Almanac Footy: A Grand Final Reflection







I’ve had time to reflect. To try and understand the kaleidoscope of emotions and the utter joy that went with Geelong winning the premiership. It had a life of its own. Perhaps more so than the Cats’ other recent premierships. It was, dare I say it, almost metaphysical. I’m trying to understand why?


After the traumatic lockdowns, glum daily media conferences, and tortuous policy hopping that occurred across Australia during the pandemic (especially in Victoria) we burst through our front doors when the governments released the shackles. Where once our houses had been homes, for many they had become prisons and prisons are only good for the leaving. Melburnians have always been enthusiastic attendees at events, indeed the saying goes we would attend the opening of an envelope if the opportunity arose, so anything of greater consequence was certainly going to attract a tumultuous audience.


And so it was that 100,000 people plus 24 hangers-on crammed into the MCG on grand final day. More than any grand final crowd since 1986. We stood in section M9 under the grandstand on the forward flank that provided us a superlative view of the Selwood goal. But more of that later. The colour coordination of the red and white Swans and the blue and white Cats was, well, beautiful. The MCG looked like a giant, woven rug, neatly divided into sections of the red and white alongside the blue and white as if worked by a master of the craft. And this artwork was stitched together by a buoyant humanity.


The sun shone despite predictions of it not. The crowd was cheery and light of mood. Nerves were close to the surface, but they weren’t the tensions that accompany dread or that look to a dour horizon, they were tingling sensations of a young teenager on his way to a first date, at which a kiss is the dream most oft desired but never considered a fait accompli. A kiss in this scenario being the lifting of the premiership Cup. Some kiss!


The days in the lead up had been a carnival. The dear old Queen, perhaps sensing that an additional public holiday would be a wonderful parting gift to her loyal though distracted subjects down under, royally passed on at a very convenient time. And a public holiday was duly declared to go with the other public holiday that already existed. The whole of Victoria went into hyper, supersonic, reverse lockdown. We were so not locked down that we hardly knew what to do with ourselves. So, we went to the pub. Grand Final Thursday beers into Grand Final Eve Footy Almanac lunch. What a quinella. The town was pumping. Or, at least, the surrounding suburbs. The Melbourne CBD is still suffering from long covid, but Richmond had so many doors open that the choice of watering holes was dizzying. The All Nations Hotel was the establishment that won the day for me.


By the time the game started, commenced with the siren that brings forth a thousand stories like nothing else on this planet, the good folk in attendance were just celebrating being. I attend footy, therefore I am. Covid lowered the bar somewhat. But there was a palpable, communal dance occurring. We weren’t just partying with Robbie Williams because he punches out “Let Me Entertain You” with the energy of a twenty year old, we were casting off two years of chains and the dead weight of bureaucratic detention. Yes, we yelled, entertain us Robbie!


A team as bullish and drilled as Geelong may never have graced the MCG before. It has been said that Geelong was in a flow state that day. A sort of trance achieving full immersion in the now. They executed their game plan (and the Swans) with such profound brutality that the crowd was, at times, utterly perplexed. Their football was designed around the concept of manicured instinct. Manicured in that it was instinctive footy by design; bottled and then unleashed from the moment the umpire held the Sherrin aloft for the first time. The elixir that unlocks the chaos that is Aussie rules, though perhaps not repeatable? The Swans never stood a chance. The footy went to Geelong players simply because they willed it to. Simplicity is genius.


There is elation in winning premierships like nothing else I’ve experienced. This thrill gets magnified and multiplied when the premiership is won before the final siren. It seeps up through your boots. You are experiencing an almost out-of-body sensation as the players rejoice in their unconquerable skill out on the field and the crowd is in complete raptures. It’s entirely contagious. Love is in the air. And you witness it but don’t quite believe it. The vanquished continue in total despair. And the football itself, an inanimate bag of wind, somehow senses the occasion and seeks out the victors as if assisted by the supreme being.


It’s how the ball found its way to Joel Selwood in the last quarter of his last game. It bobbled around, slipping from grasps, darting away from the players it didn’t want to go to, toward a running Selwood who was instinctively heading to the perfect position, like he’d done a thousand times before. With a Swans player bearing down with intent, Selwood guided the footy onto the outside of his boot as the bump came, such that the ball feed off the momentum of the hit and followed the curvature of the planet, spiraling through the big sticks. It was a gold-plated finish to a brilliant career. The Selwood era is over. Long may it be celebrated.


After the game in the mayhem of phone calls to friends and family, arrangements as to the meeting place, and spontaneous out-bursts of squealing, we headed for the All Nations for celebratory ales. And there, on the next table, was the couple that we had been standing next to all day in the 100,000 strong throng that witnessed the Cats triumph. Not long before we had been hugging these perfect strangers because they wore the same colours as us, they felt the same thrill as us – they were part of us. Unbridled joy.


My Cup runneth over.





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.



About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. Well said Damian. It was a fine victory.

    As a former supporter it gave even more joy than the 2007,2009, 2011 premierships.


  2. Just about a perfect day for us Cats supporters wasn’t it Dips.

    In almost 70 years of actively following Geelong I’ve never seen the team play better. The Swans were mighty unlucky to strike the Cats in that sort of form, as were the Lions a week earlier. Everything clicked.

    Great to see how many Swans supporters stayed for the presentations after the game. A class act on a tough day.

    Farewell Joel Selwood. A great Geelong, and football, champion. Courage and leadership personified.

    Cheers, Burkie

  3. Cheers gents.

    Glen! Not sure I understand the concept of a former supporter? Anyway you’re welcome back!!

  4. Well done, Dips. Everything sparkled didn’t it. For those of us who publicly predicted a Geelong domination the beer tasted especially sweet. I left the ground when the bars closed, hugging security guards all the way. Most seemed a little irked to be embraced by an old white bloke wearing a Garry Ablett Snr tie covered in drool.

    A sad(ish) footnote. I bumped into Max Holmes at The Anglers in Lorne on Saturday. Unusually for me I didn’t know what to say. I hope GF 2022 doesn’t become the thing he’s known for. (Which is a sneaky way of saying I hope we win a few more while he’s playing.)

  5. Thanks ajc. Yes Holmes is a bit of a sour note but every grand final seems to carry a sadness of the bloke who missed out. The good news for Holmes is that he is young and opportunity beckons.

    We can win this – 2023.

Leave a Comment