By Jake ‘Cobba’ Stevens
It would be a tragedy had I not documented my experiences at the 2012 Grand Final. So, I do so, hoping that it does not become lost among the thousands of writings about the game, the result and the experience. But one thing can be certain, just like the other 99,682 fans who attended the MCG that day, and indeed the millions of other followers around the world, it became a day that I will never forget. It was a day I will cherish forever. It was Grand Final Day.
I love the build up and the fanfare that surrounds the game. The newspapers, the TV specials, the parade. It’s a lot of fuss, but I like fuss. I soaked it in. Fate found me tickets to the game. Desperate, I contacted my economics teacher for tickets. He had one for himself only. But later that week, he found another, took that, and sold me his. My phone’s screen had broke, as seconds before I was about to take out the battery and sim card, I got his call for the ticket. Fate.
Luck secured my father’s ticket. As a restricted member, the ground granted me access in the morning, and I took hold with both hands. We swapped tickets. Had it not have been such a miserable morning, more members would have turned up, denying my access. Luck.
To be completely honest, a lot of the day was a blur. Caught up between the emotions, nervousness took over my mind. Each and every spectacular moment overlapped another. It was like when you have a fantastic dream, but when you wake up, you can’t always piece together all the parts.
But I’m appreciative that I can recall some moments, moments in which I’ll hopefully never forget. Moments of greatness.
Sydney’s first goal in the game. Malceski, I recognised straight away from his beard. He guessed where the goals were. The ball did too. It soared so high I was wondering if it would ever come back down. There was a pause. The umpire signalled confidently. We jumped to our feet. Memories of his knee surgery woes arose. They were long gone. Malceski, such a trooper. So good to see him so happy.
Then there was Hannebery. He back into the pack to take an incredible grab. He’s always doing these like that. It scares me and delights me at the same time.
The enemy had many chances, many failed but some didn’t. The Hawks kicked away. I wasn’t too fused. My boys would peg them back.
It was on the far wing. From half-back to half-forward. Lewis ‘Jetstar’ took off, I knew he would. If there was one man who would catch him, it would be Cyril. And there he was, trailing by a few paces. We egged the boys on as though it was the final sprint of the Melbourne Cup. Jetta won the race, but Hawthorn had won the quarter.
Because Dad and I had different seats, during the breaks we would meet in between our spots, at the bar. It was here we discussed the plays of the quarter. The highlights, our feelings and our hopes for the quarter. Even so, our overall emotion was still edgy. Who would’ve guess what was in store for us.
A breakthrough. Swans goals came flooding in. They were down my end of the ground. Each and every time I jumped up and yelled my heart out. I was definitely the loudest of my fellow supporters in Bay 37. Pyke was playing so well. His strong contested marks are one of my favourite things to watch out on the field. To think, a Canadian was playing in the Grand Final. Who would’ve guessed?!
Half -time. I had little time to enjoy one of my favourite artists, The Temper Trap, as I was too concentrated on the game. I was so tired. It was like I was actually out there playing. Sometimes I felt like I was.
Lewis Roberts-Thompson looks funny. He looks like a great bloke. The kind of bloke every footy team needs. (Even if it’s only to make the rest of the team look more attractive/intelligent) He goaled. The swans were flying high.
But then Buddy started to fire up. He was hot. Too hot. Within minutes I could feel the game slipping away. The hawks stacked them on. No team in the competition could stop them.
McVeigh got a fifty. He scored. We needed him to. The siren couldn’t come soon enough. We were set. The football world was set for the final, last-gasp, all-in quarter.
The Hawks got a couple. Time was slipping away. Stand up Kieran Jack. My favourite. Quick entry. Bouncing Ball. Sits up for him. Dribbles it through. The most exhilarating goal of the game. Such celebration. Such excitement. I could only imagine every other Swan’s reaction.
Goodes. I thought he was injured. Maybe I was right? It didn’t matter. He kicked a goal from a stoppage. Classic Swans. The ball bounced through so slowly. There was a large inhale. And then the roar of the crowd.
We were well into stoppage time. Up by 4. Memories of ’05. But we weren’t home. Enter, the man who started it all. Nick Malceski. With another incredible snap, he wrote himself into the record books. The Bloods were home. The stadium was rocking. One of the most intense moments of my life.Siren. The greatest happiness I can explain to you washed over me. Pure joy. Nirvana. Relief. It was time to celebrate. My boys had done it. I almost couldn’t believe it. It was a day I was never going to forget. It was a day I will cherish forever. It was Grand Final Day, and my team had won.