NO-ONE looks good in a vest, especially when sitting on a bench. The green sleeveless garment thrust upon 18 young men each and every week is an old idea that isn’t going to get any younger, or any more relevant.

As Paul Roos said on Monday, the sooner the substitution rule is abolished the better.

Not even Han Solo or Aladdin looked good in a vest and they rode the Millennium Falcon and magic carpets for a living respectively.

Originally brought in because interchange rotations were going through the roof, the substitute rule offered some solace to a side with a game-ending injury, avoiding the ‘mismatch’ of 22 fit blokes against 21.

The fitness disadvantage from having 25 per cent less on your bench than your opponent was often blamed as the catalyst for many tragically close losses.

We have since capped the interchange and subsequently the upward trend of rotations has been halted accordingly. The days of accruing more than 150 moves are gone, and so too should the vest.

“Last week I probably spent the best part of three, four hours thinking about (who to select as the substitute),”Roos said.

“(On) game day, you spend 20 to 30 minutes talking about it in the box.”

the worst rule ever brought into footy

Purposefully having to select a 22nd man severely limits the influence that player can have on the weekend. It distracts from the core purpose of what 22 athletes should be doing each and every week.

To be told late in the week, or even within 24 hours of the bounce, that your participation might not be until the start of the fourth quarter is as bad as being selected for the Boxing Day Test match but not being allowed to pad up until the afternoon session on December 29.

Sure, if you have a key player go down in the early frames of the contest, the ability to keep the available numbers even is somewhat an effective stopgap to keep the match in the balance.

But what concessions do you make for bad luck?

Travis Cloke doesn’t mean to kick poorly or get the yips, should we allow him mulligans like we do your weekend casual golfer?

‘Sorry guys, can I play my mulligan and have that set shot again?’

Someone might shoot at goal from outside 50, it may bounce end over end towards the vacant goal but due to the unique shape of the pill it bounces back just as it flirts with the goal-line? Should we allow that as a major because it was on its way through yet didn’t quite get there because of bad luck?

And sure, we don’t want to have the attention span of the lay football fan darted because Luke Hodge or Nat Fyfe might roll an ankle in the first term and therefore sway the game further towards one particular team. But replacing them with a borderline Casey Scorpions-listed, part-time chippy, is that really going to make that much of a difference?

Geelong on the weekend could have used a minivan full of green-vested cavalry, but alas that wasn’t available. And even so, they presented the buttered confection nonetheless, so sure, the substitute rule made all the difference there didn’t it?

They rose to the occasion on a sleety, bitterly cold afternoon down in Sleepy Hollow and defied the odds. We love a winner who defies the odds, even if the Gold Coast indeed metaphorically suffered strong asphyxiation in the way they went about squandering yet another solid chance at four points.

So while we all want to see our teams win, and win from a foundation of evenness and fair play, do we really want to see last year’s first round draft pick riding the pine for two hours, no doubt visiting the little boys’ room on numerous occasions to relieve the nerves, just because there’s the off chance that a highly-tuned fitness freak, known as an AFL footballer, might strain a pancreas?

Or, are we prepared to take the chance that if Jobe Watson pulls one of his humongous, sprint cyclists thighs which thus rules him out for the final three quarters that the Dons will battle on with one less solider on the bench?

If they lose then it’s all part of the game but if they get up they’ll sing the song with that extra bit of gusto which pleases their fans and the media alike.

Paul Roos, who knows football, labelled the substitute rule “the worst rule ever brought into footy”.

We have also brought in rules around priority picks, the score review and had rough-at-best interpretations with the hands in the back and holding the ball. For this rule to be potentially the most excruciating for football people and fans means that enough is enough.

Over to you Mark Evans, ditch the fluorescent lime waist coat won’t you?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here