Fans turn out for AFL grand final parade - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fans turn out for AFL grand final parade

By Edwina Scott 26/09/2008 05:17:04 PM Comments (0)

The heartland of the AFL throbbed passionately Friday as thousands turned out in Melbourne to celebrate two local teams in the grand final for the first time in eight years.

Geelong and Hawthorn supporters decked out the city in a sea of blue and white, and brown and gold as they turned out in brilliant sunshine for the annual AFL grand final parade along Collins and Swanston streets.

The AFL's two top teams will battle for the premiership at the MCG on Saturday, the first time two local sides have played off for the flag since Essendon thrashed Melbourne in 2000.

When the two teams last clashed in a premiership decider, in 1989, the Hawks beat the Geelong Cats by six points in a thriller.

Cats fan Trevor Smith travelled from Geelong to the parade, predicting an easy win by 30 points "as long as (forward Paul) Chapman doesn't go down injured".

Mr Smith said he and wife Julie would watch the game on television at home, adding that last year's premiership win and this year's success were a boon for the regional city.

"(Winning) makes Geelong more optimistic," he said.

"In the past, we've been there and lost, and it makes us feel we can't really achieve things."

Jim, from Mill Park in Melbourne's northern outskirts, has been a Hawks supporter for 26 years, since the family arrived in Australia from Macedonia.

"We had a couple of miserable years," he said.

"I've brought my dad and grandfather here today, we're all gold members."

The trio are looking forward to seeing the game at the MCG Saturday.

"I'll probably end up crying myself," Jim said.

The crowd's excitement continued once the players reached a stage outside Melbourne's Old Treasury building, where they were entertained by break dancers before the marching bands swept past, leading the team floats.

City of Melbourne Lord Mayor John So wished both teams good luck in the game he described as "the greatest on earth".

Geelong captain Tom Harley remarked that the crowd was slightly bigger than last year's but said that was probably due to the sunshine.

Once Saturday arrives the focus would be on the game, he said.

Hawks captain Sam Mitchell could hardly contain his excitement about the parade.

"It was brown and gold the whole way," he beamed.

North Melbourne's "Shinboner of the century" Glenn Archer was crowned the custodian of the 2008 premiership cup, which was later passed to Harley and Mitchell for a taste of potential glory.

Teams posed briefly for photographs for fans and some signed autographs before heading home to prepare for that one day in September.

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