Geelong stars have been accused of ridiculing elderly people with a seemingly harmless Mad Monday stunt that saw them dress up as pensioners in order to hit back at critics who called them too old and slow to win the flag.
The Cats fielded the oldest team in the league’s history in Saturday’s grand final, when they thrashed the Sydney Swans by 81 points to break an 11-year premiership drought.
The players delivered a not-so-subtle reminder to all the critics who wrote them off on Monday by arriving at the Wharf Head in Geelong in a nursing home bus dressed up as elderly men – complete with grey hair, makeup and walking frames.
The ‘too old’ criticism had clearly been a theme within the team this year – and the Cats’ social media team was quick to joke about it after the grand final win by posting a ‘Geelong Retirement Home’ image on Twitter.
Most footy fans found the teams celebrations hilarious, but others were outraged by the stunt.
A listener called Norm rang Melbourne radio station 3AW to say: ‘I don’t see the funny side of belittling the elderly. I think it will taint Joel Selwood’s accolades from Saturday.’
Another listener named Diana was just as outraged by the fancy dress celebration.
‘I retired last year and I seem to be the butt of a lot of jokes lately,’ she said.
‘I’m demoralised by people saying you’re old and there are old jokes on the radio. And jokes on TV and belittling the elderly. I don’t agree with it at all.
‘In this day and age, we should be better than that.’
Others took to Twitter to condemn the Mad Monday celebrations.
‘Disgusted at this stunt. Those in this situation everyday because of circumstances beyond their control do not have to be made fun of by these people. This reduced my wife to tears. Living this way is not a matter of choice. Those who do would love to kick a football for $,’ commented one user.
However, other fans made the point that the players were actually taking a stand against ageism.
‘I can’t believe that Geelong players are being slammed for taking off old people. They’ve legitimately been told they can’t achieve anything because they’re too old for at least 5 years. I don’t even like the @GeelongCats, but this is ridiculous. Fair play to them,’ commented a Twitter user.
‘These players were told they were too old to win and they are satirising the commentary around that. Everything I have seen from the Geelong players post grand final win has been exemplary,’ said another.
3AW host Dee Dee Dunleavy also disagreed with callers who were offended by Geelong’s stunt.
‘How can you be offended by someone in an old people’s costume? I do not know,’ she said.
‘I disagree on it because I found it very funny. They weren’t having a go. They weren’t saying old people are terrible. They were saying old people can win AFL grand finals. It’s not as if they were saying old people are hopeless and can’t do anything.’
The players went to enormous efforts to pull off the look on Monday, with Patrick Dangerfield admitting he sat in the hairdresser’s chair for 90 minutes to get the look.
‘Well, it’s appropriate – the oldest team ever,’ he told the Herald Sun.
‘Coming in on the retirement bus. To be honest, most of their movements aren’t that put on, that’s probably the most concerning part about it all.’
‘It’s one thing to do these things and we generally do them pretty well, but I think there’s a little bit of extra sauce on it today, because we were lucky enough to win it all.’