AFL grand final parade ridiculed by irate fans: 'Stupid decision'

·Sports Reporter
·6-min read
The Sydney Swans ride down the Yarra River on the left, while fans are pictured watching from the right.
Footy fans have lashed out after the AFL grand final parade down the Yarra River was described as a 'fizzer'. Pictures: Getty Images

The AFL's decision to send the grand final parade down Melbourne's Yarra River has been ridiculed by fans after many complained of being unable to see players before they take to the MCG on Saturday.

The grand final parade returned for the first time since 2019 as the AFL grand final finally returns to the MCG, after deciders in the prior two COVID-19 impacted seasons were played interstate.

BUDDY HELL: Swans star under fire for act in grand final week

'VERY SAD': Eddie Betts' TV admission leaves AFL world gutted

Friday's parade route saw players from Geelong and Sydney board two barges on the Yarra River, which would then float down towards the Princes Bridge, near Federation Square, before turning around and heading towards Birrarung Marr where players would then disembark and get into cars for a more traditional ride towards the MCG.

Fans who had taken a place on the Princes Bridge were left disappointed and frustrated though, after the two barges turned towards Birrarung Marr roughly 300 metres before they were expected to - leaving them unable to catch a glimpse of their potential premiership heroes.

The AFL's revamped parade route was trashed by fans who were bemused by the decision, as well as many others who were furious that the barges hadn't completed the route published by the league that was to take the barges up much closer to the bridge.

The Age reported fans had lined up five deep along the bridge to catch a glimpse of the two teams, only to be left utterly disappointed.

One fan interviewed by the paper had travelled from Geelong into the city to cheer the team on, only to be left furious at the AFL over the parade debacle.

“Whoever was organising it needs a good kick up the bum,” Cats fan Sue Garlick said.

“It was the biggest fizzle ever. There were no cheers from anyone. There were kids crying because they didn’t get to see anything.

“It was such an anti-climax.”

Another attendee, nearby Melbourne resident Janine Byrne, said a large group of wheelchair-bound supporters had lined up along the bridge, only to be part of a large group of fans left feeling as though they'd missed out.

“They didn’t see a darned thing,” she said.

“They had to get up early, get dressed and come down and they saw nothing, absolutely nothing. They couldn’t quite believe it."

Incredible sub-plots between Geelong and Sydney ahead of AFL grand final

Saturday's premiership decider, returning to the MCG after two years elsewhere due to COVID-19, is writ large with fascinating back stories.

The stereotypical monikers of their cities differ - sleepy hollow versus sin city - yet similiarities abound between the clubs.

Geelong and Sydney (nee South Melbourne) are among eight foundation VFL clubs but have never met in a grand final.

The Cats have played in 17 of the past 19 finals series; the Swans 17 of the past 20.

But both find planting the flag on the summit difficult: the last of Geelong's nine premierships was 2011; Sydney's last of five flags was the following year.

Geelong coach Chris Scott and his Sydney counterpart John Longmire both began their tenures in 2011. Scott claimed the flag in his first year, Longmire in his second.

Both have since lost grand finals, Scott in 2020, Longmire in 2014 and 2016.

Their head-to-head record is identical: 10 wins, including one finals triumph, each.

Buddy Franklin tackles Joel Selwood.
Buddy Franklin and Joel Selwood will face off once again in an AFL grand final, last doing so in 2008. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Geelong captain Joel Selwood and his teammate Isaac Smith are gunning for a fourth premiership - a dizzy height not scaled by any current player yet well shy of Hawthorn legend Michael Tuck's record of seven flags.

Selwood will pass one major Tuck landmark by playing his 40th final, one more than the bearded Hawk's record.

Again, Selwood will cross paths with Sydney megastar Lance Franklin some 14 years after they last met in a grand final, in 2008 when Buddy was at Hawthorn.

Both entering their sixth grand finals, they will be the first pair of VFL/AFL opponents to clash in a grand final more than a decade apart.

And if Selwood salutes, his 15-year gap between flags will equal Tuck's 1976-91 span between winning premierships.

"He typifies everything that we want to be as players," Geelong ace Patrick Dangerfield said of Selwood.

"He's the ultimate competitor. But his care for others ... it's superhuman."

With AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.