AFL DRAW 2009 RELEASED; CATS PLAY
HAWKS IN OPENING ROUND
By Ben Jensen GEELONG AND HAWTHORN will play a Grand Final rematch in round one of the 2009 AFL Premiership season, as the complete draw was released by the AFL today. The Cats, after receiving a pretty poor draw last season in that they had no home 'blockbuster' at the MCG, hosts two MCG games this season - including a Good Friday eve blockbuster against Collingwood that is sure to be a huge money-spinner for Brian Cook and his gang. The other MCG home game is the follow up match with the Hawks, in round 17 at the MCG on a Saturday afternoon. The Cats play at newly renamed 'Etihad Stadium' (former Telstra Dome) just four times, in a sign the AFL is now more intent on bashing the former Phone Dome than the MCG for a change.
The Cats however will have an increase in Sunday matches, scheduled to play seven, up from the four last season, two of which are home games. Five MCG matches are on offer, up from four last season, while they travel interstate five times, the same as last season.
The Cats play at Subiaco two rounds in a row, although it isn't as bad as it sounds - the week off due to the split round is sandwiched in between, so it may turn out for the better. Good news for the Perth Cats supporter group all round, unless you planned a three week trip to Thailand or Europe that week!
Brian Cook seemed more pleased with the draw than he was last season, although he was disappointed at 'only' 8 home games at Skilled Stadium after they asked for 9. As a supporter normally based in Melbourne, this correspondent would much rather three home games in Melbourne, especially with two at the MCG, but of course the club is trying to bring in as much dollars as possible.
Overall we are comfortable with the draw, which is never an easy exercise for the AFL. We are excited to have home games at the MCG against Collingwood and Hawthorn, as last year we did not have an opportunity to draw 60,000 plus in any of our eleven home matches," Cook said.
Cook was understandably delighted at the Easter weekend blockbuster with the Magpies, the corresponding match in 2007 drawing over 80,000 despite a train driver strike. "The game on Easter Thursday will be a highlight and we think this could become an annual event of the Easter round. The draw is fair in its spread of games and we are happy that there are minimal short recovery periods for us."
"The main downside is that we had asked for nine home games at Skilled Stadium. However given the capacity at Skilled Stadium reduces to 24,000 next year due the redevelopment we understand the AFLs decision. We will continue to push for nine home games here as we feel it is important to play as many home games as reasonable at Skilled Stadium.
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