Most of Australia will come to a stop this Saturday for the AFL Grand Final. The rest of Australia will drop everything next Saturday for the NRL Grand Final, and nearly all of Australia will stop on both Saturdays because in Australia, there’s nothing more important than a Grand Final.
So here are twenty reasons why both Grand Finals are better than everything:
1) Everyone is in a great mood. It’s like Xmas injected with Easter, wrapped in Australia Day on a New Year’s Eve high. The most popular shops are supermarkets, butchers and bottle shops for barbecue supplies. Every other shop is either closed or ignored.
2) There will be huge gatherings around the country of close friends and family who haven’t seen each other for days, months and sometimes years. And for over two hours there will be strictly no talking.
3) During the Grand Final is actually the ideal time to rob a house. Even if people are home, they’ll be so attached to the television that they won’t notice. However this won’t happen, as all thieves will also be watching the game.
4) The only people who aren’t euphoric about Grand Final Day are tourists, because they have no idea what’s going on and on Grand Final Day, no matter how cute or important or rich they are, nobody is going to take the time to explain the rules to them.
5) NRL and AFL are the toughest games in the world. Played by large, muscled men in boys’ clothing with no padding. Despite them wearing short shorts and skin-tight tops, nobody ever questions their toughness.
6) Getting smacked in the head is actually one of the objects of both AFL and NRL, as you get a free. To a footballer, a free is far more important than a healthy brain. On Grand Final Day, there’s nothing more important than a free.
7) Politicians love the Grand Final because no matter what they do, nothing will knock football off the front and back page of every newspaper in the country for at least two weeks. Sometime in October I half expect to discover that Clive Palmer has dug up Adelaide looking for coal, and Tasmania has been sold by the Liberal Government to the Chinese.
8) Try having a meaningful conversation about anything that’s not football. It’s harder than explaining to someone who’s never seen a television why anybody watches reality television.
9) Nobody gives a stuff about the pre-match or half-time entertainment, because we’ve got games that are actually worth watching. Still the most popular pre-match entertainer in recent memory was Meatloaf exactly because he was rubbish, and fired hotdogs into the crowd. Maybe he would’ve been more popular if he had a gun that fired pies. At Eddie McGuire.
10) In an effort to take our national game to the world, there’s always a few international celebrities who are flown in for the game. They’ll wear a confused smile, make glib comments, and awkwardly segue to their latest album/movie/tv show. Nobody will care, and everyone will wonder which idiots from some overpaid marketing department decided that this was a good idea. It’s OUR GAME. They need to all go away and find their own game. Also, their tickets should go to real supporters.
11) Unlike America, nobody watches the ads on during the AFL or NRL Grand Final. In America, they’re the highlight because Americans have stuffed up sport, like they’ve stuffed up most things.
12) Grand Final Fever is a more legitimate reason for missing work than an actual fever. If it’s not, then you need to get a different job. It is where I work, because I work for myself. So I don’t have any money, but I do have a very reasonable boss, especially when it comes to football.
13) NRL and AFL Grand Finals will be sell-outs no matter who is playing. Our population is just over twenty million, and some of our most popular teams are named after suburbs, and still we have more supporters than teams in countries where the population is in the hundreds of millions, and all the teams are named after cities.
14) You know what’s easier for a true fan than detecting a non-fan? Nothing. Nothing is easier. ‘That Fremantle forward Aaron Sandilands. He’s very tall. Is he related to Kyle at all?’ a girl asked me. I replied, ‘I don’t care. Go away. Please stop talking to me Lara Bingle. If you’re not good enough for Michael Clarke, you’re not good enough for me.’ Then I woke up, and it wasn’t a sexy dream. It wasn’t even a nightmare – it was a shite-mare
15) The Monday after both Grand Finals is the saddest day on the Australian calendar. As it’s the furthest from football we will ever be. So the countdown begins to next season, while we try to ignore the national disappointment known as ‘Cricket Season’.
16) Also on Monday, medical rooms around the country will be filled with men who pulled out a football for the first time since last year’s Grand Final Day. As a result they also pulled or tore a muscle, dinted pride and embarrassed themselves. I am always one of these men.
17) Grand Final Day should be renamed ‘Australian Xmas’. Groups of people will travel long distances. Driving for hours, going interstate and sometimes even going next door to surround themselves with the friends and family they love, in order to sit in silence in front of a television. So it is a lot like actual Xmas. However, instead of presents, a turkey and pudding, there are copious amounts of beer. Which makes Grand Final Day way better than Xmas.
18) Deciding where to spend Grand Final Day is far easier than trying to decide where to spend Xmas Day. Instead of considering family, extended family, where it was last year, and where it will be next year, Grand Final Day is a simple equation involving location, size of screen, size and effectiveness of beer cooling facilities, and who’ll let you back after previous Grand Final Day shenanigans. Which may have involved urinating on an indoor pot plant, a baby food fight, and using a small dog as a football. Only for handballing and throwing, certainly not for kicking. I’m not a monster, and it was confiscated before I had a chance.
19) Apart from the AFL and NRL Grand Final, there is no single sporting event in Australia where there are more cameras, commentators and more comprehensive coverage. However, there’s still nothing like being there.
20) If your team isn’t in or doesn’t win the Grand Final, immediately after the game or perhaps even during it, you will begin convincing yourself how and why that next year, your team could very easily be the Grand Final winner. At most barbecues, this often quickly becomes the only topic of conversation.
To those who don’t understand the attraction of Grand Final Day, or what’s going on, both games look like a free for all where the ball seems like an afterthought.
To everyone else, it’s the most beautiful and glorious sport in the history of humanity.
Right there, both AFL and NRL fans think that I’m talking about their sport. Which sport is better? This is an argument that will continue forever and never be settled, and while it’s way more important religion, unlike religion, football will never cause a war. Which is beautiful in itself.
However, if we’re being honest, everyone knows that the superior game is AFL.
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian. (www.xaviertoby.com)
Catch Xavier at the Melbourne Fringe until Oct 5.
Performing his comedy walking tour, ‘2013 – When We Were Idiots’.
As well as hosting the variety show, ‘Hot Night in the City – Comedy and Variety Showcase.’