The jig is up – the
Sydney Swans can win how they like by as little as they like – but win they did
to break the longest premiership drought in VFL/AFL history and leave the football world (outside
Perth) content to have watched one of the
truly great Grand Finals.

Who would have thought
that we could get so worked up about a game where only 15 nail biting goals
were scored, as the Swans delivered not only a long
overdue premiership but hopefully converted a few more heathens
in NSW to the complex niceties of AFL. On
what basis rugby league pundit Phil Gould can call his code the greatest game
of all – as he did on Nine just a few hours later – is surely a mystery known
only to him.

Collingwood coach Mick
Malthouse rated Leo Barry’s final seconds screamer as the new benchmark in classic Grand Final marks (relegating Carlton’s Alex
Jesaulenko’s 1970 leap to second place) and surely the most important mark
ever taken in September.

There may have been
better in all that time but none better timed, when if it had been a West Coast
mark the Cup would now be in Perth. And
crucially, Barry went for the big grab in a crowded pack rather than the spoil,
as any spill may have been sharked by West Coast and we can only guess the

Football got its
perfect day absolutely right, and there’s a record peak national TV audience of 4 million to prove the point.
But what’s truly astonishing is that 96.6% of all TV sets in use in Perth at one stage or another tuned in to see the
Eagles gallant loss by just four points.

If there was one sour
note to a remarkable day it came later that night when at West Coast’s
match function, the club felt snubbed when not one AFL official
bothered to show up for even the briefest of commiserations. As TheAustralian’s
Greg Denham reported, one Eagles
powerbroker said: “There were two teams playing, weren’t there? The whole
week seemed all about getting Sydney up.” Never a truer word
said and while it mightn’t have been fair on the Eagles, who said football had
to be fair?

And to Tagh Kennelly,
who became the first Irishman to taste premiership victory, his medal
presentation jig sealed a day of unforgettable images – even if the Irish
connection as shown by Ten on the other side of the world looked a little
befuddled by the whole experience.

Unfortunately, Kennelly
missed out on a family double when his home county, Kerry, couldn’t get up to win yesterday’s
All-Ireland football final – described as one of the greatest All-Ireland
finals of all time. Sounds familiar.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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