John Harms on the AFL Grand Final

Well here we are: the 2013 Grand Final is upon us, and I don’t think I can bring myself to barrack for either team. Any Cat worth his furball cannot abide a Hawthorn premiership and what of a Ross-Lyon style shut-out? At times like this I ask, what would Garfield (The Cat) do? He’d feign indifference and drift off.

But it is the Grand Final, and I am no Garfield. It promises to be a wild, no-prisoners affair. And there is some value for the astute investor.

Here’s where we are at.

Last Friday night. The Hawks dominate. Then the Cats surge. They take the lead, then the Hawks fight back. The Cats surge again but they can’t sustain their effort. The rested Hawks finish over the top of them. My lips quiver as we applaud the mighty Cats. Bloody Hawthorn!

What did we learn? The Hawks are not in great from. A lot of their uber-talented players were down on the night. They are wobbly in front of goal. They can lose concentration under pressure. But they have the class to fight back.

Saturday night. Fremantle burst out of the blocks and play some of the most amazing football you will see. They provide a frenzied, manic, relentless, rabid, crazy, marauding, physical attack on the already-battered Swans. Time changes. The Sydney players cannot get a decent disposal away. It’s over halfway through the second quarter. The Dockers turn off the engines and coast.

What did we learn? Irrespective of how broken the Swans were going into the match, we learnt how ferocious the Dockers physical pressure can be. That requires a mass of intent, and a surplus of energy. They’d had a week off, so they had that surplus. They always have the intent.

We also learnt something from Freo’s Geelong win on election day: that it’s important not to forget how talented and skilful the Dockers are. Blokes like David Mundy use the ball beautifully. Blokes like Nathan Fyfe just keep getting it. Blokes like Stephen Hill can split you apart with their running. Matthew Pavlich is all class.

And then there is the big factor: Aaron Sandilands. Last Friday night I just kept thinking that a genuinely dominant ruckman would have been the difference. No big man from either Hawthorn or Geelong was able to influence the game. Hawthorn lack a dominant ruckman. Sandilands can be the factor.

It may be my anti-Hawthorn-ness, but I reckon the Dockers have a lot going for them.

The query I have is whether they will handle the moment; whether the enormity of a Grand Final will be too much.

I reckon they will. I think they are great value at the line, and I reckon they will win a tight match which has a similar pattern to the Geelong-Freo contest in the first week of the finals.

The Dockers by 9 points.

The Norm Smith Medal to Nathan Fyfe.