AFL Grand Final – Sydney v Hawthorn: I’m not angry, just disappointed

I am told that as part of the healing process, writing can be therapeutic. I bloody hope so. This is my account of Grand Final Day 2014.

Was this to be an omen? Upon boarding a Jetstar flight from Hobart on Saturday morning with my Swanette, we found that our seats had been double booked. Momentarily panicked, all I can muster is ‘there is no way I’m stepping off this plane!’ Anyway, I had detailed a timeline for the day and any kind of delay was not welcome. After some anxious moments, new seats were located, and we were on our merry way. The pundits from The Age have comprehensively tipped in the Swannies’ favour and this only fuels my confidence that the boys will get the job done today.

We stroll along Collins Street, passing Ross Lyon and Mick Malthouse. Both men are familiar with what this day entails. A quick bite, and our group of nine assemble at Fed Square for a couple of pre-match refreshments. There is simply nothing like Melbourne on Grand Final Day. Nothing. The sun is out, and there are swarms of Red & White, Yellow & Brown everywhere you look. It truly has to be experienced. Matty Nicks is in the bar, the 2012 Grand Final is being shown on the big screen and spirits are high. There’s me, my wife, best mate, two sisters, two brothers-in-law, two nephews, as we stride out along the Yarra to the mighty MCG. This moment is special. Excited and nervous at the same time, we chat about the team, the game, the occasion.

We enter the magnificent colosseum and I get goosebumps. What a sight. One hundred thousand people on a resplendent Spring day, the biggest stage of all. As the legendary Ryan O’Keefe and Lewis Roberts-Thomson hitch a ride and swing past in the back of a Hilux, our Swans-only bay erupts. The first sign that the Bloods in the stands are up for it. The boys will be too. Won’t they? Surely. Tom Jones booms, burns down the house and leaves. The mood is buoyant. Little did we know…

The Enemy are a formidable foe. That is for sure. For the first ten minutes, we have a game on our hands here, ladies and gentlemen. Again, the Red and White throng erupts, as Joey nails the first goal of the match. The Enemy hit back, then Buddy goals, life is good. But, as they say in the classics, the rest is history. From this point on, my team is unrecognisable. All week I have heard over and over that the match will be won in the midfield. And it was. Comprehensively. The old firm of Hodge, Lewis and Mitchell dominate the clearances. The polish on the outside hit targets with all the precision of a surgeon’s knife and the ever-dangerous forward line finish off the work. Clinical. This was as close to the complete performance as I have seen. Uncompromising and unconditional, The Hawks attacked the footy, the man, the day with an unwavering ferocity. Much to my dismay, the Swannies had no answer.

As we waited for the comeback which would never eventuate, I began to wonder. Why today? Of all days, why today? I had certainly prepared for the prospect of The Enemy defeating us; they are a great team. But not in this manner. In moments like these, a footy supporter ponders the sanity of becoming so emotionally attached to their team. Why do we do it? In my case, it is because I have had roughly twenty years of watching my team fight until the end, pouring their heart and soul into their footy. For some reason, that didn’t happen when we all expected it would. I consider entrusting the services of Chief Inspector Taggart or perhaps Dalziel and Pascoe to investigate the matter, but then realise they are fictional characters and that won’t do much good.

At some stage in the fourth quarter (it is much of a blur), a young Cygnet seated behind us, asks his father if this means The Swans finish last? It feels like it, mate. Absolutely flattened, we leave the ‘G as The Enemy begin to hit party-mode. Humility was not expected, and certainly was not present. Ah well, to the victors go the spoils. We join the faithful on the No.1 Tram, headed for Clarendon Street, South Melbourne. The tram ride is quiet. Apart from one Swan who had perhaps dabbled in some kind of illegal substance to get him through the day. As we disembark, he claps his hands and shouts ‘let’s get shitfaced’ and in doing so, perhaps echoing the sentiments of Swans supporters Australia-wide.

My Blues brother, and two Bomber mates join us at The Honey Bar for commiserations, but certainly not sympathy. In a much-needed dose of reality, the Swans among us are told in no uncertain terms that we’ve had a pretty good run, and there could be more painful options to take when choosing to support a footy team. Correct. We still love our Sydney Swans. Always will. We ran into a Hawthorn team hell-bent on winning and we weren’t ready for them, not sure why, but we weren’t. As the beverages progress from White Rabbits to Espresso Martinis, the mood begins to lift. Time for some perspective. I love my mates and I love my family. Life is pretty bloody good. Finally, the captain’s performance we have been waiting for all day arrives as Captain Morgan delivers a fine display when accompanied by some dry and lime.

Well played to the Hawthorn Hawks. A truly remarkable football club. Hope to meet you again, same time, same place, next year.

Hawthorn 21.11 (137)

Sydney 11.8 (74)

Votes:

3 – The Honey Bar

2 – Captain Morgan

1 – Espresso Martinis

 

 

 

About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979

Comments

  1. Heather Roche says

    Hi Joe,
    We cry with you…grief is a often follows a sudden unexpected event and how unexpected was our result on Saturday? You know, it’s sort of okay to lose by a small margin but…who could have believed it!
    Love your writing, this piece was forwarded by our son Andy, another loyal and shocked Swans supporter. Still, we will be there for 2015…all healed!
    Cheers
    Heather and Kevin Roche

  2. Thank you so much, Heather. It was certainly a distressing few hours. As the days have passed though, I have taken some time to appreciate the wonderful memories that this team have given us all. Also, for nine of my friends and family to all attend a Grand Final together, was something special that I will never forget. I feel extremely comforted by your kind words and please pass on my regards to Andy. Cheer, cheer!

  3. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Ah Joe, hit the rewind button and take me back to your heart warming walk to the G. I took my Cygnet to the 2006 GF loss, but having a 2 year old and a 1 point margin puts a loss in the category of ‘acceptable life’. This was painful. I must say, I feel a teeny bit better every time I read another Swan’s account. Problem shared, problem halved … and all that. Thank you. And espresso martinis help, I am sure.

  4. Thank you Mathilde. The espresso martinis certainly helped, if only momentarily. I have just read your beautifully written piece about the big day. An absolute joy to read. We too, were looking for anything which might resemble a turning point. Like you, I am comforted just a little more each time I read a fellow Swan’s account of last Saturday’s events. Enjoy the summer.

  5. Franky's Mask says

    Joe. Having just read your story I can commiserate with the loss you feel as I experienced a number of losses with the Hawks back in the 80’s (to the greatest enemy of all – then and now – the Bombers!), and again in 2012, to your team. When your team reaches the GF the weight of expectation for success is enormous. All GF week, in your own mind, there is waxing and waning for why you should or shouldn’t win but when you walk through gate 3 to find your seat and your team runs out to a mighty roar the sense of expectation is so high there is no tomorrow! (And I should know having seen 11 victories in Hawthorns last 16 Grand Finals!)
    However, while it is easy to say ‘winners are grinners’ and hindsight is a wonderful thing, in the near future when you and I are sharing a fishing trip to Arthurs Lake with Phil, your father in law, I will attempt to put into perspective this seasons journey and explain why the outcome of the game was determined well before Grand Final day!

  6. Thanks Frankie.

    I’m looking forward to some enlightenment…and the fishing trip!

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