football droughts broken
October 3, 2016 3:43 AM   Subscribe

For many people, 2016 has been a rough year (probably an understatement.) However, for two football teams in rival codes, 2016 has turned into a very good year indeed.

Two codes of football: AFL and NRL, two Grand Finals played on the one weekend, on on Saturday, one on Sunday. The contenders: in Melbourne, home of the AFL, the Western Bulldogs, (formerly Footscray), faced the Sydney Swans (formerly South Melbourne)- the side that finished on top of the ladder (the Doggies were 7th.) In Sydney, home of the NRL, the Cronulla Sharks faced the Melbourne Storm.

The Western Bulldogs had not reached the final in 55 years, and not won since 1954, 62 years ago. The Sharks had yet to win a premiership. Both teams had strong 'underdog' status. Both teams facing strong, out of town outfits, brought into their respective leagues to broaden fan bases. Both teams with long suffering fans, aching for their respective droughts to break.

In Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs barely dared to dream, after having to win three preliminary finals in order to stay in the running. It was a close match, so close a fan had a heart attack (he's OK!) but they ended up winning by 22 points. During the presentations, coach Luke Beveridge (with lucky penny in his pocket) called up injured captain Bob Murphy, who hadn't played a game since an injury in Round Three, and handed over his premiership medal, saying "this is yours mate, you deserve this more than anyone."

In Sydney, the Cronulla Sharks, after years of heartbreak finally won their first premiership ever, 49 years in the making.
“Waiting for Cronulla to win a Grand Final is like leaving a porch light on for Harold Holt.” Stay tuned for Harold Holt sightings.
posted by freethefeet (6 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Up up Cronulla!
posted by vbfg at 4:27 AM on October 3, 2016

Unfortunately in Gaelic Football, Mayo lost the All Ireland Final on Saturday by a point, meaning they have been fallen at the final hurdle 7 times in 21 years, and still haven't won since 1951. The Curse continues.
posted by kersplunk at 6:17 AM on October 3, 2016

As per tradition, I stayed up to 3 AM EDT watching the Aussie Rules Grand Final with my Australian friend Friday night/Saturday morning. It was a great game. Fox Sports 1 here in the States has a game of the week during the season; keep your eyes peeled for it next March. It's definitely worth watching, a great sport and dead simple to learn the basic rules (especially since there's no offsides rule).
posted by Ampersand692 at 12:28 PM on October 3, 2016

WOOF WOOF! Whilst I'm a (nominal) Blues supporter for family history reasons, it was really easy to get behind the Bulldogs in the final. We live within a kilometre of Whitten Oval -- the community spirit has been overwhelming and I am SO happy to be living where we are.
posted by prettypretty at 2:59 PM on October 3, 2016

I live in Melbourne. Whilst I'm not a great follower of AFL, I was genuinely affected by how the whole state (aside from the ex-South Melbourne die hards) seemed to come together to back the Doggies. They have been the "underdogs" for as long as I can remember (I'm 45). It was a great, tense game, with each team displaying their own playing spirit, and I was incredibly happy to see the Dogs come up for a well deserved win. Best final for years. (And I wish I'd been out in the west to enjoy the celebrations that night)

And this sentiment will probably mean nothing to people who don't know the history of VFL/AFL
posted by Diag at 9:12 PM on October 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Next year: Lions/Broncos double.

I'm delighted with these championships. The best thing for me is the sheer delight exploding from the teams and their supporters to the whole country.

Every match has a winner and a loser. But a Grand Final has a Grand Finalist and a Champion.

seriously lions - two years to the top eight - you know you can do it
posted by Combat Wombat at 6:00 AM on October 4, 2016

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