazy waste of more money! The Grand Final belongs at the MCG and will continue their next year.— Blues4flag (@Blues4flag) October 14, 2020
Rebel paid for the whole thing— Michael Tripodi (@mykooltripodi) October 14, 2020
Doesn't matter who paid for it. Were quarantine restrictions put on the people that took it there for a start ? Are they required to isolate for the mandatory 14 days? - there defies belief on so many levels and is just a stupid stunt because Victoria thinks it owns AFL football— craig troth (@craig_troth) October 14, 2020
Although it was probably fully sponsored, it's not a good look.— Mattus (@killermattk) October 14, 2020
A foolish move that erodes confidence in its supporters.— Roley Stuart (@OldRoley) October 14, 2020
The whole thing is cringe— Brad Parker (@parkseybrad) October 14, 2020
The AFL moving turf from the MCG to QLD is the most Melbourne thing I've heard. Also, ridiculous.— Mick (@PlanetEels) October 14, 2020
Worst things the AFL has done— Victor Yong #StaySafe 🇦🇺 (@BigV2011WCE) October 14, 2020
- Angry Anderson
- Ripping up a piece of turf from the MCG to transport it to the Gabba
.@AFL aren’t footing the bill to relocate 3 x 1m MCG turf to be trucked to Gabba for Grand Final.— Paddy Sweeney (@SweeneyPaddy9) October 14, 2020
Sponsors @rebelsport are which is a bold move given their owners Super Retail Group announced in February staff had been underpaid by more than $60 million dollars.
The piece of turf will be transported in a truck in a refrigerated container and worked into the Gabba surface.
A 3m by 1m piece of the MCG goal square was picked as the part to make the journey to the new grand final destination.
Gabba curators then have the job of laying the turf and getting it ready in time for the AFL decider on Saturday October 24.
“Temperature controlled transportation will ensure our hallowed turf will be ready for Brisbane’s climate ahead of the grand final,” Salvatore said.
The MCG has been empty since Round 1 of the AFL season when most of the competition relocated to Queensland to keep the season going.
The stadium will be slowly worked on in preparation for the cricket season.
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