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Worth the Wait

From the Members Tuesday SEP 07

By Lynda Carroll

When you look back from a 2021 perspective, 2018 is unfathomable. It’s pretty much now like it was then, balanced on the edge of spring, but the MCG is empty, the streets are quiet (er), and there’s a kind of pallid feeling about the place.

Normally, there’d be a certain excitement and buzz centred on this beautiful place. People would be sorting out tickets, there’d be a bit of a spring in the steps of supporters whose teams had made it to the final eight, and it would be finals time.

I remember 2018 well. Melbourne made it to the finals for the first time since 2006. These were hopeful and bright times. Apart from having to remember how to get hold of tickets after a decade of deprivation, and even recalling the stomach-churning joy of having your team in the finals, nothing was too stressful.

First up was the Elimination Final. We could have finished higher, but we were there – in the finals! That was the best. We were playing Geelong! Scary? Yes. But after more than a decade of no finals, the nervous jitters were almost welcome.

It was the night of Friday 7 September. By the time the game started, everyone in red and blue was just happy to be there. More than that was a huge bonus. Looking out the MCC Library window to see if I could spot my brother and brother-in-law, the patiently waiting crowd, solidly snaking across Yarra Park, was a stunning sight.

There were 91,767 in attendance to see an amazing result for Melbourne. The tension in the air was palpable, switching to overwhelming joy as the game started with five goals for the Demons in the first quarter, swamping the Cats early on.

Fittingly, it was Nathan Jones – the last man standing from the 2006 finals – who kicked the goal that cemented the 29-point win. Along the way, we were all thrilled to see Weideman kick three goals, Oliver have 29 possessions, Harmes and Brayshaw 26 apiece, and a united determination not to falter, even when it could easily have all turned ugly. So many contributed, and it meant that the game was theirs to win.

I remember 2018 well. But even more than the game itself, I remember the dawning realisation that this was good. It would be a win. At one stage, having clumped down a flight of stairs to find a restorative bucket of chips, I stopped to take in the atmosphere. Standing outside MCC Reception, balancing on tiptoes to keep in touch with proceedings, I couldn’t see anyone who wasn’t facing towards the ground.

Then there was the noise. It was like nothing I’d heard before. It came in waves, swirling around and catching. You started hearing it at Level 3, and by the time you reached ground level, it was near tangible. I knew the sensation. This was venting after a decade of denial for the Demons. It was red and blue redemption. Come what may after this evening, everything had aligned so beautifully. Let it all out, people. Tears and hugs, smiles and laughter; such an overflowing time. But let it all out, for such moments are rare treasures.

I remember 2018 well, and the singing of the song after the game, and the sheer perfection of the result, if not the game. The Cats could have come back; but they didn’t. They should have, they could have, but they didn’t. They were eliminated. So I remember, with red and blue coloured glasses, the joy, the jubilation, and the achievement. The Grand Old Flag was triumphant, and there was plenty of September remaining.

I remember 2018 – after the worst of times, this was the best – and a result like this was well and truly worth the wait.

Lynda Carroll

Lynda Carroll is hoping to have people back at the MCG, and to be at the MCC Library again soon on match days. She is still researching for an updated MFC history, which she is writing alongside her duties for the MFC Past and Present Players’ and Officials’ Association, and is currently working part-time as an MCC Collections Cataloguer.