The AFL has confirmed there will be no grand final parade held in Perth ahead of the game on September 25.
- The grand final parade has been in doubt due to COVID-19
- But there will be free tickets to watch training sessions, the AFL says
- Meanwhile all allocated Bulldogs grand final tickets sold out
Instead, fans will be able to watch separate Bulldogs and Demons “captain’s run” training sessions at Perth Stadium on the Friday morning before the game.
While fans will have to register for a ticket to watch the training sessions, they will be free of charge.
A spokesman for the AFL said the decision was made to mitigate any risks caused by COVID-19, and due to limited staff in Perth and the time available to organise an alternative event.
The Perth Lord Mayor, Basil Zempilas, had been eager for a street parade to be held and had pushed for an alternative involving boats and the Swan River, or for an event to be held at Perth Arena.
Brownlow to be hosted virtually
The AFL also revealed further details about the Brownlow Medal count, due to be held in Perth this coming Sunday night at Perth Stadium.
It will involve about 800 people, but will be hosted virtually from Melbourne.
Demons and Bulldogs players will be in attendance, but they will be in separate rooms.
If the winner is a player from one of those teams they will be introduced to the wider event “in an isolated way” and any media conference with them will be conducted via video-call.
Others who will be able to attend the event include the Eagles and Dockers, likely a few Geelong players who remain in Perth following their unsuccessful preliminary final, and other West Australian players already in Perth for the off-season.
Assuming the border with South Australia remains open, Port Adelaide and Adelaide Crows players will also be able to attend.
Bulldogs ticket allocation snapped up
No extra tickets will be made available to the West Australian public for the AFL grand final after Western Bulldogs members quickly snapped up their allocation of 12,000.
The Bulldogs’ allotment sold in roughly the same amount of time as Melbourne’s did a day earlier, with the AFL announcing the news on social media less than four and a half hours after the sale began.
A total of 10,000 tickets have been put aside for public sale starting Thursday, with the AFL planning to add any unsold tickets from the member allocations of the two clubs to that number.
But hopes of a bigger proportion being available to the public have now been dashed.
There is likely to be a mad rush for tickets online on Thursday morning, with thousands of West Australians desperate to get to the historic occasion.
It is the first time the decider has been held in Western Australia, and just the second time it has taken place outside of Victoria, after COVID-19 forced last year’s finale to be moved to Brisbane.
Clash of the underdogs
The desperation of both sets of supporters to get their hands on tickets is understandable given how starved of success both teams have been.
The Demons have the longest current premiership drought of any team, having last lifted the cup in 1964.
The Bulldogs broke their long premiership drought when they stunned the football world by taking the cup in 2016 after finishing seventh at the end of the home and away season, but it was just their second flag since the clubs’ first VFL/AFL season way back in 1925.
The Bulldogs still have a number of players who took part in their long-awaited triumph five years ago, and they’re hopeful that will be a major advantage come this year’s decider on September 25.
2016 premiership midfielder Josh Dunkley said the players know exactly what to expect from a Melbourne side desperate to write its own piece of history.
“To have those guys there and know what we’ve been through, and know what they’re going through, I think is really important for sure, because you know what to expect from them, they’re going to come out with a full head of steam, like we did in 2016,” he said.
“It’s gonna be an arm wrestle, they’re a great side, they’ve been one of the better sides all year.
“We’ve had some great contests with them, and yeah it’s gonna be a great game so it’s exciting that we know what to expect from them, and they’re really gonna put their best foot forward.”
Both sides face an unusual grand final build-up, with the AFL having shifted the bye usually held before the finals begin, to the week before the game’s showpiece event.
It leaves the players facing a difficult balance between soaking up the occasion, and keeping their minds on the job.
“The job’s not done yet, so we’ve just got to go out there and train really well, and get together and enjoy the moment a little bit, and yeah when it comes to game day just really work hard together, and hopefully we get that win,” Dunkley said.
“You have to really rest up and recover, we didn’t get that pre-finals bye so it’s really important this week I think especially to have a little rest and rejuvenate and refresh yourselves, and get ready for a big week next week.”
If the Bulldogs win next Saturday, club legend Chris Grant will present the cup to the team.
If the Demons emerge victorious, they will also have a former captain present the trophy, five-time All-Australian Garry Lyon.