Harmsy's Handle - AFL Grand Final

Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au/Phil Hillyard
John Harms reckons the Swans will be celebrating again on Saturday evening! Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au/Phil Hillyard
I can tell you Melbourne is on fire today – and there’s a week to go to the Grand Final.

But it’s Brownlow night and then there’ll be lunches and dinners all week, especially Friday. And then it’s the big one.

Doesn’t matter that only Hawthorn are in it (although it upsets a few of the more goat-headed Vics) because this town loves footy and loves a party.

It was a pretty tense party on Saturday evening. North had been bundled out the night before by the very, very impressive Swans up there in Sydney Town (how do you stop those big blokes?). And then all eyes turned to the MCG for what turned into a cracking game.

Port Adelaide who have been magnificent all year (although there was that little patch) had Hawthorn on toast in the first quarter but couldn’t put them away. The classy Hawks steadied and, thanks to Roughie, looked to have booked a spot in the Grand Final. Then, whack! Chad Wingard, whom we’ve been talking up (and rightly so), played loose across half back and the Power went on wave after wave of attack.

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/George SalpigtidisImage courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/George Salpigtidis

For the neutral it was brilliant to watch. For the Geelong supporter, it was even more brilliant to watch. And Port had their chances in the dying minutes.

There was a collective exhale of breath as the siren went and the Hawks headed to the bar for a steadying sherry. And we all talked about what might be this week.

The week started early (sort of), when Footscray warmed the hearts of their ever-loyal supporters with a terrific win in an entertaining VFL Grand Final – against the Box Hill Hawks (Hawthorn).
 
So that put most of the city in further good spirit.

And now it’s Monday morning.

I’ve been to the Brownlow a few times. The first time I went as Mrs Murray Bird (the former umpire) when we sat next to the table of old South Melbourne winners (Round, Bedford, Goldsmith), who had the whip out and were riding Adam Goodes home (vigorously), cheers ringing out for Goodesy’s votes, and old-fashioned music hall boos for “Three votes: Collingwood, N. Buckley”. It was the year of the three-way tie.

Next time I was at the Brownlow I had such a good night I can’t remember who won it, but I do recall hugging Richo and telling him he was a poet. He shrugged my tackle. I was in a hugging mood that night. I also hugged Sandra Sully, a moment of warmth generated by chat about Brisbane rugby league, Brad Sully, Souths and Davies Park. At the Brownlow!

Richo really is the great character he seems to be (he played footy like a character) so it was brilliant to be there the night he nearly won it. Of course the tragi-romantic figure just missed out.

Tonight? It’s got a Vo Rogue feel about it. The little champ, G. Ablett, might get panels of fencing in front, and the drama will come as the pack closes. Could be a ripper.
 
So then we look to Friday lunch and friends from all around Australia coming together, meeting in restaurants and pubs, and in homes. What a celebration.

All those cars on the Hume as Sydney thinks it can win it again. And, they can.

Port really played the game beautifully this season. We thank them for that. The Hawks have the all-round game, but they look a little tired and may be a little deficient in the department of tall defenders. But they do have that class. The Swans, by comparison, project power. The mid-fielders will be fierce, and as long as the forwardscape – Tippett, Reid, Goodes and Buddy – get reasonable supply, the Swans will wind up with a healthy score. Whether the Hawks can find 15 goals is another question.

When writer (the late) John Powers spent 1977 with North Melbourne he hoped to write a book about the club. Even though North won the flag (after the replay), Powers argued that Ron Barassi had been such a huge figure in the year that he built the story around him. The Coach remains an important book in Australian football literature.
 
Image courtesy of: www.heraldsun.com.au

Buddy is just like that this year.
 
A favourite son of Hawthorn, who helps them win two premierships, leaves home to head to the glitter of the despised Harbour City. He bangs into five parked cars. People doubt his focus.

He focuses.

The Swans have matches where he single-handedly gets them over the line. He kicks the last five goals against Port Adelaide to pinch a win. He kicks ludicrous goals against Freo in the qualifying final. He is important against North in the prelim.

But by season’s end, his team-mates do not have to rely on him. They are a team of talent, of disciplined system, of strength. They are a team. Buddy is the bonus.

What a bonus he is!

Hawthorn will have to dig very deep to win on Saturday. They have the character.

It’s a game full of possibility.

But, for me, the Swans by 18 points.

John Harms, Editor of footyalmanac.com.au

@ratherbeatlunch


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