Umpires who began their warm-up early while paint was still wet spread patches of white around the MCG’s pristine turf prior to the AFL grand final, according to the ground’s management.
In the hour before the first bounce at 2.30pm, ground staff frantically used leaf-blowers and green paint to cover the spots, which threatened to ruin the appearance of the turf on the sport’s biggest day of the year, when the match is broadcast around the world and to millions of Australians.
The MCG ground on grand final day is known for being impeccably prepared, with chequered grass and striking painted lines creating an eye-catching effect.
The broadcaster Gerard Whateley, speaking on radio station SEN before the matter was rectified, said the AFL and Melbourne Cricket Club would be “bitterly disappointed”.
Paint was laid in the lead-up to the 10am NAB All Stars curtain-raiser – which featured top under-18 players likely to enter the next AFL draft.
“The umpires caused the footprints,” an MCC spokeswoman said. “They also unsettled the paint just as it was setting, which meant once the under-18s came on, it got even worse.”
Fresh paint was then re-laid again after the curtain-raiser match to ensure the ground was in peak condition for the grand final.
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