Thousands of footy fans have swarmed the Melbourne sporting precinct to cheer on their teams in a return to form for the AFL grand final parade.
Brisbane Lions supporters were clearly outnumbered by the Collingwood faithful on Friday, who made it known by yelling out their club chant every chance they got.
For Pies tragic Dwayne Stangherlin and his two young sons, it was special to see their favourite players ahead of Saturday’s big game.
“It’s been an awesome day and a pretty cool experience,” he told AAP.
“It’s my boys’ first time so they’re just super stoked to be part of it and to get close to the players and get a wave.”
But while the Brisbane fans were smaller in numbers, that didn’t stop them from loudly cheering for their stars, including captain and Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale.
Lions fan Mary George was there the last time Brisbane defeated Collingwood in a grand final 20 years ago and she’s “quietly confident” they’ll do it again.
“But I don’t want to say anything else in case I give them bad luck,” she said.
The two teams travelled from Melbourne Park on the back of utes, making their way through Birrarung Marr to the footy festival site outside the MCG.
It was a return to a more traditional parade after an experiment on the Yarra River fell flat in 2022.
Many supporters canned the river parade, saying they couldn’t even see the players from popular vantage points.
Sports Minister Steve Dimopoulos agreed the AFL made the right decision to return to old traditions.
“I always enjoy being on land,” he told reporters.
“It will allow far more fans to get close to the players and the action.”
Die-hard Collingwood fan Jessica Marsh and her family loved the return of the motorcade.
“I heard some bad things about the Yarra one,” Ms Marsh said.
The Ararat woman has been to four losing grand finals but she’s hopeful she’ll see a more positive result on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a pretty close game, but I think we’ll just get over the line,” she said.
Lions tragic Jake, who nabbed an early spot along the parade route, was also feeling the nerves.
“I’m trying not to think about it really and trying not to talk it up too much,” he said.
“But I’m quietly excited so we’ll see how we go.”
Extinction Rebellion protesters halted the parade for a few minutes by laying down in front of the utes before security guards moved them on.