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It’s time to reward AFL fans with a day grand final

When her team won its first flag in 57 years last September Katrina Oxley could not be there, despite spending $1000 in Melbourne memberships that included guaranteed grand final access.

After COVID-19 forced the 2021 grand final to be staged in Perth, Oxley had to watch her beloved Dees break their lengthy premiership drought on TV from Melbourne.

Demons fans were rewarded after 57 years with a premiership win last year.Credit:Getty Images

“I feel like only half the dream was realised,” she says. “I cried when I gave a friend in Perth my barcode so she could go.”

Like most fans, Oxley wants the AFL to return to a day grand final after COVID outbreaks sent the past two grand finals interstate – to Brisbane in 2020 for a night game and to Perth in 2021 for a twilight game.

A 37-year Melbourne Demons member, Oxley was unable to attend any AFL games in 2020 due to COVID and only a handful in 2021. But, like countless others, she did not seek a refund on her membership.

Despite fans’ undying support during COVID interruptions, reports last week suggested the AFL Commission was this week likely to rubber stamp a twilight grand final. On Friday, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan told 3AW the twilight timeslot was being considered.

Demons fans Angus Gordon, Katrina Oxley and Jo Abbott at the MCG.

Demons fans Angus Gordon, Katrina Oxley and Jo Abbott at the MCG.

Polls have long shown that most fans prefer the day timeslot. The AFL Fans Association’s latest Twitter poll drew more than 1000 responses with 79.9 per cent preferring a day game, 17.3 per cent twilight and 2.8 per cent night.

The AFL Commission had agreed the 2021 grand final would be a day game before COVID led to the game being moved to a twilight start in Perth. At the time, McLachlan thanked fans for their support and acknowledged they wanted “a season where they can return to some of the traditions and rituals around footy”.

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Krzysztof Stanowicz

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