Desperate times call for desperate measures. The adage never more relevant to the AFL than right now amidst a global pandemic.
One of these desperate measures is forcing teams to share chartered flights to and from interstate games on the same day.
In round two, it was bitter rivals North Melbourne and Essendon flying interstate to Sydney together for their respective clashes against Greater Western Sydney and Sydney.
Their flight left Tullamarine at 8:00am. With the North Giants game scheduled for 1:05pm, and the Essendon Sydney game at 3:35pm, the Bombers were faced with a long day at the office and a less than ideal preparation for their first hit-out since the COVID-19 competition shutdown.
The flight landed around four hours before North’s game and six and a half hours before Essendon’s.
Due to the strict bio-security measures in place courtesy of Coronavirus, the Bombers’ community contact was limited, and they spent the best part of three hours in a hotel conference room. From what we understand they were allowed to leave for 15 minute periods to get a takeaway coffee, but that was the extent of their freedom.
A 5am wake-up and three hours trapped in a room, not exactly a standard or fitting preparation.
If the Bombers came out playing sluggish football, it would’ve been understandable, but not acceptable.
Critics and skeptics alike would’ve been howling. Serous questions raised about the parity of the revamped 17 round fixture and the legitimacy of results.
Put simply, the AFL were going to be backed into a corner. They’re only options being spend money they don’t have or have the 2020 season’s integrity under the microscope.
Fortunately, the nightmare scenario never eventuated.
Essendon notched 20 points before Sydney hit the scoreboard and never trailed, holding on for a six-point win in a last minute thriller.
The shared flight guinea pigs crucially showed that whilst being disadvantaged, they can still compete and win. Stamping approval on the far-fetched concept that is now a necessity in this changed landscape.