If the AFL ‘really care’ about bringing footy fans together, they’ll keep Gather Round in SA


Whether you visited the Norwood Food and Wine Festival as part of attending the thrilling Richmond-Saints game, ventured rurally into the Adelaide Hills and saw the much-hyped Harley Reid stamp his presence, or were able to catch the captivating double header on Saturday at the Adelaide Oval with both games decided by under two goals, the second iteration of Gather Round was spectacular viewing and a resounding success.

As fans from all over the country flocked to the City of Churches, the state became a real melting pot of all AFL tribes, not just in the Adelaide city centre but outside into the suburbs and the hills. In 2025, this bringing together of fans will expand further with plans for the internationally acclaimed Barossa Valley to get its taste of AFL action. From what we have seen over this year and last year as well as the plans in place to go forward, Gather Round is here to stay in SA in its current format.

Captain Rozee is next level ????#AFLPowerDons pic.twitter.com/hiObCoEwEd

— AFL (@AFL) April 5, 2024

The great charm of this particular round is that footy fans from all over the country congregate in a fabulous and beautiful part of the world that is South Australia. Whether fans are driving from Melbourne, Perth or Darwin, they are able to get the chance to witness the inherent beauty of South Australia whilst watching their own team play.

Recently, it has been reported that the AFL will host a series of Gather Rounds from 2028 in many different states to compensate for the odd number of teams with the entry of the Tasmania Devils.

However, hosting this gathering of footy fanatics in many different states loses the charm of what SA and the AFL have been able to create as fans will no longer book a particular weekend to go and see SA and will instead just wait for the round to be hosted in their state. Therefore, if the AFL really care about bringing the AFL community together and unifying them, the round has to be hosted only once a year in one state.

Also, whilst many have argued that the novelty of SA may wear off in a few years and the round has to go to other states, the fact of the matter is that no other state is as well positioned as South Australia to host such a unique event. Venturing off west makes the event largely inaccessible for the majority of Australia’s population on the east coast and there is also a lack of venues and infrastructure outside Perth.

Considering that a large number of games are already held in Victoria, there is no need for a national competition to continue to favour and benefit the state.

Josh & Aliir ????#GatherRound pic.twitter.com/l1Uvnym1mt

— AFL (@AFL) April 7, 2024

Whilst NSW and Queensland look like decent options as they have the necessary infrastructure, it is highly unlikely that two predominantly rugby league states will embrace Gather Round as much as SA, and it is also improbable that the NRL will easily let their main rival just steal their market in rugby league heartland.

South Australia’s mainly central location, combined with its rich football heritage, makes it the perfect and only real state that is able to host this event. With plans to go to the Barossa in 2025, the SA government are committed to expanding the event beyond Adelaide and ensuring that it only becomes more modern and exciting for fans to go to over the years.

Who knows what the future holds for the AFL and what may in time become possible, but as far as things stand right now, the joyous event that is Gather Round simply has to remain in its most suited home, in the Festival State.

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