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There’s no business like snow business – an AFL game that will go down in history

Tim Gavel 13 August 2019 12
Snow falls during the GWS/Hawks game at Manuka Oval. Photo: Supplied.

A game to remember: GWS and the Hawks at Manuka Oval as the snow falls. Photo: Supplied.

Having put myself through hundreds of tweets about Friday night’s AFL game between the Giants and the Hawks at Manuka Oval, I am convinced more than ever that the cold weather gives Canberra a point of difference.

Sure, there was a certain amount of discord from some watching from afar questioning why the AFL would schedule night games in Canberra during the winter months:

“What kind of idiot plans a night game in Canberra at this time of the year”

“If you’re going to schedule a game in Canberra, use your bloody brain and make it in April not midwinter”

“I’m assuming the person who scheduled mid-winter Friday night football in Canberra was the same person who came up with AFLX in the pre season.”

were some of these remarks, while another likened the decision to play in winter in Canberra to getting Meatloaf to perform at the AFL Grand Final.

The negatives, I am happy to report, were far outweighed by the positives with the majority of stories and social media sentiment focusing on the fact that history had been created. It was a game being played in the snow. Something to remember.

The headline writers had a field day: “Snow good,” “Snow way,” “Snow joke,” and, my favourite, “Hawks turn up the heat as Giants, a no snow in Canberra.”

If nothing else, it demonstrates Canberra has four distinct seasons. I would call it a marketing master-stroke.

In years to come, this game will be treated with the same reverence as the NRL match in 2000 between the Raiders and the Tigers at Canberra Stadium now known as the ‘snow game.’

Judging by the number of people who claimed to be at that game in 2000 the crowd would have been a ground record. I am predicting it will be the same for the Giants/Hawks AFL match.

As GWS prepares to negotiate an extension on their current ten-year deal to play games in Canberra, there should be a clause dictating that at least one game a season needs to be played in August if they are serious about garnering maximum exposure in more ways than one.

Mind you more than one game at this time of the year would stretch the friendship.

It also highlights what Raiders and Brumbies fans endure each and every season and why there should be an indoor stadium in this city – of course, the conditions here are nothing compared to what players have to endure in other countries.

Many people would know of the American National Football League’s Championship Game in 1967 between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. The temperature at Lambeau Field was minus 26 degrees Celsius. The field’s heating system malfunctioned, and as the game progressed, the playing surface began to freeze over, so much so that the game was played on ice. A referee ripped skin from his mouth when he tried to remove his whistle following the kickoff, the band’s instruments froze over and couldn’t be played, one spectator died, and some players cried openly because of the harsh conditions.

There was an incident in the 1960s when FA Cup contenders, Liverpool and Walsall played in heavy fog. The fog was so thick that when the home team Liverpool scored at the Anfield Road end of the field, supporters on the other side of the field began to chant: “Who scored the goal?” Those at the opposite end chanted, “Tony Hately,” which was followed by a further chorus, “Thank you very much.”

Games can make history for more than the game itself.

In the UK, it has to be dangerous to call a sporting event off, and usually it’s concerning the safety of supporters getting to the ground rather than for the playing conditions. Perhaps this is why the Raiders are accumulating some great talent from the UK. I suspect they aren’t complaining about the cold.

While much of this column is tongue and cheek, the purpose is to look upon the AFL snow game and celebrate it. Our city has a point of difference and it was on show for all to see.


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12 Responses to There’s no business like snow business – an AFL game that will go down in history
Kerry Fitzgerald Kerry Fitzgerald 5:54 pm 14 Aug 19

Rugby League doesn’t count as football. It was the first AFL. 😜

Capital Retro 12:23 pm 14 Aug 19

It certainly will go down in history as the lowest score that GWS have ever recorded.

Still, they went home with $700K of ACT Ratepayers’ money in their pockets and CM Barr saw his favourite team, the Hawks, win.

Trish Lingard-Wyss Trish Lingard-Wyss 9:35 am 14 Aug 19

Can someone tell me how August is midwinter. Spring is a few weeks away.

    John Kerry Tozer John Kerry Tozer 9:36 am 15 Aug 19

    Trish Lingard-Wyss - ya gotta live here!

    Trish Lingard-Wyss Trish Lingard-Wyss 10:56 am 15 Aug 19

    John Kerry Tozer I do. The months of winter are June July and August.

Diane Huggett Diane Huggett 8:15 am 14 Aug 19

Daniel Huggett. Told you that it was in Canberra.

Jenny Bolin Jenny Bolin 7:29 am 14 Aug 19

It’s not the first game to be played in snow in Canberra! There was that memorable raiders game at Bruce stadium a few years back. Always remember the try that was scored when the player was almost like a snow plough when he crossed the line - the line was hidden by snow!

    Alison Gerrard Alison Gerrard 7:38 am 14 Aug 19

    Jenny Bolin I remember that too. The benefits of a stadium without a roof.👍👍🏈

    Leos Nikias Leos Nikias 10:07 am 15 Aug 19

    Jenny Bolin

    It's the first AFL game.

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