Is Golden Point A Good Idea?

The 2010 Grand Final was one of the best games of football I’ve ever seen.

When Brendon Goddard took his incredible mark late in the last term, that was the best moment of football I’d seen, up to that point. He kicked the goal to put St Kilda in front, and they had a five point lead, sitting on the cusp of adding to their sole premiership, in a game just as thrilling as 1966.

Two minutes later, scrappy play in the Collingwood fifty led to Travis Cloke kicking one from the goalsquare, putting Collingwood one point in front. For the second time in two Grand Finals between them, the margin was one point, perfect synergy with 1966.

And then, from almost the exact same spot as Barry Breen’s fabled mongrel punt in 1966, Lenny Hayes kicked the ball long into the forward line, looking for Steven Milne…

The siren sounded two minutes later, and the result was a draw. After 185 matches, and a long, punishing season, the two best teams could not be split.

grand final draw
Screenshot from jehsepi369’s YouTube video, which in turn is made from the original broadcast on Channel 7.

Players were collapsing with exhaustion. They had given their all for 120 minutes, and had come up with practically nothing to show for it. The pain, so clearly visible on their faces, was caused by one overriding thought – we have to come back next week.

This is the last time this will happen. On Tuesday, the AFL Commission ruled that there would be no more Grand Final replays:

The jury is still out on whether getting rid of replays is a good idea or not. I enjoy the concept of replays, if only because it means more football. However, extra time is not without its perks, such as getting a result on the day, and enabling player fitness to become a very important factor.

The one thing that I disagree with is not sounding the siren when golden score starts.

How in the world is anyone meant to know when it begins? Sure, the millions of TV viewers will know, but no one at the ground will. Even more importantly, the players won’t.

To show you what I’m talking about, I present the 2012 TAC Cup grand final. The Gippsland Power were playing the Oakleigh Chargers, and Oakleigh kicked two quick goals to level the scores. Almost immediately after the second, the golden score period started. Jackson Macrae, now at the Bulldogs, kicked a point late in the game, and thought that he’d only put them up, not won them the game.

(By the way, I’d recommend watching the whole video. Not only is it a cracking example of Aussie Rules, but it has at least three players now motoring along in the AFL: Macrae, Jack Billings of St Kilda, and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti at Essendon).

This could lead to a farcical final few moments of a season, which is not what the AFL wants. I thought of two scenarios as to how this could be avoided.

  • Blow the siren to signify golden point has started. This way, the players and fans know that they don’t have to score a goal, they just need to score. They might be a bit confused, but that could make it work.
  • Make it so a team needs to lead by two points to win. Were this method to be chosen, a point would put a team in the box seat, but not seal it for them, while a goal would give them a guaranteed victory. That way, you can’t kick yourself out of it, and a team that dominates the play is most likely to win.

All this conjecture may not be worth it…

…but it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out in scenarios such as this. Sure, had this been around in 2010, St Kilda might have two premierships instead of one, but luck’s a big part of the game, and sometimes, it just goes against you.

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