The dust has settled, the hangover has eased and the Demons are premiers, putting the Dogs to the sword in the last quarter to run out 74-point winners.
To the victors go the spoils and after such a long time between drinks for Demons fans, the spoils will be enjoyed for a very long time to come.
And for the vanquished? It’s been an incredible year for the Western Bulldogs and despite the poor finish, it’s hard not to feel a lot of pride for the red, white and blue.
Despite the loss I was able to host a sort of grand final party for some of my neighbours when normally I would just stream it on my computer alone, so it was still one of my better grand finals in recent memory.
Here are some final thoughts on a game I’d like to forget but will probably remember for a long time.
The first half
The first two and a half quarters were everything we wanted from a grand final. It was tough, hard, quick football. The Demons were unrelenting but the talent of the Bulldogs kept them going.
Those second-quarter goals from Marcus Bontempelli and Adam Treloar were brilliant. Josh Schache was playing out of his skin. The pace of the game was incredible as was the physicality.
The Dogs got 19 points up and I really thought we were half a chance but we all know what happened next.
The three and half minutes from hell
The Dogs started the third quarter so well. Twelve minutes in and they were 19 points ahead while dominating the third quarter, then Melbourne took the game by the scruff of the neck and the Dogs didn’t even give a yelp.
When Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca started clearing it with such ease the Dogs didn’t try and defend in the centre, instead believing that they could pull it back in their favour. When they were six points down, I thought they could respond if they just held up until three-quarter time, but the goals kept coming.
When the siren sounded with the Dogs 24 points down, we knew it was over and so did the Dogs’ players. The margin doesn’t do the game justice as it was close for the majority, but that three and a half minutes will give the players nightmares for a long, long time.
I didn’t go into this game thinking Fritsch would have the sort of influence he had. Such are grand finals, they can show us the best of players.
His two goals in the third dragged the Demons back into it and off they went. In any other premiership team in recent history, he would be a deserved Norm Smith medallist, but so good was Petracca you couldn’t go past him.
I saw a video of Fritsch on Instagram yesterday and he didn’t seem to care.
The longest quarter of my footballing life
I knew before the bounce of the ball to start the last quarter that it was over but being with friends, I stuck fat and watched the entire thing. Melbourne did largely as they pleased and every goal kicked would have been pure bliss for Melbourne fans.
What was disappointing was how poor the leaders were. It looked like Bontempelli had gone home, so little was his influence. The kids in the squad needed someone to get them through that last quarter.
Jack Macrae was in the thick of it but he played a lone hand. Hopefully there is no long-term scarring for the youth like Cody Weightman, Aaron Naughton, and Bailey Smith, but we won’t find out until next year.
I have to give credit to Western Australia. It was a brilliant grand final. It was really well done. The only blip on the whole thing was Basil Zempilas not letting Andrew Embley announce the winner of the Norm Smith or the coach say a few words.
That may be small but it really isn’t. Coach speeches in a grand final are a part of history. Zempilas has been involved in football long enough to know that. Do not let him go near a grand final again.
That’s all I’ve got about the 25th of September. Congratulations Melbourne, you’re deserved premiers, and the Western Bulldogs have done us supporters proud.
They’ve still got one of the best lists in the competition so I fully expect them to be around the mark again. However they do have holes that need to be filled, which I will get into at a later date.
Bring on the trade period and draft.