AFL Grand Final: Hot tickets for the Hot Pies

When I picked up my last minute ticket to the Collingwood v Brisbane Grand Final, the magpies swirled around me in a suburban sidestreet, singing. From lightpole to powerline to the rooftops, it was one of the biggest communings I’d seen all year. I was ecstatic to have a ticket, and it sure seemed like a sign. 


We Collingwood supporters often appreciate signs as we approach the finals. As in 2010, when a sole magpie visited me outside my house on Grand Final day, stopping and propping on the nature strip–a knowing presence, solid and unyielding. Or the swooping magpie in spring that brings to mind Heath Shaw in that Grand Final, with a smother on Nick Riewoldt that continues to hurt the hearts of Saints fans. (‘He came up behind him like a librarian,’ Dennis Cometti marvelled.)


I guess we’re lucky in that way with our mascot, as Lions fans are not; we live in the magpies’ element, they are all around us.



A magpie sits on a powerline, the clear blue sky behind it.

Down to the wire [Source: Author]


Getting a ticket to the Grand Final this year was once again a matter of some desperation. For while both my brothers are full MCC members, allowing them entry to the ground, I am not. When I was born, being a girl, I could not be put on the Melbourne Cricket Club waitlist. Boo hoo, people might say, mocking my MCC membership aspirations, but the point is fairness. Why could my Collingwood supporting dad’s sons be waitlisted, but not his daughter? 


The MCC tells this history thus: ‘Since its foundation the MCC had been a Gentleman’s Club. Women were excluded from the MCC Members’ pavilion…even as a member’s guest.’


The MCC’s use of the current site of the Melbourne Cricket Ground dates back almost exactly 170 years, with permission to use the land granted by CJ La Trobe on 23rd September, 1853, (a belated happy birthday, MCG!) Just over one hundred years later, there were nearly 10,000 full members of the MCC. 


Women were not permitted to be members of the MCC until John Cain Jnr, Premier of Victoria, made it happen in 1984. He said on ABC Radio that he told the organisations: ‘You have a private club with privileges on public land, you have no business excluding half the population.’ I was in my first year of University when the Club opened their membership to women on April 1. (April Fool’s Day. It wasn’t a joke, though some may have protested it as such.) At that time there were 15,000 full members. 


These days, 22% of members are women, but due to a few family oversights, including a belated nomination, I’m still not one of those with full membership. Each year I scrounge and scramble and message and plead and fork out fortunes in my efforts to be at the ground to watch the Magpies and commune with family.


So, a week out from the big game, I resorted to a plea on social media, asking all my friends to keep an ear out for an MCC Guest Pass. I would have taken any ticket, really, and paid for it, but the old, slatted-wooden benches of the MCC were where we had watched footy with dad. 


And with my hope still hovering, a friend had called on Friday with a Guest Pass, and then at midday the next day, thanks to the MCC releasing limited tickets, I had two legitimate tickets to the Grand Final.



Two Magpie fans outside the MCG before the game. They are both wearing black and white scarves and smiling.

Outside the ‘G [Source: Author]


Just after the siren blew last Saturday and the first rendition of the song was sung, in the heat of the last day of September, I suddenly thought: I must call dad. 


He’s not here anymore, but he was there, at the ‘G.


The morning after the 2023 Grand Final I woke at 5am to the sound of magpies singing. The first thing I saw when I came out the door was a magpie perched on the light pole. As I walked the streets in the spring heat, even the wattlebirds’ call sounded like ‘hot pies, hot pies!’ 


The magpies took it right down to the wire. They are always there. Solid. Knowing. Present. And I was lucky to be there too, with my daughter, two Magpie girls, still waitlisted and still believing. Side by Side. 



Holding Collingwood scarves, the writer celebrates at the MCG with her daughter after the Magpies won the Premiership.

Go Pies! [Source: Author]



To return to our Footy Almanac home page click HERE.



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.



Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?

And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help things keep ticking over please consider making your own contribution.


Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE.




Pies fan, sharing black and white days at the footy with my family. Observer and writer, with hints of nostalgia.


  1. Eamon Petrich says

    Wow! Amazing stories! I would love to sign up now and encourage others to sign up.

  2. Thanks Eamon, who knows, anyone signing up now might make full membership within 50 years?! I’m not sure of the actual wait time, but if keen, get onto it, and if you have kids, put their names down when they’re babies.

Leave a Comment