Melbourne Demons and Western Bulldogs AFL players have arrived at Optus Stadium for the biggest game of their lives ahead of a historic night for the code.
The AFL grand final is being held in Perth for the first time due to the latest Covid-19 outbreak in Melbourne on a day Victoria recorded 847 new cases, its highest spike in daily infections.
The Western Australian capital has been blanketed in a sea of blue, red and white ahead of the grand final showdown between minor premiers Melbourne Demons and Western Bulldogs, who go into the clash as underdogs.
Thousands of footy die-hards have arrived at Optus Stadium, including Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan, who arrived via train proudly donning a Demons scarf as he posed with fans.
A sell-out crowd of 60,000 enjoyed a pre-match entertainment line-up of Australian anthems ahead of the first bounce at 7.15pm.
Meanwhile, eagled-eyed viewers have mercifully mocked broadcaster Channel Seven over a cross-code mix-up.
Channel Seven accidentally called the Demons Melbourne Storm, the city’s club in the rival NRL code in emails promoting the game.
Defending NRL premiers Storm were also in action on Saturday night in their preliminary final against Penrith Panthers before going down 10-6.
‘Oops. Hey does Melbourne Storm know they’re in the AFL grand final? I know you guys are *good*,’ one fan tweeted.
Another fan quipped ‘I thought it was going to be a tight #AFLGF but I think the Bulldogs’ AFL experience will be too much for the Storm to overcome.
AFL fans have also gathered in Melbourne to watch the big game, despite warnings from health officials to stay home after Victoria recorded 847, its highest ever daily infection spike during the pandemic.
It’s the second time in history the AFL grand final has been played outside of Melbourne due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The Demons hope to break a 57-year premiership drought while the Western Bulldogs hope to lift the trophy for a second time since 2016.
The code has also been rocked by the sudden death of AFL legend Greg Parke, 73, who played for both grand final sides.
The Demons go into the grand final as red hot favourites, priced at $1.62 by Sportsbet.
AFL boss Gil McLachlan is delighted with how Perth has rallied around the grand final.
‘There’s a huge energy and demand that I took for granted,’ McLachlan told 6PR radio on Friday.
‘What’s struck me is how appreciative West Australians are. There’s a respect and an empathy for the loss the Victorians are feeling.
‘We might have a silver lining for West Australians, where there’ll be more big games coming to this town.
‘I’m confident about that. We know this is a football town.’Internet Explorer Channel Network