Oct 26, 2020

AFL

The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Grand Final 2020

57 Comments

Footy is a passion, not some cold hearted, spread sheet dominated rational exercise. 

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.

Saturday

Richmond (81) v Geelong (50)

Well, that was a lot of effort to end up exactly where we were last year, Richmond Premiers and Dustin Martin the Norm Smith Medallist.

In an odd year, it was an odd Grand Final. To start with, we had our first night Grand Final, which made the day feel like the longest day ever.

It was like waking up on Christmas Day and then being told you can’t open your presents until tonight.

My problems with a night Grand Final could fill numerous columns but the main one is there was nothing wrong with a day Grand Final.

The build-up was just long enough, families could enjoy it without the kids going completely nuts and you had heaps of time to celebrate afterwards.

It seems the two arguments for a night Grand Final are better TV ratings, which given all off Melbourne was in lockdown, weren’t that high, and that it will be a better spectacle.

If that’s the argument, it’s not enough.

For a first go at it, it didn’t work. The pre-game entertainment felt like a teenager in their room after their first breakup had chosen it.

After a moving Welcome to Country, we shifted into the musical component.

I was all for giving young Australian bands a platform, I’m not really one to be stuck in the past, music-wise, but why get them to then perform covers? And slow-paced ones at that?

Thelma Plum, Zaachariaha Fielding (Electric Fields) and Jeremy Marou (Busby Marou) started off singing Paul Kelly's From Little Things Big Things Grow, which was fine but given Paul Kelly performed last year, I’m not sure why they couldn’t showcase some of their own music.

At this point, I thought this was a one-off cover, but soon we’d discover that the Grand Final entertainment was more Sunday afternoon at the pub with a cover band than a showcase for fresh Aussie talent.

“Hey, let’s showcase young Aussie talent by getting them to play old Aussie talent.”

Mike Brady then performed at an empty MCG, which turned out to be even more depressing than I thought it would be when it was announced.

The day was already bad enough, not being able to spend it with people, and this was pouring more salt in the wound than Phil Gould produced in last night’s NRL Grand Final.

My heart had genuinely hurt all day, and it wasn’t the fact that the game was at the Gabba, I actually don’t mind the Grand Final moving around, it was the complete lack of human interaction on a day when it is actually fun to have such a thing.

Cub Sport then took the stage and played Powderfinger’s These Days, which only highlighted that Powderfinger was not there. I mean, at least cover a Meatloaf song for some humour.

DMAs followed that and in what was the strangest choice of the day, aside from Chris Scott leaving Patrick Dangerfield at full-forward, they played Cher's Believe.

Sure, when I think footy, I think Cher’s Believe, but then this was a toned-down version that seemed to throw down the gauntlet to us at home to stay awake.

And yes, I know it was a popular Triple J Like A Version song. But read the room, this is a footy game, you want to get excited, not melancholy.

Melancholy is for after the game when you realise there’s no more footy for six months.

If they’d then followed this up with something more upbeat it might have been saved, but they then performed Criminals, which made me reach a new low emotionally in a year of new lows.

If the pre-game entertainment was supposed to capture the feeling of 2020 it absolutely nailed it.

It was left to Wolfmother's Andrew Stockdale to save things, and he went a fair bit towards doing so, it was a performance fitting of a big event like a Grand Final, and the AFL got to use their fireworks which they are so obsessed with.

Tim McCallum then did a good job on the National Anthem, which is technically also a cover.

Then sometime around what felt like midnight, we got actual footy.

The first quarter was as bizarre as the year, Nick Vlastuin carelessly ran into Patrick Dangerfield’s elbow and was knocked out, never to return.

Then Gary Ablett injured his shoulder in a Trent Cotchin tackle, but managed to heal himself off the ground and return later but much diminished.

Not long after Bachar Houli injured his calf but played the rest of the game. If I stub my toe I get back in bed for the rest of the day, so this was impressive.

Then, as if enough hadn’t happened, we had a couple of idiots run onto the field, to apparently promote their Instagram account, another sign of all that’s wrong with the world, not that we needed more of those.

The second quarter was all about the Cats, who threw everything at the Tigers.

Some straighter goal-kicking could have seen the lead blow out to more than the 22 points it reached, but it seemed at times the Tigers were a spent force.

That was of course until Dustin Martin bobbed up with a snap that gave the Tigers some much-needed hope.

Dusty gets raved about so much it’s sometimes hard to separate the hype from the reality, but when it came to turning this game around, there he was time and again.

If he plays a few more Grand Finals like this, I’m willing to consider revising my firmly held belief that the Demons were right to draft Tom Scully and Jack Trengove ahead of him.

Halftime saw Sheppard perform and they really nailed the energy you need to bring to a performance.

The AFL needed it to be good, their whole sales pitch for a night Grand Final is that there will be better entertainment, I’m just not sure this was enough to disrupt a day that already works so well. Plus, isn’t half time for kicking the footy and cooking a BBQ?

Where the second quarter was all the Cats, the third saw the Tigers underline their superiority in recent years.

Suddenly, it was the Tigers running all over the Cats, who looked like they had punched themselves out in the second quarter.

With the Cats now getting smashed in the midfield, it made you wonder why Patrick Dangerfield was down at full-forward, on his way to 12 possessions.

Dangerfield’s goalkicking isn’t exactly a strength anyway, but he’s a fairly handy midfielder though and while I’m no coaching mastermind, he could have been useful. Perhaps he injured his elbow when Vlastuin targeted it so brutally.

The question entering the fourth quarter, was could the Cats turn it around as Richmond had in the third? It turned out they couldn’t, a rare time regional Victoria has not done better than metro Melbourne this year.

It was an astounding performance by the Tigers after losing Vlastuin early on and soaking up all that pressure in the second quarter.

In many ways, it felt like a regulation Tigers Premiership (it’s strange to be able to write that). Martin, Short, Edwards, Prestia, Cotchin, Bolton all stood up and the only thing missing was Alex Rance floating the idea that he was considering retiring.

The game almost reached the heights of a classic Grand Final, but in the end, Geelong looked tired, where Richmond looked like one of the great sides of all time.

It really is astounding that Richmond has gone from being the laughingstock of the competition to one of the best teams in history.

It’s like if the Channel Seven commentary team started making sense.

It does support the view that about four years ago the world accidentally moved onto an alternate timeline.

Some would say this victory has an asterisk next to it, I wouldn’t say that unless I’m talking to a Richmond supporter. 

In the end, Richmond was simply too good, they’ve won too much for this year’s victory to be questioned.

In a touching moment, Gary Ablett was given a guard of honour, an emotional moment, proving once and for all, it’s the game that’s the entertainment and it’s more entertaining than all the flashing lights and pyrotechnics in the world.

It brings to a close the strangest season on record. Let us never speak of it again.

On a final note, thanks for everyone’s support this year, it has been hard here in Melbourne, but so many of you have come on as supporters, giving me you’re hard-earned and it has made all the difference.

I would have had to stop without it, that’s how tough things have gotten down here.

It also cheered me up so much to know people value all this nonsense, at my lowest, all the support, the nice comments and the grammar corrections have been more appreciated than you could possibly know.

I’ll keep the writing up in the offseason so if you are still interested in becoming a supporter it would be much appreciated. Find out more here: https://titusoreily.com/support-titus

My book is almost about to come out to, I’m really proud of this one, and I can’t wait for you to all read it, you can pre-order it here: Cheat: The Not-so-subtle Art of Conning Your Way to Sporting Glory 

COMMENTS

MJ

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks for being the highlight of my footy season Titus.

arron cheney-ball

Oct 26, 2020

thanks again for the columns. really enjoy reading them and looking forward to the postie delivering me a copy of your new book.
would be great to hear your views on the trade season. your views are probably as accurate as anyone else's guesses (no offence...)

Vic Parkes

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks Titus. Your best comment of the year actually wasn't meant as a joke (I don't think - it's hard to tell some times). '... it’s the game that’s the entertainment and it’s more entertaining than all the flashing lights and pyrotechnics in the world.' Bloody well said my friend.

Andrew P

Oct 26, 2020

Thank you Titus,

While I’m a rugby league fan (trust me, night grand finals aren’t that great), I read you every week and love it. Thank you for giving us something to read and laugh along with during this year. I look forward to reading your new book.

The J

Oct 26, 2020

Your pre game Cameron Ling comment is the single funniest thing written by any one ever.

Gyfox

Oct 26, 2020

Did the Demons really have the opportunity to draft Dusty, Tutus? If they had, he never would have claimed any Norm Smith medals!

Ched

Oct 26, 2020

Titus doing to grammar what the AFL is doing to the game!!

Pat

Oct 26, 2020

Well done Tigers, and well done Titus on a ripper year of footy commentary, grammatical errors and all.

Al

Oct 26, 2020

Love your humour and your take on the game. Having your weekly column this year made the season feel more normal. Thanks!

Will

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks Titus, as a fellow victorian it's really helped me through lockdown. Keep up the good work mate, Will.

The g train

Oct 26, 2020

Titus requested to never talk about the 2020 season again. So I’m in a bit of a conundrum.....but what the heck; I’m a right of centre libertarian after all.

A man I know to be very wise
Said about Richmond to my surprise
From the postgame scenes they’re hard to dislike
It is just us fans that are hard to like

I haven’t slept since....introspection has its price.

My personal theory about the world accidentally moving onto an alternate timeline 4 years ago: it was no accident. I suspect Brendon Gale (and his cohorts) stumbled upon the solution to quantum gravity and made it happen.

One last simple word to Titus for all his ridiculous nonsense and idiotic hysteria: thanks mate.



Just one final word to Titus after another stupendous season: thanks mate.

Lindy

Oct 26, 2020

Look forward to your column every time Titus - thank you :)

Ewan C

Oct 26, 2020

Titus, I've looked forward to your columns all season and love your work on Nova..........that comment "perhaps he injured his elbow when Vlaustin targeted it so brutally" is another example of your comic brilliance (and maybe the only explanation for Scott leaving Danger at FF)! Thanks for the year.

Mr Snrub

Oct 26, 2020

*all of Melbourne not all off Melbourne

Bigolly

Oct 26, 2020

By the time the actual game was starting I was far from sober (which is actually the same as when the GF starts at the proper time). But do I correctly recall that Geelong tried a Crows style power stance pre game? If so, does the result show that it doesn’t work or just that it doesn’t work against Richmond?

Marty Moose

Oct 26, 2020

The "irony moment of the night", when Geelong needed some run and pace in the last quarter, was the strong finishing burst of Jordan Clark winning the quarter time sprint. Just to rub salt in the wounds inflicted by Richmond

Fat Side

Oct 26, 2020

Many thanks Titus,
Thanks for sticking it out and seeing the season through, even though it was pretty tough for you at times. I hope you realise how much we all look forward to reading your stuff before and after each game. Your "new post alert" is the only email I drop everything for, to read straight away!
And thanks for giving us hacks and wannabes a forum to comment and have a bit of a laugh as well - it's much appreciated.
I look forward to receiving your new book - probably by mid-2021, the way the Melbourne mail is going these days.
cheese,
F. Side.

Sticks

Oct 26, 2020

Strong finish to a bizarre year Titus, love your work.

Completely agree re: halftime’s real purpose of cooking the snags and kicking the footy. The traditional half time heroes, attempting speccies and enormous torpedos was always hard enough after drinking half of the day, let alone doing it after sundown. Bring back tradition!!

Tricky Cat

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks for a season of great insights into our great game. Already looking forward to reading your column next season.

Shane Lucas

Oct 26, 2020

Hi mate- great work this season and (as a contented Tiger) I will remember it possibly even longer than some others. One thing I thought on Saturday - during that second quarter when Geelong looked like they had the Tiges' measure - was that I wouldn't begrudge any club success in 2020. It has been an amazing effort by the AFL, all the players (yes, even Sydney and Callum) and all the organisations (yes, even Adelaide) to give us a season 2020 and give Melburnians something else to look forward to, other than Planet America - cheers Shane

Still Blue

Oct 26, 2020

Luckily Carlton missed the finals and I didn't have to watch games being won, lost and almost won again any more....but no! This is what pretty well what Richmond did in the Grand Final, play a good first quarter, lose the plot in the second and claw their way back to victory by Dustin Martins magic bootlace adjustments. The only thing missing for a real down and dirty game was mud, which also hides any blood that may be spilt. Maybe they'll even review the concussion rules before next season as it's obviously becoming more of a problem and more of a threat to a players future life than an ACL injury.
Titus, no need to wait 6 months, please write about AFLW, the use of skill rather than muscle and mass can make it a lot more interesting to watch than many AFL games, including the Grand Final!

Borissimo

Oct 26, 2020

Adding to the thankyous Titus.
Clearly, you're writing is enjoyed by many, through tough times this year.
Without a doubt your columns have been better than many of the actual games.
Watching the ridiculously scheduled GF with the sinking feeling that after all the stuff that's gone on this year, what was the point when it looked like ending up exactly where we started. Tigers Premiers & Dusty Martin Norm Smith medallist.
But then I realised, the Grand Final may have been a bit meh, but there was still one Titus email to come.
Joy.

HawksFan

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks Titus for your contribution to my sanity in 2020. Your assessment of the GF was spot on as usual.
"Mike Brady then performed at an empty MCG, which turned out to be even more depressing than I thought it would be when it was announced." I actually spontaneously burst into tears at the sight of the empty MCG and it's not even that time of the month!
The 2020 GF was just so 2020!

BLOKE FROM THE OUTER

Oct 26, 2020

ARRON CHENEY-BALL '... your views are probably as accurate as anyone else's guesses (no offence...)'. Mate, I'm sure Titus will take that as the highest praise.

Party

Oct 26, 2020

I shudder to think what would’ve happened to Dusty if the Dees picked him...
thanks Titus.

Darren J Ray

Oct 26, 2020

You've summed it up, Titus. The fact that Melbourne could've drafted Dusty twice just adds to the mirth. I was there (courtesy of the MCC ballot and, still, at a hefty ticket price, thanks to the Gabba and AFL, the custodian of "the people's game"). Re: the pre-game entertainment, it didn't seem that maudlin being there, but watching it back on TV later, I get how that came across. THANK YOU for entertaining us this year. As a fellow entertainer, I look forward to our situation improving drastically soon. When you're next up in Brisbane doing shows, I'll be there and if I had friends, I'd be encouraging them to go, too.

Old Keith 49

Oct 26, 2020

Well that's it for another year ...I'm already having withdrawal symptoms and may have to look for a good book to read over summer. I've heard about one that delves into sport & cheating so may check it out.

The GF was tough and tight and the people who attended my place for a meal and to watch the game weren't disappointed, but as you described Titus, it was the longest day I've endured. To pace myself, I didn't have a beer until 3pm where for a day game I'd normally be blowing the froth off during the pre-game entertainment at around 1pm. Post game dragged on as it was getting late which on top of what you said, counts against a night final. Hopefully Gill and his cronies will realise this & leave it at as a Saturday afternoon blockbuster.

Well done on your intuitive & in depth thoughts Titus. No one does it better especially when it's done with such great humour.

I'd love your views on AFLW but if it doesn't transpire, I'll look forward to next season.

Son of plugger

Oct 26, 2020

Yes, Vlastuin did target Dangerfield’s elbow brutally. Strangely, he was not cited by the match review committee. It’s a farce. Titus—talk about saving the best till last. 11/10.

Mcars

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks Titus, what everyone else said.

JD

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks for everything Titus. I may have have overloaded (but surprisingly didn’t) by reading Please Gamble Irresponsibly on my flights from Canberra to Brisvegas and back to see my beloved Tiges get it done. Your work throughout the year were some of the best (of the very rare) high points in an otherwise bleak period. Cheers.

Xavier

Oct 26, 2020

Thank you Titus!
You helped us get through it too.
Can't wait to read the book.

The Ho Brothers (Brayden, Brody and Brock)

Oct 26, 2020

We, for one, would just like to say thank you for this year's output.

Peter Bowen

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks Titus a bright moment each week in a difficult year

Janet williamson

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks for the witty comments Titus. I laughed out loud at some of them.
Hope the Eagles are back in it next year!

Janice

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks for another brilliant year. Your synopsis of games cheers me up no end after having to tolerate the bloody one eyed commentators every single match. I think I might take up dri king next season.

Heebles

Oct 26, 2020

Bless you, you're an amazing voice for footy and I'm glad the demons recruiters haven't figured out that you have the stamina to bring your best for an entire season.
Here's to 2021, good luck
Heebles

MICHAEL

Oct 26, 2020

Thank you.

At least the off season is shorter!

Anthony Vine

Oct 26, 2020

Love your stuff

Not the Carlton one

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks Titus , your insights throughout the year were eagerly awaited. As an Essendon supporter I’m glad there is no more football for 2020 but how long before the Bombers get some sympathy from you?

TV execs take note

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks for your contribution to our lives Titus! Brilliant. I’d love to see you do more of this stuff on TV.

Wrayl

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks Titus. Your commentary has been one of the few bright spots and has helped to keep the spirits up. Your pithiness so aptly captures the plight and psyche of the Melb supporter and us beleaguered Melburnians.
Thanks for the assist in “these unprecedented times”. Continue the entertainment
Cheers

Richard

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks Titus. I read all your articles and enjoy them very much.

Paulus

Oct 26, 2020

I've missed going to the footy this year. I've always thought the usual home and away half time entertainment of kids playing footy (where else in the world does this happen?) illustrates volumes about what actually matters to the people there. The game is indeed the entertainment.
(Ps I missed the pre-game entertainment as the only time I ever watch it is on the rare occasion that I've had tickets to the game). Thanks for your work.

Lost in Qld

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks Titus ... great sign off and look forward to more in 2021. Lucky enough to go to game - I'm with you on the Grand Final ... would be exhausting if your team was playing 12+ hours of tension before s ball is bounced.

Daniel

Oct 26, 2020

I've loved your columns and your book. And don't worry, somewhere out there there's a timeline where Melbourne ruined Dustin Martin and Richmond turned Jack Trengove into a triple Norm Smith medallist.

Jeremy

Oct 26, 2020

Just adding my name to the many thanking you for your articles throughout the season. Always amusing and on the money. Hope you manage to get out for a beer soon!

Massive Merv

Oct 26, 2020

Daniel—your comment—pure genius. Are you Titus’s long lost cousin or something?

Vern

Oct 26, 2020

Imagine if Melbourne had taken Martin and Fyfe. What an odd couple that would have been.
It is sad that the season is over. I've never taken to horse racing. Maybe you could start a cricket blog

SouthWestCoaster

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks Titus.
Your efforts are very much appreciated. Best sporting highlight all year has been your blog/column/page.
I was already sad on Sunday arvo when I realised how long until 2021 kicks off. Sigh. X 2.

Hope you have a lovely festive season with lots of company and rowdy conversations less than 2m apart. You’ve kept us all sane. Cheers mate.

woody

Oct 26, 2020

Still Blue beat me to it. AFLW is a worthy subject for your insanely funny commentaries. I also have loved your work this year, one of the few bright lights on the landscape of tv footy dribble and ABC dullness. Cheers all

Kafka’s Ghost

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks for another year of insightful, informative and irreverent columns, Titus. Although I’ve bought your new book, hoping to educate myself to some sort of success, despite being in Limbo, it’ll be a long Summer without your musings. Another form of Limbo. Perhaps you could write a pithy piece about Trade 10-Days and the draft?
All the best for an improved social life, now that things in Victoria easing off!
Can’t wait for next season and your next columns.

Alan

Oct 26, 2020

Thanks for a wonderful year Titus - not only did you manage to maintain my sanity (just), but actually made me laugh time and time again (I still do every time I think of you linking playing the Demons with 'taking candy from a baby - a lazy, uncoordinated baby'). Happy to read whatever sport or pastime you turn your distinct humour towards.

LC

Oct 26, 2020

Love your work, Titus!

Tiger_Mark

Oct 28, 2020

Thank you for all the columns Titus, you are indeed the people's au pair.

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