Time out: The day that brings out our best, and worst

YOU know it’s a special day when Crownies are being bought by the slab-load. 

When people wander the streets in hats with pompoms and don’t seem deranged or dangerous.

When corny songs are being pumped in living rooms and crepe paper decorations adorn fences and lounge rooms.

It’s either Christmas or grand final day. Lucky for us in Australia, we get to enjoy both days with equal vigour, three months apart.

But unlike Christmas, not everyone is a winner on grand final day. 

Unless, that is, it is you who Aunty Sue gets in the Kris Kringle when you are 14 and gives a pair of red and white striped shorts that are at least four sizes too big for you, definitely designed for a man, and have a distinct op shop smell.

In fact, for half those who have a vested interest in the teams playing in the grand final, the day will end in bitterness, and there will be no amount of saying, “They can be your new pyjama shorts,” that will console you.

Only one team at approximately 5.30pm on Saturday will collect their grand final medallions with fist pumps and Adonis-style moves on the podium, as they either ignore the small children that hand out the medals or accidentally take them out with part of their macho celebratory routines. 

For some, like Port Adelaide fans in 2007, it becomes apparent very early on that your team is not destined for victory. 

A 79 to 27 half-time score does not do much to buoy the spirits; in fact it empties the bottle.

In games like that, the party becomes way more interesting than the footy match.

That year, I was far more interested in watching my friend attempt to put as many miniature umbrellas in his hair as possible than seeing Cam Mooney slot his fifth goal.

The half-time sprint and kick of the footy went well into the third quarter, and the last quarter was spent on a swing at a nearby playground. 

Then there are games like Sydney and West Coast in 2005 when Sydney won by four points after that most memorable of marks by Leo Barry. These are the great grand finals that keep everyone – footy fan or not – glued to the television, right to the dying seconds.

And then there are draws... but as a St Kilda supporter, I’m still not ready to talk about that. 

In fact, I’ve blocked it out of my mind. Forever.

Moving on quickly, the Hawks and Swans should put on a good show this weekend. 

Hawthorn will need to play a good deal better than they did against Adelaide, but if they play anywhere near their best, they should convincingly win.

They are clearly the best team in the league. They have the most match winners in a competition which is becoming increasingly more even.

But there are two things that swing my tip to the Swans.

Firstly, the Hawks aren’t bringing 22 of their fittest and finest into the match.

Luke Hodge did not play in the preliminary final last week and is apparently still only able to eat vegemite and toast; and he’s not an impoverished uni student or an Aussie backpacker living in England.

Secondly, the Swans have a certain culture of consistency and determination, which I feel is truly embodied by a man known as LRT.

Despite rocking a truly horrifying hairstyle and being written off several times in his career, Lewis Roberts-Thomson has had a serviceable year playing forward, back, ruck – wherever his team needed him to be. 

It is this kind of commitment (to his hairstyle and his team) which has led the Swans to be a consistently great side for most of this millennium.

So my tip for this weekend then? The Swannies by 12, Jarrad McVeigh to win the Norm Smith Medal, and no one topping the record of 27 umbrellas on one’s head.

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