In the sport of football, drama is always around the corner. In the drama of football, sport takes a back seat. Last weekend, despite a third of the competition enjoying a well-earned week’s break, the matches of football all provided their own story. Yet the AFL public has determined the more interesting stories lay off-field, in the trials and tribulations revolving drugs, sackings and criminal investigations.

In a week where firstly the reigning premier was defeated by a struggling side clinging desperately to their spot in the top eight, and secondly powerhouse Geelong was defeated after the siren by a team desperately avoiding the bottom-four, the headlines should have written themselves. The weekend of football was successful. There was not only one, but two upsets worthy of being deemed ‘upset of the season’.

The round proved that football is not only about what takes place in the confines of the sporting arena. A coach was recently sacked. A club captain admitted to signing a contract that may provide proof that he and his teammates have breached doping policies. An ongoing debate rages about whether a club in turmoil should receive help from the AFL administration. A player is embroiled in what should be a very personal drama regarding his criminality. All of this takes precedence. In addition to the match reports that were skimmed over after reading about Jobe Watson, Mark Neeld or Stephen Milne, let the footballing public admire the matches that should have been a reminder to why we love the sport.

The match of the round was clearly the dramatic Brisbane victory over Geelong, in which a 52-point comeback culminated in Ashley McGrath – celebrating his 200th match – kicking the winning goal from outside the 50-metre arc. The dramatic five-point win led to scenes of jubilation for the giant-killing Lions, having already upset Essendon earlier in the season. A milestone player kicking a goal after the siren to defeat arguably the best team in the competition despite being over 50 points behind in the third quarter. AFL at its absolute finest.

Another match that provided drama and intrigue was the upset victory for Port Adelaide over Sydney. The stage was set for a dramatic encounter, with the big name off-season recruit Kurt Tippett playing his first match for his new side in his old state. Adelaide fans went to the ground, unsure of which team to support: arch-enemy Port Adelaide or the team with the ‘mercenary’ Tippett. However, reigning premiers Sydney had been in scintillating form and with the addition of Tippett, the match against mid-table Port Adelaide, the match appeared to be a foregone conclusion. Port’s ability to win the contested possession count against competition leaders in contested ball Sydney with 176 – 35 more than Port’s season average – led to a victory against all odds.

One of the most highly anticipated matches of the round was Melbourne’s match against St Kilda; however the football was less anticipated than the pre and post-match interviews. Two sides embroiled in off-field drama, the football itself was merely a by-product of two stories colliding into one. While the football was predictable, with a poor side defeating a poorer side, the fact was still that two sides were able to put aside turbulent weeks and just do what comes naturally. The victory for St Kilda was even more sweet, as it provided the perfect celebration for club workhorses Nick Riewoldt and Nick Dal Santo who were celebrating their 250th matches, as well as Sean Dempster’s celebration of his 150th.

The Friday night match was a high scoring, skilful display of football that resulted in one of the premiership favourites Hawthorn posting a hard-fought victory over a determined Eagles outfit. In the other two matches, both Fremantle and Richmond confirmed their finals aspirations with convincing victories over North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs.

Most footballing supporters would know all this already. But amidst the drama and controversy that has recently taken place off-field, very few would have appreciated it. Football is a sport, not a soap opera. While the off-field events should not be ignored, the on-field events are still what make the game great. Let us never lose sight of that.