Kevin Hillier says we need to re-think AFL grand final week

Is grand final week the best week of the year in Melbourne? We have the Brownlow, the parade and the game. What more could you want? Nothing, really. But now it seems we have a public holiday nobody asked for.

The rationale seems to be that if we have a day off for a horse race, surely our major football code deserves a day, too. Grand final eve would be one of the biggest days on the calendar for lunches and corporate events, which also makes it one of the most profitable for the hospitality industry. The fact they now have to pay staff public holiday rates will kick that in the head very quickly.

Many organisations have, over the past few years, moved their grand final functions from the Friday because of the large number of events on that day. I think many more will follow suit with the introduction of the public holiday, so I’m interested to know if you’re in favour of the holiday and what impact you think it will have on business.

I have no doubt we will eventually see a night grand final because of television pressure, but, for me, it seems to take forever to get to the actual start of the game. I’m no fan of the pre-match entertainment, regardless of who they drag out to sing a few songs. I’d rather see a game of football than a mini-concert.

So what about playing an underage suburban grand final? For instance, imagine what a thrill it would be for Hoppers Crossing and Spotswood to play an under-17 decider on the MCG on grand final day. Rotate it around the major suburban leagues and promote grassroots footy instead of lining the pockets of mega-rich singers.

An after-game concert has always seemed more appropriate to me because you can do a proper concert and everyone is ready to party. I also think we should use Australian acts as we have no shortage of internationally successful singers and bands who fit the bill. The bells and whistles have got out of control in recent years and it may be time to simplify grand final day and get the focus back on the game, not the pre-game.

Your thoughts are welcome. ■

If you have any news or events, let me know at kevin@howdypartnersmedia.