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Being fed to the Tigers at the home of footy

Mark Knight, March 18, 2021 6:30PM Kids News

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Mark Knight's cartoon for the return of AFL to the MCG. Picture: Mark Knight media_cameraMark Knight's cartoon for the return of AFL to the MCG. Picture: Mark Knight


Reading level: orange

Australians endured many hardships during 2020, but perhaps Victorians more than many: harsh lockdowns for most of the year was just one of them. Let’s not forget only being allowed to roam 5km from home; and only on the proviso* you had a very good reason to be doing so!

Another deprivation for Victorians — and perhaps the most painful loss — was the footy. Most AFL games were played interstate, far away from the MCG, the home of football. The COVID second wave saw footy hubs created in Perth, Adelaide and cities around Queensland where eventually Brisbane hosted the Grand Final.

Not only were there no AFL games played in Melbourne, there was no VFL nor suburban competitions and no kids footy. It was a football-free zone.

Who would have ever considered such a catastrophe for a sporting mad population? Victorians got through the year watching their teams on television, yelling at the screen in their living rooms, wearing their club colours, but it wasn’t the same as going to the game.

And now 2021 is here, a new dawn. We have started to get on top of the coronavirus, Victoria hasn’t had any major virus clusters (we’ve closed down our hotel quarantine system) and life is trying to get back to the new COVID normal. Part of that is the return of AFL footy and fans attending games.

This week sees the first round of the 2021 season and to get things off with a bang it is going to be at football’s Mecca the MCG, with 50,000 fans attending to witness reigning Premiers Richmond take on Carlton.

A football-starved Victorian population were jumping out of their collective club-coloured socks. A cartoon beckoned! I love drawing footy cartoons and a drawing about the start of this much anticipated season would be one my readers would enjoy.

The MCG is an awesome venue. It reminds me of the Colosseum from Ancient Rome. There are many similarities between the two stadiums. Both venues host huge crowds, which in Roman times cheered on gladiators and now, at the MCG, it’s football players.

Australian rules football is gladiatorial in many respects, a tough game where the strongest and smartest win out. In my cartoon I would turn the MCG arena into the Roman Colosseum, a perfect metaphor for how important this return of football was for Victorians.

The fact that the Richmond Tigers were playing fitted beautifully into my Colosseum idea as well! The Tigers have won three Premierships in four years. They are an amazing side and have thrashed Carlton the past few years running.

Keeping that in mind I recalled the Hollywood blockbuster movie Gladiator, set in Ancient Rome and starring Russell Crowe. In the movie when the gladiators are fighting in the arena, the emperor gives the signal and tigers are released into the ring (just to make it interesting I guess?).

So after I had sketched the inside of the MCG looking like its Ancient Roman forebear*, I turned my attention to what was happening on the ground. Two of Carlton’s stars Patrick Cripps and Eddie Betts are standing there chatting before the game. Cripps is excited to be at the MCG on this huge occasion. Betts is not so sure.

Who wouldn’t be thrilled to be playing on the hallowed* MCG turf? Unless of course you’re being fed to the tigers! This is where the visual punchline comes in.

Just as we saw in the Gladiator movie, as the two Carlton players stand in the middle of the vast arena, a huge tiger enters the stadium emerging via a trapdoor. The tiger is wearing the Richmond club guernsey* and its size and prowling stance are there to symbolise the Richmond football club’s power and success.

This is one of those cartoons where it’s up to the reader to imagine what might happen! Look away if you’re squeamish*.

The cartoon seeks to illustrate what a big occasion it is to have AFL football back. The grandness of the Colosseum reflects its importance to Victorians and getting its economy back up and running. The large tiger and the two Carlton players are a comment on the competitiveness of the two teams.

And for Carlton fans, one glimmer of hope: in the movie, while many gladiators fall prey to the tigers, Russell Crowe does manage to hold his own and survive the day. Let’s hope there are a few Rusty Crowe types playing for the Blues!


  • proviso: a condition, without which something can’t happen
  • forebear: ancestor
  • hallowed: made holy
  • guernsey: jersey or jumper
  • squeamish: easily made to feel sick


AFL Grand Final heads to Queensland

Here comes the AFL Batmobile, bound for glory

Looking down on the Grand Final barbie


  1. Who is the cartoonist?
  2. Which two AFL teams are featured?
  3. Where is the game being played?
  4. What has the tiger done?
  5. Why are the players excited to have fans back?


1. What Happens Next?
Imagine this cartoon is part of a story that is made up of three cartoons. The three cartoons tell a complete story, and Mark’s cartoon is either the start, the middle or the end of the story. Think about what the story could be and draw the other two cartoons that tell the story.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Visual Communication Design, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
‘To be a great cartoonist, being able to draw is only one of the skills that you need.’ Write a list of all of the other skills that you think cartoonists like Mark need to do their job. Next to each skill, write a sentence that explains why that skill is important or helps them to do a great job.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Media Arts, Visual Communication Design

Stretch your sentence
Find a ‘who’ in the cartoon. A person or animal.

Write it down.

Add 3 adjectives to describe them better.

Now add a verb to your list. What are they doing?

Add an adverb about how they are doing the action.

Using all the words listed, create one descriptive sentence.

Extra Reading in sport