AFL Grand Final: From Purple Haze to Black Daze

It’s Sunday morning after the day before.  My freo gear is thrown into the washing machine hoping to wash away more than just the sweat and tears from the day before.  The purple shrine I had created in the front window at home was ripped down and banished to the bin. The chocolate I stuffed into my mouth for breakfast, normally a comfort food, did not make my hurt go away.  I switched on the TV and was confronted by the grand final reply.  Good grief, even the TV gods were not sparing me this morning.  I quickly switched tv programs to find myself watching “Omens of the Apocalypse”.  Could it get any worse?  I think not as my team just lost the bloody grand final.!!!  No matter how you look at it, my sadness will not go away.  My euphoric purple haze has turned into a depressing black daze and it is hurting, really hurting.  I do, however, think I need to mention that my hurt must pale into insignificance in comparison to how the players would be feeling.  If their faces were any indication it might be a while before we mention the “war” again!!!!

I switch on my iPod to seek some refuge in music but the first song that echoes out of my earphones is Cry Me a River.  For crying out loud, please give me a break.  No bloody wonder I lost faith in God.  This was and is my religion. He was supposed to be on my side.  This was the big one.  This was the one that meant and is everything.  Fifteen years of barracking and supporting a team that supposedly stood for nothing.  A team that was the laughing stock of the AFL.  A team that gave up great players and draft picks on has beens and duds!!  A team with a stupid anchor on its jumper, supposedly “weighing” it down to mediocrity.  However, I stood proud through all this ridicule and I kept the faith.  I stayed true to the Freo cause and embraced the change in jumper and logo.  My loyalty could never be questioned.  Maybe fanatical, maybe a little loopy, but I was more than happy to bleed purple for this club and I was so excited that we had finally made it onto the big stage, the big one, the one that mattered.  Yes, this was Fremantle’s first ever grand final. A historical event for the ages and to say I was excited was the understatement of the century.  I was beside myself almost to the point of being speechless (which is a feat in itself)f!!!  But what the Lord giveth, he then taketh away.  I feel numb but feel the hurt.  I feel nothing but feel the pain of losing. I am stunned but feel totally desolate.

Half a packet of barbeque shapes for morning tea did not make my day any better.  By the time I flipped through the gazillion pages of “wee and poo” coloured pictures in the newspaper and on various websites, I had real difficulty in focusing on anything else. It was like time had stood still and nothing, but nothing else mattered except winning the grand final and guess what, it wasn’t the Fremantle Dockers, which became another twist of the knife through my heart.  I had let myself dream over the past few weeks, seeing our great inspirational leader Matthew Pavlich holding up the cup as we all danced around the G’.  It was so wrong looking at pictures of Pav, the look of disappointment etched on his face for all to see, the look of total despair of what might have been.  He was shattered and exhausted but showed dignity and composure when speaking as the losing (or should I say runner up) captain. Sometimes life is not fair and please don’t patronise me by saying you have to lose one to win one.  That does not help, one little bit. I don’t care that the team parading in those horrible “wee and poo” colours were in the same boat as us last year and this year they deserved it more.  Poppy cock!!  Who remembers the runner up in an AFL Grand Final?  I think I will and for all the wrong reasons!!

For lunch, a steak sandwich chased down with a couple of potato cakes, a dim sim and way too many chips did not remove my black daze.  This was meant to be comfort food but even the “greasies” did not help. I don’t even think my Doc can help.  I’m sure he would want to prescribe a dose of “reality”, followed by a mixture of “harden up” and “get over it”, but I was in no mood for any of this and sulked my way through the afternoon.  It takes a lot of effort to be down in the dumps and I have to say, I was making a good fist of it!!!

It was the first time Freo had played in front of a crowd of over 100,000 (the most was well under half of this) so it was understandable they would have been a little shell shocked, but did they have to stuff it up so badly with their inept kicking at goal?  However I have to admit the noise at the MCG was incredible.  Regardless of what happened and how I was feeling, nothing can describe what the atmosphere and noise was like.  Words do not do it any justice. The Freo chant that echoed around the stands sent shivers up my spine.  Oh my God I will also never forget the feeling of walking out onto the MCG on grand final day, to lift up the banner.  It was magic and an amazing experience.  Though the weather was one of those typical Melbourne days of four seasons in one day or at times in five minutes, we were able to raise the banner with no hassle.  With banner crew members selected from both Victorian and Western Australia, everyone worked as one.  The weather gods were on our side for just a moment but long enough for us to show off the banner without any malfunction or shredding. I was so proud.

However I could not get the events of Saturday afternoon out of my mind.  Every point kicked on Saturday was like another nail in Freo’s grand final coffin.  They say bad kicking is bad football and Fremantle were a real testament to that. Wayward kicking was sending Freo to an early grand final grave. I am not going to single out anyone or sprout statistics as I am sure Ross the Boss (Lyon) has already done that.  They were never going to win a game of football, a grand final if only one goal had been kicked in a half of footy.  But a further twist to this tale saw Freo come out fighting in the third quarter.  The almost goalless half of footy was followed by five goals in the third quarter and we started to have hope.  We were only three points down and full of running.  Those “wee and poo” supporters had gone silent and the already very loud Freo chant went up several thousand decibels and we started to dream.  My heart which had started as a nervous beat was now doing cartwheels at a hundred miles an hour. Oh my God, we were getting close.  I had more energy and raised the flogger with much more gusto and effort than ever before.  Somehow we found even a louder voice and bellowed out GO FREO at an almost deafening roar.

But this booming chant changed, just as quickly, into a silent curse as another stray kick and another missed set shot on goal had the “wee and poo” supporters going for the jugular. Another mark by that turn coat Lake repelled any further advance by the Dockers.   I hate to admit that I have always loved Hodgey (Luke Hodge) but at this moment in time I wished he would break a leg (please don’t hate me for saying this Luke but you have to understand my total feeling of despair).  The cup was going to have those horrible coloured ribbons tied to it instead of our very regal purple and white ones and I could not watch any more. This was not going to be a fairy tale finish, only a painful nightmare.  The contrast in players’ reactions after the final siren is totally overwhelming.  The cheer squad area is invaded by hundreds of irrational “wee and poo” supporters, delirious in celebration.  For god’s sake, can you get out of our way whilst we pack up all the gear, but at the same time, let us come to terms with the result? Geez, they were in our faces and talk about rubbing it in.  At least they could be gracious in victory.

It took me until late Sunday afternoon before I could even look at my photos of the weekend.  I have to say checking out all the players pictures from the grand final parade made me smile.  It had been such an experience being there, watching the events of the parade unfold and the total devotion shown to the team in purple by its loyal supporters.  We were united from both sides of the country in our purpleness and it was fantastic.  I don’t think anyone in Melbourne was prepared for the Purple Haze invasion, but I am certain everyone will take notice from now on.  Talk about a boost for the Australian airline industry and local tourism!!

I am almost at a point by Sunday night of having one of those looking at the glass ‘’half-full” kind of moments which, if you saw me this morning, is quite an achievement.  It will take me a while to get over it but putting it into some perspective has restored my faith and enthusiasm for everything purple (even though I will be wearing black to work for the rest of the week).  When I think about where the Dockers have come from in nineteen years, a basket case of a club to first time grand finalists, I do feel a “purple haze” wave creep over me and boy, does it feel good.  Of course I am disappointed but they gave it their best shot and were far from disgraced.  I think the moment may have got to them but I am sure the result will burn inside until they can redeem themselves in 2014.  I even find myself checking out the footy record to work out who will have milestone games next year – Pav (300 games) and Sandi (200 games).  I look to next season and hope our veterans play on for another year at least, nursed through the season to be “cherry ripe” for the finals.  I pray that Luke (Macfarlane) can hold his body together for one more year so he has the opportunity to retire (along with Pav and Sandi) as a premiership player.

I will always love my football team, the mighty Fremantle Dockers, so watch out for the purple haze in 2014. I will keep you posted!

 

HAWTHORN   2.3   5.5    8.8   11.11   (77)                  

FREMANTLE    0.3   1.6   6.10   8.14  (62)          

 

GOALS

Hawthorn: Gunston 4, Roughead 2, Franklin, Rioli, Smith, Breust, Hill

Fremantle: Pavlich 3, Walters 2, Mzungu, Mayne, Pearce

 

BEST 

Hawthorn: Lake, Gunston, Lewis, Rioli, Hodge, Birchall

Fremantle: Mundy, Fyfe, Crowley, Johnson, Barlow

 

INJURIES 

Hawthorn: Nil

Fremantle: Nil

Reports: Nil (but I am sure Lake (Wee and Poo team) and  Suban (Freo) may make a late visit)

 

Umpires: Rosebury, Nicholls, Meredith

 

Official crowd: 100,007 at the MCG

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Great Stuff Di You never fail to wear your Heart on your sleeve a Emotional Article of a True and Loyal Fanatic and you have made me more nervous re The SANFL GF this coming week end Go You Redlegs !

  2. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Great report Di, which would have been hard to write. Losing a Grand Final is shattering but take heart in the joy your team gave you for the rest of this year and the fact they were good enough and deserved to make it. Most non-Hawks fans were cheering for Freo and hoping you would get your fairytale ending. Hopefully that will come next year (unless Richmond makes it :-)). Stay strong!

  3. Grant Fraser says:

    Di – it sounds hollow, but you have to go through the heart ache of losing the Big Dance to really appreciate winning. And even then, the best thing about winning is not losing (says he who spent two hours sitting in the shower after ’84). Coming second does not always mean there ought be an expectation of delivering the next year, or even making it to the Big One. But I saw enough in the third quarter (by that I mean I saw enough of my feet, the heads of the people in front of me and the vast open spaces of our forward line as I couldn’t watch) to know that you support a very high quality unit. Absent injuries you ought be there or thereabouts next year.

  4. Neil Anderson says:

    I was really hoping for a Freo win so the Bulldogs would have some company in the one-premiership Club. My heart sank early in the match when your star players missed those goals. If it wasn’t the notorious swirling winds of the MCG, it was certainly early intervention by the Footy Gods.
    Take heart that your team is well respected and were gracious in defeat but also absolutely determined to go one better next time.
    I was going to mention how sweet it will be when it does happen and the fact that some of us coming up to the sixty year mark of a premiership drought. But that is not going to help you at the moment and besides, no supporter should have to endure anything like that drought. Even if it does make you stronger. Yeah. Right.

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