Wednesday, October 02, 2013

GF Training and Parade

As our voices returned from the celebrations on the weekend prior, and we exhaled a grateful and lucky sigh of relief at the news of our successful Members ballot ticket allocation for the third time since 2008, Grand Final week began. Fremantle were confirmed as our opponents for the biggest game of the year, and the throng of Purple clad supporters made their presence felt in Melbourne across the week.

Thursday saw a roadtrip our to Hawthorn's training ground, and former home ground, Waverley Park. A windy and wet and cold day, we battled the elements to get to the portion of the old stands that now sits in the middle of a housing development - the old VFL mosaic still looks impressive!

Huddling into a spot semi-sheltered from the elements, we awaited the arrival of the team onto the ground to go through their paces, and watched as many people gathered, all adorned in their brown and yellow colours.

Former players and club legends were interviewed and talked they about the big game and occasion ahead, to keep the crowd warmed and pumped, as we waited for signs of the team.

The team came out in groups, before coming together for the full ground training drills and mock play.

I haven't been to a training session for the Hawks since the same time last year, but it was pretty exciting to be part of it.

The event that makes the Grand Final feel very real is the ceremony of the Parade through the city on the Friday. Blocking off traffic and trams from the Arts Centre and all the way along Collins Street, both teams get to soak in the atmosphere of the hype in Melbourne city.

I met Melissa and Mum, Adam and Courtney at a good position along the path, after spotting Jessie up on the balcony of the Old Treasury Building again this year. Lucky girl, with an amazing view!

One of the first things to reach our position was the Premiership Cup, being looked after by our own Hawk hero Shane Crawford.

A brass marching band with Freo scarves on, playing the Freo song, got the West Australian fans in Melbourne into voice - and wow, there was a lot of them!

The Hawks were the second team along, riding past, taking it all in, and sharing it with their own kids.

Here we have the boys in the cars as they travelled along past us at the top of Collins Street - Gibbo and Buddy, Rough and Taz, Lake and Stratts, Gunstall and Sheils, Hill on babysitting duties with a baby Mitch, and the Cyril and Spangher (clockwise from the top left).

Once all the cars made it to the top of Collins Street, both teams are presented to the loud and massive crowd. Both coaches too, and then the Cup is held up by the opposing Captains. The crowd cheers, and sings their respective song....and then disperses back to work or off to the pub, like a bizarre flash mob!

There really is nothing quite like Melbourne during Grand Final week!

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