As the Western Bulldogs became every AFL’s second team except for Hawthorn supporters, and did the right thing of enlivening the AFL final series by eliminating them, angry tweets appeared on my timeline. Tim Cahill was ‘sleeping with the enemy’.
Then he was in the rooms after the match, and Bruno Fornaroli was on the act as well.
— Western Bulldogs (@westernbulldogs) August 21, 2016
Personally I didn’t see any issues. But I tweeted that while it’s great to see our most famous player creating goo PR for an AFL team, it would be nice to see an AFL player doing the same for an A-League team in a final as well.
— Guido Tresoldi (@GuidoTresoldi) September 18, 2016
Some AFL supporters thought that I was having a dig at the AFL, which was in fact not the case – in fact quite the opposite.
Lol this shit. Always the big bad AFL at fault https://t.co/ug3xHMvuyB
— StCicatriz (@StCicatriz) September 18, 2016
Many responded telling me that there were plenty of AFL players going to A-League matches. But that wasn’t my point. Cahill was not just going to a match. He was on the news, being interviewed about the Western Bulldogs by the media etc. Are we going to see a Callan Ward from the Western Sydney Giants marching to a final match with Western Sydney fans, being interviewed about it on Channel 7 and have an article in the Sydney Morning Herald with a Wanderers scarf around his neck?
But could we also see it the other way? We could say that for those who only casually know about Association Football, seeing probably one of the few if not the only player they know amongst this AFL final publicity may make them aware that Cahill is playing for a Melbourne team in the A-League. Whether this would make anyone go and watch a Melbourne City match is debatable, but it does help raise the profile.
I do wonder if we did have an AFL player being involved in an A-League final some of us Association Football fans would whinge that the “AFL wants to hog our moment’.
Perhaps some Association Football ‘separatists’ may enjoy the thought that while the AFL sees the presence of a soccer player as an advantage, we may struggle to see the reverse as the case.
In any case Cahill reflects what is the reality in Melbourne. That while the AFL will do everything to maintain it’s dominance over other codes, sport fans have no problems in supporting more than one.