AFL News for the week ending April 16, 2023: The AFL 'Gather Round' goes off like a rocket as Don's fly high and Hinkley calls out JHF heckling
AFL Gather Round looks set to stay
Most who either made the trek to Adelaide for the inaugural AFL Gather Round or tuned in to watch from home have witnessed what can only be described as a fairly spectacular success for the AFL but also for the game more broadly.
Full or near-full stadiums, results in games that we never expected (hello Adelaide and Essendon), a festival atmosphere and the wonderful sight of the game back amongst the people at venues like Mount Barker have all surely cemented this as a constant for years or decades to come.
There is already talk that Gather Round should return to the city of churches given how well South Australia has handled the event, although some powerful voices, such as Clarko and Fag's, are already pushing for other states - such as Queensland - to be considered.
While admittedly there has been some pushback from fans who felt Gather Round put a round of football out of their reach in terms of not being able to physically attend a game, it must be remembered that this is an extra round on top of the normal fixture.
For Gill McLachlan, departing AFL CEO, it is another substantial part of his legacy alongside cradling the game through the Covid pandemic, establishing and entrenching the AFLW and getting up a team in Tassie, which while not a done deal yet looks more and more likely.
Well done Chief!
Scott has Dons hitting AFL stratosperic heights
The round experienced something of an early upset when the Crows took down the Blues, although Crows fans were probably not overly surprised given the Blues poor record in Adelaide and the fact that their side has been showing some very positive signs already during AFL Season 2023.
But it was the Dons stellar performance against the Dees that will be raising eyebrows most.
While the final score wasn't a blowout, in many ways it didn't reflect how great a win this was for the Bombers.
And at the heart of is ruckman, Sam Draper, who looks like he is becoming not only one of the league's elite ruckman, but also a growing local legend at Windy Park.
How far can the Bombers go this year?
Essendon coach, Brad Scott, is trying to temper expectations, as he would, but Bombers fans must be relishing the season ahead and the massive game on Anzac Day against Collingwood in a game we know can go any way.
Ken's an angry man, and rightly so
In a week where we have yet again had ugly reports of racism levelled against some of our best players, for which there is NO PLACE in our game, we've also seen an incident of booing of Port Adelaide's Jason Horne-Francis in the match against the Bulldogs.
JHF was also booed by Collingwood fans in Round 2, which one can only assume comes on the back of his controversial trade from North Melbourne.
“Some parts of this really annoy me about the way people are treating him,” Port Adelaide coach, Ken Hinkley, said.
“It’s annoying me."
This 19-year-old is already showing in his game how much happier he is as a player at his new club, so the booing can't be to do with form.
And while booing has been part of our game and probably always will, so is giving our players and each other a fair go.