One of the matches of the season took place on Sunday. A tightly fought battle between two teams with much to prove, and two coaches with a famous rivalry. Yet the dampener on the match between the Cats and the Kangaroos came in the form of an unpredictable shower, soaking the fans and players who would be right to expect a dry match at the enclosed Etihad Stadium.
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott and his Geelong counterpart and brother Chris both expressed their disbelief as to the state of play when the game was in the balance. With approximately eight minutes left in a tense final quarter, the heavens opened over Docklands and another level was added to an already incredible match.
With Geelong leading by a mere two points, the rain ensured that the match would go down to the wire. Only two goals were scored after the rain began to fall over Etihad Stadium, contrasting with the otherwise free-flowing, high-scoring affair that was on display prior to the wet weather.
Brad Scott claimed post-match that the open roof was “laughable”, and that he does not “understand why we don’t close the roof” regardless of the potential for rain. His brother Chris agreed stating, “the roof should be closed all the time.”
Senior North Melbourne defender Michael Firrito has also provided his support for the roof to be closed during all matches.
“As a player, even when it is not raining it is quite difficult, there are patches that you’re in deep shade, and then you come out to the sun and you are almost blinded.”
Andrew Demetriou however has closed the roof on this particular issue.
“It is going to be open. It is open during the day if it is not raining and it is not that bad, just a little bit of rain. We had a bit of rain at the MCG and we did not have a roof. I would not worry about it.”
Demetriou’s call to ignore the pleas from coaches and players alike begs the question as to why the roof remains open. His claim that “it is not that bad” is not the most valid reason to ignore the claims from the Scott brothers and the many who agree with their claim.
The dismissive nature of his response is worrisome for the game, as the man in charge has barely given a second thought to an issue that Brad Scott felt the need to immediately address to the AFL match manager.
In his post-match press conference, Brad Scott made the assertion that “no one likes (the roof being open); the fans don’t like it, the broadcasters hate it, the players hate it.” If Scott’s claim is true, then these key stakeholders should be greatly concerned that the AFL administration is disregarding their enjoyment of the game because it is simply “not that bad”.
Demetriou’s flippant response to the issue of whether or not Etihad Stadium’s roof should be closed has not shut down the debate about the roof. It is shut for every night match due to the possibility of dew on the surface threatening the quality of the game.
To ensure the quality of all day matches played at Etihad Stadium, shutting the roof must be considered. The glare of the sun affects players’ eyesight and skills, and the potential for unforeseen rain, as shown on Sunday, can have a great impact upon the end result of a match. As Chris Scott claimed, “the roof should be closed all the time.”