A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
There are five seasons in Melbourne; Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring and Grand Final Week. Like all of the seasons, the latter has its own unique weather trends, fashions, events, songs and traditions…
Grand Final Week packs more key note, high class, must attend, red carpet, big wig events into seven days than any of the other seasons do in three months.
The crowing jewel of the event calendar is the WAG heavy Brownlow Medal held on the Monday night at Crown Palladium. This is of course followed by a cacophony of ‘after parties’ in the Crown precinct and nearby haunts and results in inches and inches of media being taken up with best dressed lists, worst dressed lists and an in depth rundown of each and every vote given.
This leads into a series of brunches, lunches and food based celebrations full of past and present footballers. At a corporate level, there are a multitude of *insert name of company here* Grand Final Luncheons held all week long, where retired footballers become some of the most sought after guest speakers in the country as businesses latch onto their ‘sporting knowledge and mentalities’ to motivate staff. Yes, you would be correct in assuming this is just another excuse for a piss up on company money marauding as “professional development”.
Some of the more notable occasions include Foxtel’s Pre-Grand Final Dinner, the North Melbourne Herald Sun Grand Final Breakfast and the Collingwood Grand Final Breakfast. It’s a mystery why they screen all of those ads for Nutri Grain and Special K all year long because everyone knows it’s only during Grand Final Week that Breakfast the most important meal of the season.
Just in case you haven’t attended a football themed eating event, the AFL hold the Grand Final Parade where the players and coaches are driven through the City of Melbourne waving endlessly at adoring fans and wondering what on earth they are doing in a parade before they’ve won anything. This allows all Melbournians to become used to the fact that traffic around the CBD and East Melbourne area will be royally stuffed for the next three days at least. Always best to ease them into it on a work day.
For this one week of the year, the football guernsey breaks out of its training and game day confines and becomes acceptable attire in almost any situation and on any age group. The workplace, high class luncheons, on the street, in the supermarket, in the bedroom, at the in-laws, at the theatre, in the classroom, there is just no limit to its versatility. Occasionally worn by itself with pants that don’t usually match, it is mainly worn over existing clothes with pants that definitely don’t match.
On the other end of the scale, this season is also the most glamorous for the AFL with several award nights and presentations meaning the boys and girls have to scrub up nicely all week long. Forget shredding for Stereo, any WAG worth her Helen Manuell dress knows it’s all about shredding for this seven day glamathon.
As for the colours of the season, forget what Anna Wintour said at the Milan Fashion Week, the only colours you will see during this season are the four or five guernsey colours of the two teams featuring on the last day in September. In 2013, we are enjoying the rather unflattering toilet inspired combination of gold and brown and a sea of purple. Yes purple Anna, football folk can be fashion forward too you know!
Media Coverage and Television Programs
In what can only be attributed to the power of Mother Nature and the seasons, during this one week in September, an unusual phenomenon occurs.
Nothing newsworthy happens in Melbourne, unless it is related to football.
The world’s crime, poverty, political upheaval and natural disasters are obliterated and put on hold, as ever column inch of our newspapers, websites, television broadcasts, twitter feeds etcetera is dedicated to AFL.
Seven days straight of game, player and stat analysis, plus all of the Brownlow predictions and betting markets on everything from the first goal scorer to the sexual orientation of Alex Rance fill our print media. To break it up, they include a few social pages of the best dressed WAGS before some more photos of politicians and retired footballers shaking hands and sharing a beer at one of the many AFL related breakfasts.
On the box, reruns of previous Grand Finals, last week’s Semi-Finals, Footy Flashbacks and at least 18 hours a day of analysis of the game are screened. The formula here is fairly simple – the less the amount of games on the weekend, (and yes, by this stage we’re down to one) the higher the amount of coverage required.
The highlight of the television coverage would have to be the AFL Grand Final Footy Show, screened on the Thursday night, whereby the participants manage to present a three hour show during which they talk about football for a total of 12.5 minutes, and spend infinitely longer dancing about in various stages of undress demonstrating how they are actually frustrated performers with a penchant for dancing and Broadway musicals.
Just as the dulcet tones of Don Henley’s Boys of Summer immediately evoke memories of road trips to the coast and long days at the beach, there are several tunes that are intimately linked with that one week in September.
Holy Grail – The unofficial official anthem of the AFL Grand Final. Will be played ad nauseum all week long on every football related television show (which is every show on television this week) at least three times, during the news coverage, at every event you attend and whilst your shopping in your local supermarket. This week is, after all, on the road to the Holy Grail.
Throw Your Arms Around Me – Featured on slow motion montages of the season just past, usually accompanied by images of recently retired players, unlikely victories and unsung heroes. Occasionally pops up at a function such as the 2013 Brownlow Medal.
Up There Cazaly – The song that has singlehandedly given Mike Brady a 34 year musical career (about 33 years longer than it should have been) is rolled out annually for the Grand Final pre-match entertainment, and any nostalgic television footage played during the week.
Grand Final Day
It all comes down to this. That one day in September. After an intense week long lead up, the pinnacle of the season arrives on the last day and expects everyone to be in fine form. Each and every person has undergone an intense schedule of Grand Final themed events, worn Grand Final coloured clothing, watched and read Grand Final related information and listened to Grand Final appropriate songs. The time for victory is now.
Grand Final Day parties are held in every backyard, sporting club and pub in the state, as Victorians gather together to watch their last dose of unscripted drama, emotional turmoil and physical intensity for the season. And that’s just the pre-game entertainment. Once that whistle goes at 2:30pm on Saturday afternoon, a hush falls over the state, for all of five seconds before the yelling, screaming, cheering, beer guzzling and snag burning shenanigans begin and roll into the night…
At some point on Sunday evening, most people roll over to realize that Grand Final Week Season is finished for another year. They vaguely remember who won as they realize they’ve lost their voice and woken up in a pile of shredded TAB tickets, wearing a giant padded finger and without their shoes. Slowly regret and a deep sense of longing for the season comes upon them… until they realize they can relive it all again next week because the AFL Grand Final DVD will be available at Kmart on Monday for $29.95.