Carlton’s return to finals in 2023 has been rewarded with a swathe of prime time matches in 2024, as the AFL reveals its fixture for the first 15 rounds of the season.
The Blues have been pencilled in for eight games on Thursday or Friday night to begin the season, more than any other team, including reigning premiers Collingwood – and have once again been chosen to take on North Melbourne in the league’s annual Good Friday match.
Fellow preliminary finalists Melbourne have also received four Thursday night matches in the first 15 rounds, including the season opener against Sydney at the SCG – but aren’t scheduled to play on Friday night at all.
Canberra will see an Anzac Day clash for the first time, with GWS to host Brisbane at Manuka Oval immediately after the annual Magpies-Essendon blockbuster at the MCG.
Fremantle and West Coast have got off lightly when it comes to opponents, with neither slated to play any of last season’s top four in 2024 – the only two teams with this distinction.
As part of the AFL’s new ‘Opening Round’, the eight teams involved in the four games to begin the season will each have an extra bye in the first month of the season, with two in each of Round 2, 3, 5 and 6.
The league has announced Friday night matches will start at 7:40pm in 2024, as opposed to the usual 7:50pm, while Thursday night fixtures also have a new first bounce time of 7:30pm, 10 minutes later than previously.
Thursday nights will feature across the first 14 weekends of the season – Opening Round through to Round 13 – but it isn’t expected they will return for the second half of the year when the floating fixtures are locked in mid-season.