The AFL world were eagerly awaiting the first round of the season amid the coronavirus crisis, but were left shocked at the spectacle at the MCG without fans.
Amidst the coronavirus crisis that continues to grip the planet, the AFL grappled with whether to go ahead with their season and finally did so just 24 hours out from Thursday night's opener.
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After giving the go-ahead, fans around Australia watched Richmond's clash with Carlton get underway from their lounge.
However, the spectacle on television immediately stunned fans.
Richmond and Carlton ran out on Australia’s largest stadium, the MCG, to an eerie atmosphere.
There was no crowd, no club songs and no banners.
“This is something we’ve never seen before in football,” Fox Footy’s Kelli Underwood pointed out.
“You almost feel like singing or cheering along.”
Fans were quick to label the game weird as a goal was met with just the cheers of teammates, rather than the cacophony of applause from diehard fans.
This is unbelievable. Meanwhile my American relatives are suddenly very interested in AFL #AFLTigersBlues— Alicia Loxley (@alicialoxley) March 19, 2020
@AFL play the footy on a 20 second delay and have a sound overlay of last years crowds. Needs some atmosphere.— Lewis varley (@lewisvarley14) March 19, 2020
So weird watching the AFL game on tv tonight. It's so quiet. No crowds. No cheering. Strange.#COVID19au— Jade 💖 (@pinkybaby_jade) March 19, 2020
AFL without the crowd just doesn’t work 😔— Eoin Kelly (@EoinTheVet) March 19, 2020
2020 AFL season unlike any other
The AFL made it clear this would be an unprecedented season.
Richmond’s coach was adamant the match quality wouldn’t change, despite fans locked out for the foreseeable future.
"The game is the same," Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said.
"The ground doesn't change, there's umpires, there's players.
"The (lack of) crowd will certainly have an impact from an atmosphere point of view, but it's nothing we can control, so our guys will just bring their best footy."