Oct 23, 2020
A highly unhelpful guide to the Grand Final 2020
Geelong v Richmond (G) 7.30pm AEDT Seven
The holiest of holy days, Grand Final Day, is almost upon us.
But this year, nothing is the same.
The game for starters isn’t at the MCG but the Gabba, due to Melbourne being used as the set for the sequel to Contagion.
It turns out all the non-Victorian clubs need to do to get the AFL to move the Grand Final from the MCG was a global pandemic. I’m not saying they created Covid, but always ask, who benefits?
A quick google search reveals Brisbane is in Queensland. Queensland means ‘Place Victorians flee to when things get bad’, so it’s fitting the Grand Final is there.
Plus, the Gabba is a wonderful stadium, state-of-the-art by 1960s standards. If only Perth and Adelaide had been willing to spend billions of dollars to upgrade their stadiums, they could have got this Grand Final.
Even in Queensland, where Covid cases have been managed well, the crowd will be capped at 30,000. I’m told after corporates, at least seven of those will be fans, which is high historically.
Excitingly for some, this is the first time since 2011 two Victorian teams will face off, two beloved Victorian teams that no one dislikes at all.
Melburnians though will not be having a great day, unable to have people over for what is the most sacred of events, the Grand Final BBQ.
Grand Final Day is normally the greatest day of the year by a fair margin, but this year’s version is going to hurt.
It comes after a tough year for all of us, especially those of us living in Victoria.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say, of all my years on this Earth, this year, 2020, is the worst I’ve lived through that wasn’t Cameron Schwab’s fault.
On top of all this, this is a night Grand Final, something the vast majority of footy fans have never wanted. These are supposedly unprecedented times but when the AFL have wanted this for years, it does feel like they’re not letting a crisis go to waste.
Gillon McLachlan has urged parents to let their children stay up to watch the Grand Final. If only there was another time it could be held.
Some say this year’s premier will have an asterisk next to them. I guess that’s true if it says ‘*This year was ridiculously hard and it’s amazing they managed to do it.’
Looking at the season, and the finalists, it’s hard to argue the best teams didn’t make it.
There was enough footy played to sort out the quality and this will be legit premiership. Unless you think it isn’t, what do I know? I am a self-confessed idiot.
THE AFL’s entertainment has usually been at its best when it’s been terrible. Occasionally, someone will be great, like The Killers or Lionel Richie but these are anomalies that we marvel at because they were so unlikely.
Most aren’t terrible, they are just unmemorable.
But it’s the train wrecks we live for, Meatloaf, Angry Anderson, Daryl Somers in a white suit with the sleeves rolled up.
This year it’s all Australian artists. Cub Sport, Wolfmother lead singer Andrew Stockdale, Sheppard and Electric Fields featuring Thelma Plum and Busby Marou.
If you haven’t heard of them, you are officially old. What’s that? Do I know who they are? Of course, I do.
It’s not like I spend all night googling them and listening to their music so I can fit in with the young people and desperately trying to convince myself that in the battle against time I’m winning.
My problem with this year’s line-up is it’s disappointing. Not that it will be bad, what I worry about is they all seem pretty competent.
I can’t see a disaster we’ll be talking about in years to come amongst them. Sad.
5:40pm EST / 6:40pm EDT Welcome to Country
5:42pm EST / 6:42pm EDT Electric Fields, Thelma Plum, Busby Marou and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) perform
5:47pm EST / 6:47pm EDT Mike Brady performs in an empty MCG in what may be the saddest thing in Grand Final history not involving St Kilda
5:52pm EST / 6:52pm EDT Cub Sport: These Days, DMA'S, Andrew Stockdale + Band & QSO Orchestra: Joker and The Thief
6:08pm EST / 7:08pm EDT Pre-Game Entertainment Concludes
6:11pm EST / 7:11pm EDT Umpires enter arena /Booing commences
6:13pm EST / 7:13pm EDT Geelong Cats enter arena
6:15pm EST / 7:15pm EDT Richmond enter arena
6:25pm EST / 7:25pm EDT Premiership Cup Arrival – Simon Black hands Cup to Presenters Ash Barty and Ian Nankervis
6:26pm EST / 7:26pm EDT National Anthem, Tim McCallum + QSO
6:28pm EST / 7:28pm EDT Two Sirens – Toss of Coin
6:30pm EST / 7:30pm EDT 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final Commences
6:55pm EST / 7:55pm EDT Quarter Time
6:59pm EST / 7:59pm EDT Colgate Grand Final Sprint
7:28pm EST / 8:28pm EDT Half Time
7:33pm EST / 8:33pm EDT Half Time Entertainment Performance – Sheppard in Queensland, Police tasering anyone having fun, Drone flyovers in Melbourne
8:53pm EST / 9:53pm EDT Final Siren - 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final Concludes
Channel Seven has exclusive broadcast rights to the Grand Final, so get ready for ads. If you like gambling ads and ads telling you about shows coming up on Seven, you will be in heaven.
Leading the coverage as always is Bruce McAvaney, who is basically a robot who has been stuck in rhetorical question mode for some years.
With Dustin Martin, Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett all involved, you only need to have Winx run onto the field and Bruce would reach a state of happiness never before achieved by a human.
Alongside Bruce, will be Brian ‘BT’ Taylor. It’s unfair after the year we’ve had, this has to happen to us. It’s cruel and unusual punishment, and for Melburnians, being stuck in their houses being forced to listen to BT must surely contravene the Geneva convention.
BT had to quarantine to get into Queensland, and in a bigger scandal than the Ruby Princess and hotel quarantine combined, he was let out.
There’s also a huge cast of expert (stretching that word to its maximum capacity) commentators because more is more apparently.
Matthew Richardson, Luke Hodge, Abbey Holmes, Jimmy Bartel, Luke Darcy, Tim Watson, Jobe Watson, Simon Black and Leigh Matthews will all try to say something that another hasn’t already said. They will not manage it.
Wayne Carey, of course, gets a gig because the AFL and Channel Seven take violence against women seriously.
Michael Voss joins, who has had a little bit of experience of winning premierships and playing at the Gabba.
Daisy Pearce will do the heavy lifting on providing comments that are actually about the game and not obviously stating what we can all see, and she will be offset by Cameron Ling, whose role seems to be providing to people without kids the experience of what it’s like to watch a Grand Final with a four-year-old.
There are lots of ways to combat the inward-looking, inane Channel Seven commentary team, like putting on radio commentary. I like to run several power tools throughout the game as they are more relaxing and more insightful.
Once an amusingly inept sideshow to the AFL season, the Tigers have become the dominant force in the AFL and would secure their spot as one of the truly great AFL sides in history with a win here.
Richmond fans have not handled all this success well, like someone who never drinks having a few too many champagnes at lunch, telling everyone what they really think of them, knocking over several pieces of furniture and then demanding the bartender serve them again.
Richmond’s season has been all over the kebab shop at times this year. They finished third on the ladder with a 12-4 record and a draw just for fun. At times they looked amazing, other times less so.
Off the field, they adjusted to hub life-like kids been told it was time to turn the iPad off. On the field, Tom Lynch kept doing highly questionable things, but he obviously has photos of the Match Review Officer so didn’t suffer too badly for it.
In the first week of the finals, the Tigers lost to Brisbane, things seemed dark, only for them to come back and beat St Kilda and then Port Adelaide.
Through all that run, it felt like Richmond’s finals experience made the difference. They’re calm under pressure and they have that elusive attribute, belief in themselves.
The City of Geelong has always prided themselves on not being Melbourne, and this year they couldn’t be prouder.
I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t think Geelong would get here. They’ve handled finals recently like politicians handle accountability, disappearing at the first mention of it.
This year though, something changed. Their second-tier players have become reliable, Tom Hawkins has not just had a late-career flourishing, he’s set a new peak.
Their veterans, like Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett, have not declined at the rate many predicted, and the hole left by Tim Kelly, estimated to be the size of the Grand Canyon, is more like a pothole in the road.
This will be Gary Ablett’s final game, and despite the fact I find ‘the Little Master’ carry on about as irritating as having to feign interest in someone telling you their dreams, he has been one of the greatest of all time, maybe even the best in his family.
Like Chris Scott’s tan, the Cats have got stronger as the year has gone on.
The finished fourth, with a 12-5 record, while Chris finishes with a tan so good it makes you wonder when he’ll transition to white linen as his primary outfit.
As did Richmond, Geelong lost their first game in the finals, to Port Adelaide. They were then helped by Collingwood forfeiting and then beat Brisbane to get their chance here.
Geelong so used to success, but not quite making it recently, seem to have something new about them. They are succeeding where once they failed. They are a story of how even if things have gone against you in the past, even if you’ve come up short, you can turn it around.
I don’t like that story, I prefer to blame everyone else but myself in why I’ve ended up where I’ve ended up, and the idea that with some hard work and dedication I could change things is a bit too challenging.
Not Ray Chamberlain.
Brisbane is expected to reach a maximum of 28c in the day, so that should have cooled a bit by 6:30 pm Queensland time.
There’s talk of rain around and even thunderstorms but there’s a chance they could all be gone by the game.
The conventional wisdom is the rain would be good for the Tigers, but there’s no conventional wisdom in footy, we all know nothing.
This has been a tough one to decide. Geelong has a great record at the Gabba this season, yet Richmond beat them earlier this year, but there were some big outs for the Cats back then.
It really is a guess. Either side could win this, I don’t think there’s a favourite. I’m tipping the Tigers, based on their Grand Final experience. Either way, whoever wins, let’s never have a Grand Final or season like this ever again.
Norm Smith: That patch of Grass from the MCG when it injures several key players.
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