Angry fans slam the AFL’s grand final parade as it takes to the Yarra River for the first time with huge crowds flocking to see Geelong and Sydney stars – but they leave VERY disappointed
- A large number of supporters gathered on the banks of the Yarra River to watch the stars
- The reaction to switching away from holding a parade in the CBD was sometimes brutal
- Many fans complained that they couldn’t get up close and personal with their heroes
Finals fever has begun as football fans descended on the Yarra River in Melbourne for this year’s history-making AFL finals parade – but some angry fans have flipped the switch to keep the event on the city’s streets.
The main draw of Footy’s biggest week usually moves through Melbourne’s city center with players at the back of the out, but this year the Sydney Swans and Geelong Cats floated along the waterway affectionately known as the “Upside Down River” because of the muddy brown water. .
The AFL scrapped the event in 2020 and 2021 when the grand final was played interstate due to the Covid-19 lockdown in Melbourne.
This year’s parade featured players traveling down the Yarra from Swan Street Bridge to Princes Bridge from 10.30am, before returning to the MCG while the state enjoyed a public holiday.
The history-making parade saw the grand final stars float down the Yarra River for the first time ever – and fans weren’t happy with the switch
A large number of football players turned up on the riverbank, but were disappointed that they could not see the stars up close.
The players have been introduced to the crowd outside the ground, with the 2022 premiership cup on display.
However, the transition from the streets of the CBD to the riverfront has gone down like a lead balloon with many fans.
One of the biggest criticisms from supporters was the fact that it was difficult to see the players, whereas in years gone by the stars were up close and personal.
Sydney Swans players wave from a barge on the Yarra – leaving many supporters angry and prompting radio host Tony Jones to call the new version of the parade a “disaster”.
“No interaction with players and coaches,” Alex Baskin tweeted.
“The key component of the AFL Grand Final Parade is for fans to get up close and personal with the players. The idea of requiring binoculars to find your hero from a river bank is not ideal,” wrote Adam White.
One tweeter named Milly wrote: ‘Soooo bad. The boats turned around way before anyone in this photo who waited for hours in your “viewing areas”.
Geelong fan Sue Garlick said parade organizers need a “good kick up the bum”.
“It was the biggest rush ever. There was no cheering from anyone. There were children crying because they didn’t get to see anything, she told The Age.
“Says a lot about the AFL that someone thought it would be a good idea,” tweeted Ashley Little.
3AW Radio’s Tony Jones was scathing, branding the new parade a “disaster” and saying: “I’d put this in the same category as Meat Loaf, AFLX and the Batmobile … in 10 years we’ll be looking at pictures of this and using as a punchline.’
The grand final has already drawn thousands to the city with 75 per cent of Melbourne’s hotels, motels and serviced apartments booked out for the weekend.
The parade attracted a huge turnout, but one fan spoke for many when she branded the Yarra experiment “the biggest fizzer ever”
“It’s a really extraordinary boom for us,” Victorian Sports Minister Steve Dimopolous told reporters on Friday.
“It’s very important, but it’s also fundamentally about who we are as a community of Victorians.”
Dimopolous said allegations of racism at the Hawthorn Football Club would not dampen the excitement of the grand final week.
“They are harrowing and really disturbing allegations,” he said.
“But the AFL has strongly committed to an independent external investigation, which is the right thing to do.
“It has given us clear air and some real opportunities for Victorians to enjoy the best game in the country.”