Protesters disrupt Melbourne’s AFL grand final parade

Footy finals fever hits

Protesters have attempted to block the AFL grand final parade, leaping in front of the ute carrying the premiership cup through Melbourne’s CBD.

Three protesters, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Can’t play footy in 50 degrees”, leapt over barriers separating the parade from an expected 100,000 footy fans about midday on Friday.

They sat on the ground in front of the ute and refused to move when security officials approached. They were eventually forcibly carried away, and the parade resumed.

Extinction Rebellion later claimed responsibility for the protest. It said the protesters had glued their hands to the road, only to have them “violently ripped” from the asphalt by security officers.

Elsewhere, footy fans embraced this year’s return to a traditional motorcade parade through central Melbourne, after last year’s experiment on the Yarra River fell flat.

Many supporters canned the river parade, saying they couldn’t even see the players from popular vantage points.

Victorian Sports Minister Steve Dimopoulos agreed the AFL had made the right decision in dumping the Yarra plan.

“I always enjoy being on land,” he said.

“It is a far more comfortable situation but it’s also a situation that will allow far more fans to get close to the players and the action.”

The Collingwood and Brisbane players departed Melbourne Park Oval on the back of utes at 10.30am, making their way through Birrarung Marr to the footy festival site outside the MCG.

Among the thousands waiting to see them pass were Jessica Marsh and her family, all die-hard Collingwood supporters.

Every newborn in Marsh’s family is automatically signed up as a Magpies’ member and watching losing grand finals has become an unfortunate pastime.

But the woman from Ararat in western Victoria was hopeful of a more positive result on Saturday.

“I’ve been to four losing grand finals,” she said.

“It’s going to be a pretty close game, but I think we’ll just get over the line.”

Marsh, her parents, sister, children and nieces were among the crowd on Friday morning.

Collingwood fans clearly outnumbered the Brisbane supporters but Lion tragic Jake didn’t mind.

“I love it,” he said.

“I’ve come here decked out in all my Brisbane stuff. I don’t care. I’m here to support my team.”

The Melbourne man follows the Lions after his father, who was a passionate Fitzroy supporter.

He is surrounded by Collingwood supporters from his wife’s family but has managed to get his one-year-old son Logan on board as a Brisbane fan.

“It was forced on him a little bit, but I don’t think it’s his choice,” he said.

Meanwhile, Collingwood fans have responded to a call by the club’s chief executive Craig Kelly for them to take over the Melbourne sporting precinct.

“This week is all about the Collingwood community and the connection with our fans,” he said.

“We look forward to embracing the week alongside every member of the Magpie army.”

Brisbane fans might be outnumbered, but they’re feeling at home with the Melbourne weather.

It was forecast to reach the mid-20s on Friday and the high-20s for grand final day.

-with AAP

Topics: AFL
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