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On the move

From the Members Thursday SEP 03

By Bill Hodges

It’s official!

The Grand Final is moving from Victoria after an announcement on Wednesday.

And it will be the first time since 1974 that I will not have attended a single VFL/AFL match.

It hurts!

But others are going through far worse.

Any thoughts of getting to Queensland have been dashed. I’ve been to 41 VFL/AFL Grand Finals but I don’t intend to break the law in order to get to the Gabba.

That said, my copy of the Australian Constitution must be out of date!

So, I’ll be consigned to “off tube” again.

I’ve been a TV consumer only twice. In 1984, I was 15, ticketless and had no purchasing power. Every other family member had a ticket, so I spent the day home alone. It was freezing and a walk to the shops pre-game was quickly abandoned. Just got back in time to see something I wish I hadn’t.

1984 was the first year MCC and VFL Park members shared an enlarged Members’ Reserve, including the entire Northern (Olympic) Stand. The top deck of the Northern Stand was half empty! My initial feelings were and still are unprintable.

The Bombers were 23 points down at three-quarter time but it was “anybody’s match”, according to Peter Landy on Channel 7.

Essendon kicked four goals in the opening eight minutes of the final term and the sleeping giant was awakened. I had ABC radio on as well. There was a pronounced “thump” each time Essendon goaled. Little did I know back then, but my now former radio colleague and dear friend Graham “Smokey” Dawson was clearly not all that happy with his beloved Hawks in the final stanza.

A fightback by Hawthorn saw them regain the lead, but only briefly.

The Dons ran all over them.

It was a great grand final and I vowed there and then never to miss another one.

Be careful what you wish for!

In April 2006, I was involved in a serious transport accident which saw me in hospital until the end of November.

I’d accepted many weeks before that I would not be attending the Grand Final and I spent the day watching on TV with my mum, who kindly gave up her opportunity to attend.

It was a strange few days in the lead-up!

I had a psychological assessment mid-week, followed by a robust discussion on the Thursday afternoon. It would be fair to say that some had different ideas about my future than I did.

In truth, after the initial upset, it just made me more determined to get through, get discharged and show “them”.

And be assured, I still know who all of “them” are.

My spirits improved when two dear friends came calling on Friday night. Dana and Greg arrived just when I needed them most. We usually attended a Grand Final Eve function, so this was another first of sorts.

The big day dawned.

There was no Grand Final Marathon and no Grand Final Breakfast on free-to-air TV, so things did not get going until around 11am.

Fortunately, 3AW broadcast the North breakfast and for the first time in months there was a bit of laughter in Room 37.

I had my normal Saturday morning gym session and thought this was not part of my usual grand final day routine. My therapist, Karen, was very sympathetic and wheeled me down to the gym a few minutes early.

They were trying to get everyone finished and back in their room by 2pm.

I was made to sit in a chair for the entire day rather than lie on the bed. This was very painful but as I could not move unassisted I just had to suck it up. They called it “sitting out”. Anyway, I had something to take me mind off it.

What a game!

Goals were at a premium and West Coast won by one point in a classic.

I have not missed a Grand Final since.

The bonus being Richmond have won these two premierships in the last three years and I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the post-game celebrations as a guest of a club staff member. Thanks Tiff!

Well, the 2020 Grand Final will certainly be different. Hopefully the pubs are open and Richmond win it again.

Then we’ll have two flags to unfurl at the start of the 2021 season!

Bill Hodges

Bill Hodges has been a MCC member since 1988 and, prior to that, attended numerous matches with his Dad. He loves footy and attends almost all matches at the 'G. Bill, like many others, has been missing the MCG, and his many MCG friends. He hopes they are all safe and well. Bill is already planning his return to the `G, hoping it will be sooner rather than later.