OPINION: The Aussie rules spectacle that turned into a farce
OPINION: This was supposed to be a night of celebration.
The formal "switching on" of Keith Dunne Oval's near-half-a-million dollar, 400 lux lights powerful enough for Bay Power to host night games and for Hervey Bay Cricket Association to possibly attract First Class cricket to the region.
It could have been an advertisement for just how strong AFL Wide Bay's senior competition is, instead we witnessed hits that were blatantly off-the-ball, cheap shots, head slams and unnecessary push and shove that blew up as the game went on.
This behaviour all took place in front of dignitaries like AFL Queensland CEO Dean Warren, Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour and Hinkler MP Keith Pitt, AFL Wide Bay president Anthony Stothard and other officials in attendance.
Stothard has not responded to the Chronicle's request for comment.
What should have been a match of the year contender descended into a farce as footy took a back seat.
Unsavoury comments from players and spectators alike, a never-ending battle between players both on and off the ball, and at least three players sent from the field (rightly or wrongly) for their part in three separate incidents ruined a game of which the AFL Wide Bay should have been proud.
Three players - Bay Power duo Josh Wheeler and Marcus Dyson and Gympie's Lanze Magin - were sent from the field for separate incidents, as players waged a physical and verbal war rather than play Aussie rules football.
There is nothing I love more than a tough, physical contest, and with so much on the line - the opportunity to seal a top two place on the table and lock in an extra chance come finals - you expect a tough game from two sets of extremely passionate footballers.
But in a sporting landscape where it is so easy for people to turn their back on participating, there has to be a line - a standard - that players simply do not cross, and that officials wilfully enforce.
Credit where it is due: when the players actually played footy the standard and competition was among the best offered this season, one in which there are currently five teams that can genuinely win the flag.
The umpires deserve credit.
While they struggled to contain two highly emotionally-driven, passionate teams, they took control of the game as it wore on and did their best in trying circumstances.
Their job becomes infinitely more difficult when some players are not interested in playing the game, and their willingness to send off players is to be commended and encouraged.
As far as Saturday night's exhibition is concerned, one can only hope it is not repeated.
Too many people have done too much hard work to allow these incidents to overshadow one of the most open competitions in Queensland.