A pair of technical problems — both easy to fix — had the footy public as frustrated as viewers of the US presidential debate during Port Adelaide’s win against Geelong in the first AFL qualifying final on Thursday night.
And just like the disgrace between Donald Trump and Joe Biden — one of them could be solved by simply switching off a microphone.
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Field umpire “Razor” Ray Chamberlain doesn’t mind the spotlight and was trending on social media early in the encounter as his presence became larger than most of the players.
But what was most infuriating was how regularly his voice was inserted into the broadcast by Channel 7, who had the 44-year-old mic’d up in a half-empty stadium where his voice could be heard loud and clear.
The other problem — Chamberlain’s struggles to bounce the ball high and straight at restarts after a goal — was just as fixable. At least in the eyes of Cats coach Chris Scott.
“Ray!” Scott shouted at Chamberlain after storming onto the ground at halftime. “You shouldn’t be doing centre bounces! Pick it up!”
“You look at the position of where the ball is actually being bounced, the idea is you have a centre circle and both players get an even opportunity because the ball is bounced in the middle of that centre circle,” Channel 7 commentator Jobe Watson said. “If you take it to one side, you immediately disadvantage one of the teams.”
“Not sure Ray ate his wheaties this morning,” added former Magpies star Dane Swan on Twitter. “Think he needs to throw it up.”
After 19 free kicks were paid in the first half — a couple of them borderline — the whistle blowing slowed.
Port finished with 16 free kicks (below its season average of 16.7) and Geelong was paid 15 (just below its average of 15.1).
The Cats’ inaccuracy in front of goal was far more crucial to the outcome in their 9.4 (58) to 5.12 (42) defeat.
AFL leading goalkicker Tom Hawkins was particularly wasteful, backing up his 0.4 haul in last year’s qualifying final against Collingwood by kicking 0.5 against the Power.
Geelong will now face the winner of West Coast’s clash with Collingwood and is expected to pick the Gabba as its home ground for the game in a final series that will feature no matches in Victoria.