As if it weren’t bad enough to be in Lockdown Version...6.2? I don't know, I’ve lost track...we have just got the news that for the second year in a row, the AFL Grand Final will not be held on the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but will instead, unlike those poor sparrows, fly across the Nullarbor and be played out before the so-far COVID free eyes of Westralians.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I do understand the need to put public health first, and while I think the line “no game is worth someone going to hospital” would find precious little agreement from the likes of Dean Jones, the last thing we need right now is another super spreader event. So, as much as it is sand in the craw, I can reluctantly accept it is for the best.
Adding Insult to Injury
What makes it worse, even more so than losing yet another tradition to COVID, is the fact that even my wounded and jaded heart is starting to believe that this might the year that the mighty Demons finally break their Premiership drought. Like all Melbourne fans, I have been hurt and hurt again—don't even ask me about the Naughties—and find it hard to trust it is safe to get my hopes up, but the signs are hard to deny.
For those unaware of this modern day tragedy in four quarters, after the Bulldogs took home the flag the Demons accepted the mantle of longest time since a Premiership—56 years ago! I’ve lived my whole life without seeing Melbourne win a flag, and it’s hard to get one’s mind around how much the world has changed in that time!
Isn’t ironic? Don't you think?
So, if this is the year that they finally do it seems hardly fair that it would be anywhere other than the home of football, and the home of the Dees, and instead some commercially branded, interstate oval. However, there are two consolations I am holding close, that might make it a sort of poetic justice.
The first is that the sheer shock it has been to see the Grand Final moved because of some microscopic life-form has reminded people that, despite the name, the heart of the AFL really does live in Victoria and will hopefully silence some of the yearly complaints from other states about the unfairness of the Grand Final always being at the MCG. The sense of wrongness the current move provokes is a reminder that Western Australia may get the Grand Final this year but it isn't theirs—they are only BORROWING it.
Secondly, as any Melbourne supporter will tell, we are a topsy turvy, contrary team. We win when we shouldn’t, and lose from seemingly invulnerable positions. The roller coaster that is the Demons is part of what we love about them, despite the fact you can never take for granted. But, I take comfort in thinking to myself that after all these years of the Grand Final being held at our home ground, it would be just like us to win it somewhere else instead! One can only hope...which may as well be the motto of our club.
David Goodwin is the former Editor of The Salvation Army’s magazine,War Cry. He is also a cricket tragic, and an unapologetic geek.
David Goodwin archive of articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/david-goodwin.html