Closed. In a literal sense, behind this image is the Carlton administration area, cafe and media hub. A more poetic reading yields a look into what was a quiet, futile last gasp of a league about to go into permanent recession for the remainder of 2020.
Behind this glass barrier staff pottered around; taking phone calls, directing camera crews and burning whatever was cooking on the stove. They sat apart from the public, fans isolated in front of their own glass barrier screens.
Having wrest control of their destiny in the clinches of a soon-to-be a sadly trivial footnote, the Blues’ coach Daniel Harford proclaimed a brisk (and quixotic) “thank u, next” to the AFLW finals series amid a hazy press conference – several metres further away from the journalists before him than usual.
Hours later the AFL made the call to suspend their men’s competition after only one round of action – the cruel blows didn’t end there as the life-force of a wondrous, spectacular fourth outing of the women’s league ended with the wimpiest of whimpers.
No more games, no grand final – no side crowned the best after 46 preparatory battles.
In a way there was a theatricality beyond what we normally see on the field in this game. A curtain call, a rehearsal before the boarding up of the stage doors and an exit stage right into the post-footy world we now know all too well.
The lack of crowd affirmation meant scribes covered the game sans a key sixth sense, Tayla Harris’ report for a dangerous tackle seemed more like pause for an intermission than a scene-stealing performance for the circus that has so long followed in her wake. In the throes of joyful victory, the impromptu break-dancing moves from Nat Plane were straight out of a high school drama class playbook.
This image of a hastily written sign – all-caps sharpie on A4 paper – is best summed up by the frowning face tacked on at the end. All too often the AFL can seem labyrinthine in its rules and regulations, craving order as recompense for the chaos inherent in the game itself.
For one member of the navy blues’ troupe, it was their duty to communicate to the fans that this place of communion was off limits – instead of doing so in a totally cold and functional manner, they let slip emotion, a shared sense of sadness at the loss we all faced. A loss that at the time was yet to fully announce itself – a loss from which we are yet to experience the full fall-out.