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.