AFL commentator Kelli Underwood and The Project host Waleed Aly have butted heads while discussing whether Saturday’s night time Grand Final was a success.
In a historic first, the AFL’s premier event was held at the Gabba in Brisbane as Richmond beat Geelong by 31 points under lights.
Although there was a considerable spike in television ratings from last year, the general consensus from footy supporters was the Grand Final should remain daytime spectacle.
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Speaking on ABC’s Offsiders, Aly didn’t mince his words when asked about his thoughts on the later timeslot.
“I hated it, I hated it” Aly said.
“I think it’s the kind of thing you like when you don’t actually care about the game that is happening.
“It’s the kind of thing you gravitate towards when you want it to be an event, not a game. And that is exactly what it felt like.”
But Offsiders host Underwood immediately hit back at Aly.
“That’s c**p … look at these beautiful pictures. I loved it. I think it makes it more of an event … it has more spark,” Underwood said.
“I thought it was absolutely fantastic. This reminded me of the Sydney Olympics, and then you get the night and it elevates to some sort of Super Bowl level, which is not just a game, but you get an event.”
Cricket journalist Gideon Haigh agreed with Aly, brutally calling the Grand Final “total c**p”.
Haigh took a particular disliking to the pre-match entertainment, headlined by Australian indie bands DMA’S and Cub Sport.
“The pre-match entertainment! Those awful bloody dirges,” Haigh moaned.
Veteran AFL reporter Caroline Wilson was also not a fan of the time change, saying: “Clearly the game was one for the ages, but the night Grand Finals should not be played going forward.
“Waleed’s nailed it. It’s a game, not an event, how many traditions are we going to lose under this administration … how many traditions will be get rid of?
“I couldn’t cop it if we lose the day of the grand final, I just think that is something unique to our game, and we sell out if we change it.”
Meanwhile, Channel 9 sports presenter Tony Jones backflipped on his previous assertions, similarly calling for the Grand Final to remain an afternoon event in future years.
“I’ve always been an advocate for the night Grand Final. Based on what I saw last night, now I know it wasn’t the MCG, but I’m saying let’s stick to the day Grand Final,” Jones said on Channel 9’s AFL Sunday Footy Show.
“To me, it didn’t have the Grand Final feel holus-bolus. Now again, that’s Gabba versus MCG, but it was too long to wait through the game for this marquee match.
“I worry about the state of some people in Melbourne once the game actually rolls around. To me, it just didn’t grab me in the Grand Final sense.
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Jones also believed the pre-match entertainment “bombed”, arguing DMA’S and Cub Sport should not have performed so many melodramatic, dreary cover songs.
“Who are these people? I know that I’m 57, I get that. I know they’re very popular in the music scene at festivals and indie groups and that sort of stuff,” Jones said.
“But if you’re going to wheel them out, at least do something uplifting. Give us something uplifting. Give us something uplifting, not that.
“To me, that didn’t get you in the mood for a Grand Final.”
Essendon great Matthew Lloyd agreed. “I think it made me realise just how special day Grand Finals are,” he said.
“I don’t think there was anything that happened last night that makes me want to take the game away from being a day Grand Final.”