So, here we are.
Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs in the 2021 AFL Grand Final.
But what did we learn from a Preliminary Final weekend that was pretty much all one-way traffic?
Find out in the five-leg multi of hindsight we like to call 5 Lessons Learned – AFL edition.
(1) We’ve got the right Grand Final
Both Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs have been the two best, most consistent, and dominant sides throughout the 2021 season and it’s only fitting they feature in the last Saturday in September.
There’s always a coulda, shoulda, woulda story for sides that missed out heading into any Grand Final, but you simply cannot despite that the two best teams this year are playing in the big one.
Will the Grand Old Flag fly again for the first time since 1964?
Are we seeing another 2016 backs against the wall, “why not us?” dream run to a flag for the Western Bulldogs?
It’s a strange situation we find ourselves in with a fortnight’s rest and a Grand Final being played in Perth, but these teams will play it on Mars (the planet, not the ground in Ballarat) if they had to.
After a one-sided weekend of Preliminary Finals, perhaps we’re going to get one of the all-time great Grand Finals. It’s what this season deserves.
Melbourne opens the Grand Final betting as $1.67 favorites.
When the Dees last won a Premiership in 1964, Australia didn’t even have decimal currency.
The Dees have been to the big dance just twice since then, but even at the time never stood a chance to the might of Hawthorn in 1988 and Essendon in the year 2000.
They’ve come a long way since the days of sacking Norm Smith to the tanking scandal, this proud old football club has endured a fair bit of heartbreak and pain over the years but now head into the biggest game of the year as the favorite.
It’s fair to say many of us, including Dees fans, found this season’s run of form a little too good to be true.
But the Demons are real and they are spectacular.
(3) Hardcore Gawn
A shoutout to the Punters that backed Max Gawn to kick 5+ goals in Friday night’s prelim against the Cats, which was none of you.
In fact, Gawn’s bag of five in the Prelim was so unexpected that he wasn’t even an option for anyone looking to back a player to kick 5+
Perhaps the $23 for Max Gawn to kick the first goal in the Grand Final is just a wee bit tempting?
(4) The Western Bulldogs are the bad guy
There’s no doubting that Melbourne is the fairy tale story in this year’s Grand Final, but every fairy tale needs its villain – and this year’s bad guy status belongs to the Western Bulldogs.
Remember in the lead-up to the 2016 Grand Final when everyone was hopping on the Doggies bandwagon and no one cared for the Sydney Swans?
Well, that’s the Bulldogs now.
This club is a recent premiership winner, Melbourne isn’t.
Australia loves the underdog and the fairy tale and the Dees tick all of those boxes.
However, the only underdog that matters is the one in our betting market, of which the Western Bulldogs are $2.20 to win the club’s third premiership.
My advice for any Doggies fan over the next fortnight is to embrace the bad guy mantra. It can be fun, especially if you win.
(5) An on-brand performance from Geelong and Port
Much has already been said and written about the pathetic performances by both Geelong and Port Adelaide over the weekend.
Spare me the talk about a virus, it must be the same bug that most of the Cats catch around late September for the good part of a decade.
Did Port Adelaide even show up on Saturday night?
Many joked on Twitter that the Western Bulldogs finally got a training session at Adelaide Oval, but there was no joke that the Power looked like witches’ hats.
Perhaps backing the likes of Geelong and Port Adelaide to win the flag can have a spell.