A Beginners Guide to Surviving Grand Final Week in Melbourne

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Just arrived in Melbourne and struggling to cope with football crazy Victorians this week, when they're at their most unhinged? Mad Melburnian Camo helps out.

Hawthorn play perennial outsiders Fremantle in the AFL Grand Final tomorrow.

SO, YOU’VE RECENTLY ARRIVED in Melbourne from one of the three places on earth that has no idea about Australia (those being Sydney, Canberra and the Mongolian Steppe). Everything looks normal until you speak to someone and the first thing they ask is:
"Do you think Clarko can beat the crush?"

Who is Clarko, you ask youself?

What (or who?) is The Crush?

Why would Clarko, if you knew who he was, want to beat it/him? (Or her?!)

Welcome to Grand Final Week and the staunchest test of your ability to handle culture shock since the time you drank that snake bile vodka on a dare in Vietnam.

Generally, the nicest, most well-groomed, intelligent and welcoming people of any city in the universe, during Grand Final Week your average Melbournian does turn into a downright prick. Especially (and deservedly, in my humble opinion) towards any unfortunate soul who speaks any variation of the phrases, “I don’t follow football”*, or “I haven’t picked a team”, or “I follow <any other sport>”.

(*Pro-tip – no-one, and we do mean no people at all, calls football “AFL” in Victoria, or SA, or WA, or Tasmania, or NT. Its footy, or football – the end).

With all that in mind, your humble correspondent has prepared a beginners guide to surviving, and perhaps even meaningfully participating in, this most hallowed of all weeks.

1. Memorise all of the following: Clarko is Alastair Clarkson, the coach of the Hawthorn Football Club, known as the Hawks, or Hawkers. Hawthorn are a Melbourne team and playing the Grand Final (that’s the game that decides the best team for the year) against Fremantle. Fremantle is coached by Ross Lyon and known as Freo, the Dockers, the Purple Haze – or the sh1tfish if you have chosen to follow the local boys. Hawthorn’s colours are brown and gold, Fremantle’s colours are purple, white, and red. The key players for Hawthorn are Jarryd Roughead (Roughy), Lance Franklin (Buddy) and Sam Mitchell (if you need to be told either of his nicknames you should probably stop reading. If you guessed anything other than ‘Sammy’ or ‘Mitchy’, just give up now). The key players for the sh1tfish (sorry, “Frockers”) are Matthew Pavlich (Pav), Ryan Crowley (ar5sehole) and The Crush – which is not ‘a’ player as much as it is every damn player on Freo’s list clogging up the immediate vicinity of the ball. ‘Beating the crush’ refers to a team’s ability to get the ball into clear space.

If you have chosen to pick against the Victorian team, you can call Hawthorn the ‘Mayblooms’ – which was their original name, but became somewhat of an insult, suggesting that they were useless during June, July and August, the main months of the season.

2. You cannot be neutral. Thou shalt pickest one of the teams playing, and that shalt be thy team. Your correspondent can usually be found wearing Navy Blue, but for the sacred ritual of Grand Final I have adopted the Hawks. Many Victorians, particularly Essendon and Geelong fans, will have adopted Freo as their date for the Grand Final BBQ. It matters not. As long as you’ve picked one. As we mentioned earlier, giving any hint of not having an interest will result in that level of non-interest being returned towards you. You shall cease to exist until Sunday morning.

(Image via Zimbio)

3. Find, and attend, a Grand Final BBQ. This won't be hard. If you don’t have friends or family in town, or haven’t recently befriended any BBQ hosts, just drop down to the nearest pub. In some BBQs it is considered poor form to barrack against the host’s team unless the other one *is* your actual team, in which case you already knew that.

4. Watch the game. Self explanatory. Don’t take the front spot. The front spot is reserved for the host or attendee with the most invested in the game. Get a spot behind the couch, close to the fridge, so you can ask ‘who’s up?’ whenever you refill your own.

5. During the game, say any of the following:
“Buddy looks slow."

“Geez Freo are really shutting them down."

“The umpire is blind!"


whenever a free kick is given against your chosen team,
“Why doesn’t someone hit <name of any player you can think of from the other team>?”

but most importantly of all,

Whenever a player from the other team has the ball, and one of your guys even so much as lays a finger on them. When you yell “BALL!”, if the umpire bends over and opens his arms, you scream “YES!” (pro-tip #2 – you do not wait for the actual free kick to be given to the player. As soon as the umpire stops, bends forward, and opens his arms… YES!). But, if play continues, naturally “you’re f**kin blind, ump!” — bonus points can be awarded, and perhaps even a knowing nod of the head and tilt of the drink from the BBQ host, if you name the umpire who just robbed your boys by not paying the obvious free, that you could clearly see from your spot next to the fridge behind Macca’s couch.

6. Arrange some way of getting home, or somewhere to sleep. If you’ve crashed a BBQ, offer to help with the dishes and/or clearing up the empties & half-eaten snags.

Following these simple steps should enable you to at least survive with your sanity intact, and perhaps even enjoy yourself along the way.

Carna Hawks.

Creative Commons LicenceThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
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