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Author Topic: Grand Final Day  (Read 362 times)

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Offline TheWriterTopic starter

Grand Final Day
« on: September 25, 2010, 10:06:47 PM »
I think maybe Sabs could relate to this, at the very least, but yesterday was a damn hilarious day for me.

Yesterday was Grand Final Day, the day of the Australian Football League Grand Final.  Think of it as the Superbowl for Australians; streets are empty, bars are full, every TV in the country is tuned into the same thing.  It's even worse for me, as I live in Melbourne, the Aussie rules capital of the world.  For those unfamiliar with Australian rules football (lucky you), it's like this: eighteen players a side, an oval field around 150m long and 130m wide.  Players can carry the ball so long as they bounce it every ten meters or so, they can kick the ball, and they can punch it from their hands.  Aside from that, just about anything within reason goes.  Players get six points for kicking a goal, and one point for a 'behind' (miss).

On one side, the Collingwood Magpies.  Every league of every sport has a team like this, the team everyone else loves to hate, the one with the biggest and most fanatic backing, most of which below the welfare line.  I've been told they're like the Philadelphia Eagles, whatever that means.  Their last premiership was back in 1990, and they haven't stopped harping on about it since; meaning the rest of the country, by all rights, want them to lose.  Hell, I almost put aside money to fly out of the country if they got up; Magpies fans can turn a place into a warzone.  The good news is, traditionally, they had a terrible record in Grand Finals; runners up in '02, '03, just missed the final in '07, and before the win in 1990 losses in '60, '64, '66, '70, '79, '80, '81...  That all means, though, if the Magpies actually got up and won, the country would turn itself on its head.

On the other side, the St Kilda Saints.  They're the team you have to take pity on; traditionally they play quality football, but usually get beaten out by the one better team early on in the finals series.  They'll dominate the pre-season competition, then run out of steam late in the regular.  Their supporter base has dwindled since their one premiership in '66 (in which they beat Collingwood), and as a result the St Kilda fans are generally more humble about victory.  If there was a sentimental favorite to a neutral party, it'd be the Saints.

So, scene setting done, it's time for the match.  Collingwood have a good first half; in front by a little over four goals by half-time.  The entire country moans as it looks like the 'Pies are going to take it, and many people start packing their bags for anywhere that hasn't heard of AFL.  Then in the third quarter, they fall apart; five scoring shots, all miss.  Collingwood's dreadful Grand Final track record was catching up with them, the nerves killing their kicking accuracy.  The Saints close the gap to eight points going into the final quarter, and the country holds its breath as the final quarter rolls on...

The final score?  Collingwood: 9 goals, 14 behinds; 68 points.  St Kilda: 10 goals, 8 behinds; 68 points.  A draw; everyone's left unhappy.  What makes it really interesting is that in the event of a drawn Grand Final, there is no extra time; the two teams have to back up next week and play again.  After all, the AFL premiership shouldn't really be decided by one lucky play in extra time.  It's only happened twice before in over a hundred years; one of them was with Collingwood, and to add insult to injury they lost the replay.  The real winners are the league itself; millions in sponsorship, merchandise, ticket sales, and the opportunity to make the money over again next week.  Betting companies made a killing on the game; 'draw' is an option, so no refunds.  What that leaves the rest of the country is thousands of lower-class Collingwood supporters who poured savings into Grand Final tickets only to come away with a draw and the knowledge that they can't afford tickets to next week's match, and fewer middle-class Saints fans who have no such problems.  Meanwhile the rest of the country laughs themselves silly, like I did last night.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2010, 10:42:04 PM by TheWriter »