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Grand Final Weekend

By Alasdair McClintock on October 18, 2016 in Sport

Photo: Stacey Jones

Photo: Stacey Jones

Can you hear the drums, Fernando? The random cheers emanating from your neighbour’s (and possibly even your own) lounge room? Those roars mean that one of the grand finals (AFL or NRL) is on and you’re missing it.

Grand final weekend has etched out some of my favourite memories over the course of my lifetime. My teams have rarely been in it, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a whole new competition come The Big One – just pick a side and go with it.

A few years ago I decided I would support whoever was winning at any given time during the game. Some would call that flaky, and even a little pathetic, but I call it a hell of a way to spend an afternoon drinking – no chance of disappointment and a great excuse to celebrate with genuine supporters afterwards. They don’t need to know that you didn’t give two hoots if their team won or not. It might be an idea to brush up on all four team songs during the week before, however.

Having both the NRL and AFL grand finals on the same weekend, followed by a public holiday, pretty much ensures it’s going to be the best weekend of the year. The brief period they held them on different weekends was a dark and confusing time and the less I dwell on it the better.

Even the scheduling is perfect for a weekend of festivities. The AFL is happily staying with tradition and keeping its grand final as a day game, while the NRL is admirably stubborn in its insistence on going against the bulk of fans’ wishes and having a night time kick-off. NRL fans may not be happy, but for us dual-code supporters it offers the ideal situation in terms of recovery.

Given the understandable sensitivity around the public holiday on January 26, I am seriously considering starting a campaign to move Australia Day to the Monday after grand final weekend. The only thing really stopping me is crippling laziness and the current ubiquity of those things. Everything is being protested. Do I really need to add to the noise?

And if you’re rolling your eyes at the thought of aligning our national day with sport, further consolidating our obsession with it, you need to ask yourself: Do you love violence? Do you crave war? Because if it wasn’t for professional and amateur sport, there would be a hell of a lot more carnage.

Take a look at the team lists from each side competing on this hallowed weekend and there are some stone-cold psychopaths in there. Stone-cold psychopaths who are thankfully occupied most of the time by the demands of professional sport. Stone-cold psychopaths who have an outlet for their inherent aggression. Stone-cold psychopaths who aren’t out roaming the streets with nothing better to do than smoke drugs and beat up on whoever they stumble across.

Do not be so naive as to believe that organised sport isn’t the only thing holding civilisation together.

Now go and watch the game.