As a Carlton supporter throughout the late 90s and into the 21st century, it comes as no surprise that I have had little investment in the AFL Grand Final.
That being said, in 2009 and 2010 I had the fantastic opportunity to combine my love of music and sport by participating in the AFL Grand final Parade, representing both Geelong and Collingwood (Both teams won in those respective years).
The photo above and the video below are from the 2009 parade when I represented the marching band for Geelong, and it was a fascinating experience that I consider worth sharing.
This band was not made up of the best musicians around Melbourne (No I’m not a musical prodigy, and neither is the 10 year old on the right hand side of the photo) but instead the AFL asks local community brass bands to represent the two teams participating in the Grand Final. I can’t remember who was representing the St Kilda marching band, but for Geelong we had a combination of members from Kew City Brass Band and Darebin City Brass Band.
People who watch the Parade might think that this march/performance is rehearsed for months prior to the event, but in reality it is quite the opposite. You turn up an hour before the parade starts, completely unaware of what team song you will be playing, and in my case, having no idea how to march.
There is proof of this in the photo at the top of this post. If you look closely at the other cornet players in my row, they are holding their sheet music with the help of an attachable music stand (This is known as a lyre), as opposed to me, not knowing the process of the day, and therefore had to physically hold my music out in front of me while marching. This made it rather difficult as I had to play my cornet one handed.
Not many people realise that a lot of the AFL team theme songs actually come from classical pieces of music, an example is the Brisbane Lions, whose theme song is to the tune of the French National Anthem, or in our case Geelong’s theme song which comes from Bizet’s 1875 Opera ‘Carmen’ (Click here and skip to 1:00 to hear the comparison).
So we were handed our music sheets, and our complimentary scarves an hour before the parade, we had a quick practice on the spot outside the National Gallery of Victoria (Watch the video above), and then waited around in the freezing cold and pouring rain (Hence the raincoats) as we waited for the players to arrive and hop in their cars behind us.
Once everything was set and we were ready to go, we begun our path from outside the NGV along St Kilda Rd, passing Flinders St Station, turning onto Collins St, and finishing up outside Parliament Station.
I will never forget the atmosphere of that march. To see so many dedicated fans standing in the rain cheering and booing a brass band depending on which team they supported. It was an unreal experience.