Ec­stasy turns to agony

Shepparton News - - WEEKEND SPORT - By Rod­ney Woods

While the 2018 AFL Grand Fi­nal will go down as one of the great­est games in sport­ing his­tory, this footy fan left the MCG proud of his team’s ef­fort, priv­i­leged to have been there, but dev­as­tated about the re­sult.

The last Satur­day in Septem­ber was my Årst chance to see an AFL grand Ånal in the AEesh but as a pas­sion­ate Mag­pie sup­porter — who wore his guernsey with pride in the week lead­ing up to the game — that day will also re­mind me of yet an­other Colling­wood loss on the big­gest stage.

I was ec­static when it was conÅrmed I would be at the game (as my work col­leagues will at­test).

And re­gard­less of the re­sult I re­ferred to the week lead­ing up to the match as the best in my life­time, even say­ing “if Colling­wood do win, my fu­ture wed­ding day will be the sec­ond great­est day of my life”.

Like a child on Christ­mas Day, I get su­per-ex­cited each year when I wake up on Grand Fi­nal Day.

But this year a whole lot of ner­vous en­ergy was added to that ex­cite­ment, mak­ing me even more pumped up for what was to come.

My day of en­ter­tain­ment started with watch­ing Fox Footy’s Long­est Kick Com­pe­ti­tion, where past and cur­rent AFL and AFLW play­ers as well as celebri­ties at­tempted to kick a foot­ball across the Yarra River.

Af­ter re­al­is­ing the comp was far eas­ier to watch on tele­vi­sion (as I did last year) than on the banks of the river, I headed to the ’G to lap up the pre-game at­mos­phere.

The high­light: a sur­prise en­try onto the hal­lowed turf while the Fergie-less Black Eyed Peas and Jimmy Barnes en­ter­tained the 100 022 peo­ple in at­ten­dance.

It was then time to Ånd my seat and take in ev­ery­thing the AFL Grand Fi­nal had to of­fer.

It started so well with the Pies kick­ing the Årst Åve goals of the game but a for­tu­nate shin of the ball by West Coast player Wil­lie Ri­oli late in the open­ing term got the Ea­gles go­ing.

The Ea­gles only led for nine min­utes of the en­tire game but it was the last minute and 45 se­conds that mat­tered most.

When the Ånal siren sounded, I felt a very dif­fer­ent feel­ing to the one I’d felt just a week ear­lier af­ter be­ing at the ’G to see the Pies sur­prise the Tigers.

This time I was an­gry, so an­gry that I thought punch­ing my­self in the up­per leg mul­ti­ple times was a sen­si­ble thing to do.

The shin­ing light though is that my fu­ture wife (who­ever she may be) can breathe a sigh of re­lief.

Af­ter stay­ing around for the pre­sen­ta­tions and rock­ing out to Work­ing Class Man and

Khe Sanh, lap­ping up the ex­pe­ri­ence of Grand Fi­nal Day as day turned to night, I headed to a bar not far from where I was stay­ing.

While I was there, and af­ter a hand­ful of beers, the next wave of emo­tion hit me — heart­break and the re­al­i­sa­tion of what could have been for Aus­tralia’s most po­lar­is­ing sport­ing club.

The Mag­pies had not made Ånals since 2013 be­fore this sea­son’s surge up the lad­der, and even such a pas­sion­ate fan as I could not have imag­ined them play­ing off for the pre­mier­ship, es­pe­cially af­ter the amount of in­juries the team en­dured, par­tic­u­larly to its de­fend­ers.

It was a lack of height in that area of the ground that ul­ti­mately cost us against the Ea­gles — but the fact we got that far, with­out some of our reg­u­lar stars, is why I am proud of my team.

Two weeks on, I re­alise how lucky I was to be there on Grand Fi­nal Day even more so than I did on the day it­self. In ad­di­tion to the foot­ball be­ing played, the fes­tiv­i­ties in­side and out­side the ground be­fore and af­ter the game added to the at­mos­phere and it will be a day I will never for­get … even if that means be­ing re­minded of Dom Sheed’s win­ning goal.

Bring on 2019, and go Pies!

Rod­ney Woods’ view of the match.

Rod­ney Woods scored a tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ance in the back­ground of the Chan­nel 7 broad­cast.

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