Grand Finale … but not

Credit: SMH, Paul Rovere

You know, I’m not a complete footy tragic, but I do like watching the AFL. These are some incredible athletes playing a game that is fast and ridiculously hard on their bodies.

Credit: SMH, Paul Rovere

Australian Rules Footy (the AFL) originally was the pride and joy of Melbourne and Victoria. It is slowly taking over the country, saving us from the thuggery that is Rugby League and the elitism that is Rugby Union. Its junior program is incredible in terms of its organisation, focus on fun, development of skills and all the rest.

Credit: SMH, Paul Rovere

Melbourne and I’m guessing much of Victoria probably comes to a complete standstill come grand final day. I mean, 120,000 people turned out to line Melbourne’s city streets yesterday to watch the Grand Final Parade.

Credit: SMH, Paul Rovere

 They televise an event for the sport’s most coveted award, the Brownlow Medal. Dudes, this is an event which involves reading out who got 1, 2, or 3 votes from the referees for best player on field in each game of each of the 22 rounds of the regular season. Sure, some of the WAGS turn up in outfits like this which make it a bit of fun but can you imagine!?! Televising it – and pulling the audience numbers to make it worthwhile. Madness.

Yesterday’s match was a cracker. Collingwood dominated much of it but St Kilda, well St Kilda had the sting of coming ridiculously close last year. They did not give up. It was stressful, gripping, harrowing, peppered with moments of exhilaration and triumph.

Credit: The Age, Joe Armao

With 10 minutes left in the game it was close but it appeared Collingwood had it. They’d just scored and it seemed time to start accepting the inevitable. In case you were wondering this household is actually a Carlton household, but in this instance we were going for St Kilda (the Saints) because a) Nick Reiwoldt is a spunk and b) everyone who doesn’t barrack for Collingwood hates Collingwood with a level of passion normally reserved for the bedroom. Or religion. Or your own footy team.

Then Nick Reiwoldt took a mark and what followed was about eight minutes of excrutiatingly close footy. The Saints scored, took the lead. Then Collingwood scored to bring it level with barely a minute to go.

And then this happened:

Credit: The Age, Sebastian Costanzo

The final siren called.

Credit: SMH, Sebastian Costanzo

A tie.

Credit: The Age, Pat Scala

Over 100,000 people in the stadium silenced. Two utterly spent teams of men bewildered and incredulous.

A result that has only happened twice before (in ’48 and ’77).

But here’s the kicker.

They come back next weekend and do it all again.

I don’t think you have to be into sports per se, but there’s something about grand finals, like events like The Olympics – pure athleticism and passion combine to produce some pretty inspirational or at least compelling moments. I urge you to look at the gallery of shots on the AFL website

* To give you some idea of their athleticism, Nick Reiwoldt, the Saints player in that shot (in the red, black and white) is 6ft 5.

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