'Hated it': Caroline Wilson and Waleed Aly blast AFL grand final 'disgrace'

Riley Morgan
·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Veteran AFL reporter Caroline Wilson (pictured left) during Footy Classified and Richmond supporter and reporter Waleed Aly (pictured right) at the Logie Wards.
Veteran AFL reporter Caroline Wilson (pictured left) and Richmond supporter and reporter Waleed Aly (pictured right) took aim at the grand final taking place at night. (Images: @FootyClassified/Getty Images)

Richmond fan and reporter Waleed Aly and AFL veteran reporter Caroline Wilson have taken aim at the night AFL grand final and called for a return to the norm in 2021.

Richmond’s victory over Geelong was the first-ever twilight AFL grand final, with first bounce moved from the traditional 2.30pm timeslot to 7.30pm.

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Many fans and commentators were left complaining that the later start ruined the build-up to the big game, while other found it odd the match wasn’t held at the iconic MCG.

“It doesn't gel with me,” Collingwood great Tony Shaw told 3AW radio.

“I think this day should come to an end early so we can then all celebrate.

"Finishing the game at 10:30, I wouldn't want to do it as a player.”

And Aly was one to also call for a switch back the norm.

Aly, a Richmond supporter, said he felt the spectacle was turning the grand final ‘game’ into an ‘event’.

“I hated it. I hated it,” Aly said on ABC’s Offsiders.

“I feel like it’s the kind of thing you like when you don’t actually care about the game that’s happening itself. It’s the kind of thing you gravitate towards when you want it to be an event, not a game. That’s exactly what it felt like.”

Footy Classified’s Wilson supported this sentiment and said it would be a ‘disgrace’ if the AFL use this season, interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, to make such a significant change to the grand final.

Tigers supporter Waleed Aly looks on during a Richmond Tigers AFL training session at Punt Road Oval on September 21, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.
Tigers supporter Waleed Aly looks on during a Richmond Tigers AFL training session at Punt Road Oval on September 21, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

“Clearly the game was one for the ages, but night grand finals should not be played going forward. If the AFL use COVID to introduce under the cover of darkness a night grand final, it will be a disgrace,” she said.

“It’s a game, not an event. How many traditions are we going to lose under this AFL administration - and they’ve done a great job and deserve all the praise they’ve got - how many traditions are we going to get rid of?”

“I couldn’t cop it if we lose a day grand final. That is something that is unique to our game and it’s a sellout if we change it.”

Aly calls for AFL to respect loyal fanbase

Aly went on to suggest the AFL may have been attempting to reach new supporters during the final spectacle.

He claimed the AFL grand final looking more like a spectacle may not be the way to pleasing the loyal fanbase that watch it for the sport.

“Maybe I’m biased because I had a team playing in it, but at half time I thought it was a great performance, but I had zero interest in that happening,” he added.

“I think there is an inherent logic to the AFL Grand Final that makes it brilliant and I think when we try to adopt other elements of other sports to try and make them similar sometimes they fall flat.

“There comes a point in sport where sometimes the right decision is not to chase the people who aren’t interested and to service the people who really, really are.”

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