Fans brave elements for AFL grand final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fans brave elements for AFL grand final

26/09/2009 08:10:36 PM Comments (0)

Footy fans felt the raw pain and great joy of their sport as Geelong secured the AFL premiership while wicked winds and rain hammered Melbourne.

"It's the best. It's just awesome!" Geelong supporter Pip Burrone screamed from Federation Square moments after the Cats triumphed over St Kilda by 12 points in the AFL Grand Final.

"I'm so excited, my voice is hoarse," another Cats fan, Andrew Grinter, 20, said, joining hundreds of wet Cats and Saints fans in an eruption of cheers and tears.

"It's just unreal...it's the best feeling in the world," he said.

The crowded square was a scene of umbrellas and rain jackets as fans braved freezing temperatures on Saturday to watch the nail-biting match on the big screen.

But while Geelong supporters rejoiced, St Kilda fans were numb with disbelief - their pain laid bare in a catharsis of weeping at St Kilda beach as they watched their team's premiership hopes vanish before their eyes.

Elein Nathan had spent the entire game beating a drum while huddled in front of a giant screen, but her rhythm dropped as the final seconds approached.

The lifelong fan grabbed her face and burst into tears.

"I'm speechless," she said as her friend wailed in sobs beside her.

"I just can't say anything. I guess in the end it was at least a bloody good game."

Eighteen-year-old Matt Toth had spent the Grand Final rousing a crowd of about 150 freezing fans into a roaring cheer as he danced and clapped in full St Kilda make-up and outfit.

But he dropped to the ground and went limp as the buzzer sounded, using his scarf to hide his anguish.

"I thought we had it, I really thought we had it," he said, shaking and crying.

Even seasoned fans were reduced to tears.

"I'm just stunned," said Andrew Mackechnie, a fan of 40 years, his eyes welling up in front of his two children.

"We had three or four from behind there. If they would have been goals, it wouldn't have come to this."

For some, pain turned to anger.

"They didn't deserve to win," 14-year-old St Kilda fan Milli Bishop said of Geelong's second flag in three seasons. "They didn't. They played horrible the whole game."

At Moorabool Street, in the heart of Geelong, fans had moved well past post-game analysis and into roaring jubilation.

It sounded more like downtown Manhattan as a chorus of car horns and screaming broke out after the Cats win.

"I'm just ecstatic," said Julie Allen, 64, of Winchelsea.

She has been a Geelong supporter since she was a teenager when her parents took her to games on Saturdays.

"You know, no one can understand how you feel. It's just the most wonderful feeling ever."

About 3,000 people had gathered at Skilled Stadium in Geelong to watch the game.

Grant Tompkins, 49, of Melbourne, has been a Cats supporter since he was a toddler.

His father, Neil Tompkins, was a ruckman for Geelong in 1949.

But he said he thought the win was going to be more emotional for the players than fans, who saw the team win recently in 2007.

"A couple of years ago it probably meant a lot more, because we hadn't won for so long," he told AAP at Geelong's Skilled Stadium.

"The win back then was for everyone, but I think the win today is more for the players because they have had a lot of criticism," he said.

"They have been the best team for three years, and until today they had only won the one premiership."

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