A couple of Paul Kelly numbers kicked off the low-key pre-match entertainment, then the cars came out. This year, Australia's gold medal winners from the London Olympics were honoured, as well a host of retiring AFL players, including Geelong premiership stars like Cameron Mooney, Cameron Ling and Brad Ottens. Kelly finished off with an MCG favourite, Leaps and Bounds, before Marina Prior's rendition of the national anthem. It wasn't the same as previous years, but it wasn't Meatloaf, either.
Adam Goodes celebrates a vital final quarter goal. Photo: Pat Scala
The "official" grand final day sprint was held pre-game, but the race 99,000 spectators came to see was between speed machines Lewis Jetta and Cyril Rioli. They didn't have to wait long. Lewis gathered the ball midway through the first quarter and it was on. Racing down the Southern Stand wing, Jetta took multiple bounces and got off a kick before Rioli could catch him.
Shane Mumford got through three quarters before his hamstring gave way, leaving Mike Pyke to carry the ruck load in the final quarter and the Canadian big man responded with a mighty performance, capping one of the best football stories of the year.
At one stage in the second quarter it looked as if a knee injury could end Adam Goodes' grand final dream. But with just minutes remaining in the final quarter, Goodes was still out there and about to become the hero. He gathered the ball off a pack deep in the pocket and dribbled home the goal that put the Swans up by seven points.
His snap from the boundary line in the first quarter was special, but it was Nick Malceski's flying shot out of heavy traffic deep inside 50 that sunk the Hawks with 34 seconds left and will go down in grand final history. Demoralised Hawks players could only watch as it slowly sailed over their heads.
It almost cost them the preliminary final and the Hawks paid the ultimate price for their wayward kicking yesterday. Lance Franklin was the main offender, kicking 3.4 and another out on the full, but there were several missed opportunities throughout that will haunt Hawthorn for years to come.
Somehow Ryan O'Keefe is still under-rated by some. Surely that can no longer be the case after he produced a stunning individual performance to clinch the Norm Smith Medal. O'Keefe gathered 28 disposals and laid an extraordinary 15 tackles to go with seven clearances and four inside 50s.
Former team-mates, one of John Longmire or Alastair Clarkson were going to be left shattered, and the other, elated. It was Longmire, the man they call 'Horse', who had the smile on his face yesterday, leading the Swans to a premiership in just his second season and the club's first since 2005.