Call me weird but I love draws.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t will them to happen on a regular basis. But on the odd occasion when the siren is met with conflicted emotions and that eerie silence, to me it’s a true reflection of life.
You win, you lose, but most of the time you carry on day-to-day somewhere in between. Is your glass half full or half empty? How do you respond, how do you keep going? Sometimes it’s nice to just be in a tranquil state of emotional balance, neither dangerously high nor low.
Of course, when the siren blew time on the 2010 Grand Final I was anything but tranquil or balanced. Numbness was soon replaced by a total state of inner turmoil. I can only imagine how the players felt. I’ll never forget leaving the ground, traipsing through Yarra Park as a cataclysmic storm blew up out of nowhere. For the tortured Saint and Magpie souls it was unbearable. The footy Gods’ sadistic joke must have been outright hilarious for uninvested onlookers.
Nonetheless, a drawn grand final is the ultimate test of mettle. Who is the most resilient in the face of adversity? Who can pick up the pieces and reassemble themselves for another crack at the ultimate prize whilst enduring seven more days of gut wrenching wait?
The uniqueness of the three drawn Grand Finals in VFL/AFL history can be equated to the two tied test matches. How would it be if Brisbane (1960) and Madras (1986) were decided by a super over? These anomalies are part of sporting folklore. Read John Powers’ The Coach – the inside account of North’s 1977 season – and tell me that draw and replay weren’t the most compelling of narratives. It’s the ultimate to-be-continued drama.
What’s more, the atmosphere at the 2010 Replay was infinitely better than the original, owing to a stadium full of diehard supporters as opposed to ambivalent theatre goers. The people’s Grand Final. And for everyone else at home and afar, why would you pass up another piss-up? As for the AFL opting out of another potential $20m windfall… Now the odds of that must be as great as the scores being tied at this year’s decider.
Nope, sorry. We’re outta time, outta patience. It’s a war of attrition, and you sure as hell want 18 uninjured (albeit physically shattered) players to wheel back out on the field. Nervous umps better pack their brown Y fronts too, just in case.
Given over 200 games are played across six months to arrive at the two best teams, surely one more week isn’t a stretch. To arrive at a truly deserving winner, some professional sports play a best of seven. Here, if the scores are still tied after ten minutes of extra time we won’t even know if we’re down to golden rushed behind, or golden crap kick. It’s really an admission the final method is an anti-climactic coin toss.
I know, it’s a bit rough to expect non Victorian teams to endure another week in the world’s most liveable city. But there are things in Melbourne known as hotels. Lots of them in fact.
Football and life throws up unlikely challenges, and opportunities. What’s better than an AFL Grand Final? Surely the answer is two!