I absolutely cannot be the only one who started pining for more footy from the second the Western Bulldogs hoisted the 2016 Premiership Cup last year.

The dreaded footy-barren blast furnace, aka “summer,” has its claws deeply entrenched in Australia for the time being. But this year, unlike other years, we are in for an early reprieve.

Though the AFL pre-season efforts don’t start until February 16th, footy is delving even further into summer with the launch of the historic inaugural AFLW season on February 3rd.

The first-ever national women’s league is set to run through the summer months, culminating in a Grand Final that’ll coincide with Round 1 of the AFL fixture, meaning from the start of February there’s non-stop footy right through the year until October, and nothing about that could ever be a bad thing.

Unfortunately for fans, however, a combination of factors are conspiring to make attending the first-ever AFLW game something of a roll of the dice.

The kickoff match, between Carlton and Collingwood, is set to go down on Friday night, February 3rd, at the Olympic Park precinct in Melbourne’s stadium district.

The decision to play all AFLW games at small suburban grounds is one of timing and strategy by the AFL; most major grounds are dual-purpose and are set aside for cricket at that time of year, but returning the game to its suburban roots gives the new teams a chance to develop stronger geographical bond with their home turf.

That’s all well and good, but the Olympic Park ground at Collingwood’s Holden Centre training base only has a reported safe capacity of 5,000 people. That number isn’t official, either, and the AFL has sent in contractors to assess the ground’s true capacity, given it isn’t ordinarily set up to be a spectator venue.

It’s expected that Collingwood and league officials will erect a temporary fence around the ground for the game, meaning there’s a very real chance fans could be locked out of catching a slice of history.

What’s more, owing to the fact that all tickets for the AFLW’s first season will be free-of-charge, there will be no pre-booking admission, meaning punters are simply going to have to chance the arm on the day in the hopes of getting in to the ground.

Around 6,500 fans showed up to the Whitten Oval in Footscray late last season for an exhibition game between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs. But for a game that’s not only for premiership points, but is the first-ever game in the first-ever season, you’d expect interest in it to be quite high.

Throw in the fact that it’s between two traditional powerhouse rivals in Carlton and Collingwood, and on a Friday night in the middle of summer, AND tickets are free… Honestly, how the AFL looks at all that and doesn’t expect 20,000 to turn up is somewhat baffling.

If you’re keen to attend the Blues/Pies clash on Feb 3rd, you might wanna head down to Olympic Park and start lining up now.

If all else fails, Channel 7 and Fox Footy will be broadcasting the game live and in prime-time.

Shit. Yes. Footy.

Source: Herald Sun.

Photo: Michael Wilson, AFL Media/Getty.