2017 AFL grand final parade | photos

Like footy fans needing reminding, but it's grand final eve - and that means one thing: the AFL grand final parade.

Richmond and Adelaide will face off in the flag decider on Saturday afternoon. Traditionally, the parade marks the beginnings of festivities.


Melbourne was built for a parade. Those streets and boulevards, wide enough to turn a gold coach in the old days; wide enough to accommodate dreams today.

And yes, here at the AFL grand final parade, worthy of a public holiday, were dreams on parade, almost all of them, it seemed at first, tinted yellow and black.

Years of dreams thwarted, decades of dreams dashed.

And there, glory be, focus of desire on Spring Street, sailed the cup, held high by Bob Murphy, whose Bulldogs, in one of those impossibly romantic endings, won it last year.

The cup, catching the sun and trailed by the great Clydesdales of the Carlton Brewery, seemed almost almost within reach of the hordes pressed against the barricades.

Fans line up to watch the AFL grand final parade in Melbourne. Photo: AAP Image/Joe Castro

Fans line up to watch the AFL grand final parade in Melbourne. Photo: AAP Image/Joe Castro

It was borne away to the strains of brass and pipe bands, down to Wellington Parade and on to Yarra Park, stopping outside the MCG, that great stadium where dreams are won and lost every weekend through winter and where, in the spring, a season's entire ambitions are decided in an afternoon.

Just beyond, Richmond sat, the old suburb all but emptied, all its attention focussed on the parade. Thirty five years it's been since the Tigers had roared at a grand final and its army had come across Punt Road, cheering and waiting.

You could feel the yearning in the air, thick as musk. Thousands had got up early to cram Punt Street Oval just to watch the team's final training run.

And yet, as you plunged into the great crowd along the route of the parade, its numbers futile to guess, the home team did not have the streets to itself.

The scarves made it evident that a South Australian army had marched across the border. Adelaide's supporters have endured 19 years since their last grand final. Adelaide and Richmond, thus, share the dubious honour of suffering the two longest grand final droughts in the AFL.

"We flew in last night," said Greg Graham standing with his wife Rebecca.

"The plane was full. All of us Adelaide supporters. There would have been convoys on the roads.

Graham, a primary school teacher, shares a box for eight at Adelaide Oval, and he and his wife were the only two to get tickets.

Across the way, a hopeful young man waved a sign that shouted his need.

"I want a ticket," Kane Arundale had scrawled on cardboard. Arundale, a Tigers man from afar, had flown in from Perth, where he works for a mining company.

He'd had no offers, but he was willing to pay $1500, maybe $2000.

It was that sort of day. Hopes and dreams everywhere, and no one quite sure whether they'd be fulfilled.