That’s Entertainment?

Predicting who will grace the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the 29 September has stretched the capacity of even the sharpest frontal lobes this season, and others such as Luke Darcy.

But only now has the picture become clearer, since the AFL brains trust returned from their London Olympic Games reccy.  One place has actually been decided already – and no, I’m not talking about Hawthorn.

Locked in is the all-conquering Temper Trap.  Temper who? I channel you asking.

Well you see, apart from the value of frenzied montages and real time re-enactments of the industrial revolution, the AFL’s great learning from the opening and closing ceremonies was that local acts are a sure fire winner with the funky peeps.  Sure, Paul McCartney, Oasis and the Spice Girls are familiar to a few billion more than the Temper Trap’s Corner Hotel sized following, but these guys are home grown.

The other big rumour doing the rounds is that AC/DC (also home grown) or The Boss will be performing a full scale aftermatch concert at the ‘G in front of the seagulls and bedraggled bogans who can’t be arsed finding a nearby Richmond pub to celebrate – or to drown their sorrows.  For entertainment that won’t be televised or available to distract us from Bruce’s interminable, rhetorical gushing until the opening bounce, roughly $1m represents a rather pricey experiment in these times of austerity.  Still, we wait with baited breath on that one.

The VFL/AFL has certainly tried various means to flesh out the festivities over the past 35 years, since the first televised decider in 1977 heralded the transition from ‘very important football game’ to ‘very important event’.  It’s no easy assignment, and given the NRL’s flirtations with Billy Idol, and more recently little commercial Annie at the State of Origin, the balls-ups aren’t restricted to the AFL.

Anyway, just for sh!ts and giggles, here’s a potted history of some of the more notable Grand Final entertainment SNAFU’s inflicted on the viewing public.

1977 – The Impossible Dream

Barry Crocker flew from LA for the North v Collingwood pre-match gig, where apart from the obligatory anthem, he crooned ‘The Impossible Dream’.  This was apt, for the Magpies were on the cusp of a Cinderella Story wooden spoon to premiership feat.  I’d contend the needle has remained stuck on 1977, for compelling pre-match entertainment has remained an impossible dream, the League putting on a ‘Barry Crocker’ most years thereafter.

1981 – Ol Black Eyes

Jon English sang Waltzing Matilda at the 1981 Grand Final.  He must have spent months honing his pithy pre-song patter…

1988 – Zzzzzzzz

The 1988 Grand Final was a dirge, and so was Noel Watson’s rendition of Waltzing Matilda. Someone at AFL House must have been enamoured with, or related to this glorified busker. ‘Football I gave you all the best years of my life’ was Watson’s other contribution to footy’s back catalogue of musical treats.  Unfortunately, every time Channel 7 played it they took another 3 minutes of the best years of my life.

1989 – Dean Lupson, nutter

This video doesn’t quite do justice to Lupson’s  ‘performance’.  Still, the ‘Roys got up after a thrilling comeback to snaffle the VFL Reserves premiership.  Easily the best pre-match entertainment over the past 35 years.  A football match…  Who’d have thunk?

1991 – Na na na na na na na na

The Hawks were Bound for Glory in 1991, not so Angry Anderson in his AFL approved Batmobile.  Personally, I found the kitschy, unintended comedy act mesmerising.  Carlton Draught commissioned an ad ‘proud supporter of the AFL since 1877 (except for 1991)’ with footage of Angy, topped by long distance runner Yobes Ondieke wetting himself with laughter.  They always have the best ads.

1993; Superbowl this ain’t 

No, it was barely junior school review.  If ever NASA launches another Voyager probe, I suggest prudent risk management to avert alien invasion of Earth would include carrying this footage.  For there’s clearly no intelligent life forms worth exploiting here.

2003; I have a confession to make
As a Collingwood supporter, obtaining a ticket to the big dance takes ingenuity.  You know the kids who waved big tarps and banners year after year after freaking year?  As a grown adult, I endured several tedious tarp spinning rehearsals in a desperate bid to get in the door.  It was a surreal experience out in the middle, and difficult to stay focused having endured sleepless nights fretting over the impending two and a half hours. I may as well have stayed on the ground, for I couldn’t have done much worse than the Magpies’ nightmarish effort.

2010; Double trouble
INXS would have been a fine choice – a quarter of a century ago.  The lack of Michael Hutchence was cunningly camouflaged by the band’s location amid the crowd, tucked away above the vomitory at the Ponsford end.  After a few too many nerve settlers before my team entered the fray, and being perched up high in the Olympic Stand with vertigo, I was in my own potential vomitory.

The $20m windfall gleaned from the draw helped Andy to secure Lionel Ritchie for the replay, to apparent widespread acclaim.  For mine he was patchy at best.  The consummate entertainer should have left out the coma inducing ‘Hello’.  Interestingly, the Triple M commentators lampooning finished with an ominous request by Garry Lyon.  Careful what you wish for…  Meanwhile, Advance Australia Fair honours went to Julie Anthony  It’s the only song she knows the words to, but as the tried and tested option, the AFL safely lumped for the musical equivalent of taking a cold shower before bed.

2011; Out of Hell

Besties…   until Marvin dropped the ball

Whilst His Meatiness sounded like he was choking on a mouthful of Chum, I missed the full impact of his awfulness as I belatedly sought a decent vantage point in the standing areas. All credit to someone who’s forged a 30-odd year international career from one decent album, but some due diligence might have ascertained his voice was shot. More sympathy again to those who’d already forked out to see his full concert, their tickets about as valuable, and his performance as uplifting, as a tour of the Lost Dogs Home.

So there you have it, who knows what that one day in September 2012 will bring.  One thing’s for sure, until then Mike Brady will be checking his mail box regularly for a letter from the AFL’s stationery cupboard.

About Jeff Dowsing

Washed up former Inside Sport and Sunday Age Sport freelancer. Now just giving my stuff away to good homes. Not to worry, still have my health and day job. Published & unpublished works fester on my blog Write Line Fever.


  1. Earl O'Neill says

    I’ve been saying for years, it’s gotta be The Hives. Best live rock and roll act in the world. Cheaper than most of the above, too.

  2. what about a curtain raiser football game and no bloody music?
    As for the national anthem, get a big band or play it on the loudspeakers and the crowd can sing it (maybe just verse 1 cos I don’t know the rest)

    if we must have music, I nominate the Coodabeens

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