The brazen Mad Monday tactic NRL clubs copied from the AFL

·Contributor
·4-min read
Former Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs players Brett Morris (pictured left) and Josh Morris (pictured right) dressed up ahead of Mad Monday in 2017.
Former Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs players Brett Morris (pictured left) and Josh Morris (pictured right) arrive for Mad Monday celebrations back in 2017. (AAP)

COLUMN

As slow-moving NRL clubs were working out the best way to avoid Mad Monday atrocities going public, the Sydney Swans were well ahead of the game.

Back a decade or so ago, when the Swans were the only AFL team in Sydney, their media team would invite journos and camera crews media down to an eastern suburbs pub the Monday after the last game of the season and tell them to go for it.

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You've got half an hour, girls and boys, to take as many shots and as much vision as you like and we'll throw up a member of the squad – suitably sober or close enough to it – for a quick interview.

Then take your cameras and leave us in peace.

With NRL clubs busy dealing with coaches in sumo suits getting whacked or players pretending to get amorous with a dog, the Swans were being promoted in the media as being fun, safe and wholesome.

Chalk up another win for the cleanskin AFL boys over the NRL Neanderthals.

Truth is, the Swans' Mad Mondays probably degenerated into a drunken mess on more than one occasion but, by then, the cameras were well and truly gone.

What you don't see on Mad Monday doesn’t happen.

Over at Canterbury, they watched this with interest.

The Bulldogs had endured their fair share of Mad Monday disasters, culminating in the infamous 2012 performance when some players, dressed in Super Mario and Ghostbusters outfits, allegedly launched a string of abusive and sexist comments at female reporters stationed outside the club's Belmore headquarters.

Chairman Ray Dib attempted to repair the damage by delivering a bunch of flowers to Channel 9 reporter Jayne Azzopardi, but it was going to take more than a few red roses and carnations to smooth this one over.

The NRL came down hard on the club and it got some at Canterbury thinking.

What about if we took a leaf out of the Swans' book and actually worked with the media instead of against it on Mad Monday?

Former Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs player Josh Morris (pictured) dressed up as Thor in 2017.
Former Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs player Josh Morris (pictured) arrives for Mad Monday celebrations in 2017. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

It's worth a shot.

For the next few years the media alert arrived, inviting the cameras and microphones to the Dogs' preferred drinking hole where vision and photos were allowed followed by a short interview with teetotaller Will Hopoate.

Well, what do you know?

The media came, saw and left for the day.

It worked a treat for a number of years until some genius at the Dogs decided the idea was working so well they'd can it for Mad Monday 2018.

It went against the sound advice from the club's media department, which knew journos wouldn't take no for an answer.

Instead of getting their shots and disappearing, photographers were told by their editors to stay at the Harbour View Hotel and not come back to the office until they snapped something half decent.

Half decent? It turned into pure tabloid gold when Adam Elliott decided to go all Neil Diamond, climbing on a table and giving team-mates his best Sweet Caroline rendition, sans clothes.

As we usher in Mad Monday 2021, I hear you ask why is the media so obsessed with it?

Simple.

You guys can't get enough of it.

Former Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs players David Klemmer (pictured left) and Tyrone Phillips (pictured right) arrive for Mad Monday celebrations in 2017. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
Former Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs players David Klemmer (pictured left) and Tyrone Phillips (pictured right) arrive for Mad Monday celebrations in 2017. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Online traffic and newspaper sales jump significantly at any hint of footballers behaving badly.

And that's why clubs are better off sleeping with the enemy, as the Swans worked out a long time ago.

Last round may be last change for Madge

The final round turned out to be a complete disaster for two coaches.

The Wests Tigers' sorry capitulation to the last-placed Bulldogs has surely ended Michael Maguire's tenure.

Some players gave up – simple as that – and did not play for the jersey, club, fans or coach.

The Tigers can no longer sit on their hands and pretend 2022 will be any different.

Maguire has two years to run on his deal but he is not the answer to this mess.

Nathan Brown is getting away with less scrutiny but the lack of discipline and fight from the Warriors against Gold Coast spoke volumes about where that club is really at despite the PR exercise.

Both the Warriors and Tigers have accepted mediocrity for far too long.

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