AFL grand final: Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin and Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge enjoy unique grand final build-up
After soaking up the sun on the Yanchep sand, Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin strolled up to the pub where he took in not only a “parma and pot” but how far the Demons have come.
In and out of quarantine all season but finally given the gift of solitude after a two-week grand final lead-in, Goodwin spent his day off on Thursday undertaking the 30-minute commute from Melbourne’s base in Joondalup to the coastal suburb.
Laying on the beach before downing some lunch, Goodwin took a moment to reflect on Melbourne’s chances of beating the Western Bulldogs in Saturday’s decider to end a 57-year premiership drought.
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“I think yesterday was the first time I got to take some time out and digest things,” Goodwin said.
“I took a little drive to a place called Yanchep, laid on the beach and then went up to the pub and had a parma and a pot and reflected on the challenge and the year that’s been.
“It was nice to have some time out on my own to do a bit of reflection.
“They were really clear on what they wanted to stand for as a playing group before the season started, they were really clear on how they wanted to be seen and what they wanted to achieve.”
While Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge, who has already conquered the grand final mountain once as coach in 2016, has spent his week avoiding Perth’s resident marine life - sharks.
“Most of my days, when I’ve had downtime, have been swimming in the Fremantle pool and Scarborough pool,” he said.
“I haven’t been swimming too far out into the Indian Ocean with the little mini grey suits out there.”
Over the past week, Perth punters have become accustomed to spotting AFL stars out enjoying the grand-final build-up in public.
If you drop by the Roasting Warehouse in South Fremantle, you might catch Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli enjoying his morning brew.
“If anyone wants a cup of coffee, it’s not too bad down there,” Bontempelli said.
“The perk of the longer lead-in does give you that opportunity to get away from the hotel for half a day here and there to embrace what the build-up is about.
“It’s about embracing those quieter moments in-between and reflect on the opportunity that lies ahead but also what’s happened to this point. It’s been a good opportunity.”
With both West Coast and Fremantle failing to see finals action this season, Perth neutrals have taken the chance to side with one of our newest teams.
In all, around 8000 fans, far less than the 19,000 who registered, attended Friday’s open training session with supporters at fever pitch.
Children skipped school, parents willingly let them but it was all in the name of Perth’s historic decider as both clubs took the chance to have one last run on Optus Stadium.
Bulldogs fan Emma Rogers brought her son Billy and nephew Kobe, wanting to enjoy an opportunity that was too good to miss.
“For our kids to get to experience this in Perth is amazing,” she said.
“We are coming tomorrow. We couldn’t go in 2016 and when we won, my husband cried more than I did on our wedding day.”
The Demons hit the track just after 10am and practiced their goal kicking much to the delight of the pro-Melbourne crowd who cheered home every kick.
“Straight away when we came out, they (crowd) were buzzing,” Melbourne star Christian Salem said.
“It’s awesome the fans have turned out. It’s pretty packed and a great day for it.
“It’s enjoyable to get a session in front of the fans.”
The Dogs took to the track shortly after midday, with Optus Stadium bathed in sunshine a day before the big game.
“It’s amazing,” Bulldogs head of football Chris Grant said.
“What a great build-up to a game. WA and Perth have put on a great show for us. Both teams are feeling that atmosphere.”
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