15089 was the attendance at Penrith on Saturday when the Australian women’s soccer team, the Matildas, won in a friendly against the well fancied Brazil team in spectacular style. You’ll come a Waltzing Matildas with me said the packed crowd who were treated to a feast of quality football with a highly skilled strike by Lisa de Vanna and a glancing header by Sam Kerr as Australia defeated Brazil 2-1.
By contrast, at the Sydney show ground (known as Spotless stadium), a highly skilled Greater Western Giants team, inspired by 34-year-old Stevie Johnson, accounted easily for the West Coast Eagles in the AFL knockout semi-final. But as good as the young Giants were against the Eagles, only 14,865 turned up, which was the lowest crowd in the AFL/VFL finals series since World War 1 (when 9690 people watched Collingwood play Fitzroy in 1916 during the height of war casualties depleting ranks back home). Even across the way at Sydney Olympic Park, Parramatta and North Queensland Cowboys drew a healthy 42,187 in the NRL semi-final.
Should the AFL be worried? Well they designed the ground Spotless stadium to only hold 20,000 so there is an atmosphere despite the low crowd. But it will be a different story next week for GWS when they face Richmond and a 95,000 strong Tiger army at the MCG, hungry for a flag. The NRL will also be looking for a good crowd in Melbourne, when the Storm take on the Brisbane Broncos.
And as for our Matildas, they go from strength to strength on and off the park, and it could well be said they are Australia’s most successful national sports team at the moment. And deservedly so.
Tim Harcourt is the JW Nevile Fellow in Economics at UNSW Sydney and host of The Airport Economist on Sky News Business Channel and Qantas www.theairporteconomist.com
Data source: FFA, AFL, NRL.
This was first published in the Herald Sun newspaper.
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