Perth will experience its first game of Good Friday football in three years when West Coast Eagles host the top four hopeful Sydney Swans at Optus Stadium tomorrow.
Despite the state’s love affair with footy, WA has previously only hosted one Good Friday game against Port Adelaide in 2019, with North Melbourne hosting all other annual matches since they began in 2017.
The Eagles come into the game off the back of their first win of the season against Collingwood last week but will be without experienced All-Australian duo Jeremy McGovern and Nic Naitanui.
Defender McGovern has fallen into health and safety protocols on Thursday morning, while Naitanui was ruled out until the second half of the season earlier this week with medial ligament injury in his already troublesome knee.
Fans can expect return of midfield pair Luke Shuey and Elliot Yeo however against a Swans side who has only suffered one loss this season and are expected by many experts to compete in September.
The football community in Perth is expecting a big showing for the prime time Friday night match, and both the Camfield Pub and Optus Stadium venues are eager to be front and centre for the community and football spectacle.
The Camfield has become synonymous with football in Perth since it opened alongside Optus Stadium in 2018 and is visited regularly by footy fans having a drink before the footy or to watch games on the big screen. It has special approval to open on Good Friday, as licensed venues generally have to close for the religious holiday.
Camfield marketing manager Natasha Leembruggen says the number of phone enquiries received over the last few days points to most fans supporting Good Friday footy at the venue.
“We are expecting people to really throw their support around Good Friday football, and with business as usual at the Camfield we expect it to have its normal and electric footy day atmosphere,” she says.
“The Camfield are happy to support this being an annual event [in WA].
“We haven’t received any commentary from the public with regards to serving alcohol on Good Friday.
“We believe the public understand that we respectfully provide a service for those that are wanting to partake and facilitating game days at Optus is such a big part of the Camfield. It is important to us to maintain that relationship.”
Not all football fans have been thrilled with the AFL’s decision to play football on Good Friday however, even after five years of promoting the games as showpiece events.
Local practising Catholic and footy fanatic Tim Green says although he realises some people aren’t religious, he is personally not a fan.
“Pubs can’t trade, shops are shut. If people don’t know the full significance of what the Good Friday holiday means, then they should be at work,” he says.
Good Friday football appears set to stay in the AFL for the time being though, and WA footy fans such as Ms Leembruggen want to see tomorrow going only one way.
“Well, I know what I hope will happen. Come on the Eagles!”