Almanac Art: Day of the 2020 Grand Final

Art: Kate Birrell – Night of the 2020 Grand Final, iPad drawing.



I’m exhausted.


Saturday was a day like no other. I had things to do but I didn’t quite know how or when to do them.


It was the day of AFL grand final. A day in which I would normally have been up and about early and a day in which I would have been making my way into the MCG as a 2020 Richmond Football Club member.


But it is the year of 2020, and nothing is normal.


And so the day passed in this ethereal-like limbo of not quite knowing what to do next. I pottered around my studio, bought coffee and sourdough bread and tidied the kitchen and went to the supermarket, tidied the kitchen again and went back to my studio.


I thought about tidying up the dining room table, back at home. It was strewn with a mountain of fabric and half finished assemblages. I thought about opening old superannuation letters. There are quite a few of them lolling about my desk.


I thought about having a rest, or reading the paper or having a picnic, or, maybe a haircut?


I thought about ironing… the sheets.




Then I thought, perhaps I should go for a walk. And, so for the first time in months I headed out beyond my bubble and up into the foothills of the Dandenongs.


After clearing the Covid checkpoint, I parked and headed up towards my regular walking track. How good was it to escape suburbia? So good. A misty greyness hung about, there was mud, there were puddles and there were very few people. The steep inclines, the loose gravel and rockiness underfoot forced me to concentrate.


I was able to think. I was able to wonder.


The path took me on a solid rise up to One Tree Hill. Then it meandered gently downwards, and around through the bush. I passed a couple who give me a cheery wave. He had his Tigers cap on. I had my Tiger mask on. It was like we knew each other.


Then the meandering path turned and rose. It was steep, sharp and gruelling. Chandler’s Hill, half way, half time, and a physical challenge. I just wanted to lay down.


I thought the Tigers could win the game that was to be played out in only a few hours time up at the Gabba in Brisbane. I knew the boys needed that collective ability to focus, to run and to play in harmony with each other. I knew that in the face of a challenge, the option of laying down could not be entertained. That was all I knew to be certain, though.


Hands on hips, I pushed ahead, to the top of the hill. Vibrant yellow buds of Spanish Broom waved about me in the breeze as I tried to catch my breath.


It was cold, but I was hot, really hot.


Run, boys run. Sing, Dusty sing.


My thoughts became short and sharp as I entered the final few kilometres downhill to the parked car. I ran into the cheery couple again as we contemplated crossing a large puddle that sat between us. We chatted for a bit. They were heading home to watch the game in their lounge room , as was I.


Rain began to fall as I placed one foot in front of the other. Heavy rain… it streamed into my face soaking my clothes to the skin, but I kept my focus despite my phones constant pinging away in my pocket.


’28mm at the Gabba in the last hour, Kate,’ I read later in a text from my brother. ‘And another system developing about 400km away, you might be alright though.’


I rang him back on my drive home.


‘Thanks for the update Tom, and yes, something does tell me the Tigers will be alright… the boys will run and Dusty will sing.’



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  1. Kevin Densley says

    Enjoyable piece, Kate. (Even if I am a Geelong supporter!) Love the artwork, too!

  2. Great piece, Kate. This line described my day perfectly: “I had things to do but I didn’t quite know how or when to do them.” I did, however, have the sense not to try anything requiring more than minimal thought power.

  3. Wonderful stuff Kate, a pacing mind (occupied or otherwise) was surely the lot of many of us Tigers (and Cats) fans.

  4. Your words and image sum up the day perfectly, Kate. Spare me another night Grand Final. I was a wrung out rag well before bounce time (and there wasn’t alcohol involved). And the couch full of devices, remotes and zoom sessions – aaargh!
    Somehow, amidst the weirdness, normality prevailed!

  5. Well done Kate. No more night grand finals please!!

    And bring it back to the MCG!!

  6. Hi Kevin, Thanks for yourn words. I really did feel for the sad Cats faces in the dying moments of the game.

    Hi Gill, thanks, Glad youy were well rseted before the evening. Energy expense does actually help me relax.

    And, yes Jarrod, the miond does pace, even when theres no footy..

    Thanks Stainless, Yes to the afternoon grandfinal, however, there was a sense of unity in being at home when not all the family are members and able to get tickets. I did love the fact I could see clearly the action…even when I hate looking at the nasty pieces of action. in fact TV viewing this year has made it hard for me to watch some of the incidents…seem to have been alot..then again maybe I have just watched more games because of the way things are. Weird but, undoubtedly memorable.

    Got to be the MCG Dips. poor old Swan Street and the fun they have missed out on.

  7. Fantastic piece Kate, wish I could have climbed those hills with you!

  8. I agree Kate – the best part of Saturday was that I was able to watch the GF alongside Mrs Stainless, who I have to say remained relentlessly positive even in our darkest moments! And don;t worry too much about Swan Street. We had a low key but enjoyable Sunday morning, suitably distanced!

  9. Love it Kate.

    Incredible year.

    Thanks for this walk. It’s just what I needed.

  10. Colin Ritchie says

    Fab read Kate! It was that sort of day.I don’t think I can support night grand finals, too much time hanging around and waiting, especially if your team is playing. I’d be a nervous wreck before the game even started!

  11. Matt Zurbo says

    Great piece, brilliant drawing!!!!!So good! Thank you!

  12. Kate, repeat after me: “No more night grand finals!”

    Thanks for this.

  13. Shane Reid says

    It took a long time to get to the start of the game, a walk in the Dandenongs is a pretty good way to fill time though.Love the pic, I can feel the energy in it!

  14. Thanks for your words all, and your thankyou’s.

    Interesting how the feeling of a long drawn out day flowed through us all.

    It will be one of those days, or grandfinals in whiich we will all remember where we were, and how we spent it, I think.

  15. Luke Reynolds says

    Great words, 2020 football supporting summed up well. The walk sounded great.

    Those tiger striped silk sheets probably didn’t need ironing…..

  16. It’s a long wait, eh Kate? Hopefully back to normal next year. I’m usually up at 5am parking the car in a cunning little spot I have within walking range of the All Nations and catch the #48 bread & jam back to Kew for breakfast. Interesting times, indeed.

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