Glaring issue exposed as footy falls flat
FANS waiting nearly three months for the footy to return were left deflated after Collingwood's blockbuster clash against Richmond failed to deliver the goods.
"I feel sorry for everyone at home who's waited … and they get a draw first up," Magpies skipper Scott Pendlebury said after his side and the Tigers combined for the lowest-scoring match since 1999 as they settled for a 36-all draw.
The result aside, it was the way the game was played that had critics venting their frustration after full-time.
There's been much debate in recent years about the state of the game and what changes need to occur to facilitate higher scores and more exciting on-field action.
Last year teams' average scores reached a record low not seen since 1967, despite new rules like the 6-6-6 starting position at centre bounces and larger areas for kick-ins implemented with the aim of encouraging free-flowing footy and reducing congestion around the ball.
But just one game back from the coronavirus-enforced hiatus, some footy greats hold grave fears for the future.
Richmond legend turned broadcaster Kevin Bartlett's concern was heightened by the fact two of the best sides in the league couldn't muster up something more entertaining.
Geelong great Sam Newman echoed that sentiment.
Richmond and Collingwood arguably the 2 best sides in the competition showed tonight that Australian rules football as a spectacle is in serious trouble and has been for a number of years ,it’s time to take our heads out of the sand and stop kidding ourselves. Kb— Kevin Bartlett (@KevinBartlett29) June 11, 2020
God - or whoever you pray to - help us if the two marquee sides in comp can only kick 5 goals each for an entire game, 16 minute quarters notwithstanding. Too harsh? #AFLPiesTigers— Sam Newman (@Origsmartassam) June 11, 2020
Herald Sun AFL reporter Jon Ralph said "fans are begging the AFL for more attractive footy" - something that wasn't evident late in last night's match.
"I showed the kids the last quarter and a half this morning. There was a single goal that might have been marked over the line. Not much for them to cheer about," he tweeted in response to Bartlett's criticism.
Ex-Essendon star Robert Shaw also weighed in, saying he hoped what he saw at the MCG was a "one off" caused by the unprecedented circumstances everyone has dealt with this year.
Reflecting on last night, footy isn’t ‘back’. A version of the game we so love is. Unprecedented! The isolation, preparation/ lifestyle situations have created what we hope is a one off version for 2020 . The footy just reflects 2020. They did ok @AFL 👍 Fasten seatbelts.#breathe— Robert Shaw (@shawry_analyst) June 11, 2020
Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir said it was "not normal" to see such a low-scoring affair but praised Richmond for clawing its way back from a sizeable deficit early in he game.
"I think it's a really small sample size, 36 points is not normal for two teams in a game," he said. "The thing that you find these days is teams are so well-versed to adapt in games."
SEN commentator Dwayne Russell said the draw was "as bizarre a resumption of play that anyone could imagine" while Richmond spearhead Jack Riewoldt called it "an interesting game of footy to play in".