Collingwood coach Craig McRae and Carlton counterpart Michael Voss have heaped praise on their clubs' supporters after a massive crowd turned out for Sunday's AFL blockbuster.
Public reserve seats sold out and 80,627 fans filed into the MCG to see the Magpies win by four points in a thrilling finish.
It was the second-biggest attendance at an AFL match since the 2019 grand final when 100,014 people watched Richmond belt GWS.
Only this year's Essendon-Collingwood Anzac Day fixture, which drew 84,205 in round six, has had a larger crowd in the last three seasons.
The round-11 feature match lived up to expectation and Magpies fans launched into their famous "Collingwood" chant when they led by 23 points during the final term.
But Carlton produced one last surge in a see-sawing contest and two late goals from Charlie Curnow set up a grandstand finish.
Jack Silvagni's hurried shot at goal in the dying seconds drifted narrowly wide for the Blues.
"Geez, I love it when they sing our song," McRae said after his Magpies hung on for a classic victory.
"We really appreciate our fans and we've been talking about honouring our jumper all year, so hopefully our fans are proud of us today."
Carlton, who are still firmly in top-four contention despite Sunday's loss, have featured in three of the matches in the top six for attendance figures this year.
Fans have bought into Voss' vision in his first season at the helm and the Blues appear headed for a first finals appearance in nine years.
"(The crowd) has been the exciting part of the first half of the year," Voss said.
"We've felt that slow momentum build, we've felt that energy from the outside and we'll keep embracing it."
A record crowd at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in April showed Melbourne is finally back to embracing major sporting events and there have now been five AFL crowds at the MCG this season with more than 70,000 fans in attendance.
But AFL crowds are down "on average a few thousand across the board" compared to the record-breaking 2019 season, according to league boss Gillon McLachlan.
Despite that, more than 2.7 million fans have attended AFL matches this year in what McLachlan dubbed "the game's bounce back" after two years heavily impacted by COVID-19.
Australian Associated Press
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