Opinion

Asterisk to 2020 isn’t worst option

By James Bennett

FOOTY'S BACK!!

Or is it?

There might not be anything worse than playing devil's advocate because there are many that have been pining for live sport — but it's hard to get really excited for an asterisk AFL season.

After about two months of lockdowns and isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a sense of relief when we could travel to visit loved ones and enjoy an evening at a restaurant.

Naturally there would be nothing but joy from the public that live sport has returned.

Usually I would have some emotion about watching a game of footy but with no atmosphere and a shortened season, my feelings were baron.

I watched a total of zero minutes of round two.

As always frustrated Melbourne supporter, something I'm not used to is winning.

I've never wanted Melbourne to fail so hard than this year. I don't want our first premiership since 1964 to be in an asterisk season.

I can't imagine St Kilda supporters feel differently. Or a team such as Fremantle who has never hoisted the premiership cup.

In fact I would have no objections with the Dees finishing last. We effectively lost nothing and probably gain some good draft picks.

I could be wrong but in the eyes of many fans, 2020 won't be perceived as a season to remember (for the right reasons) or actually consider it canon.

Working on this theory, should we go over the history books and put an asterisk besides previous shorten or tainted years?

Specifically, I'm discussing the World War I years.

The most famous example of an asterisk season could be the 1916 Fitzroy Maroons season.

This is the most fascinating AFL trivia question ever because the Maroons achieved something remarkable.

They were the only team in AFL/VFL history to win the wooden spoon and premiership in the same season.

That's right because there were four teams in the competition.

Fitzroy won two matches in the 12-round shorten season and beat the minor premiers Carlton in the grand final, who'd won 10 games.

Twelve games, four teams probably justifies putting an asterisk next to Fitzroy. Sorry old Roy’ fans.

Yes, they beat out what they had to play under the extreme circumstances.

What about 1917? There were six teams and 15 games which is an improvement certainly qualifies for an asterisk.

But given only nine teams existed at the time and the added fact Collingwood won that year, the debate would rage forever.

By 1918 the sport was almost at its previous capacity because only Melbourne did not play that season.

Although war again broke out in Europe in 1939, the VFL seasons remained relatively unchanged.

A fair number of players did stop playing Aussie Rules to fight for their country but other than Geelong not playing in 1942 and 1943, every team still fielded sides for full seasons.

Taking all of that into account, how the 2020 season will be perceived by AFL fans?

In 20 years time, the AFL might say ‘no way’ but in 120 years time there might be a line through the season.

Does it really look that bad on paper, putting an asterisk next to the winning team.

Most will understand that the year was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as they would understand 1916 and 1917 disrupted by World War I.

Although there's little chance the AFL would ever put an asterisk on a season, it is important to note they have recently entered into reviewing premiership tallies.

If it plans to officially change when the continuous competition started from 1897 to 1870 then it should consider reviewing season such as 1916 or 2020.

Thinking ahead to the immediate short term, if Australia continues on its current course then by the end of the year "things are back-to-normal" is all we'll be saying.

When we finally arrive to round one 2021, imagine the demand for tickets.