This year’s AFL grand final parade will feature players going down the Yarra River on boats in a bold shakeup to the tradition.
The league confirmed that the event will held in the morning for the first time, with players, club mascots, Auskickers and the premiership cup to travel in boats along Southbank before dispatching at Birrarung Marr and onto the tradition utes in a hybrid parade to head towards the MCG.
It marks the return of the popular parade on the Victorian public holiday a day before the grand final — September 23 — for the first time in two years due to the past two Covid-impacted seasons where the deciders were played in Brisbane and Perth.
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The parade will finish at Gate 3 of the MCG at the top of the traditional footy festival site where both grand final teams will be presented on stage in front of fans and captains and coaches will speak at a press conference.
AFL commercial boss Kylie Rogers said the league was “mixing it up” in a bid to provide a better viewing experience for fans, who were ”starving” after the last two parades were cancelled.
“The new parade route recognises that fewer people are at their CBD workplaces on the public holiday. It will allow more fans to get better vantage points of their favourite players, accommodating families in and around the football precinct with the Footy Festival and NAB AFLW matches at Olympic Park and Punt Road Oval on the Friday afternoon,” Rogers said.
“We are so pleased to once again provide fans with an iconic Toyota AFL Grand Final week experience in Melbourne, now in an improved family friendly layout. There will be activities, giveaways, much more space and even designated areas especially for families to enjoy the parade from.
“As we have all bounced back from two really challenging years, footy has helped bring the heartbeat of the city back and Grand Final week in September will bring together all things great about our game and the city of Melbourne.”
Taking boats down the river marks the fifth route taken since the parade began in 1977. The event has traditionally seen grand final participants ride on cars through Melbourne’s CBD before the presentation in front of a flock of fans, most recently held at the MCG.
The parade will be a part of a four-day festival of footy from September 21-24 at the Yarra Park precinct which will include food trucks, Auskick clinics and four AFLW games.
The four AFLW matches will coincide with the grand final parade, starting from 12.40pm and the last one beginning at 7.30pm between Carlton and Melbourne at Ikon Park.
It comes after the league announced the grand final would return to its traditional 2.30pm timeslot this season, with pop mega star Robbie Williams to headline entertainment for the game’s biggest match.