THE Western Bulldogs’ 2016 premiership glory has been touted as the reason behind the first crowd increase for a Cairns AFL fixture in four years.
Punters squeezed into the grandstand and the grassy knoll at Cazalys Stadium to watch the Bulldogs defeat Gold Coast Suns on Saturday evening.
Cairns Regional Council division 7 councillor Max O’Halloran, a former AFL player in the 1970s, said the Footscray club’s recent premiership win would have boosted enthusiasm among fans for this year’s clash.
The reigning premiers have now won all four of their appearances at Cazalys Stadium. The 13,500 capacity stadium attracted 9364 punters through the gates by the end of the fourth quarter.
Cr O’Halloran said the Cairns fixture’s future looked good with 8000 tickets sold before game day this year.
“I just think the atmosphere was 10 times better,” he said.
“The Western Bulldogs being premiers definitely helped. I remember watching the grand final and thinking we will never get the Dogs back now they are premiers.
“That is a huge commitment for them to put their hand up and want to come back.”
Crowd numbers at the Far North oval have been dipping every year since 2013.
Numbers hit the lowest point last year when just 8509 fans showed for the AFL spectacle, sparking concern for the future of the showcase.
The Far North’s Jarrod Harbrow was a drawcard for local fans while fellow Cairns junior Jack Bowes was quiet in his debut AFL game at the ground.
Division Councillor Cathy Zeiger said it was sad finish for the Suns who started off so well. “(It was) great action, better crowd support this year which is awesome.”
Previous crowd figures for the AFL game at Cazalys: