In a fiery grudge match between Geelong and Hawthorn the first quarter was dominated by … a pigeon.
Cats star Isaac Smith was booed every time he touched the ball after leaving the Hawks in the off-season but social media was obsessed by a different kind of bird that decided to make itself at home in the middle of the MCG.
It was braver than most, setting up shop inside the circle for a centre bounce early in the piece, clearly not worried about umpire Ray Chamberlain missing the mark or being cleaned up by either side’s ruckman.
This pigeon has nerves of steel 😂 pic.twitter.com/oulbtLprOH
After a Luke Breust goal in the opening term, the cameras panned to an official trying to herd the pigeon off the ground, but to no avail. It proved harder to get a hold of than a rampaging Dustin Martin.
Pigeon not going anywhere 😂 pic.twitter.com/axWIRhoB4D
Channel 7 sideline commentator Abbey Holmes provided a vital update at quarter-time.
“A ripping opening term by both sides but there was the toughest and bravest pigeon we have seen in the centre of the ground throughout the opening term,” she said.
“It would definitely be tough midfielder of the bird variety. As you can see the AFL has ushered the pigeon off the ground. They didn’t capture it. It flew away itself.
“Hopefully it doesn’t come back. It seems to love the centre of the ground.”
Social media had a field day as the footy took a back seat to the pigeon’s antics.
Fox Footy analyst David King was inspired to provide some comic relief about Collingwood and discarded Magpie Jaidyn Stephenson.
“Today the pigeon has already has more centre bounce attendances than J Stephenson in his three years at Collingwood,” King said on Twitter.
Jacob McArthur tweeted: “Can someone please save that damn pigeon near the centre circle? Its presence is giving me anxiety. Football’s stressful enough.
“If two better teams were playing, they’d stop and shift the game elsewhere out of respect for the pigeon.”
Erin Marie wrote: “Hawthorn needs as much determination today as the fearless pigeon in the centre square.”
Darren Levin said: “No matter the result the pigeon is the real winner today.”
Anthony Steward joked the “pigeon deserves a bravery medal” for “standing up to both Cats and Hawks”, while sports presenter Georgie Tunny joined in too.
“He’d been waiting years for this opportunity. Always on high alert, waiting for a cat to disrupt the flock,” she tweeted. “He flapped his short wings, heading for the centre of the MCG. Finally, the tables had turned. It was time to throw a pigeon among the cats.”
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