This week we’re taking a shift to thinking about the links between the AFL and war history. We’re returning to more recent times, although some of our young readers weren’t born, so it’s seriously old history for them.
The official 2003 AFL pre-season launch, planned for Federation Square, was cancelled as it was thought it could coincide with potential peace rallies against the then impending war in Iraq. US air strikes on Iraq were launched on 20 March and war began on the day the season was to be launched. This followed large peace rallies around the world in February, with the crowd in Melbourne estimated as over 100,000.
AFL chief Wayne Jackson said ‘we think it is the right thing to do to recognise this point of time in Australia’s history’ (ABC, AFL cancels season launch, 19 March 2003). The newspaper sub-editors picked up on the war (& Peace) link: ‘Launch rests in peace’ (Herald Sun 20 March 2003 p74), ‘Footy gets the war boot’, and ‘Footy first causality of war’ (Australian 20 March 2003 p3), ‘Peace rally puts paid to AFL celebration’ (The Age, 20 March 2003) . They do enjoy a bit of hyperbole when mixing war and footy!
But turning to the football field and round 5 of 2003 The Footy Record was noticeably glossier than the editions we’ve been previously reading!
Depending on which ground and game, multiple versions were published, and one could have picked up a copy with an action cover shot of Adelaide’s Andrew McLeod, or Brisbane’s Simon Black, or Essendon’s Matthew Lloyd, or Freemantle’s Jeff Farmer, or Hawthorn’s Shane Crawford, or a very young looking Adam Goodes. Notably, all covers had very small references to Anzac Day, mostly at the bottom. We wonder what the Record will look like this weekend…