When it comes to grand finals, footballers are supposed to put everything on the line and play like there’s no tomorrow. That’s why yesterday’s drawn game which forced a replay will be such a challenge for the 44 Collingwood and St Kilda players who went to “war” yesterday.
The challenge of digesting the incredible events of Saturday afternoon, returning to normality and routine and getting up for next Saturday’s grand final replay will be massive.
There’s no doubt an advantage can be claimed by whoever handles it better this week. It is an unprecedented situation for the clubs and these modern professional footballers. It’s unchartered territory in the modern era.
Straight after the final siren yesterday, instinct took over. Players lay dejected on the MCG turf. Nobody knew how to react.
Speaking to Channel Seven straight after the game, Collingwood skipper Nick Maxwell admitted he didn’t know how he’d address his teammates.
Maxwell instinctively also labelled the replay an “absolute joke”, while St Kilda defender Brendon Goddard appeared in shock when he described it as a “weird feeling”.
At the post-game press conference, Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse could not describe the emotions he was feeling, while St Kilda coach Ross Lyon said he was experiencing a range of emotions such as numbness, anger, frustration and relief.
The responses were evidently varied. It was difficult to know what to make of it and how to handle it. And that’s the challenge from now.
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire was feeling positive when he labelled the replay “another adventure”. He added: “It’s good it tests their professionalism.”
“It’s a challenge, that’s what things are all about. Seriously you can lie down and complain, but the fact of the matter is the Collingwood Football Club has the chance to win the premiership 2.30pm next Saturday MCG, we’ll be here!
“Let’s get out and play and last man standing wins the flag. That’s what football is all about, it’s fantastic.”
McGuire makes a lot of sense, but Eddie, of course, did not go through what the players and coaches did this past week and on Saturday.
And both Malthouse and Lyon admitted alot this week would depend on how the players reacted and “got themselves up”.
Interestingly, Maxwell and Goddard both labelled the yesterday’s match a “war” when speaking to Channel Seven on the ground after the siren yesterday.
Former grand finalists and premiership players often speak about grand final week and the build-up to the decider. There’s no doubt a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into the week, let alone the match, and a weary Goddard revealed an interesting and honest insight yesterday.
“The build-up during the week, you put some much effort into it, there’s no tomorrow,” Goddard said. “It was war today and it’s not too often you come back and fight a war a week later, but we’re up for it. We’re here until the last second.”
An exhausted Maxwell said: “Guys come here for a win or loss and that’s what we should be leaving with.” Before adding: “We’ll use the hurt we’re feeling now, we let a lead go and we come back next week.”
Sure they’ll both be back next week but in what condition. They’ll both still be desperate to win, but the mental and physical challenges will be large.
How the two clubs handle this unusual week will play a big role in deciding the 2010 premier.
It will be a true test to determine a genuine champion team and hopefully by 5.30pm next Saturday we’ll know who that team is… hopefully.