So Wayne Carey has come out swinging against the fact we now have the honour of hosting AFL games in Ballarat.
In an attack on our city, the former North Melbourne superstar declared Ballarat should never be allowed to host matches for premiership points. He would prefer we see matches in the pre-season only.
This should come as an insult to the footy-loving people of Ballarat, as well as the Western Bulldogs.
LISTEN: “By the way, why are we playing games in Ballarat?”
Let’s not beat around the bush – Sunday’s twilight match at Mars Stadium wasn’t a great look.
The big screen wasn’t working as it should, the lights weren’t strong enough towards the end of the match and the weather was abysmal.
The fact it was Ballarat’s first match to be televised free-to-air certainly compounded the situation.
But to suggest the AFL and the Bulldogs abandon the city after just three experiments is outrageous.
“We had a stadium here empty (in Melbourne) and we’re playing games in Ballarat,” Carey said on Triple M on Monday.
“I’m all for country folk having a look but you wouldn’t see the New England Patriots playing on some back oval in New York or something.
“It was just a problem, full stop. I think our game has gone that far past playing games like that during a season. I’m all for pre-season so the fans can get there and I think that’s great for the community, but not during the season.”
Does Carey not realise the financial reasons why the Bulldogs don’t play every match at their home of Etihad Stadium?
Has he not seen Melbourne play in Darwin and Alice Springs, Hawthorn in Launceston, his own Kangaroos in Hobart or Port Adelaide going as far as China?
Does he honestly think AFL should be restricted only to major cities, not venturing outside the MCG, Etihad Stadium or GMHBA Stadium in Geelong?
After one day of foul weather in a twilight match in July, he claims Ballarat doesn’t deserve AFL.
Ballarat has been one of the richest breeding grounds of some of the game’s best players for decades now.
Let’s just list some names to have come from Ballarat: Lockett, Malthouse, Goodes, Frawley, Northey, Bob Davis, John James, Petrie, Crouch brothers, Brown twins, McGuane.
In last year’s AFL grand final there were six players that hailed from Ballarat. Six!
We can’t ignore the fact that AFL footy can be better in Ballarat. Much better than it was on Sunday.
Spend one winter in our city and you’ll soon realise a twilight match in the depths of July might not have been the best idea. The AFL has since acknowledged this and it doesn’t look like it will happen again.
A few tweaks here and there and Ballarat could easily become a far better destination to watch AFL footy.
The first match in 2017 had more than 10,000 people, although this year’s crowd efforts were admittedly underwhelming.
The Gold Coast Suns are never a drawcard and on that day the game was noticeably devoid of stars including Tom Lynch, Marcus Bontempelli and Easton Wood.
And Sunday’s weather would’ve kept almost every casual spectator at home for the clash against Port Adelaide.
The good news is, the Bulldogs have committed to two AFL matches in Ballarat until 2021. We have at least six more chances to get it right.
Hopefully the AFL obliges and gives us some friendlier timeslots next year. Imagine a season opener or a round two fixture in late March.
So, to everyone else who watched Sunday’s game on the television (and to Wayne Carey): you’ve seen our worst – just wait until you see our best.