Adam Goodes leads the Swans out on to the ground at Coffs Harbour for the clash against St Kilda.
Adam Goodes leads the Swans out on to the ground at Coffs Harbour for the clash against St Kilda. Bruce Thomas

AFL hope springs eternal

THERE’S something special about the opening day of a new AFL season.

After the controversy-plagued off-season our sport has endured, it will be nice to be able to concentrate on footy again.

As a player, I loved round one. It was our reward for the long, hard hours on the training track throughout the summer months.

In some instances it was a chance to atone for a disappointing season the previous year.

Other times it was a chance to build on momentum generated by a successful season.

And then there are the fans.

Every supporter, regardless of what happened the previous year, harbours dreams of their team running out on to the MCG on that last Saturday in September – or first Saturday in October, as is the case this year.

The realists among some of those supporters are acutely aware there’s no chance of their team playing finals, let alone reaching a grand final, but that’s the beauty of round one. It’s the unknown.

It’s the kid who has flown under the radar who manages to bob up and play outstanding footy.

It’s the mature-age recruit who, after years of toiling away in the VFL, finally gets a chance at the elite level and shines.

It’s the club that’s winning games despite every so-called expert writing its season obituary before a ball has been bounced.

We all start the season with hope, and that’s why round one is so special.

So tonight Carlton and Richmond supporters will flock to the MCG, or huddle around a TV screen or a radio, filled with optimism about the season ahead.

Could this be their year?

This scenario will be played out across the country this weekend, as round one delivers the very thing we’ve all been craving.

Bring on the footy.



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