For the emotionally detached footy fan, those of us who follow clubs other than the four in action this weekend, it’s been a little difficult getting excited about the finals this year. Despite stubble-cheeked serfs feeding us Soviet-era propaganda in the AFL’s Septopia ads, there has been a distinct lack of zing in the spring air.
The reason is simple: Geelong has been too bloody good. Great if you’re a Cats fan, not so brill for the rest of us. For the longest time, the Premiership has seemed a mere formality for the pussycats from the Peninsula. But now I’m starting to feel a tingle.
Perhaps it’s the prospect of a full MCG for tonight’s match. Geelong fans, rabid for success, and Magpie fans, rabid, have queued up for days to secure tickets. The atmosphere will be thick with spit, vim and invective … which is what finals footy is all about, no? And there’s also the feeling, isn’t there – based on nothing so mundane as reason or logic – that Collingwood have a chance. All the cards are stacked against them but they have a young team, a canny coach, and a deceased legend to spur them on.
Oh, and don’t bother adjusting your vertical-hold if you’re watching on TV tonight: you still won’t be able to tell the teams apart.
The other match pits the Power from Port Adelaide against the Kangaroos from Cavill Avenue, North Melbourne. At season’s opening, the odds on these two teams playing off for a spot in the Grand Final were longer than the Brownlow telecast and just as inviting.
But the Power and the Kangas have defied those early season expectations. Port have a quick midfield and a huge home ground advantage in their favour. The Kangaroos have one last chance to stick it up the pundits and perhaps their last opportunity to play in a Grand Final as a Melbourne-based team. For me, the prospect of a Geelong-Port Grand Final appeals most. The clubs proved themselves the best teams of the home and away rounds and the Power, as the last team to defeat Geelong, do have some appeal as potential Premiers.
And for those disenfranchised by their team’s lack of success, Chris Judd has at least added some spice to September. What would you be willing to give up to see him at your club? A top draft pick? An up-and-coming star? A moratorium on his mum performing at fundraisers?