Grand Final – West Coast v Collingwood: The biggest show in town

It’s normally not difficult to get into West Coast games in Melbourne. I can get the latest possible train in from my home in Ballarat, line up for a few minutes, get a ticket wherever suits, wander in without much hassle. If my daughter wants to come, fine, just get an extra. If we win, get along to the after match function. No need to book, just turn up, and there’s Nic Nat signing autographs. When it comes to the big shows in town, the West Coast Eagles have a distinctly off-Broadway vibe.


Not last week though. When you’re in the grand final, this is Opening Night, Centre Court, Boxing Day, and Tokyo peak hour all rolled into one. It was a full-time job for me and my sister, West Coast Eagles superfan Andy, to try and get us both in.  First there was the members ballot, then the members re-sale, then the friend of a friend who’s an AFL member, the other friend who knows someone who’s not using their MCC membership – just don’t get caught. A dozen fan forums, gumtree, dad’s mate Dennis, a cardboard sign – we tried em all. Andy got a ticket – her platinum membership guaranteed it. Row E, Ground Level, City End. Prime seat.


After all that I was happy enough to go along to the G anyway, soak up some atmosphere, watch on the big screens, be part of the action, from a slight distance. But get this. Andy, she tells me to meet her at Gate 1 at quarter time. She gives me her ticket and says get in there and have a look. So I’m in for the second quarter – a ripper of a quarter when we get our claws back into the contest. I saw Liam Ryan line up Maynard and knock the wind out of him. I hear the biggest West Coast Eagle roar I can remember when Shuey kicks one just before half-time.


We meet up again at half-time. “I kind of like it out here. Too stressful in there. You go in again.” I ain’t above accepting generosity when it’s offered. Andy, did I ever tell you I love you? Anyway, in I went again, for what really did turn out to be the premiership quarter. As I skip down the aisle again, a journey I never thought I’d be taking, Josh Kennedy marks and goals to put us within a kick. I’ve never yelled so loudly.


Three quarter time is tense. Andy’s back in to Row E, I’m outside at the big screen.


The Eagles win the flag, and I’m in disbelief. Not only are we on the biggest stage, we’ve delivered the best show you can imagine. This really is the big time. There’s something about being a Victorian-based West Coast supporter. It’s the palpable sense of smallness. The irrelevance. The inadvertent insults. The casual discrediting of achievements. The denial of a history, at least compared to the romance of ‘our’ Victorian history. . It’s not a big deal, but it’s something.


I’m jealously proud of my West Australian roots, and deeply aware of West Australian footy’s distinct traditions and practices. I’m adamant that we are not yet a national competition, not really, and won’t be until the cultural, historical and structural stranglehold that Victorians exert on football as a whole is disrupted. We can’t do it by persuasion, nor argument, nor reason. No-one listens to any of that. All we can do is be the best, be big, be unignorable. The new stadium has got us halfway there. A premiership puts us front and centre.


I took off – ran as fast as I could. Scarf held high, flying above my head. “Come on the Eagles” I shouted, again and again. A human tidal wave came surging towards me, leaving the ground, sad and angry. I plowed straight through, running in the opposite direction to the rest of them, towards the gates. A sole flash of yellow and blue streaming against the downcast black and white.


“Fuck off back home!”  someone yells.


You see us now, right?



(Thanks Andy, for sharing with me what was most precious to you. Can’t tell you how much I value it.)



WEST COAST            2.2    4.3    8.7    11.13 (79)
COLLINGWOOD       5.1    6.3    8.7     11.8 (74)    


West Coast: Kennedy 3, Hutchings, Shuey, Sheed, Darling, Yeo, Cripps, Vardy, Rioli
Collingwood: De Goey 3, Cox 2, Stephenson 2, Hoskin-Elliott, Varcoe, Mihocek, Adams


West Coast: Shuey, Sheed, Barrass, Kennedy, Hutchings, Schofield, McGovern
Collingwood: Adams, Langdon, Crisp, Treloar, De Goey, Mayne


West Coast: Nil
Collingwood: Nil


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Stevic, Ryan, Rosebury


Official crowd: 100,022 at the MCG


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Based in Ballarat. Supports West Coast Eagles. Originally from Perth but trying to raise a new generation of Eagles supporters in Victoria. Only partially succeeding.


  1. Ripper yarn. Don’t talk to me about the Members Ballot/MCC wankers/Corporate plonkers/Gumtree desperation journey. Walked it for 3 sleepless nights. But we got there. And the team made it worth it. And you and Andy got to share the love. Priceless.
    “Whatever happens; we’ll always have Sheed”.

  2. Despite having no love for West Coast, I really enjoyed this yarn.
    Cheers, Dave. And well done Andy.

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