Alastair Clarkson and Linda Dessau back keeping the bounce

Former AFL commissioner Linda Dessau loves watching the bounce contest. Photo: Jake NowakowskiA former AFL commissioner and the league’s most influential coach have publicly urged rule makers to preserve the bounce.

Free of protocols that once limited such strident football opining, Victorian governor Linda Dessau – considered a likely future AFL commission chair before she left the table of sporting influence – said in a Norm Smith oration: “I so hope that we keep the bounce”.

Governor Dessau’s position was shared by four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson who, as responding speaker in the sixth annual dinner to reflect on the state of Australian rules football, elaborated.

“I too would love to see the bounce retained in the game because part of preserving the history of our game, which I think is important, is that it’s an oval shaped ball.

“If you want to make everything predictable then let’s go to a round shaped ball,” Hawthorn coach Clarkson said.

“But that is part of the game that is a great feature of our game so let’s bounce it. And if it favours one team, bad luck, because over the course of a period of time you would think it would work out 50-50.”

Amid her good-humoured, joke-laden, 20-minute oration that celebrated the AFL’s power to unify and its ability to broach complex societal problems, Dessau shared some insights into an almost eight-year term on the league’s Commission.

While the former judge of the Family Court of Australia said she had loved football forever she reflected how, upon joining the AFL Commission, she felt particularly conscious “of what I didn’t know”.

Just how highly-regarded Dessau became at the AFL’s highest table of power was expressed in a closing statement from Melbourne Cricket Club president Steven Smith at the Norm Smith function on Wednesday night.

Smith said Dessau, in his view, was destined to succeed Mike Fitzpatrick as AFL Commission chair had she not taken up residence at Government House. Fitzpatrick is expected to retire from the post this year.

Dessau left the AFL Commission to become Victoria’s first female governor last July. She shared a lasting impression of football’s hierarchy with her captivated dinner audience: “In particular, I know how assiduously the [AFL] Commission and the [AFL] executive work to ensure rules that create more attacking, exciting, big scoring games. Rules that protect the players and rules to create an even competition where any team can compete for the ultimate prize.”

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