After a long 537 days without a footy crowd, the MCG was last weekend finally allowed to host half its capacity – 50,000 diehard Australian Rules football fans.
On Thursday night for the first game of the first round of the new season, supporters donned their traditional colours – the yellow and black of the Tiger army, and the navy blue of Carlton – after the longest break from football in Victorian history.
Supporter Luke, 21, was happy just to be there. “I don’t even go for either team, I’m just stoked to be back at the footy,” he said.
Richmond 15.15.105 defeated Carlton 11.14.80 in what was a closer match-up than the final scores suggested.
On Friday night, the MCG was host to 46,000 fans for what was billed as a blockbuster matchup between the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood.
Even with the game being relatively low scoring, that didn’t stop the crowd from making its voice heard. “It’s absolutely crazy, almost doesn’t feel real,” said one Magpies fan, Ethan, 18.
The Bulldogs dominated the proceedings however weren’t able to translate that into a big margin. The final score was Bulldogs 10.9.69 to Collingwood 7.11.53.
Melbourne also hosted Fremantle for what would be the third and final game at the home of football for the weekend, defeating them 11.14.80 to 8.10.58.
A lot of work was put in by the AFL, Victorian government and MCG staff to ensure Victorians could again enjoy the games. With COVID safe protocols in place to ensure public safety, fans were zoned into designated sections of the stands, food and beverage outlets were cashless and there was extra cleaning and sanitisation of high traffic areas.
With Australia being one of the more successful countries in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccine being introduced, calls have increased for the Victorian Government to allow an increase to 75 per cent of capacity, though commentators suggest 60 per cent is more likely in the near future.