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Interest in SANFL rises in advance of season-ending Adelaide Oval climax
This year's SANFL finals campaign has experienced a resurgence in public interest, as organisers anticipate a crowd of nearly 40,000 people at the Adelaide Oval for today's grand final.
As reported by the ABC, local television news bulletins have been running extensive packages nightly, Adelaide's sole daily newspaper has been running front and back-page stories, and match-day crowd numbers have been higher than last year.
Commenting on the season, SANFL Chief Executive Jake Parkinson told the ABC "our crowds are up, slightly up on 2014, which was a strong year because it was the first year SANFL finals were played here at the (new) Adelaide Oval.
"As an example, for the first and second semi-final weekend in the last two years we've had just over 9,000 people, but that same weekend this year it was more than 13,000, so that's a significant uplift on previous years."
As well as its thousands of loyal week-in and week-out supporters, the SANFL has also been enjoying renewed interest from fans who would normally be focused on the Adelaide Crows or Port Adelaide Power.
Parkinson advised “we've had a lot more focus and that does happen when the two SA AFL teams don't finish in the finals.”
Media attention has also focused on controversy in the final week when North Adelaide Football Club was found to have played an extra man in the first three minutes of the last quarter in their preliminary final comeback win against the Woodville-West Torrens Eagles.
Parkinson admitted the situation created national headlines and interest in the league from further afield than usual, commenting "but we certainly enjoyed the media attention for the quality of that game.
"It was very, very hard fought and free flowing and high scoring and both teams put on an excellent exhibition of football.
"Unfortunately, the attention due to the additional man being on the field for over three minutes from NAFC has somewhat overshadowed that."
Despite its post-match controversy, the fast, attacking game was an example of the SANFL's attraction to fans
Parkinson is expecting a big crowd to turn up today, hoping to reach the heights of the Sturt-Port Adelaide grand final last year, which was decided by one point.
That game attracted 39,813 people, which dwarfed the VFL's grand final crowd of 17,000 and the WAFL's 18,180, and further illustrated why the SANFL is widely considered the country's second tier football league.
Image: SANFL Finals action at the Adelaide Oval. Courtesy of the Adelaide Oval.
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