AFL Country Match: celebrates the Bush

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Saturday afternoon’s match at the MCG was the AFL’s third annual Country Themed Blockbuster Match between Essendon and Geelong. Before the match, the fans and other Melbournians were treated to a live concert, farmers market and field shows, bringing a taste of the country to the city as part of the Powercor Country Festival. 

General scenes in the lead up to the 2018 Country Match. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

Just over 50,000 fans watched the match which was a surprisingly one-sided Bombers affair, with the the black and red jerseys seemingly playing for their spot in the team after the horrendous start to the season. The Cats looked like their usual bag of skills missed the bus up the freeway. They looked like a bunch of country hicks unsure of what to do in the big city.

The Bombers put a dismal week behind them, and showed there is still a heart beat at Essendon, with suffocating pressure – in a 12.12 (84) to 7.8 (50) demolition of a lacklustre Geelong.

Adam Saad takes on Gary Ablett Jr. during the match. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

Essendon great Kevin Sheedy, the creator of two hugely successful annual Themed rounds – the Anzac day clash and Dreamtime at the ‘G – thought up the concept while touring regional Australia. Sheedy considers our country folk – our farmers and small rural communities – the backbone of our nation and home to many AFL greats.

Regional Victoria continues to play a major role in supporting the game of AFL football, so having the combination of a Country Festival and Themed Round is a great opportunity as an industry to say thank you.

Cale Hooker is presented with the Tom Wills Award by Kevin Sheedy. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

Sheedy has a vision to to have a State of Origin Country game played at the ’G, with all the great country players from all states competing.

There are eight million people who live outside our cities and Sheedy is adamant he wants to get them all along to make the Country round one of the biggest games of the year.

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