The Sunday Times - - Front Page - Joe Spagnolo

WHAT is it go­ing to take for Vic­to­ri­ans to show West Aus­tralians some re­spect? You get the im­pres­sion, once again, that in the eyes of Vic­to­ri­ans, WA is an in­con­ve­nient pim­ple on the na­tion’s nose that won’t go away.

You could al­most hear the col­lec­tive sigh com­ing from across the Nullar­bor when the West Coast Ea­gles beat Colling­wood last week, to se­cure a pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal in Perth.

The idea that West Coast could, God for­bid, pos­si­bly play off in a grand fi­nal on Satur­day, Septem­ber 29, has Vic­to­ri­ans in a high state of anx­i­ety.

In some quar­ters, the sigh was ac­tu­ally a loud groan.

Mel­bourne-based foot­ball jour­nal­ist Tony Jones ap­par­ently reck­ons a grand fi­nal spot would be wasted on the Ea­gles be­cause they ap­par­ently can’t per­form at the MCG.

“I think it would be a waste of a spot in the grand fi­nal if they get there,” Jones said.

Didn’t the Ea­gles fin­ish sec­ond on the lad­der, be­hind Rich­mond?

And when it comes to home-and-away records con­sider this: Rich­mond in 2018 has played five games away from Victoria and lost four.

The Ea­gles have played 10 games away from their home State and won seven.

And we had Colling­wood pres­i­dent-foot­ball com­men­ta­tor Ed­die McGuire car­ry­ing on like a pork chop calling on the AFL to change its fix­ture for the pre­lim­i­nary fi­nals be­cause the win­ner of the Pies-Gi­ants semi­fi­nal will have only a six-day break be­fore meet­ing Rich­mond on Fri­day night.

“They have com­pletely cocked this up, the AFL,” McGuire lamented af­ter watch­ing his club go down to West Coast last week. Cocked up?

I’ll tell you what was re­ally cocked up Ed­die — the fact that WA has been locked out of be­ing able to host a grand fi­nal for the next 40 years af­ter the AFL signed a deal with the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment to keep the grand fi­nal at the MCG un­til at least 2057!

That means that even if the Ea­gles and Fre­man­tle Dock­ers fin­ish top of the pre­mier­ship lad­der over the next four decades, they won’t be able to play in a grand fi­nal in their home State. How is that fair?

It’s been happy days for Vic­to­rian clubs for years.

In 2017, Ade­laide fin­ished top of the ta­ble. But they had to play a grand fi­nal at the MCG.

Rich­mond won. Happy days for the Vic­to­ri­ans.

In 2016, Syd­ney fin­ished first but had to play the West­ern Bull­dogs at the MCG in the grand fi­nal.

The Bull­dogs won. Happy days for the Vic­to­ri­ans.

In 2015, West Coast fin­ished sec­ond. Hawthorn fin­ished third.

West Coast had to play out the grand fi­nal against the Hawks at the MCG.

Hawthorn won. Happy days for the Vic­to­ri­ans.

And in 2014, Syd­ney fin­ished first, played Hawthorn at the MCG in the grand fi­nal and lost. Happy days for the Vic­to­ri­ans.

What did WA get, as part of a $225 mil­lion deal with the AFL to keep the grand fi­nal at the MCG?

Ap­par­ently, non-Vic­to­rian clubs in the so-called na­tional com­pe­ti­tion will get more train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties at the MCG and char­ter flights to Mel­bourne for the grand fi­nal! Big deal.

I am sure I will be ac­cused of tak­ing a very sim­plis­tic view of the re­al­i­ties of the AFL. But maybe that’s be­cause the Vic­to­ri­ans seem to take a very sim­plis­tic view of WA.

When it suits, WA is OK, but when it doesn’t, WA is a pain in the butt.

WA Sports Min­is­ter Mick Mur­ray summed it up beau­ti­fully yes­ter­day when we laughed about the whinge­ing Vic­to­ri­ans.

“To see them squawk­ing is quite funny,” he said. “We drive the econ­omy and we can also play sport. They hate it.”

WA has made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to Aus­tralian Rules. Polly Farmer, for ex­am­ple, taught the Vics how to hand­ball.

Non-Vic­to­rian clubs have ev­ery right to not only play in a grand fi­nal, but win them.

It is about time the Vic­to­ri­ans ac­cepted that foot­ball is now a na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

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