Peter Whitfield holds up fabric in Collingwood colours.

Thousands of supporters flock to Melbourne as AFL grand final parade returns to dry land

Thousands of Collingwood and Brisbane Lions fans have converged on Melbourne as the AFL grand final parade makes its way through the city’s sporting precinct ahead of tomorrow’s big game.

This year’s parade, which is expected to last for about two hours, is longer than usual and began at Melbourne Park.

A motorcade of utes featuring coaches and players from the prospective premiership teams will journey up Batman Avenue, through Birrarung Marr and over the William Barak Bridge to Yarra Park where the AFL is holding a free Footy Festival for fans.

This year, the parade has returned to to dry land after supporters complained last year that they could not get close enough to the players as they travelled on the Yarra River in boats.

This year’s parade has returned to dry land after a one-off on-water iteration last year.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

If the Lions win, it will be their first premiership since 2004, while for the Pies, the first since 2010.

It has been 20 years since Collingwood and Brisbane faced each other in a grand final.

Both teams had a final training session this morning ahead of tomorrow’s match.

‘It’s been a long time coming’: Fans’ last-ditch bid for tickets

Diehard fans also braved the cold camping out for one final chance at securing tickets to Saturday’s grand final.

Peter Whitfield, who describes himself as a Collingwood tragic, had been in line from about 1:30pm the day before.

“We spent the night. We cooked some dinner out in the park. It was almost like camping,” he said.

Peter Whitfield holds up fabric in Collingwood colours.

Peter Whitfield describes himself as a Magpies “tragic” and has joined those camped at the MCG.(ABC News: Natasha Schapova)

Swaddled up in a sleeping bag, with a jacket and scarf, he’s no stranger to the desperate fight for the best seats in the house.

“I’ve slept out here quite a bit. I wanted to get the Pies tickets to go down the front [for the] preliminary final and also some other games that were really well patronised,” he said.

Also in the queue was Daniel Kilfoy and his three children, a family clearly divided along club lines.

Daniel Kilfoy smiles, flanked by his three children.

Daniel Kilfoy and his three kids are a family happily divided on AFL grand final eve.(ABC News: Natasha Schapova)

“The first child we had, I said Brisbane and the second child [their] mum said Collingwood,” he said.

“It’s been a long time coming. It’s another repeat of 2003 … we’re all up and about.”

One woman had flown from the Gold Coast to brave the cold while another, said she queued up every year.

“It’s like Christmas every year, it’s beautiful,” she said.

Warm spring spell to deliver fine grand final weather

Tomorrow’s grand final will be the fifth ever to be played in Melbourne in temperatures exceeding 26 degrees Celsius.

The Bureau of Meteorology said by the first bounce, the temperature was forecast to be about 27C, rising to 29C by half time.

“Conditions are expected to be considerably warmer than last time Brisbane and Collingwood met,” senior forecaster Lincoln Trainer said.

The back-to-back 2002 and 2003 Collingwood-Brisbane finals were just 12C and 14C respectively.

On both occasions, Brisbane claimed the title. Mr Trainer said the unusual warmth added another factor to an already interesting match-up.

“Obviously a warmer climate in Brisbane, you would say it could favour them, but Collingwood are fighters,” he said.

The last hot-weather grand final was back in 2015 when Hawthorn took on West Coast, when the temperature soared above 30C.

At the time, many commentators predicted the warm weather would favour the Eagles — but the Hawks claimed victory.



Author: Russell White