Nothing is quite as anticipated for Australian Rules Football fans as the Grand Final day. Several traditions, big and small, take place on gameday by fans and players alike.
The Big Day
Six months of matches and build up to the Grand Final create an electric atmosphere in the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground. Teams traditionally run directly through a large paper banner with the colours of their team, made by the cheerleading squads of each club. Depending on the context of the current game, these usually contain specific messages, slogans, titles, or sponsorship information.
During the run-through and at the end of the match (if they are victorious), the club’s song is played. Musical pre-game shows are performed before the presentation of the teams, and the singing of the national anthem, Advance Australia Fair, before the commencement of the game.
Australian rules fans tend to support their team in what is known as “barracking”, a type of support that supports their team positively but doesn’t aim to influence the opposing team or its supporters negatively. Australian football strays from the pack of team sports in regards to its supporting culture, as the spectators are more likely to support their team individually or in small groups, rather than large chants or aggressive shouting that one might see in American football or soccer.
Surprisingly, considering the high level of physical contact of the sport, crowd violence is incredibly rare, and the audience tends to share a sort of national camaraderie.
As with most sports events, food and alcohol play integral roles in the day. Cultural staples include the consumption of meat pies, Chiko rolls, and of course, beer. Mobile vendors are common at all the gameday matches, walking around selling food and drinks. For those who are unable to attend the game in person, most throw barbeques for family and friends either at home or in public parks, and in the parking lot outside the stadium.