AFL is back, and what a week it was | Opinion

By Andrew Johnston

HOW good was it to have football back on the weekend.

For me, at least, it has been far too long of a wait to get our great game back on the paddock.

True, it was scratchy, there were a lot of skill errors, the games were too short and the umpiring wasn’t crash hot.

Did it matter?

Of course not.

The Richmond and Collingwood game was a snooze fest, one of the most mediocre games of football I have watched — well, endured — in a long time.

Hell, my beloved Hawks were embarrassed by one of our biggest rivals on Friday night and it still made me happy to have the game back.

Waking up on Saturday morning feeling grumpy and miserable about something you have no actual control over, it’s the worst feeling out there.

But this week, it was simultaneously the best.

The weekend threw up more than a few unpredictable results — no-one would have picked a second-game stud in Matt Rowell to lead the worst side in football, Gold Coast, to a resounding victory against a premiership contender in West Coast.

Most wouldn’t expect North Melbourne to get on a plane to Sydney and knock off the Giants in what turned out to be a belter of a game.

And even fewer people would have guessed that Richmond and Collingwood, two of the most fancied sides in the competition for the flag, would somehow play the worst game of the weekend (and one of the worst in a while).

We had tight finishes — Melbourne sinking Carlton by a point, and Sydney kicking the ball into the post in the dying stages of their clash with Essendon to lose by a goal.

We saw Port Adelaide, back in their famous prison bar jumper, put on a clinic at Adelaide Oval against their cross-town rivals in the Crows.

And that game brought us something even more special: crowds.

How good are live crowds at games of football?

There were just over 2000 people at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night, but after five games of fake sounds being pumped into the broadcast, hearing something as simple as the Power fans booing as Tex Walker touched the football was a beautiful sound.

Man, they were lucky to be there.

It looks like we are a chance at getting into games soon, and I will be banging down the doors of the MCG when I get my chance.

Because I just missed our game.

I missed the rush of someone breaking through the centre, ball in hand.

I missed leaning during a set shot, almost like I’m trying to will the ball home from my seat.

I miss the feeling when the siren sounds, and your club has won.

Hell, I think I miss losing a little bit, if I’m honest.

I’m not going to get those feelings on the field as a player this year, though it’s starting to look more and more like some lucky footballers and netballers across the region are going to get the opportunity to do so.

So I’m going to have to be content to enjoy this season purely as a fan.

We still have 15 games to go — it’s going to be great.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.