A first-look trailer of the AFL's upcoming documentary series Making Their Mark offers a tantalising glimpse into the dramatic 2020 season, with an airing date of 12 March on Amazon Prime.
Following the brilliant Amazon series The Test tracking Australia's national cricket team after the sandpaper ball-tampering scandal in 2018, the giant company is adding Australian rules football to their extensive portfolio of sports docos.
Of all the AFL seasons to document, 2020 was one of the most significant in recent history, largely due to the widespread disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of all of the measures introduced in order to complete a condensed season, two Victorian teams facing off in a Brisbane-based Grand Final was perhaps the most surreal.
Releasing in seven parts, Making Their Mark follows players and officials from six AFL clubs, including Adelaide, Gold Coast, Richmond, Greater Western Sydney, Carlton, and West Coast.
News of the documentary first broke back in February when The Age reported that Amazon initially wanted involvement from all 18 AFL teams and that the series would be produced by Jam TV — a production company belonging to prominent media figure Eddie McGuire's company McGuire Media.
Post-February ended up being significantly more eventful than expected for non-football reasons, but the production persisted nonetheless.
Interestingly, the Collingwood Football Club, whose current president is McGuire until the end of 2021, did not participate in the documentary despite his link to the production.
Despite not every team represented in Making Their Mark, plenty of compelling stories remain. In fact, here are the most interesting plotlines I'm expecting:
- Nic Naitanui's strong response to "lazy and unfit" criticisms.
- Greater Western Sydney captain Stephen Coniglio being dropped for poor form.
- A young Adelaide team narrowly avoiding the first winless season in the AFL era.
- Gold Coast's early dominance starring young-gun Matt Rowell.
- Popular Carlton forward Eddie Betts' tireless fight against racism.
- Trailblazing football leader Peggy O'Neal's Richmond winning it all in a season of uncertainty.
I'll admit that last point stings to admit, considering the horrors of the 2017 Grand Final still ring menacingly in my head, but at least they've proven to be the best team of the past four years, one finals series blip aside.
While AFL clubs' media departments have expanded in recent years to provide behind-the-scenes access via their digital platforms, Amazon's take will be fascinating considering how raw, warts-and-all The Test was in its portrayal of elite sportspeople.
I'll definitely be tuning in come 12 March, when Making Their Mark hits Amazon Prime.
More importantly in the meantime, the women's league — AFLW — begins tonight. It's good to have footy back.