Sep 30, 2019
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.
Richmond (114) v Greater Western Sydney (25)
Well, they can’t all be classics.
In fact, this one would struggle to fit the criteria of a football game, as the Tigers did a fair impression of a road train collecting a mob of kangaroos; they didn’t even pause to see if there were any survivors (there wasn’t).
Walking into the MCG, I was surprised at the amount of people in Giants gear. They were massively outnumbered but there were enough to be surprising.
Quite a few seemed to be new to the caper with some scarves and beanies still having tags still on them.
I wonder if Giants fans who have supported the club since inception judge these newcomers.
“Well I’ve been supporting the Giants for nine whole years, while you are new to this.”
These newcomers didn’t know it but jumping aboard the Giants just hours before the Grand Final was like buying a last-minute cruise on the Titanic.
The pre-game entertainment kicked off and the performances were somewhat strange. Tones and I didn’t quite make the transition to arena rock, but that hardly mattered as then came Dean Lewis, who managed to make everyone at the ground wish they were somewhere else with his sad songs of heartbreak.
It was a very odd choice for a stadium of people amped up and full of nervous anticipation.
Luckily Paul Kelly came on and brought songs people could sing along too. Still it was all pretty subdued, and when John Williams tried to get the crowd to sing Waltzing Matilda he struggled almost as much as the Giants forward line was about to.
Even Mike Brady’s traditional singing of Up There Cazaly got less of a singalong in the crowd than other years.
By this stage everyone just wanted the game to start, but in perhaps the worst performance of the day, and there were a lot to come, Conrad Sewell decided to mangle the national anthem to the level Richmond were about to do to the Giants.
It was like listening to a year eight talent show but in front of more than 100,000 people. I winced a few times and it made me consider moving to another country.
Advance Australia Fair is a difficult enough song to like at the best of times, but Sewell uncovered new layers of awfulness I didn’t know where there.
Finally the footy started and the excitement of the crowd quickly evaporated as we were treated to a mess of a first quarter in which neither side seemed likely to score and skill errors of the magnitude of Conrad Sewell’s performance were common.
At the 21-minute mark, Jeremy Cameron slotted a goal, allaying our fear this would be a goalless Grand Final, and the Tigers fans around me began to look a bit nervous.
But their nerves, like GWS were about to be blown out of the water. Dustin Martin, beginning his Norm Smith performance marked and kicked a goal, followed quickly by Daniel Rioli as the siren sounded.
They could have stopped the game there because after that it was one-way traffic.
The second quarter saw Richmond crush the soul of the Giants in one of the most brutal things I’ve seen. The Tigers were like Javier Bardem’s character Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. They had no mercy whatsoever, they made Toby Greene’s tough guy antics seem laughable, and Shane Mumford’s pregame threats of damage seemed like the yapping of a chihuahua in the presence of, well, a Tiger.
Even Richmond’s debutant Marlion Pickett showed more poise than most of the Giants.
Heath Shaw kept trying and Tim Taranto can look people in the eye after this game, but they were about it for the resistance.
Upfront, Jack Riewoldt just did what he liked, fed by a steady stream of forward entries, as did Dustin Martin who looked like an AFL player putting on a skills clinic for a bunch of Auskick kids.
By three quarter time it was a 62-point lead to the Tigers and even the most neurotic of Richmond supporters knew this was over, leading to the fourth quarter being a complete celebration.
This wasn’t like 2017. These Tigers supporters had seen a premiership in their life and there was no sense of a drought being broken, and the one sidedness of the game made this strangely anti-climactic for many at the ground.
But the Tiger army didn’t really care. They know winning a premiership is hard, and while when it rains, it sometimes pours, the memory of the drought is not that distant yet.
As I left the ground, I saw a family of Tigers supporters, at least three generations represented, all hugging and cheering, and I thought, ‘this footy thing can be pretty good sometimes.’
Titus is touring around the country in the upcoming months, visiting Hobart and Brisbane. Tickets available here: http://www.frontiercomedy.com/titusoreily
Titus’ new book Please, Gamble Irresponsibly: The rise, fall and rise of sports gambling in Australia will be out on 5th November 2019. You can pre-order it now.