AFL Grand Final: Let There Be Football


Right now it’s past midnight. Tomorrow. Saturday. Grand-damn-Final day!

Praise be and hallelujah

Grand! Final!

When jets play on jets. Champions are put on Champions. Redemption stories are put on redemption stories. One tale to be confirmed, etched in stone. The other to be shattered and fade like false dawns.

I’ve said it before, and will again, this is Christmas.

We play in our other leagues. Small time, big time, semi-pro, knuckles and tatts, but, by now, win or lose, still drunk or forgotten, our race is done. We saddle up, we chose our mates, unlike blood, we pick our footy family, even if it’s our family, flare our mighty jealousy glands, and be a part of the world, the crowd, from the compounds of Afghanistan, to Far North pubs, to packed city bars, mining barracks, to tin sheds in Tassie nowhere, and all look inwards, on the one, green oval.

I hope that the rain’s coming in sideways. So that the surface bubbles and hisses white with water! Let’s have an old school game for once. Embrace the weather. Celebrate, but for one oval in the world, it’s an outdoor game, for doers. For outdoor people. A test, not just of body and mind, but elements.

I hope there’s mud! And if not, I hope they drop some in, like they do playing surfaces and cricket pitches.

Fly it in, straight from the Moorabin, 1980! Dig Big Carl out from the goal square. I hope the pre-game bullshit gets flooded out, and the sponsor’s logos sink into the wing like bad memories. That they get chopped up by ball-ups, boots and muscle.

I hope there’s lots of slapping it on the boot! Game plans shattered. Structures irrelevant. That it becomes a test of wills. A final of Want! That when it gets to the last few seconds, backmen realise it has to be won, not saved, and fly for everything!

Leo Barry told me he’s going. I hope, if it’s kicked near the boundary, he can’t help himself, that he shows them how immortality is born and takes another speckie!

And if it doesn’t rain, even better!

I hope to see the best of modern footy!

The best thing I have seen on the paddock in the last five years was three minutes of play between these two teams in last year’s finals. It was one of those moments in the 3rd. Next goal wins. They both knew it. For three minutes there wasn’t one clear possession. Not one! Just unrelenting, impossible, desperate pressure. Try counting one-thousand, two thousand, three thousand, to 180. Try giving your heart and soul and body for its duration. Install that into 36 men. Build a game around it.

More than any marks or goals, I’m glad, for that moment, its Hawthorne and Sydney playing.

For that moment, they deserve it.


Right now it’s pissing down in Tassie. I’ll take my saw with me in case there are trees across the road in the morning. If they are too big for my 22” bar, I’ll run down the hill to Bucket’s butcher shed. If that’s too far, I’ll break-and-enter a weekender’s house half way there.

Santa will forgive me. I’m not missing X-mas.

These things should fade with age, but every year my want for this day, its perpetual history, grows. The siren sounds and I try to slow time, as if I’m Pendleberry, strolling through traffic. Take in every bounce, every knock, block, bit players and making of legends.


Let it rain. Truck in the mud, bring on the footy!


  1. Earl O'Neill says

    I hope it’s utterly drenched with rain, just like it’s bucketing down here in Hoi An. I want to see great huge gobs of mud spattering about with every running footfall and players caked like Norm Provan and Arthur Summons were in 1965.

  2. Peter Fuller says

    LRT actually took a mark that summoned memories of Leo B. It was early in the last term, not in a pack, yet it was when Hawthorn were threatening to finish the Swans off. It was a metaphor for Sydney’s refusal to yield in the face of at times overwhelming force. LRT and other (comparatively) anonymous Swans were indispensable, especially when the tide was running for the Hawks.

  3. Peter, you are so right! LRT, I have always liked him heaps, without ever realy rating him, to be honest. Just a handy backman, I thought. The failing was entirely mine. He was in the top 5 in a GF for the second time in his career! A genuin, readble target up forward. Great in defence.

  4. This is an essay which has liitle understanding and appreciation of elite professional football. Matt Zurbo, you should restrict your writings to the community social levels of football.
    This year’s AFL grand final was a great contest between two very good teams and Sydney won because of a better team performance and better depth of player talent,
    My ‘Norm Smith’ votes are: 3. Dan Hannebury, 2. Jarrad McVeigh, and 1. Brad Sewell.
    My five best Sydney players: Dan Hannebury, Jarrad McVeigh, Ryan O’Keeffe, Alex Johnson and Rhys Shaw.
    My five best Hawthorn players: Brad Sewell, Sam Mitchell, Lance Franklin, David Hale and Shaun Burgoyne.

  5. Matt Zurbo, I liked your “essay”, even if it did lack “understanding and appreciation of elite professional football.” LMFAO!

    I hoped for rain too, mainly because I thought the Swans would be better suited. There was 15 seconds of footy though where I’m glad the ground was dry and hard.

    Jetta running and bouncing with Cyril chasing. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything more exhilirating on a footy field before…ever!

  6. Peter Schumacher says

    I hope to see the best of modern footy!

    You did!

  7. Matt Zurbo says

    Peter, S. Indded I did! We all did. What a ripper game!

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