Sep 26, 2022
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Grand Final
On a Monday, you want irrational reaction. You want emotion to trump reason.
What you really want is idiotic hysteria.
You've come to the right place.
Geelong (133) v Sydney (52)
Hello Cats fans, because I’m not sure anyone else will be reading this.
I’ve never had much interest in attending a Geelong training session but attend one I did on Saturday with 100,000 other people.
And it was a light training session, as the Cats alleged opponents, the Sydney Swans, failed to make it to the ground.
The day started well, it was perfect weather, and as the tens of thousands of people streamed to the MCG, the buzz was back in Melbourne after a two-year hiatus due to the recent unpleasantness.
I was thrilled to see people drinking once again in public before noon, and everyone was up and about in good spirits.
I was asked by both Swans and Cats fans who I thought would win as I walked to the ground, ‘Not sure, but it will be close’, I said with my white man confidence, proving once again I’m slightly less accurate in predicting things than horoscopes.
One prediction I didn’t get wrong was the pre-match entertainment.
Robbie Williams killed it.
He got the crowd singing along, which is almost impossible to get happening at a Grand Final, with most people there being bankers and marketing executives.
It didn’t hurt that he sang You’re the Voice, a song everyone knows better than our actual national anthem.
By the time Delta joined him for Kids he had the crowd in the palm of his hand, proving you need someone who can really work the crowd and is used to doing big arena-style shows.
Disappointed as I was by Robbie’s talent and professionalism, it was time to focus on the game, and there were no signs of what was to come as the Swans managed to run out onto the ground without banging into each other or getting lost or lying down and having a nap.
Geelong, though won the running through the banner, with Joel Selwood carrying Gary Ablett Jr’s son through the banner. Dammit.
We had to sit through this game and feel positive about Joel Selwood? This day was very challenging for a lot of us.
Running through the banner was Sydney’s sole highlight because once the siren sounded, they looked like a bunch of people herded onto the ground against their will and forced to play a game they’d never seen before.
Handballs and kicks went so wide of the mark it made the first Auskick session of the season look professional, and when the ball did find a target, the Swans player would drop it, often while yelping in fright.
Geelong was having no such issues, they were unafraid of the ball, and when they got it, which was all the time, they knew what to do with it.
So long did the Swans often go without touching the ball at all that eons passed, stars exploded and new ones formed, the Earth watched mountains rise and fall, and the dinosaurs were born and went extinct.
I was so bored I may as well have been watching street theatre.
Sydney fans held their faces in their hands as they watched Tom Hawkins pluck the ball out of the ruck, not once but twice.
It appeared the Swans players had never seen this before, even though everyone in the stands predicted it was going to happen as the ball was thrown in.
By the time the first quarter was over, Geelong’s blitzkrieg had them up by 35 points, and Swans fans were hitting the bars harder than Jeremey Cameron would in a few hours.
Any hope of a comeback was extinguished pretty quickly in the second quarter as the Cats only grew in confidence while the Swans shrunk within themselves.
Chad Warner was one of the few Swans that seemed keen to fly the flag, but the vast majority seemed just to want it to be over, as did many viewers.
You could hear TV sets being turned off around the country, partly to protect kids from seeing this.
Halftime came just as any interest in the game left; the only people enjoying themselves were Cats fans.
Unlike the pre-game entertainment, the halftime lacked the ability to fill the stadium, it was fine, but it didn’t really get anyone’s attention.
The one moment of interest was when a Collingwood fan managed to evade security and bang on a drum kit for a few minutes while yelling.
Unfortunately, the game had to resume, and we all strapped ourselves in for two more quarters of this nonsense.
It only got worse. The Cats were not even pretending this was hard anymore, and the Swans weren’t paying lip service to trying.
Cats fans around me were not even slightly nervous, they were instead bewildered at how easy this was.
Swans fans sat there stoically but looked like they were at the funeral of someone they actually liked.
The final siren signalled an end to the brutality, and no one would have blamed the Swans if they’d just left. In fact, they sort of did in the first quarter.
But they did stay, and Dane Rampe gave one of the classiest speeches ever at a Grand Final.
He said, “I just want to touch on Joel Selwood’s record as well – sometimes you just have to pinch yourself when you share the field with the giants of the game mate, and you’re an absolute giant – congratulations!”
It reflected that why this had not been their day; the Swans have the character to come back in the future.
Isaac Smith was then named the Norm Smith medallist, but there were a host of Cats who could have been awarded that honour, such was their dominance.
Only Gary Rohan stuck with tradition, gathering just seven disposals.
But even he couldn’t compete with Buddy Franklin, who loomed so large all week only to turn in a performance so poor it was only when he got a Bronx cheer late in the game that I realised he was out there.
As the Swans were finally allowed to leave the scene of this massacre, the Cats fans and players celebrated an almost perfect season.
Joel Selwood pulled Geelong’s water boy Sam Moorfoot out of the stands to celebrate with the team in a wonderful moment. I mean, do I like Joel Selwood now? What the hell is happening?
For Geelong, after many attempts, all the pieces had fallen into the right places; they really were the greatest team of all, in a game, so one-sided that a cow gave the Cats more trouble on the day than the Swans.
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