2005 09 26 - Bronwyn Evans - Off The Field - Did you know? THE SWANS HAVE WON THE GRAND FINAL!!!!!

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DATE: 09/26/2005

After a nail biting week, I've made it to Melbourne to watch the Swans win the big one. How good is this!

Thursday 22 Sept . . .

This year has been an interesting one of rewards and payments. Each time that I have had an upgrade, there has been a payment that I didn't want to make. Most notably, my freebie upgrade on the night of the WC game. I'm hopeful that it wasn't my fault that we lost, but I don't want to push anything! My ritual says that I can't ask for an upgrade, nor can I refuse one, so I'm delighted not to be upgraded to Melbourne. All is looking good!

Touch down in dismal Melbourne. It's not a lovely day, but let's remember what's important ... THE SWANS ARE IN THE GRAND FINAL. First I have to do some work ... a presentation that goes well, with a sympathetic audience and amused glances at my scarf. Heading off to the next appointment for the day, I get a text message from my beloved, he's forgotten half my clothes for the weekend (not the best move, he should be thankful that I'm "walkin' on sunshine, hey hey"). Then the win of the day ... I go to a meeting and the offer of lunch at the MCG! Does a frog croak? You bet, I'm there to check out the ground before our big day.

After such a religious moment, it's hard to do anything serious, so I hit the shops in hope of enhancing my R&W wardrobe and making up for the enforced limitations. I find a willing shop assistant and head off with a few bags.

But most importantly, I have THE MISSION - to pick up the tickets from the Club. After dealing with one of the taxi-drivers-from-hell, who is lucky that "I'm walking on sunshine, and don't it feel good", and so misses out on my wrath, I get to the Club's offices. Get my tickets. Am nonplussed watching Paul-from-the-Club have to deal with someone who has chosen Grand Final Week to ring up and discuss how they can help save the stadium. Get over it and ring next week! I felt the need to enhance my badge collection, so I bought one of everyone that I didn't have. The number of badges is increased because this year's badges are not quite so good and so they fall off pretty easily - and as the days go on, I lose a few.

I meet up with my beloved, offer forgiveness and head off for dinner. Brief note: Melbourne restaurants, previously impressive have taken a dive ... 3 nights in Melbourne, 3 less than impressive meals. But it doesn't matter - THE SWANS ARE IN THE GRAND FINAL!

Friday 23 Sept . . .

Friday dawns clear (ish). Into my new gear. The beloved is off to a meeting, I get to wander the streets of Melbourne, looking for mates. Anyone in red and white deserves a high five and/or a hug. After a tip off from RWO, I head to Fed Square. Here is Dermie, with a bunch of supporters. A camera man tries to entice me back, I find a coffee shop and sit to read the morning's newspapers and their assessment of THE SWANS.

More shopping and meet up with a mate. Catch up with the returning Husb to take our places at the Parade. I'm a bit unhappy about what appears to be an unfair advantage to the Weagles in terms of support. But everyone is cheerful and delighted to be in the GRAND FINAL. Happy reppartee, one to the other.

We find our possie, front row, in the home stretch. First the umpires. The beloved yells out and gets the attention of one of the many UMPIRES-WHO-HATE-THE-SWANS (do they get paid on free kicks against us?). "Give us a free tomorrow" he yells. Goldfink responds with an offer of TWO. I try for a counter of five, but he shakes his head.

Here come the Swans. Roos is looking cool and collected. Bazza is just delighted. Nicky D is nonchalant. Jason Ball is lapping it up. Kirky, with kid asleep is just delighted. Oh I love these guys.

Then it's all over. Hmmm, what else to do but go and have lunch and drink bubbles in anticipation of a fabulous day tomorrow?

That night, we have planned to meet up with a few Melbournians that we met on our recent trip to Canada and Alaska. We're jumping out of our skins, so we arrive in Lygon Street (Carlton territory) an hour earlier. Needing a drink to calm the nerves, we find a bar. Half the pub are our mates ... clearly identified by their reaction to our scarves.

At dinner, in a (less than average) Italian restaurant, I'm beside myself. I know it's getting tedious. I go on the trawl for people to sing the song with. We find a group who have driven down, with another mate due in the hour. We help his drive down by ringing him up and singing the song to inspire him (and keep him awake). We find a bloke from somewhere in the middle of WA who has come across for the game. We try to convince him to change allegiance and become a Swans so he'll be happy on the morrow. He's good humoured, but determined to go for the bad guys.

I find someone who loves the Swans and doesn't have tickets, and in a benevolent moment, pass over my Jude badge. She is beside herself, promising to wear it for the next week, day and night. This sounds like a betrayal, but each week during finals (except for the WC game) I've lost my Jude badge. I figure, I need to keep up the winning ritual and assure her that this is an important omen for tomorrow.

Saturday 24/9 - GRAND FINAL DAY . . .

My Grand Final week ritual of waking around 3.30am continues. At 6am, finally, the beloved moves and I can get up without disturbing him. I bawl my eyes out. He rings my father to ask why I start sobbing uncontrollably when I look at him. OMG, the SWANS ARE IN THE GRAND FINAL.

I contain myself and get ready for the Swans Grand Final Breakfast. Be calm, do not smudge the mascara. (Well try not). I'm being calm as I walk down the corridor and catch the lift. I bite my cheeks as we catch a cab and drive to the Carlton Crest. Some restrained smiles to people in the foyer. I'm so tense.

We move to the function area. Lots of Swans memorabilia, but I am strong enough to wait. Where are we seated? Well, it appears we are on "the talent table" - not that we are the talent, but it's the place for a couple of spare bods.

What is the talent table? Well, most importantly it's front row (are the planets aligned our what?). Our table mates are Rebecca Wilson (who also admits to crying in anticipation of the game), Tony Squires, Dicko, plus the MC and comedian (my apologies .... I don't watch enough tv to know everyone). But most importantly, we have SWANS - Nicksy and Heath James.

Breakfast is cool. Nicksy and Heath are interviewed. My memory is of their total disappointment in missing the most important game in their/our lives and my heart goes out to them. The Scared Weird Little Guys are the early act and do a gig that I remember from at least two other GF breakfasts. The highlight is their offer to sing Cheer Cheer to whatever tune we pick. They struggle with my offer of Advance Australia Fair. But we don't care, because THE SWANS ARE IN THE GRAND FINAL.

Unlike many of my function reports, I didn't take notes ... I was just chilling out, soaking up the game, so my memoirs are a glimpse of the day and I know I'll leave so much out.

I don't watch a lot of TV. I recall asking Dicko whether he was still in the restaurant show (no), or the singing show (no) and whether Darryl Somers had got the flick from Dancing show (no). Hmm, I thought that was his new gig. So he's up to do an interview and I find out that he's one of the dancers - clearly not the compere. Hmmm, well he can't say I'm star struck can he! He comes back and I apologise. There's also Wayne, who does advertising for the Club, he's dyed his hair red. There's a pact to get the tatt when we win. Dicko and Wayne show their Southern Cross tatts that they did when they got their membership (of Australia, that should be citizenship).

Oh, and breakfast is (as last time) one of the worst corporate breakfasts. Not sure if the bread is underdone toast or just stale bread, boring. I'm not sure what has been paid by the Swans for this function, but if it's corporate rates, they've probably paid $55/head and got lousy value. The food was below average and cold. We asked for bubbles (on the "menu") and got a bottle, only to be told when we asked for a refresh that they'd run out!!!! And we were on one of the front tables, those down the back probably got worse.

Interestingly, the Swans have sold travel packages (as they must) to the GF breakfast and we have at least 25% of attendees in blue and gold.

Midday . . .

First bus from the Carlton Crest to the ground!!! It's close. We get on the bus. Have to sing the song, and there is a willing participation.

We're at the ground. AARRGGHH! THE SWANS ARE IN THE GRAND FINAL!!! I'm a bundle of nerves.

I wander over to the Cheer Squad to catch up with a few people. Back to our seats. Next to us we have a couple and Ron Barrassi. Behind us are "the talent". We're clearly in the "good seats". We're just off to the left of the cheer squad. But what we have is a dozen rows of bad guys from the fence, then a row our good guys, then us and more good guys, sandwiched between more baddies up the back.

The baddies start to roar. With the benefit of the concrete stand above them, the echo is enormous and their chant is incredible. Our cheer squad starts a chant, but I feel outnumbered. Phew, it's going to be tough.

Pre-match . . .

I've gotta say, I am not sure why there was a fuss with this pre-match stuff. Delta came out and sang. Not a lot of people paid attention. She didn't show emotion or support - if I had flown in from the US to sing a song, I would have at least yelled "GO SWANS" or more. Maybe she wasn't allowed to, but hey, it's easier to seek forgiveness than approval. The PA system was hopeless. We could hear what was going on. The other girl who was singing, I'm sure, was good, but we couldn't tell. We couldn't hear Dame Edna. It was only after the cars had been going around for a few minutes with Legends that we worked out what was going on. The fireworks actually needed night to be effective. And I don't quite understand why people insist upon doing flying aerobatics or afterburners over stadiums where most people are under cover and thus can't see what's going on! I'm not meaning to be snarly ... I had a fabulous time being at the GF, it's just that I think the planners of such things are not terribly smart in understanding their audience!

The Game . . .

I'm not going to go into the detail of the game. Better (and not-so-better) people than I have and will disect it. So just a few comments ...

Q1, I'm feeling comfy. Happy that we'll go with my prediction of a Jase (i.e. 27 point win). I'm happily sharing the Jason Ball story ... first AFL game against the Swans, and he's won a flag with them ... last AFL game the reverse.

Q2, OK, we're sensing victory. I comment that our kicking accuracy is looking good, and thereby jinx the team for the rest of the game. Dicko leads a chant of "here we go, here we go, here we go" and puts greater energy into the chant.

Amazing how many people come up to Barrass. Asking for photos, asking for autographs. He deals with them all politely and with patience. I talk with his friend, we are amazed at the number of people who say "I met you in 19?? and ..." and expect to be remembered. I swear a hundred random people came to see him during the game. I took several photos for people who wanted one taken with him.

Q3, nailbiting. I look at Barrass. I have to say, he's schooled for the public. He shows no emotion. He's calm. We're singing, we're chanting, we're yelling. The baddies in front and behind us are yelling. We collectively grimace at the "Barry is a wanker" chant, but he is calm. We watch the crowd at the other end leap in anticipation of a goal and cringe.

Our new mate Dicko leads the chant of "Barry is a winner", and we retrieve our confidence.

Q4, Who knows what happened. I'm too tense. The beloved can't look. I'm willing something to happen. The boys alternate between incredible and beyond belief. How many opportunities are lost? But they regroup. We're at the bad guys' end. We don't want to see action, but we do. Someone with a radio gives us time updates, which we earnestly and anxiosuly share. "Go the siren!" The Eagles attack and attack. we repel again and again. It's got to be so close to time. Why won't that siren go? Surely it's got to be over? No, they're still attacking. Finally a kick and I'm almost giving up when brilliant, blatant Barry leaps. Somehow, he emerges with the pill. Someone says it's 5 seconds to go. We watch, heart in mouth, waiting for something awful, beyond belief to happen and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory .... but instead, the siren wails and THE SWANS HAVE WON THE GRAND FINAL!

My husband breaks down. In 20 years, I have never seen such emotion. I look across. We're all actually in shock. It takes minutes for it to kick in. I remember Barrass saying "It's something-which-is-not-a-word-and-I-can't-remember-what-it-was". I ask if that is a technical term. He laughs. We just stand there, numb, and sing the song. Again and again. And then the tears start. And keep coming.

I go down to the fence (or as close as I can get), and watch those brilliant, beautiful boys do the lap. I just want to sit down and blubber. I want to launch myself onto the field. And, at the same time, I want to just sit down and vanish into the ether.

Somehow, we recover and make our way back to our hotel ... to be ready for the official dinner. I am deluged by text messages. I think that everyone I know has sent me congratulations .... I'm not sure if they knew that I wasn't playing ... it seems like they think I personally have won the grand final. They're just understanding my emotional commitment.

The Official Dinner . . .

All day, I've been responsible. A couple of glasses of bubbles at the breakfast. A couple of bottles of water at the game. We need a drink to calm the post-match nerves. Quickly we shower and change and get to the Casino.

The official dinner doesn't start until 7.30pm, but we get to the Casino before 7pm. Into the bar. I'm in my little glam number, walmed by my scarf. We walk into a bunch of three guys who give us a walm welcome. One of them says to me (and I take it as a huge compliment) that he'd never seen anyone exude such happiness as I did. "I'm walking on sunshine, yeh yeh, and don't it feel good!". Eventually, we find out that these guys went to school with Schaubs. They're here at his table tonight and know how devastated he is to miss the game. His mum taught them at school. I feel his pain.

Upstairs, we find Charles Henderson - for those who don't know of him, refer to my Guernsey Presentation report from 2004. Charles rode his pushbike from Albury to attend the 1933 GF and gave the toast to the team at last year's Guernsey Presentation - a truly inspirational man. We chat, we hug, we cry. This wonderful man has seen his dream achieved.

Of course there is a merchandise table. Of course we buy.

Then into our tables. Next to "the talent" from this morning. Hugs all round ... and a few tears. There must be 1000 seats in the room. A band plays and tries to do a Neil Diamond set to an unresponsive audience. All we want are OUR BOYS.

Entrees come out. All we want are OUR BOYS.

Apparently Delta arrived (who cares?), all we want are OUR BOYS.

Tony Squires has an unresponsive audience until he can tell us that OUR BOYS ARE HERE. It takes a couple of eons, but eventually the last few minutes of the game are up on the big screen, we're screaming and in come OUR BOYS. I'm in an emotional breakdown situation.

They're on stage. Richard Colless comes out and does the thank yous. He acknowledges that Roos has been the best thing ever for the Club. I will agree that Richard has done a great job for the Club and wish him well in the moment of glory, but the thank yous went on too long. They could have been done before the team got here. And the team agreed, half of them got bored and came off the stage before it was over.

They've been celebrating for four or five hours by now. A little disshevelled. A little unbelieving. Starting to realise what they've achieved. They come down and embrace their families again. We sit back and feel part of the joy.

Mike Willisee stands up to interview Roosy. He hints at giving someone a spray next week. And he shows his greatness with his graciousness and his absolute belief in the players.

Dinner is served. Now it's on for young and old. Hugs, kisses, whoops.

I spent time with Jarrad Sunqvist and Stephen Doyle whose futures are unknown at this stage. Whilst happy for the guys, they were sad (obviously) to miss out. Heath was circumspect ... but his attitude and commitment must be an inspiration for current and future players.

Jude's mum, Craig's mum were delighted. We hugged and we reviewed the year and the game.

Jason Ball was on another planet. Everything was fabulous with his world. It was so good to see his joy.

Amon and LRT were on another planet. Paul B was surreal.

Eventually, we headed off into the night ... arriving home around 2am (well before many) and crashing after an incredible day.

Sunday 25 Sept . . . .


Finally, after a week, I get a decent sleep and don't wake until 7am. Life is good and now I can celebrate.

We've won.

We desperately need papers to read every moment (and catch everything we missed yesterday, pending the replay). I sob incoherently at each emotional moment (i.e. goal, tackle, mark).

We meet friends for lunch. High five anyone in red and white.

Afterwards we retreat to the airport for flights out, my beloved home to Sydney and me to Adelaide. High fives all round. I dash onto the plane and chat to all and sundry who are happy to talk about detail.

And here I am, reliving the most fabulous weekend in my memory ... the weekend that the SWANS HAVE WON THE GRAND FINAL!!!!!

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