Anzac Day match mired by controversy as Essendon fans boo Pendlebury

Anzac Day match mired by controversy as Essendon fans boo Pendlebury
Scott Pendlebury after winning the 2019 Anzac Medal. Source: ABC News

The Anzac Day match was one of the best in recent memory. It was a tough battle, punctuated by a tense finish. Collingwood walked away narrow 4-point victors after decimating Essendon in the opening quarter. Quite surprisingly, Essendon won every quarter after that but still couldn’t quite clinch the win, such was the damage of their poor opening. Unfortunately, the game probably won’t be remembered for the tight contest.

Pendlebury booed by Essendon supporters

After winning his third Anzac Day medal (equalling James Hird’s record in the process of 3 Anzac Medals), captain of Collingwood, Scott Pendlebury was viciously booed by Essendon fans. So loud was the booing that Pendlebury was forced to stop for a moment during his acceptance speech. Collingwood coach and former champion, Nathan Buckley, was so disappointed with the conduct of Essendon fans that he made mention of their behaviour in his speech.

What caused it?

The likely cause of disgust for Essendon supporters was several decisions in the final quarter that did not go their way. A rather unconvincing disposal from Jaidyn Stephenson went unawarded with a free kick, only for Collingwood to earn a rather soft free kick in front of the goals merely seconds later (however, only a behind was registered from the kick).

Is there a problem with booing in AFL?

The last several years has prompted debate into whether the AFL has a problem with booing. Adam Goodes was famously booed in his final seasons with the Sydney Swans following an altercation with a young Collingwood fan who racially abused him. Goodes was subsequently booed from then on. Only earlier this week, Gary Ablett was booed in Geelong’s match against Hawthorn, given he liked Israel Folau’s controversial post on Instagram.

As a result, the AFL football operations manager, Steven Hocking, has teased the possible implementation of a “Boo Ban.” Naturally, the move has been meant with some derision and understandably so.