Tom Hawkins in Taylor Swift 'stitch up' as concerns grow about MCG before AFL season

The pop star's concerts have left the iconic Melbourne ground needing $1.5 million in repairs.

Tom Hawkins and Taylor Swift, pictured here at the MCG.
Tom Hawkins was 'stitched up' at a Taylor Swift concert, which has left the MCG needing $1.5 million in repairs. Image: Instagram/AAP/Channel 7

Plenty of AFL players and their partners were happy to see Taylor Swift during her mega-shows at the MCG, but they might not be impressed if it means the turf isn't up to scratch come round one. The pop star's shows have left ground staff at the MCG needing to replace two-thirds of the grass at the iconic venue, in a race against time before March 14.

There was controversy last year when Ed Sheeran's shows left the surface in a sorry state, and the AFL admitted the turf wasn't up to scratch by the time the season kicked off just 12 days later. This year, MCG officials have purposely not scheduled any other events in between Swift's shows and the beginning of the AFL season - one of the reasons the Matildas were denied their dream of playing their World Cup qualifier there this month.

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But photos emerging in recent days have shown the massive job that grounds staff have on their hands, with the majority of the turf needing to be replaced at a reported cost of $1.5 million. According to Channel 7, there is 12,000 square metres of new grass that needs to be laid, which will likely take 12 days.

An aerial view of the MCG after the Taylor Swift concerts.
An aerial view of the MCG showing the amount of turf that needs replacing. Image: Channel 7

“The entire turf at the MCG - four weeks out from the start of the AFL - is going to be ruined,” media commentator Steve Price said this week. “They have got to pull it all up and it is going to cost them $1.5 million to roll in new turf. If someone does an ankle in round one of the AFL, Taylor Swift better not show her face in this country again.”

The MCG turf, pictured here before Taylor Swift's concerts.
The stage and surrounds for the Taylor Swift concerts took up two-thirds of the MCG turf. Image: Channel 7

But MCG boss Stuart Fox is confident there won't be any issues. “With just under four weeks until the first AFL game of season 2024, our turf team have been preparing for the arena’s renovation for the last 18 months,” Fox told the Herald Sun.

“The team has a proven track record in managing significant and successful turf renovations which was evident after last year’s two Ed Sheeran concerts where we faced tighter deadlines to be ready for the AFL season. Although we need to replace two-thirds of the turf, the absence of events scheduled after the three Taylor Swift concerts provides us with a more generous window for turnaround time.

“Our turf rolls, boasting a depth of around 10cm, are practically immovable once laid down. With the combination of our skilled team, months of preparation and advanced technology, I have full confidence that the hallowed turf will be to the elite standards expected of us by mid-March.” But fans aren't as convinced, with many pointing out the dilemma on social media.

Tom Hawkins in Taylor Swift concert photo 'stitch up'

Some of the biggest names in the AFL turned out at the MCG to see Swift, including many of Collingwood's premiership heroes. But things didn't exactly go to plan for some of them.

Mason Cox was forced to apologise to fans after the giant ruckman obstructed the view of people behind him. And Geelong veteran Tom Hawkins was "stitched up" after he was spotted in the background of a photo of Josh Daicos and his partner Annalise Dalins.

The 35-year-old had a rather hilarious look on his face as he was snapped with two beers in hand while sitting next to his wife. Hawkins commented on the photo when it was posted by the official Collingwood account: “Stitch up in the background." But fans saw the funny side of the mishap, with plenty of positive comments flowing Hawkins' way.

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