No MCG session for Collingwood - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

No MCG session for Collingwood

20/09/2010 06:38:29 PM Comments (0)

The Collingwood players have voted unanimously to torpedo a proposed open grand final training session at the MCG.

With the vast majority of the club's huge membership base certain to miss out on tickets for Saturday's clash with St Kilda, a crowd of more than 20,000 could have been expected to watch the Magpies train at the match venue.

But the players feared it would be too much of a distraction, prompting the club to schedule the two morning sessions on Wednesday and Friday at their regular venue of Gosch's Paddock.

Gosch's is also located in the inner city, but as an open-field site it is ill-equipped to cope with large crowds.

"While that creates a few challenges for us from a crowd perspective, the main priority for us, and I think all our supporters would understand, is preparing the players and making sure they're happy," Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert said on Monday.

"(The MCG) would have its advantages for the supporters and maybe the sponsors to come down.

"But it really was 100 per cent about what would work best for the players and they knew that.

"They had a meeting about it and they weighed it all up and it was pretty strong, it was unanimous in the group with the players and the coaches that they wanted to train down there, so we supported that."

Pert acknowledged that Gosch's Paddock would present some logistical problems as there are no grandstands.

"We're very conscious of the fact that it's school holidays and there will be a lot of people wanting to come along," he said.

"We want them to share in that and experience it, we understand that without a stadium as such they won't be able to sit there and be ringed around the ground.

"But we certainly want people to come down.

"We'll have lots of security to make sure it's safe for everyone.

"That's why we're having the two sessions to try and spread it a bit over the week."

One option the club did not canvass was moving the training sessions back to their spiritual home of Victoria Park.

The now dilapidated suburban stadium hosted crowds of 15,000 for training sessions the last times the Magpies qualified for the grand final in 2002 and 2003.

"The ground is really not set up to take a crowd like that," said Pert.

"The playing surface is not bad, but with the car parking and the facilities it really wouldn't be safe for 20 or 30,000 people.

"So while it's a romantic thought to think we'd be going back to Victoria Park, it wouldn't even have been a consideration."

The club and the AFL are prepared for the annual backlash from frustrated club members who fail to get a ticket for the biggest game of the year, when much of the MCG's 100,000 capacity is filled by corporates,

Collingwood will erect a big screen at the nearby Sidney Myer Music Bowl, allowing 13,000 club members to watch the game together.

But they insist the decision not to train at the MCG was not a slap in the face for diehard fans - especially those who missed out on grand final tickets.

"The priority for this week has to be 100 per cent about the players," said Pert.

St Kilda's only open training session of the week was watched by a large crowd at Moorabbin on Monday morning.

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