AT LUNCHTIME the roads were bare. It was that one Saturday in September Victorians are devoted to – Grand Final Day.
Ballarat was no different either, with people gathering at house parties, man caves and barbecues all over town.
Ballarat electrician Shane Henderson has been hosting grand final parties for many years, but when Hawthorn plays it’s a special occasion.
Mr Henderson proposed to his now wife on the day Hawthorn won the grand final in 2008.
“We’ve had a big party every year for about the last 16 years – it’s just a bonus when Hawthorn plays,” he said.
Both Hawthorn supporters, his garage was set up with a projector and Hawthorn posters all over the wall.
For grand final day they put streamers and balloons everywhere, including signs along their front fence, as well as a Hawthorn flag up their mast.
Mr Henderson said that for him, grand final day is the best day of the year.
He joked ahead of the game with his wife that if Hawthorn won they would have to get a divorce.
“The 2008 grand final was a special day – this year it was still great but it didn’t top that year,” he said.
The Kenny family are all Hawthorn supporters and have started a grand final tradition of watching it at home, having a kick of the footy outside at half time and eating party pies and frankfurters.
The family went to the grand final parade on Friday and went down to Hawthorn’s family day at Glenferrie Oval yesterday.
“The kids have been wearing their Hawks jumpers all week,” Adrian Kenny said.
At the Curnow residence, the new man cave was christened for grand final day.
A project of the past three months, it was almost ready – just in time for the big day.
David Ellis enjoyed grand final day from the new man cave, excited for it to be a new venue.
“It’ll be quieter this year as no one barracks for any of the teams,” Mr Ellis said.
“A text went out on Friday just saying Saturday would be the day to christen the man cave.”
Teacher Chris Versteegen, at a gathering with friends in Mt Clear, admitted to being more a cricket fan than a footy fan.
“Boxing Day test is a bigger day for me – but Grand Final day is up there with some of the best of the year,” Mr Versteegen said.
“For me, it’s just about having a great day with ‘da boyz’.”
Also at the gathering, Justin Eggerlin has attended the same party every year for the past three years.
“I wouldn’t go anywhere else – this is what grand final day is about,” he said.
The shed the boys watch the game in has evolved over the years.
“There’s a bar this year and a bigger screen,” he said.
Hawthorn supporter Brett Smith was picked up to head to the grand final from Ballarat, travelling from Adelaide to see the match.
“A mate won a competition a few weeks ago – we’ve been waiting to see if Hawthorn made it,” he said.
Never having gone to a grand final before, Mr Smith said he was nervous about the match.
Wife Rachel Smith was also heading along.
“I don’t really care about football – I’m just going for the atmosphere,” she said.
At half time Fremantle fan Laura Handford was already concerned, but convinced they could come back.
“They’re the best defensive team of the season,” she said.
“I’m just stoked for Freo to be in the grand final.”
Hawks fan from Ballarat East Kaitlyn Cartledge headed out to Ross Creek to celebrate the Grand Final with a group of friends.
“I was the only Hawthorn fan last year, and I’ll probably be the only one again,” she said.
Before the game, Ms Cartledge said she was not confident at all.
“Freo are a good team – but I think they’re the underdog.”
She said she was nervous throughout the game, watching intensely.
“It was a bit calming that Hawthorn were winning for most of it but I was still unsure what the result would be... especially when Freo started kicking a few goals.
“But I’m absolutely stoked with the result.”