Essendon will face off against North Melbourne in the Good Friday opener. (AAP: Tracey Nearmy)
The AFL has doubled down and brought out the big guns in an attempt to give Good Friday marquee status on the regular season calendar.
- AFL responding to disappointing crowds at 2018’s Good Friday clash
- Marquee matches announced for Good Friday double-header
- Full AFL fixtures to be unveiled on November 1
After a disappointing crowd of 33,966 at this year’s Good Friday clash, marquee stalwarts Essendon have replaced struggling St Kilda as North Melbourne’s opposition at Docklands for the third annual twilight fixture.
In Perth, premiers West Coast have been enlisted to host Port Adelaide at Perth Stadium for the late game on the April 19 public holiday.
The move to a double-header concept within two seasons of the inaugural match comes after the AFL resisted North Melbourne’s push to play on Good Friday for more than two decades.
Port Adelaide did not expect to be thrown into the prime-time timeslot but was eager to get the chance to atone for shattering losses to the Eagles in round 21 and the 2017 elimination final.
“The rivalry now between the clubs is enormous, especially after the two classic games we have played in recent times,” Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas said.
“Fair to say we hope we are on the winning side this time around.”
New marquee Easter fixtures
- Brisbane v Collingwood at the Gabba, April 18
- North Melbourne v Essendon at Docklands, April 19
- West Coast v Port Adelaide at Perth Stadium, April 19
Brisbane will set the scene for the Easter round with Collingwood recruit Dayne Beams set to return to face his old side for the first time.
Beams w ill not have long to settle into the season before travelling to the Gabba as the Lions regain Easter Thursday hosting duties.
The Lions played in the prime-time Easter match for almost a decade between 2003 and 2012 before the semi-regular fixture was shelved due to a cricket scheduling conflict at their home venue.
“Traditionally the Easter Thursday games were our biggest for the year,” Lions chief executive Greg Swann said.
“We believe the AFL has recognised we play an exciting brand of footy, which has been justly rewarded by this fixture.”
The AFL has delayed the release of the 2019 fixtures until Thursday.