AFL sparks furore over ‘disrespectful’ Anzac Day concert
THE AFL has come under fire after announcing Birds of Tokyo as next Thursday's pre-game entertainment for the blockbuster Anzac Day clash between Collingwood and Essendon.
The announcement has caused a stir among fans and footy identities, with many saying the decision is disrespectful to the occasion, while others have pointed out pre-game entertainment is nothing new.
RSL Victoria president Dr Robert Webster said it would probably be better to have the band play after the game instead of before it.
"It's part of the entertainment of the day so I'm not sure if you should cut them out completely," he said.
"In terms of the band's name, the word 'Tokyo' definitely still springs fear into the minds of some of the Japanese prisoners of war from World War II."
Collingwood forward Mason Cox suggested only the bugle was suitable for the traditional pre-game ceremony.
"The only music that should be pre game on Anzac Day is the bugle being played for one minute and everyone paying respect. A big fan of Birds of Tokyo and Adam Weston but they should be halftime entertainment or post-game entertainment," Cox tweeted.
Magpies president Eddie McGuire urged caution.
"(There) needs to be a big gap before the ceremony," he said.
"Personally I prefer the simplicity and solemnity of the occasion, if anything maybe the military bands.
"Otherwise I think the natural build-up is the most appropriate way to go."
But Collingwood cheer squad veteran Joffa Corfe said he didn't see the problem.
"It's a good thing," he said. "It adds to the atmosphere of an amazing day and ultimately helps reinforce an important historic message."
Essendon great Matthew Lloyd said the decision didn't sit right with him.
"For me Anzac Day feels like a day of reflection, a day of remembrance, sometimes the silence is as powerful as anything," he said on 3AW.
"To have a band, particularly the Birds of Tokyo, performing on Anzac Day just when your gut tells you it just doesn't sit right, that's one of those announcements today where that isn't what Anzac Day is, a band like that performing."
Collingwood's 1990 premiership captain Tony Shaw disagreed with Lloyd, saying there was a precedent for pre-game entertainment on the day, but agreed having a band play with that name wasn't smart.
Having high-profile talent performing before the game is nothing new for the AFL.
Last year, Ian Moss provided pre-game entertainment, and stars such as Mark Seymour, Darryl Braithwaite and Leo Sayer have all belted out songs in the past five years prior to the first bounce.
Moss performed 40 minutes before the game's first bounce, leaving 18 minutes between his performance and the observance ceremony.