Feature

Perth-ect storm

Perth’s Optus Stadium will host the 2021 AFL Grand Final on Saturday. Photo: Josh Kempton

Perth-based fans of Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs say the AFL Grand Final being held in Perth is a dream come true.

For the second consecutive year, the grand final has been moved from its traditional Melbourne Cricket Ground home due to the city’s ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Perth’s Optus Stadium has been chosen to host the game, after Brisbane’s Gabba put on the showpiece event last year.

Two Melbourne-based teams will contest the game, giving Perth-based fans a once in a lifetime opportunity to see their teams in action on the biggest stage.

The Matagarup Bridge will host plenty of foot traffic, with all 60,000 tickets sold out. Photo: Josh Kempton

Western Bulldogs WA Supporters Group president Darren Joseph says he never envisaged seeing his Bulldogs playing a grand final in Perth.

“Even if I had dreamt about it, I would’ve woken up and said ‘that’s a really weird dream’,” Mr Joseph says.

“Earlier in the year, I was expecting to fly across to see them, but that wasn’t looking very promising with Covid.”

Darren Joseph talks through how Saturday will look for the Western Bulldogs WA Supporters Group.

Western Demons committee member Martin Moloney says while he is excited, his thoughts are with supporters locked down in Melbourne.

“It’s a travesty for those people … who have been so faithful to the club,” he says.

“I think [former Melbourne captain] Garry Lyon is over here, but that’s about it.”

Martin Moloney says he still can’t believe his Demons are playing a Grand Final in Perth.

With WA’s border to Victoria closed, both clubs have encouraged Melburnian members to donate their tickets to Perth-based fans.

Mr Joseph says he is heartened by the displays of generosity.

“We’ve spent the last 48 hours trying to match barcodes with locals who want to go,” he says.

“There’s been so many stories of people saying their son is jumping up and down, or their mother will be so happy.”

Neutral supporters are expected to favour Melbourne, who last won a premiership in 1964.

Mr Moloney says he would welcome anyone who supported the Demons for the day.

“There’s a lot of people over here with a genuine interest in football who are loving seeing Melbourne up there,” he says.

“I think we’ve gone beyond empathy now, which is where you want to be.”

All 60,000 tickets have been sold for the season decider, with 10,000 general access tickets selling out in nine minutes this morning.

Infographic: Josh Kempton.

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