Footy fans have been left baffled by the AFL's decision to prevent Melbourne from wearing their Indigenous jumpers against the Western Bulldogs on Friday night.
Despite multiple protests from the Demons, the AFL declared their Indigenous jumper was too much of a clash with the Bulldogs' mostly blue design.
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The Demons were informed of the clash more than a month ago, and despite raising the issue multiple times with the AFL to argue it wasn't too much of a clash, they will instead have to debut the jumpers next weekend against Brisbane.
While the jumper furore didn't stop them from recording a convincing 13.9 (87) to 8.11 (59) win in their ladder-leading clash with the Bulldogs, fans were bemused as to how the league came to the conclusion there was a jumper clash.
The marquee Friday night matchup, already soured by re-introduced a coronavirus lockdown which prevented fans from attending the highly anticipated clash, was meant to kick off the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous round.
Instead, the Demons wore their usual navy and red jumpers.
The move prompted a wave of fans and critics questioning how or why the AFL had decided the two jumpers designs were too close, with many believing they were easily distinguishable.
The Demons themselves were less than impressed with the AFL, as the Herald Sun's Jon Ralp reported during the game.
“They’re not thrilled about it,” he told Fox Footy.
“Melbourne had their Indigenous jumper produced and didn’t know who their opponent would be given this floating fixture. It turned out to be the Western Bulldogs.
"They were told a month ago it would be a significant clash with the Dogs’ Indigenous jumper.
“They appealed that this week again, they said we don’t think it’s a clash, they were again denied permission.
“They’ll wear it next week in the second week of Sir Doug Nicholls Round, but it’s not appreciably worse than the Essendon-Collingwood clash with their ANZAC Day jumpers.”
Social media was also alight with comments about the jumper clash - or lack thereof.
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Clayton Oliver (32 disposals) and Christian Petracca (24) led an even performance in the Demons' engine room, which spread the workload and outclassed the vaunted Bulldogs midfield.
Bayley Fritsch and Tom McDonald kicked three goals apiece, while key defenders Steven May and Jake Lever combined to keep dangerous Bulldogs forwards Aaron Naughton and Josh Bruce quiet for most of the night.
The resounding victory was the perfect way for Melbourne to bounce back from a shock loss to Adelaide six days earlier and sent them back to the top of the ladder, one game clear of the Bulldogs.
It came after the blockbuster clash almost had to be postponed as a result of Victoria's latest coronavirus outbreak.
The game was played in front of empty stands and only got the green light on Friday morning after all Melbourne players and staff received negative COVID-19 test results.
The Bulldogs had been through a similar scare earlier in the week.
"I was really proud of the way the boys went about it," Demons coach Simon Goodwin said.
"It wasn't the perfect week, but our ability to deal with it and the maturity shown and our ability to execute what we were trying to do was outstanding.
"That was clearly one of our best performances for the year."
Both sides took 9-1 records into the contest and the Demons burst out of the blocks, with James Harmes kicking the opening goal inside 20 seconds.
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