Lions fans unconvinced after ‘bunched up’ Gabba trial
In unusual circumstances, Brisbane Lions fans cheered long-time rivals Collingwood Magpies at the Gabba on Monday night, but their real focus was not on the game, but on the crowd.
Coast residents and Gabba Trust members Ben Haycroft and Mehera Moroney were part of a trial seating arrangement as Collingwood played Port Adelaide.
Had Collingwood won, it would have handed Mr Haycroft and Ms Moroney’s beloved Lions the minor premiership, but it was not to be.
But the real talking point was the seating arrangements.
In the lead up to the Gabba’s inaugural AFL Grand Final, the ground’s management invited 200 members to volunteer in a “COVID-safe seating trial”.
Mr Haycroft and Ms Moroney took advantage of the free tickets, despite initially feeling uncomfortable sitting so close to footy-loving strangers.
“Because I am a Gabba member I like to sit in my usual spot,” Mr Haycroft said.
“I was actually genuinely surprised that we were bunched up like you normally would be.”
According to the invitation, the purpose of the trial was to “assess increased seating capacity arrangements in an identified seating bay with greater density among patrons”.
Participants were provided with face masks for use during and after the game but wearing them was optional.
Hand sanitiser was also available for all guests.
Participants were advised they were under no obligation to continue if they did not feel comfortable with the seating arrangements.
Despite the unusual circumstances, the long-time Lions fan was not missing the opportunity to have a laugh at a rival’s expense.
“Being put next to Port (Adelaide) and Collingwood fans, there was always the possibility of getting sick,” Mr Haycroft said.
“Collingwood fans should not be allowed into the Gabba full stop.”
Mr Haycroft wasn’t convinced the Queensland Health-approved event would go as smoothly on Grand Final day as it did on Monday.
“I fear for the hospitality staff, the ones directing that amount of people,” he said.
“It’s all right to herd 200 cats, but it’s different when you have 30,000 of them.
“There’s too much of the d------- element.”
Participants will be surveyed after the game about their experience as well as their feelings on safety.