The ride to the Woolshed took longer than expected, so the game was already a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter.
The Woolshed was rocking, though it was a relatively small crowd, the restaurant itself was empty, even the outside seating, with clear view of television screens, was empty, everyone was congregated in the large bar area.
And it was a good mix of being barracking for each side. There seemed to be an equal number of St. Kilda and Collingwood jersey’s in the crowd. Even the waitstaff were in game mode. With the exception of the bartenders, most of the servers had their team colors on and most even sported face paint and in between serving food and busing tables were screaming with the rest of them.
The crowd was the most uniform of the day, ranging from about twenty-five to forty. The Woolshed is a fairly new pub, and is fairly upscale, so the crowd wasn’t surprising.
I felt bad walking in front of the cheering crowd and ordering a beer while the game was in play, but, it did beat the alternative.
I found a quiet corner far in the back and proceeded to watch the game and hit on a rather attractive waitress that was barracking for Saint Kilda. We were both happy. Her Saints seemed to be making a comeback, even leading at one point, and I was talking to an attractive women.
Though the crowd was small, the tension as the game wound to a conclusion was palpable. I thought some people in the crowd were going to require medical treatment as the game hung in the balance, their faces turning red, sweat pouring from their brows.
Saint Kilda took the lead, but Collingwood wouldn’t give up. With a couple of more goals, they managed to tie it up…and Collingwood was making a drive.
The footy was making its way downfield, bouncing and tumbling as it went, the players playing with everything that they had.
Then the horn sounded. Game ended.
Almost silently, the bar emptied. Me, used to American Football, went to the bar, got another pint, and went to stand at the back of the room again. But nothing happened. People just left.
I knew better, I had heard stories, and I’d even seen a tied game. But it didn’t hit me until I was standing in a near empty bar looking over the trimmings and trappings of the celebration, seemingly limp and deflated at this point, that when the game ends in a tie – it is a tie, unless it is a Grand Final – then it must be replayed.
Yup, they were going to have to replay the entire game the next week.
I walked out of the bar with a few Saint Kilda fans, as the skies threatened to open up on a city that just experienced the biggest sporting event of the year, when no one walked away a loser and a winner. People seemed numb.
As I said goodbye to a couple of the St. Kilda supporters, one of them nodded their head towards a group of about ten young Collingwood supporters seemingly beating each other up.
“Typical.” One of the St. Kilda fans said.
Another responded, “Yup. If they would have won, there would have been a riot. If they would have lost, probably would have been a riot. Tie game probably for the best.”
As I walked home in the rain, past the AFL headquarters, the town seemed quiet and subdued. Not how you would expect on the night of the biggest sporting event of the year.
But in hindsight, the biggest sporting event of the year would take place the following week, when the Grand Final winner would finally be known (provided it didn’t end in a tie).
View Inside the Woolshed, Grand Final (first one) Day
Collingwood Fans, releasing some pent up energy
Sign outside of AFL headquarters, no celebration in sight