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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Rupolo

APL's award night spin a savage cultural blow

Simon Hill spoke with incredible clarity when he recently said on ABC that the APL "knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." When discussing the cancellation of the ceremony for the Dolan Warren Awards, nothing could be closer to the truth. In one fell swoop, A-Leagues fans are questioning the viability of their competitions to the point where it is existential while bemoaning the disrespect to Australia's football legends.

The APL has come under fire for cancelling the Dolan Warren Awards. (Image: SBS News)

The APL recently announced it would reveal the Julie Dolan and Johnny Warren Medal winners at half-time of the A-Leagues Grand Finals instead of holding the traditional ceremony, during which fans could celebrate the best players across the two competitions.

No matter how much financial pressure you are under, respecting your history should never be sacrificed.

At a time when the APL is struggling financially and positive headlines are a rare commodity, they canned the only opportunity where happiness is guaranteed in the A-Leagues.

The times are so rough that there cannot be any fun anymore. The party's over, folks. And think about this sad image while you're headed out the door with your jacket draped over your shoulder or your stilettos in hand.

Instead of celebrating Australian football's pioneers with its customary awards night, the revered names that adorn the player of the season medals, Dolan and Warren, will be read out over a PA system whilst fans are lining up for the toilet at the Grand Finals.

Julie Dolan is the famous inaugural captain of the Matildas, and Johnny Warren is regarded as the 'patron saint' of Australian football. They deserve more respect.

This act is another example of an administration displaying a severely destructive trait: indifference.

The APL seems indifferent to football's history, heritage, and culture. The result is the slow erasure of Australia's most cherished memories and stories. If the game no longer values its history, who will be there to tell it and keep it alive?

The APL's actions follow a troubling pattern. They make a decision that could anger fans, then employ the spin doctors to make an argument that it is somehow in their best interest.

No more home Grand Finals? Don't worry; the APL is building "new traditions."

Are they making half of their staff redundant? Don't sweat it; the APL says it is part of a "period of rapid growth."

No more end-of-season awards night? "We wanted to bring the awards closer to fans," the APL says.

Troublingly, the Warren family wasn't even informed about the decision and found out simultaneously as the rest of us when the story broke online. Johnny Warren's nephew, Jamie, lamented the decision: "As a family, we want to see his (Johnny Warren's) legacy be recognised," he recently told AAP.

It is a cardinal sin for an administrator in Australian football to disrespect the name and family of the game's most cherished pioneer, and the APL will undoubtedly rue not picking up the phone.

Beyond the legends, the Dolan Warren Awards are significant for the leagues. They are a chance to highlight and celebrate the names and faces that make the A-Leagues as entertaining as they are and also to spotlight the stories that make the game unique. It is a celebration of culture as much as it is a celebration of football.



In the season following a home Women's World Cup, the A-League Women had a sensational campaign with record-breaking membership and crowd figures. There will not be any significant opportunity to celebrate those victories in the women's game with the world.

Instead of giving Nestory Irankunda a massive boost before he says 'Bon Voyage' on his way to Bayern Munich, fans will settle for him being awarded the 'Best Young Player' with a post on 'X'.

Could you imagine the NRL awarding the Dally M Medal at half-time of their Grand Final or the AFL giving the Brownlow to their best player in the tunnel at the MCG on Grand Final day? How about the Allan Border Medal being bestowed on Australia's best men's test player at lunch on Day 1 of the fifth summer test against the West Indies?

Imagine what the front page of the Daily Telegraph would look like. It would scream 'Dally M Disaster' or 'Brownlow Bungle', and fans would be distraught at either league's disrespect for tradition and history.

Yes, financially, the walls are slowly closing on the A-Leagues' operators, but despite the hardship, maybe remembering and honouring the legacy of Julie Dolan and Johnny Warren can provide some inspiration for an administration that continues to lose its way with each decision.


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