The first Saturday in October is just about here. And for die-hard footy fans, that only means one thing. It’s AFL Grand Final Day. For everyone else who isn’t a die-hard footy fan, it is hard to go about your daily business during the lead-up week in Victoria, without hearing conversation about the upcoming match. Whether it be on social media, the news, the newspaper (what does the Herald-Sun write about once footy is over?!), the radio or just general conversation down the street, the Grand Final is serious business.
“What are you doing on Grand Final day?” is also a frequently asked question during this lead-up week. And it is one that you want to have a pre-prepared answer for. Replying with “I’m not sure/Haven’t thought about it/Is it this Saturday?” is not going to cut it as a response. Most people sensibly reply with “Going to a mate’s place to watch it/Going to the pub to watch it/Having people over at mine to watch it” or if they’re really game, some even reply with a “I could think of nothing worse than sitting around watching a group of men chase after a ball”. Don’t worry- we’ve all met one of these.
So for those who were unfortunate to have secured themselves tickets to the game (apparently AFL Grand Final tickets are the hardest tickets in the world to get your hands on) and instead have committed themselves to watching the game on the big screen somewhere, here is a quick survival guide to help you get through the day.
Know The Contenders
This year’s Grand Final is to be played by 1st placed Sydney Swans and 7th placed Western Bulldogs. The path which both teams took was quite different, the Bulldogs needing to win EVERY one of their games to avoid elimination (two of them interstate, mind you) and the Swans only needing two wins (they had the luxury of a double chance). Swans are tipped as the favourites to win, however stats fans may be encouraged by the fact that Sydney has not beaten the Bulldogs at the MCG. Ever.
Your Team Isn’t Playing? The Choice is Simple
If you are Victorian- the Western Bulldogs. However some Victorians will have emotional ties to the South Melbourne Bloods (who relocated and became the Sydney Swans) so I’ll let that one slide. Otherwise, you need to be cheering on the Bulldogs. And they’re the underdogs. Everyone loves an underdog. And they are also experiencing a 62-year Grand Final win drought. Their last win was back in 1954 and their last Grand Final appearance was in 1961. So you can kind of understand the excitement shown by Bulldogs supporters.
If you’re not Victorian (or just want to be controversial)- the interstate side of Sydney Swans. But only because you don’t have a heart.
What to Say
If you aren’t a footy fanatic, it’s probably best to follow the old adage of ‘Less is More’ when making comments during the game. It will only make you look foolish if you’re yelling out ‘contact’ or ‘obstruction’ every time there is body contact. Best just to cheer when your chosen team scores a goal and you’ll soon pick up key phrases such as ’bbbbbaaaallllllllllllllll’. Just make sure someone else leads the call first.
What to Do
A popular game to play at AFL Grand Final parties is to allocate each guest with a player. And each time said player has a touch or goal, the person who has been allocated that player needs to drink. To add to the excitement, you can add a pool of money and the person who has the player that wins the Norm Smith Medal (that’s the best player) gets to take the cash. If you get Dan Hannebery or Marcus Bontempelli, I just hope you’re thirsty.
Hardluck Story to be Aware Of
Bob Murphy. The guy has been with the Western Bulldogs from the beginning of his career in 2000 and stuck with them through thick and thin when he probably could have easily changed clubs. Last year he was appointed captain and anyone involved with football will tell you how much of a spiritual leader he is for the club. However, earlier this year he sustained a season-ending knee injury and has been sidelined ever since. Sadly he won’t be playing in the big dance and if there was ever a player who deserved to, it’s him.
So wherever you end watching or listening to the AFL Grand Final this weekend, make sure you embrace the festivities and go the Dogs!