ANZAC Day AFL in Wellington, 2013
It was reported first by Rod Shaw on the World Footy News blog, and now all but confirmed today that as of next year the St Kilda and Brisbane Lions AFL teams will play an Anzac Day AFL premiership game at the Wellington Cake Tin—as a complement to the regular Essendon-Collingwood Anzac Day thriller at the MCG—with plans still afoot for St Kilda to play up to four “home” games at the Wellington stadium every year for the indefinite future.
Apparently Councillor John “Mystery” Morrison was part of a delegation of Wellington councillors taking the trip to the MCG this year to join 86,900 fans cheering on the game that has become an Anzac Day tradition in Melbourne, won this year in a breath-taking finish by Collingwood. Unavailable for comment after the game (rumours that the hospitality proved too much are hereby confirmed as being totally unfounded), before leaving for Melbourne, Morrison and businessman John Dow – a key figure behind Wellington hosting three pre-season AFL games between 1998 and 2001 – told the Dom Post:
It's still got a fair way to travel but we've had positive talks about St Kilda being associated with Wellington and looking to play up to two, maybe even three, major club games against opposition like Collingwood, Essendon or whoever.
So the two factors make it pretty interesting, that we've got a club who wishes to be in partnership with us and we've got the governing body. We're talking about this partnership arrangement kicking off next year with an Anzac Day game here. I think that's a particularly good marketing ploy.
This is magnificent news for New Zealanders keen to follow the world’s most libertarian sport, fantastic news for those working on the game at grassroots level here, great for Wellington (the Hawthorn club’s similar involvement with Tasmania has proved highly beneficial for both), great for fans like myself who will be making the pilgrimage from all over,* and furthermore it’s just what the stadium was built for. (Yes folks, the AFL played a part back at the design stage in making it the oval it is.) And as NZ-born Brisbane Lions’s chief executive Malcolm Holmes points out, for teams like theirs the travel time is comparable to that of visiting Tasmania or Perth. So no travel problems either for the teams. Everybody wins!
* Which, to be fair, may not be entirely beneficial for Wellington. Although I’d expect the Malthouse at least to prosper.