I love the AFL. We all know none of you are ever really interested in hearing me talk about it. But let's just both try to be blissfully ignorant of those facts -- and the fact that doing so only really benefits me -- for the next ten minutes while I talk about tonight's main event. Or tomorrow morning's if you want to be specific.
I am a big supporter of the Geelong Football Club, as I've mentioned at least once or twice here, but unfortunately for all of us, the Cats, despite appearing poised for a title run after ending the season on an impressive hot streak, were ousted in the opening round of this year's Finals in a particularly brutal drubbing at the hand of Fremantle FC. That doesn't mean, of course, that footy ends for the season, much like how the Major League Baseball season, miraculously, manages to go on after the Mets get eliminated from the pennant race in June every year.
No, footy continued on for the past month somehow and when all the dust settled the two teams I hated made it to the Preliminary Finals, that would be Collingwood FC and Hawthorn FC, were one win away from playing in the Grandaddy of them All Down Under. Fortunately for my sanity, Collingwood got whooped by Sydney last weekend, but unfortunately Hawthorn managed to gut out a tight win over Adelaide in the opposite Preliminary Final, setting up a Sydney-Hawthorn clash in the Grand Final Saturday afternoon, or rather, very early Saturday morning if you're in the U.S. This was unfortunate for me as it means Hawthorn still has a chance at winning it all and because Adelaide had sort of become my de facto No. 2 team because a) Geelong man Brenton Sanderson is their head coach b) their uniforms are fucking awesome.
Alas, both games didn't go how I wanted them to, but hey, at least it means I still have a vested interest -- seeing Hawthorn get embarrassed tonight -- and in the end that can't be bad. Now, I know all of you people are wondering why, exactly, I so dislike Hawthorn, and I suppose the best way to explain it is that the first AFL match I ever watched was the 2008 Grand Final, in which the very heavily favored Geelong Cats were upset by the rival Hawks. This will be Hawthorn's first stab at taking it all since then -- the Cats won two championships in that span -- while Sydney will be going for its first title since 2005 when Leo Barry, Nick Davis and company snapped the longest championship drought in AFL history.
Since then, the two teams have had an interesting relationship in that the Cats swore never to lose to Hawthorn again. This seems, of course, a bit silly, but sure enough, in nine games since, even if it requires a last second nail-biter of a kick, Geelong has not yet let Hawthorn put up a win against them. The most memorable of these was almost certainly a wild game in 2009 in which the Cats overcame a stupifyingly massive deficit in the fourth quarter to win the match on a kick after the siren, essentially AFL's equivalent of a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
Unfortunately, the Cats won't be getting the last laugh this year, but there is still a chance I won't have to see Buddy Franklin smiling in those mustard and brown vertical stripes he wears. I will be going full bore for the Swans this evening even if I have no real reason to care about them whatsoever when they aren't playing in the Grand Final against a team I hate. This might seem mildly embarrassing given that this is a sport I've never seen in person, had never watched before four years ago and will be playing its championship some 20,000 miles away from me, but hey, there are more embarrassing things in the world than this, right? Right.
That's right folks. There will be meat pies. There will be lamingtons. There will, clearly, be a lot of you who are jealous of me and my incredible Aussie evening.
It's ok, I understand. I've tried to convince you all of how awesome this game is before, but you didn't listen. Maybe now you will. Tonight at 12:30 a.m. ET, you'll get your last chance to find out before next March.