SANFL Grand Final: Our Grand Final

 

Less than a minute in the umpire blew his whistle to pay a holding free kick to Glenelg, and from a few rows behind us came the comforting, Pavlovian yelp, “He’s been doin’ it all bloody day, Ump!”

 

A convivial tone now set in the bottom deck of the Fos Williams Stand at Adelaide Oval our afternoon unfolded in exhilarating fashion. Even the subsequent Popcorn Chicken Incident served as a petit carnival of community and generosity.

 

Footy jumpers, scarves, caps and t-shirts in Port and Glenelg colours smeared across the outer like a monochrome Monet, and with the crowd split evenly the atmosphere was enthusiastically tribal, but also exhibited an unedited defiance of the AFL, in celebration of local footy as it was before we capitulated to national (Victorian) interests, and permitted our suburbs to be annexed.

 

Admittedly, I’m also an Adelaide fan, but there’s a deeper, elemental quality about your footy team having its own discrete place and particular geography. Last Thursday I walked along Jetty Road and about Moseley Square, buoyed by the balloons and streamers and team posters in the windows. However, in this city the Crows are both everywhere and nowhere. They have no earthly claim; no Alberton, no Patawalonga.

 

The pre-game concert is another ritual, and I loved You Am I in 2015 with footy-mad Tim Rogers up front siphoning Pete Townsend and Ray Davies. Local outfit Bad/Dreems are energetically gruff and glug West End Draught as they romp through their set. The drummer sports the prison bars of a Magpies guernsey.

 

History always hovers at the SANFL grand final. Former stars Peter Carey, who I pass walking his dog on the esplanade most mornings, and Greg Anderson, whose timeless locks are surely in the Mullet Hall of Fame (next to those of Billy Ray Cyrus), do a lap in a ute while clasping the premiership cup, and both relish the sunny applause.

 

Glenelg skips away early. Their tackling has jungle ferocity and as if channeling the glory days when footy was only on boxy black and white Pye TVs, they kick long into their forward line.

 

Port are flint-hard and the twenty years since they’ve won a flag must present as volcanic outrage. They harass and coerce, but the Tigers use crafty handball to dominate possession.

 

For Magpie fans the unknowable has arrived, and nineteen excruciating minutes elapse in the second quarter before Frampton comes alive and they register their afternoon’s first goal.

 

Alex and Max and two of their primary school mates are as unrelenting in their eating as Glenelg is in their attack, so I muster extra supplies. Juggling food worth the GDP of a small Pacific nation I shuffle back down aisle 133 as Marlon Motlop kicks a clever goal, and a rejoicing fan’s arms shoot out periscopically to clock me. Instantly, it’s raining popcorn chicken all over the concrete steps and my person. I’m a friendly-fire casualty.

 

The colonel can’t help me.

 

The Glenelg fan apologies saying, “Can I buy you another one of those?”

 

My automated response is a polite but stunned, “No, mate it’s fine.”

 

I surrender the surviving chook to the boys who are wholly unsympathetic to my fiscal, social and psychological loss, and inhale them. Old mate comes down and announces, “Mum feels badly so she’ll get you some more chicken.” Claire and I nod thanks. He’s about forty years old. Perhaps he’s already spent his pocket money.

 

Another most kind witness to the Sudden Chicken Storm appears with a box of popcorn poultry, and says, “I felt very sorry when I saw what happened. Some Port fans started laughing.” She hands these over, and before she can reclaim her seat, the boys have slurped them up. So, the kindness of strangers gladdens our hearts, if not our arteries.

 

Claire is bemused that my only contributions to the stadium noise are the binary and monosyllabic, “BALL!” when a Magpie player has had too long and, “YEEEAAAHHH!” when we kick a goal. On advice of my singing coach I ration these, but come Monday morning my vocal stylings are still more Joe Cocker than Tiny Tim.

 

The clouds dart and race, and we alternately soak up the sun and then shiver. Glenelg controls the narrative from prelude to epilogue. At the siren the four boys are on their seats shrieking and waving their yellow and black flag. The Tigers club song loops about the arena.

 

We cross the pedestrian bridge over the Torrens, and then head for home and our premiership suburb, by the silvery sea.

 

 

 

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About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello

Comments

  1. Nice bit of imagery, made all the better by the result. Deeply satisfying on so many levels. Cheers WW

  2. REAL football. Thanks Mickey.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    “But where’s the chicken salt Dad?”

    Very happy for you Mickey.

  4. Daryl Schramm says

    Thank you Mickey. Nice one. I went and watched solo. Another good gathering for a SA GF. Enjoyable day helped by ‘local’ rules namely 25m penalty option and untouched last disposal boundary free kick. AFL won’t take these on. Pity really.

  5. I missed 85 & 86 so back to Adelaide Oval for first final since the glorious 73 victory. Was a great day, bays were magnificent !

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    The Adelaide Oval has the colonel?? Footy really is better in the city of churches.

    Thrilled for you and the boys that Glenelg saluted Mickey. Oddly on Sunday, thanks to 7plus, we had the choice of the VFL, SANFL and WAFL Grand Finals. Maybe due to having the biggest crowd and best atmosphere on the telly, my boys chose to watch more of the SANFL GF.

    Very happy for Jesse White, admittedly a whipping boy when he was at the Pies.

  7. Thanks to all for reading and commenting. Was a great crowd too of 39,000 and I reckon the threat of rain kept some neutrals away.

    Luke- Jesse White has been outstanding this season as the main ruck after a couple of middling years. At his best his movement and carry is like many modern rucks; more akin to a midfielder.

    Swish- don’t say it loudly, but I fear AO might be a chicken salt-free zone.

    Daryl- I agree that those local rules are excellent and a key point of difference between the leagues. And the SANFL seems to cope very well without score reviews.

    Rabs- it was extremely real. As Ali G says, we is keepin’ it real.

    Glad you enjoyed it WW.

    Budge- I heard Studley note that Glenelg is undefeated in Adelaide Oval grand finals against Port!

  8. Hate the Bays, ‘cept when you play Port. Congrats. 12 months extra warranty and a new set of Toyos on all used cars at John H Ellers this week?

  9. Good one, PB. Whatever happened to those other car dealers of the 70s and 80s, Don Bowden on West Terrace and Andrew Eustice (took over from Ken) somewhere near Morphettville? I bought cars from both of them – Bowden in 1975 (beige, older style Ford Escort at a run-out sale) and Eustice in 1982 (red Datsun Bluebird wagon). As I recall, Eustice threw in a couple of modestly reproduced Tom Roberts prints.

  10. PB- two lines only for you-

    When I was a lad, I served a term
    Winding back the clocks at a used car firm.

    Ian- where have all the shonky former footballer/car salesmen/ publicans gone? Disappointingly most now seem exceedingly honest. I don’t know who to trust.

  11. Good report. The essence of the experience! I like the sudden appearance of a “singing coach”

  12. Mickey any 1 being in front ending up with more food than they bought is a winner at Ad oval and yes the prices are obscene ! I admit I left after the reserves game work beckoned.Darryl how any 1 supports the last touch garbage rule has me beat in reality umpires putrid positioning and huge lack of understanding re rucking was a massive part of its introduction for mine it has changed the basic fabric of the game

  13. 6%- I’m beyond the assistance of a singing coach, my tonelessness makes Meatloaf at the MCG sound like McCartney.

    Rulebook- while I agree that umpires are often caught in poor positions I like the last touch rule as an incentive to keep the ball in play and not aim to get a throw-in.

    Thanks to everyone.

  14. You bloody beauty, once again Port Adelaide was torn apart, this time by the Bays. My old fishing buddy, Warwick Bills would be delighted as would my old work mate Ian Mehaffey, nephew of John (of sportstore fame).

    I really enjoyed the telecast except for the adds shown every time a goal was kicked. I bet Rulebook was delighted with the Norwood seconds premiership (as was I).

    The next big question is – how many star Glenelg players will be raided by the AFL clubs in the upcoming draft period? It’s very hard to keep a winning SANFL combination intact these days. Look at what happened to North Adelaide last season and I don’t mean the extra man on field fiasco resulting in 4 minus points this season.

    Anyway Mickey enjoy the celebrations while you can. In the meantime I’ll try to contact Warwick but Mehaff could be harder as he now resides in QLD.

  15. So glad the Bays got up, Mickey. I streamed the 2nd half on my ipad here in Darwin… not quite the same as being there. Glenelg were the best and most complete team across the season and are deserved premiers. Hopefully a second chance at the AFL for Partington and maybe even McBean, while there are a couple of youngsters that had scouts drooling.

  16. Fisho- it was a great day, and I hope your mates enjoyed it too. Good luck tracking them down. I noted that there’s another meet and greet with the players at the Glenelg footy club Friday, but I will be in Clare describing Sunday’s victory in intricate detail to all who’d like to hear, or not.

    Thanks Dave. Having come second on grand final day thirteen times probably made this a sweeter victory. I reckon somewhat sadly that there be a few who would’ve played their last game for the Tigers on Sunday. I wonder if Reynolds gets another chance too. He’s our best big left-footed forward since Ruory Kirkby who I recollect had his nickname listed on the website as, “Space Ghost.”

  17. Hey Mickey, I’ve just finished talking to Warwick on the phone. As expected he was over the moon about the Bays’ victory and has promised to come over for a visit to gloat and talk about old times. I’m really looking forward to catching up with him. Still trying to locate Mehaff.

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