The 2018 Grand Final – The Football Virgin Perspective

“It’s an omen! It’s an omen!”

HB asked me to write my thoughts about the Grand Final. See, this is the not just the first AFL final I’ve watched, this is actually the first AFL game I’ve seen. Sure, I’m often around when HB is shrieking at the TV, and I patiently watch as he re-creates big moments. But I’ve never gone to an AFL game, and I’ve never actually watched a full one.

Saturday was the day.

There’s me, HB and our buddy, West in our living room. HB is hoping for an Eagles win, West is a Collingwood man. I was flipping and flopping and got won over by Nathan Buckley being a top bloke and reassuring the banner people that everything was ok. But really, it wasn’t. I mean, the banner goes down, and West keeps shaking his head and repeating that it’s an omen. I’m wondering how this has happened when they have banners EVERY SINGLE GAME. Do the same people make the banners every time? Is this one of those things where you do everything right and still everything goes wrong?

Turns out it was an omen.

There’s something to be said about watching sports with your mates. Early on, West and HB just can’t help but give each other shit.  West declares that there was high contact, and there should have been a free kick to the Pies.  He’s furious at Bruce, and asks if we can turn off the commentary. HB says no, because it’s funny to watch him get angry.

(17 minutes remaining in the first quarter) Some doofus is bashing into everyone like he’s just staggered out of a country pub. This part I don’t understand. Is he riling himself up? Trying to piss off the other players?

Varcoe gets the first goal, and West freaks out with excitement. I’ll admit, I’m pleased that the banner thing wasn’t as ‘omen-y’ as it could have been.

There are two guys on screen (Kennedy and Goldsack) who look like they are brothers that don’t like each other. One grew a beard and the other copied and they have a bit of a life-long rivalry. The Collingwood crowd look pretty irate here. Considering I saw two very rowdy Collingwood fans getting stuck into the Jack Daniels at 10am this morning, I’m a little wary of die-hard fans.

There’s some fire here, with West declaring that he hates someone and hopes he dies. I didn’t catch the name, and assumed he was talking about an Eagle. He follows it up with “But only after the game” and I know he’s placed a curse on one of his own.

West loses his shit completely as Stephenson kicks his second goal. West announces “we have players that don’t do shit for most of the year”.

Argument about whether the tackle was high, (11 mins remaining in the first)

Bit of cockiness from West here, stating “Sidebottom doesn’t need a touch, we’re winning by three goals”. I can almost feel HB’s caution. He’s always saying “they haven’t won it yet”.

De Goey kicks a goal, after basically dodging everything coming at him, West leaps around and HB keeps telling me “He’s strong! Strong through the hips!” I don’t even know how someone gets strong hips. A hip is a hip.

A commentator talks about Goldsack. The fellas are amused that I’m amused, and note that Collingwood have Cox, Goldsack and once had a Dick. Thanks guys.

I wanted to know why the Eagles are booting the footy everywhere but down the ground. HB notes that the Eagles like to kick around the defensive 50 arc to make space, and usually they have great on-target kicking but it’s letting them down today. HB is very annoyed by an uncontested mark. It’s one of his pet peeves. (6:20 remaining in the first)

The camera zooms in to show Gil. He has a poor-man’s attempt at Cotchin hair. He also looks like someone who earns too much and thus can ask ministers for dodgy favours (ooohhh). Money can clearly buy you everything except a quality bouffant do.

I’m a bit sad that West Coast is behind. I’ve been trying to convince HB to take me to Perth for a holiday game next season, and if they win, I could easily make the argument. “Let’s go to Western Australia for the first of their games and do a live tweet or something”. Maybe I’ll pitch it to him anyway.

West breaks my reverie: “WHOOO! Get excited Football Virgin!”

I am, West, I am.

Pendlebury looks too regal. It’s a bit unnerving. For months I’ve been telling HB about my AFL fanfic ideas, which basically have Lord Pendleton (yes, Pendleton) trying to get his new estate under control. There’s a sassy bartender who isn’t good at his job (Robbie Gray), a love rival (Dustin Martin) and a beleaguered cousin (Maynard) with a mean streak who is always lurking in Lord Pendleton’s shadows. There’s no point to it really, it just kept me entertained during HB’s late night writing sessions.

It’s quarter time. West is trying to start a drinking game. I have to ask what a shoe-bomb is, and I now wish I didn’t know. Disgusting.

HB and West are arguing over holding the ball. What these two fools haven’t realised is they are both saying the same thing, but too loudly and quickly to listen to the other person.

There’s a fair bit of anger in the house over Channel 7. Apparently they do appalling replays and show ads with the same gusto as Netflix showing original content. Seriously, aside from sports fans, who the hell watches free to air?

Quarter 2 has arrived. At 1:38, HB is trying desperately to call a goal, but he’s got a mouthful of food.

West is playing to the juvenile humour in the room (ie me): “Cox was a bit stiff”

He also asks a burning question which is discussed heavily – why does the Eagles player wearing number 29 have such a little number? Is it actually smaller than the others? Does he know it looks smaller?

It’s half time. Some quality conversation at Mongrel HQ.

West: It’s tight

HB: Tighter than a frog’s ass

Me: What?

HB: It’s gotta be tight, to keep all the water out.

The man is straight faced, like he’s telling me about the weather.

HB dives straight into some actual footy talk, and mentions Dermott talking about ‘the lull’ that happens after half time, and how important it is to capitilise on. Kennedy the bushranger kicks a goal, and HB is INTERESTED. “Game on” he declares. He’s got his serious face on now. West is muttering “I’m not happy about this”.

West announces that Treloar will win the Norm Smith. Since nobody has actually used his name yet, I’m going to guess that’s not happening.

All of a sudden, everyone is just chucking the footy all about the place. I asked why players were allowed to throw, and HB noted that things are just moving so fast that to a new viewer it might look like a throw. It’s a sobering thought – I can’t recognise when someone is throwing a ball.

(17.40 remaining in the thi
rd) I ask why Grundy didn’t get given the mark? HB let me know that it was called play on because he ran forward with intent. I’m not buying it.

(16:50 remaining in the third) HB is amusing himself again: “It’s the big Cox! Hang on… it’s Cox on repeat entry. That’s a legitimate football term!” He’s genuinely chuffed with that one.

(15:55 remaining in the third): Langdon kicks the ball into Rioli’s back, and then sooks about it. It’s kind of his own fault yeah?

The camera goes to Julie Bishop. I want to like her, but she’s a bit too cyborg for me.

Apparently I’ve commented on Taylor Adam’s arms a few too many times.  He reminds me of that Rick and Morty episode with the steroid murder arm (Armothy).

Third quarter. Around the 13.40ish mark, I have to ask HB, “did that man just pick up some grass and throw it at the other guy?” HB let me know that he was pretending to throw grass to put the other guy off as he is shooting for goal. It just seemed so futile.

Varcoe tackles HB says “that was strong wasn’t it”. I was expecting him to talk hips again, but no love.

Ew. Camera pans to our ten thousandth Prime Minister. He’s no Jacinda Ardern. More power to you Kiwis.

There’s a Collingwood goal. West goes nuts, but completely silently. It’s actually very impressive.

West uses this opportunity to try and make the household toddler wear a Collingwood beanie. After running away multiple times, she takes the beanie and uses the Collingwood colours to mop up a spill on the floor.

This makes no sense to me. Almost at 11 minutes and Darling takes a mark, goes to run, then changes his mind. HB says there was no commitment. I think that the little ‘sorry sorry’ wave he did when he stopped is what saved him. Everyone likes a polite fellow.

Treloar gets tackled, and kicks the ball away as he is falling, it goes out of bounds and apparently he did it on purpose. Which seems like a bit of a stretch to me. I ask HB if he could have done it on purpose. He says “oh hell yeah. But the bounce of the ball is a fickle thing.” We agree – the dude kicked it when he was falling down and it was an accident.

Hurn took out Hoskin-Elliot’s knees. Doesn’t seem fair – I mean, there’s a lot of bodies barrelling around.

De Goey misses his banana kick. The one time HB took me to an oval to play football, I kicked a goal from that angle. I have a 100% strike rate.

HB is calling Adams “Mr Nice Arms”. This is where the runner gets in the way. HB is complimentary towards Yeo. “He’s an excellent mark. It’s a costly error, but I just don’t see Stephenson getting there anyway, I really don’t.”

Daisy Pearce comes on and it’s a bit jarring. HB notes that she doesn’t have an inside voice.

Omph. Cox grabs Shoey around the neck AND NOBODY NOTICES. That’s not ok at all.

Josh Thomas misses his chance at goal multiple times in quick succession. HB is yelling at him “MISSES AGAIN! THREE TIMES!” He’s going wild.

Liam Ryan drops a mark – HB called it “hearing footsteps”. You hear footsteps and freeze up.

Julie Bishop looks stressed out.

Start of the fourth quarter. HB is hugging himself. West asks for a prediction. HB says that whoever kicks the first goal will end up winning. Mihocek kicks a goal, and West is on the ceiling. Meanwhile, I am a bit over Channel 7’s love affair with advertising.

De Goey goals with what HB calls a MONSTER KICK, and makes a goal.

Julie Bishop is on again, and is about as happy as she’s ever been. HB chimes in with “Getting a bit of camera time isn’t she. It’s almost her vs Eddie”.  I’d watch that fight.

HB: De Goey, De GOEY, DE GONE!

Cox takes a mark. HB notes “you see how all of a sudden he’s become really important?” Not really.

Cox kicks a goal, after much discussion about his inability to make the distance.

Eddie is on TV again.

Darling does a swift little handpass to Ryan, who gets the ball to Kennedy.  It’s kind of neat.

Julie on again. Good times. She’s happy. HB mentions Daniel Ricarrdo. I don’t know who that is, and I make the mistake of asking. Now HB is off and talking about Formula 1 and Russia.

HB is unimpressed with Pendleton’s kick into the crowd. “It’s the kick of a commoner”.

HB “I’m glad the commentators get confused between Thomas and Adams. Cos I do.”

Kennedy takes an uncontested mark inside 50. HB is UNIMPRESSED. Saying that at this stage of the game, nobody should be taking an uncontested mark.

Back to Eddie. Commentators let us know that Collingwood has never won in September during Eddie’s life. Bit of trivia there for you. Maybe West was wishing death on Eddie before.

Cox has the ball. Back to Eddie. Too much Eddie.

Lots of wild kerfuffling in the Collingwood forward line, then Adams just boots it wildly into the crowd.

3 minutes to go. I ask HB “Can’t they just move it around for three minutes? HB: “it’s too long to do that. Eventually you’ll be cornered on one end.”

Ryan takes a monster mark, it was pretty neat.

Darling has a case of the butter fingers, HB is losing it.

With a minute to go, West gets up, tells us “you both suck”, informs the toddler that he loves her and leaves the house. It was very dramatic.

HB: Darling is the most nervous man in the world. If they lose…

Shuey marks the kick in from full back and holds the ball forever before kicking it near the boundary line.

HB: It’s an intelligent kick. Let them spoil it if they can.

Eddie looks pained. Where’s Julie?

The camera goes to Buckley. Because we can’t possibly pan to the winning coach now can we.

The Magpies don’t win. Footy’s pretty good. I don’t mind it. See you in Perth.

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