24,500 screaming, excited fans piled into Carlton’s training ground, Ikon Park, on Friday evening to watch history in the making – the inaugural AFL Women’s match between the Blues and the Pies.
It turned out to be the smash TV success – at its peak drawing 1.1 million viewers.
The league’s CEO, Gillon McLachlan was there. The 46-year-old even made his way onto the green turf at Quarter Time to apologise to the thousand-strong group left peering through the fence.
“Sorry,” he said. You see, the stadium was simply too full.
Carlton Football President, Mark Logiudice, was there, celebrating the occasion with club personnel and coaching staff.
But where was Eddie McGuire, Collingwood Football President?
He was at the boxing. In Adelaide.
Of course, Eddie McGuire is a sports commentator and media personality. He simply cannot be everywhere at once. But to miss a one-off, once-in-a-generation event that directly involves his own club?
And that’s before you factor in McGuire’s stance on women in football, which at its best has been murky.
“We’re going to be celebrating this in 100 years. In 10 years time we’ll look back and say, why didn’t we do this 50 years ago?
“I’m not looking at anything other than pure optimism and joy today, because this is a game, and its time has come and we’re up to our necks in it,” McGuire said of the women’s league in June 2016.
Days later, his name was splashed across headlines after making a ‘joke’ about drowning award-winning journalist Caroline Wilson. He would offer $50,000 to the bloke who’d hold her under, he said.
In a time when women’s football is burgeoning, it’s disappointing for such a powerful figure to go missing.
Prior commitment or not, this was an event Eddie McGuire should’ve attended.
And it’s a shame, really.
He missed a bloody good match.