Oct 02, 2023
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Grand Final 2023
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.
Collingwood (90) v Brisbane (86)
Unlike Ticketek, who fail when it matters most, Collingwood knows how to turn it on when it matters.
For years, people have been saying these close wins will catch up with them, the only problem with that theory is they may have won several premierships by then.
One is already in the bag.
The day could not have been better in terms of build-up. The sun was out, and people were streaming to the MCG in the best mood.
You could sense the tension too, it was almost like everyone knew an epic clash was coming.
Things were certainly helped by KISS getting the brief of playing hits, and blowing up everything they could get their hands on.
If you were going to pick a band for a Collingwood Grand Final, KISS are perfect. The Venn diagram of KISS and Pies fans is almost a perfect circle.
As the teams entered the stadium, the noise was deafening, and I mean deafening, I’m still getting my hearing back.
The crowd didn’t need to be woken up, but after the Pies looked well on top early, Zac Bailey had everyone in awe as he smothered a Mason Cox kick, got the ball, then despite being pinned on the boundary, evaded two tacklers and then snapped the ball through on a difficult angle.
I was right behind him as he kicked it and as it curled through, even the Pies fans around me applauded.
The game only got better from there on. The Pies pressure dominated, while the Lions kept finding individual efforts that kept the game close.
Charlie Cameron came to life, but in a game of small forward one-upmanship, Bobby Hill also started kicking goals and taking spectacular marks.
If you weren’t enjoying this game, you were dead inside.
At half time, I needed a good lie down, because Mark Seymour and Kate Miller-Heidke had come on and were playing something so laid back I had to fight sleep.
When will people learn that a stadium is not the place to do an interesting acoustic treatment?
Luckily the third quarter started up, with Pies fans watching their side boot 0.6 for most of the quarter, as the Lions players fought hard, including Joe Daniher, who more than stood up on the biggest stage.
The Pies poor kicking look like it could cost them a premiership, as did the Lions habit of giving away late goals in each quarter.
When the third quarter ended, there was a level of tension in the stadium usually reserved for family Christmas.
Then came a fourth quarter few will forget.
It became clear there was to be no release from the tension, no team was going to run away with this one.
Charlie Cameron snapped a goal with five-and-a-half minutes left and the Pies fans near me looked like they had forgotten to breathe.
The Lions fans were roaring, but it was a roar with an undertone of ‘there is still way too much time in this game left.’
Which proved true, as Nick Daicos and Jordan De Goey combined for a goal that had the stadium literally shaking.
Suddenly my mind was focused on the quality of the structural engineering of the MCG.
The Pies were up by five and now it was the Lions fans turned to panic.
People’s smart watches were going off everywhere, with alerts for damaging loud noise and irregular heartbeats. Mine told me I was having a stroke or had just been in a car accident. It wasn’t sure.
Sure, playing in a Grand Final is hard, but watching one isn’t a walk in the park either.
Seconds became hours.
A fifty-metre penalty to Steele Sidebottom saw the Pies take a ten-point lead, but no one really calmed down. This was a game that was going to demand something of everyone playing it, and everyone watching it.
With just over four minutes remaining, the game went to another level, Brisbane tried everything, and the Pies did everything to stop them.
There was a moment where it felt like the Pies might have done enough, only for Hugh McCluggage to then get the ball to Joe Daniher who scored, and we were back on again.
Ninety-three seconds were left to run and just four points separated the two sides, soon though, the final siren would ring and those four points were an enormous chasm, impossible to bridge.
The Pies had won a famous victory. The MCG exploded, there were tears of joy and devastation.
Collingwood’s captain would receive the cup from his father, while Craig McRae would reveal he had just again become a father earlier that day.
The best team of the year had won on the biggest day, while the Lions had not lost any admirers.
Sometimes we need to be reminded that the game isn’t in trouble, it’s glory days are not in the past. They are now.
The sport we love is in rude health and it was a joy to watch.
Now, let’s never mention Collingwood winning the premiership again.
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This week’s Sports Bizarre episode is The Invention of Rugby: Part One, available wherever you get your podcasts.