A “parma and pot” is just what Simon Goodwin needed to settle the nerves ahead of the biggest day of his coaching life.
His Western Bulldogs counterpart, however, who has been to grand final day before and won, has been happy just to avoid the sharks.
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin and Bulldogs counterpart Luke Beveridge flank the premiership cup on Friday.Credit:Getty Images
Goodwin and Luke Beveridge sat next to each other alongside captains Max Gawn and Marcus Bontempelli for the annual captain/coach media call on Friday, ahead of the sold-out grand final and first in Perth.
The Melbourne coach admitted that he grabbed a car and drove north to the coastal town of Yanchep on Thursday, about 50 kilometres north of Perth and 20 minutes north of where the Demons are based in Joondalup.
“I took a little drive … lay on the beach and went up to the pub and had a parma and a pot and just reflected on the challenge and the year that’s been and it was just nice to have some time out on my own,” Goodwin said.
Originally a tiny fishing village, Yanchep was put on the map by the infamous Perth entrepreneur Alan Bond in the 1970s. It’s now well known for being a haven for grey western kangaroos.
The style of reflection hasn’t been quite the same for Beveridge.
After all, the two teams have had polar opposite build-ups to the grand final. Minor premiers Melbourne are preparing for their second game in a month while the Bulldogs have travelled all over the country week after week to arrive at the final game.
So it was only natural that the two coaches would spend their last days before the game differently.
“Most of my days, when I’ve had downtime, have been swimming in the Fremantle pool and Scarborough pool. I haven’t been swimming too far out into the Indian Ocean with the little mini grey suits out there,” Beveridge smiled.
While the Demons have had an entire resort and 27-hole golf course to themselves at Joondalup, the well-travelled Dogs have been staying at the Tradewinds Hotel in East Fremantle.
Melbourne players and staff have been able to enjoy an extra week of freedom, with the Dogs having to quarantine until Sunday morning, a week after demolishing Port Adelaide in the preliminary final.
“We’ve been spending some time socialising, we’re a pretty tight-knit group off field as much as on field. So, the little luxuries that we’ve been able to have, they’ve been important.”
Beveridge admitted it was difficult to drop young forward Laitham Vandemeer and key defender Ryan Gardner for the game, who make way for Alex Keath and Cody Weightman.
“Ultimately, the hope is for the boys that have missed out that they’ve got this vision of themselves getting up next year and in the future,” Beveridge said.
“They’ve been such an important part of our journey this year and 41 of our 43 have played and each one of them have helped us win important games and they definitely feel a significant part of it.”
The Demons, who have had a dream run with injury all season, go into the game unchanged.
Both teams enjoyed a light captain’s run on Optus Stadium in front of thousands of fans on Friday.
The Demons trained mid-morning on Friday before the Dogs ran out onto the ground just after midday, Perth time.
The open training sessions replaced the grand final parade.
Despite public pressure, the AFL was unwilling to take what it believes would have been an unnecessary risk of allowing players to mix with the public.
Instead, the league decided to allow fans to watch the teams train in a ticketed event. The tickets were free, but it allowed the AFL and WA Health to track anyone that attended in preparation of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Western Australia announced one positive of the virus on Wednesday; a truck driver who had spent less than 48 hours in the state before returning to NSW.
The WA government has reassured the AFL that it has no plans of changing any restrictions and that game is set to go ahead in front of a bumper crowd of 60,000.
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