Ecstasy turns to agony
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.