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  • Writer's pictureJack Turner

AFL Grand Final

2018 AFL Grand Final

Just like we all predicted. West Coast and Collingwood were playing in the Grand Final. Well like some of us predicted. Well, not some, but we at least expected them to both be there abouts. Well no, let's be fair. This would have been one of the least predicted Grand Finals, even in a household where a West Coast supporter married a Collingwood fan, and their child wanted to please both parents while knowing nothing about Football.

Pre-Match Entertainment

Now the AFL kept it a secret until very recently that The Black Eyed Peas were going to be performing the Grand Final, presumably because this gave people less time to complain that the NRL Grand Final had superior entertainment yet again.

Now they were no Meat Loaf, but the Usually Frozen Vegetables that Shouldn't Have Eyes Let Alone Be Black weren't exactly entertaining. They were just a really lacklustre mediocre, with even Will-i-am checking his phone midway through their performance. Tactfully they chose to perform "Let's Get it Started," instead of the less radio friendly Lets Get Retarded, but knowing they were the same song left it all feeling a little hollow. It sounded like they were performing the medley of hits (and miscellaneous) via calling in to talk-back radio, and then pumping it out through the speakers at the MCG. I would describe the crowd's reaction as mixed.

All was almost forgotten though, when Barnsey came to the rescue. Jimmy Barnes is almost the perfect pre-game entertainment for an Australian sporting event. A professional, that is well known and much loved by the working class, the Chisel front-man pumped out a couple of hits, leaving the rest for later.

The National Anthem

The Crowd was on their feet as Mike Brady and The Two Man Band came out to perform our National Anthem in Up There Cazaly. Mike Brady, I assume goes into hibernation between Grand Finals to increase his life expectancy, ensuring at least one highlight year.

Mahalia Barnes also did an admirable job of our other National Anthem.

No not Holy Grail, the other one.

No no, not Waltzing Matilda. Or Land Down Under. No, not True Blue either.

You know, that one nobody knows the second verse to, and people get really upset at nine year olds for not singing.

The Banners

If you believe in the Footy Gods, bad omens were hovering over Collingwood well before the team even made it onto the field, with their banner being torn to shreds before the players came out. This did provide for one of the feel good moments of the year though, as Nathan Buckley went out and comforted the members of the cheer squad, who I'm sure were feeling awful at the time. It said a lot about the man's character, and why he's been able to build such a strong team environment.

West Coast's banner, whilst in tact, was pretty boring reading "It's Time To Fly." With how well Adelaide's We Fly As One slogan turned into We Cry As One last year, West Coast were certainly tempting fate, as I would have been more happy to tweet out #ItsTimeToCry after the game.

West Coast Eagles vs Collingwood Magpies

And after much ado, millions of people moved away from barbecues and trays of cheese and crackers, to move to a comfortable place with a clearly visible TV.

The Eagles are the only team to play in two grand finals in the last four years, and memories of their horror loss in 2015 would have been coming to mind as their opposition quickly kicked the first five goals of the game. But this was not that Eagles team. One on one battles around the ground were pivotal, as important players from both teams were held to little influence in the first half, and others stepped up, with Tom Langdon and Dom Sheed playing out of their skins. The Eagles dragged their way back to just a two goal deficit at half time, dropping inside 50's on the makeshift Collingwood defence like indiscriminate drone strikes. The Eagles got to within one goal just after half time, before the Pies kicked two within 30 seconds, and it looked like they may have wrestled back control, before the Eagles dominated the third quarter much like I dominate king of the pack against my very small nieces and nephews. Their main problem here was that they couldn't kick straight, outscoring Collingwood by 2 goals 6 in the third term and even momentarily taking the lead thanks to the very clever deployment of a double agent as a runner for the Collingwood side, who cleverly blocked Jayden. Jaden. Raiden. Jaidyn Stephenson's run at the ball, and allowed Elliot Yeo to take an uncontested intercept mark inside 50, and slot a goal. At three quarter time scores were level What teeth were still in mouths were surely gritted, as we were set for one of the great Grand Final finishes of all time.The final term was much like the third, with the Eagles fighting back after Collingwood kicked the first two in a minute, before a dramatically long dry spell in which the Pies were just holding on. Enter Dom Sheed. A quick turn of play saw Sheed one out tight in the Eagles Forward pocket, and slot through a goal with two minutes to go, showing the coolest of heads. Not even Jack Darling dropping a mark that made the half time AusKickers look good could change the momentum that saw the Eagles hang on to win by just five points, and secure themselves as one of the great teams of the modern era.

The Awards

Luke Shuey won the Norm Smith medal in a very clear best afield performance, as probably the only player who performed for four quarters. There was no Shane Crawford "That's what I'm Talking About," or Paul Roos "Here it is," or even a Mark Williams "You were wrong," on the Podium, as Hurn and Simpson were both incredibly humble in victory, even though a subtle "I hope you were watching that Robert Walls," wouldn't have gone astray.

And now Football is over for another year. It's been a pleasure.

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