Ah, the prelims. How good are they?
Long-touted as the best weekend of the AFL season – exceeding even the Grand Final – it’s a weekend for the purists. And it often delivers the best game of the season: Hawthorn’s curse-lifting win over the Cats in 2013 and the Dogs win over the Giants in 2016 just two recent examples.
Knowing their club is one win away from a spot in the big dance, fans will do almost anything to grab a ticket.
We’ve become accustomed to fans camping out for tickets, trekking across the continent and handing over thick sheets to those rotten scalpers.
But has 2018 surpassed all other years in the weirdness stakes?
We think it has.
It started with some Richmond fans queuing outside Melbourne’s Ticketek outlet at three-quarter time of the Collingwood v GWS game on Saturday night. That’s a two-night camp in the CBD for those wondering. On the pavement.
Absolutely, the commitment to their club and passion for the game is unquestioned. We salute you. But the thing is, they didn’t actually need to do it. One Collingwood fan said he joined the queue early on Sunday morning, but by Sunday afternoon he was still the only Pies fan in the queue. So they didn’t really need to be there until Sunday evening for the store opening at 9am on Monday.
But they did it because, well, it’s Prelim Week. And in Prelim Week, things get weird.
Some of Australia's most ardent AFL fans began camping out on the streets as early as Saturday night ahead of Monday's ticket release https://t.co/yqouLmmAlU
— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) September 16, 2018
News then began to filter through about the Melbourne contingent hatching plans to trek across the Nullarbor to get to Perth, with two of our very own doing exactly that. And while the 36-hour drive is fairly ludicrous by the average punter’s standards, it’s no longer in the ‘weird’ category for the fact that, quite simply, lots of fans do it.
Whenever a WA-based side make it this far in the finals, a group of fans who can’t secure flights (or wish to avoid the excessive fares by those dastardly airlines) are all-too happy to pack their bags for a three-day drive.
What merged into the weird stakes, however, was Dees fans who revealed they would buy tickets to Saturday afternoon’s clash and not even turn up.
UPDATE: Tickets are selling fast for the Eagles' preliminary final game – There's a plan in Victoria for Melbourne fans to buy tickets but not come to reduce the home crowd noise. Full details in 9 News Perth at 6pm. pic.twitter.com/ZgNp17OKNj
— Nine News Perth (@9NewsPerth) September 17, 2018
Yep. The silent protest would be to prevent a would-be West Coast fan taking the seat and adding to the pro-Eagles atmosphere. Hmm.
Then the voice of reason Neil Mitchell got involved, suggesting the Dees film their own supporters at fan sites across the city to then live stream them into the players rooms on Saturday afternoon.
“I reckon if the AFL agrees, we can get live pictures of the Melbourne supporters into the change rooms before the game or at half time, whenever the coach wants them,” the shock jock said.
Yes. That’s one of the highest-paid presenters in Australian radio thinking Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin – before the biggest game of his career – would want a live stream of fans in his dressing room during a half-time team talk. Ya know, to get the players pumped and that.
We understand it doesn’t take much to set off Neil these days, but prelim week has clearly got to him as well.
Finally, news filtered through on Wednesday that fans were bidding up to $10,000 for tickets to Friday night’s clash.
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) September 18, 2018
That’s it, we’re done.
The footy world’s gone mad.