On the weekend, the AFL Grand Final was held.
All states of Australia barring New South Wales, Queensland and ACT stop for this phenomenan. It is the bestest time to go shopping, as most of Australia are glued to the television sets watching the game, a beer in one hand and a rapidly cooling bbq snag (read: sausage) in the other. Of course, I am hopelessly addicted to this game, as my father is a mad keen Port Adelaide FC supporter and I really do like being owned by the family, so there is no shopping for me.
Back to the story at hand, though. Even if our teams aren’t playing, and in fact manky Victorian teams are the contenders (Hi to all my Victorian readers! Love you lots!), we all stop and turn towards our televisions on one day in September to view our great game, the game that Australians invented for Austrlians.
Wow. That sounds pretty wanky.
Anyway, the Grand Final was held on Saturday, 25 September 2010. The contenders – manky Victorian teams St Kilda and Collingwood – lined up for the grand game. Everyone I was watching the game with were barracking for St Kilda, though none of us were actually supporters of this club (my beloved Port Adelaide boys had crashed and burned this year). The reason we were all going for St Kilda is because unless you are a Collingwood supporter, you hate them with a fiery passion that burns like a hundred thousands suns and shall never die. Heh. Mostly this is because people dislike the president of the Collingwood Football Club, Eddie Maguire. I don’t like them because they get preferrential treatement from the governing body of the AFL (best game times, the best access to the stadium, MCG, which gives them an unfair advantage come finals time, etc). In any event, it was most amusing to be in a roomful of non-St Kilda fans all barracking for St Kilda.
So there was the requisite before game shenanigans and the singing of the national anthem, which in a departure from tradition was performed a) not by Julia Anthony and b) not accompanied by cheesy stirring music. Instead, two guys on guitars performed a version reminiscent of 70s folk music. Weird.
Then, the game began and within 15 seconds, Collingwood had scored the first goal. Oh nos! Devestation! DO NO TELL ME THIS IS HOW THE REST OF THE GAME IS GOING TO GO. There is nothing worse than a game that is a whitewash…unless, of course, it is your team doing the whitewashing. The first quarter continued on in this fashion, as if St Kilda were not one of the premier teams in the league. There was a lot of fumbling, prompting me to ask, bewidlered, “Is it raining in Melbourne?” Apparently no, they just felt like they should act as if the ball was wet. St Kilda managed a bit of catch up, though, and the quarter ended with St Kilda 1 goals down.
The second quarter…ugh. St Kilda did not do well. They were 3 goals 2 down at half time, and it seemed worse due to all the fumbling. The third quarter began and this, traditionally, is the premiership quarter – the game is made or broken during these 20 minutes. St Kilda dominated, holding Collingwood to barely a goal while they banged on three of their own.
The final quarter saw the teams on level scores with barely a minute to go. The ball was in St Kilda’s forward fifty, right near their goals. 30 seconds remained. All that was needed was for someone to bang it through the goals for a behind (1 point) and St Kilda would have it. There was a stoppage and a ball up right before St Kilda’s goals. 20 seconds to go. Much shouting at the tv. Everyone was on their feet, yelling, screaming, “Put it thorugh, get it through, come on!” 10 seconds. The ball got punched away from the goals. “No!” we screamed. A St Kilda player scrambled for it but a Collingwood player got there first. “NO!” 5 seconds. The Collingwood player kicked it long. 3 seconds. Mad scramble of players. 2 seconds. 1 second. And there’s the siren!
Stunned. We were all stunned. A draw? A fricking draw??
In the grand tradition of all things Oz, we have a nifty little rule in our game. If a Grand Final results in a draw, we do not play extra time. Oh no. We go away and reconvene a week later, to play the game all over again! Thus, there is no result from the Grand Final, only another week of anxiety for all concerned.
The players were at a loss. All that emotion, that passion, that drive…and now what? The crowd was silent, unsure what was to happen. How can this end in such an anticlimax? And yet, it did.
So, everything is now being organised for a rematch of the Grand Final on Saturday, 2nd October 2010. Venues are being booked. Television airspace is being reserved. Tickets are being sold. AFL devoted shows are madly organising a follow up show. The world of the AFL is in disarray and I must admit, it is rather amusing. I do love our game and think this quirk just makes it all the more lovable.
So. What are you all doing at 2pm CST on Saturday 2 October?
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