AFL News for the week ending October 1, 2023: Pies take their 16th in an epic tussle
Fans, your 2023 AFL Grand Final Premier is Collingwood
So, here we are again, many crying tears of joy or sadness (others not caring much if their teams didnt play yesterday) as we work through the dying embers of the 2023 AFL season.
Some of us saw our sides rise and finally show the promise we've been hoping for - think the Saints, Blues - others were left disappointed wanting more - think Essendon, Swans, Geelong.
Few could argue that the 2023 AFL Grand Final saw the two best sides of the year - Collingwood and Brisbane - take to the ground and provide a hot September afternoon of often brilliant football.
The Pies went in favourites, but the highly talented Brisbane side looked every chance of causing the upset ... and, as the afternoon ground out with a particularly rivetting second quarter, despite the Pies being a nose ahead at every break, the Lions always found a way to get back into the game and even nudge ahead at times.
In fact, right up to the last 90 seconds when Joe Daniher kicked the Lions back within four points of winning following two quick goals by Collingwood's Jordan De Goey and Steele Sidebottom that seemed to put the cup in the Pies hands, it was still either teams to win.
But the Lions couldn't get the ball into their forward 50 to give themselves the chance - let's not talk about the somewhat controversial "play to advantage" call made by the umpires that might otherwise have taken the ball back to Lachie Neale for a free kick - and the Pies slowed the game down to keep possession until the final siren.
Which isn't to say that umpiring call changed the outcome necessarily. As losing coach Chris Fagan in a level-headed and frank assessment said after the game, the better side on the day won.
It must be reassuring to Lions fans that Fagan seemed determined to come back and do what other losing Grand Final teams in recent times - such as Geelong, West Coast and Hawthorn - have done and bounce back from the loss to win in a year's time.
His Lions side will, however, face fierce opposition, as the Pies will, no doubt, put themselves forward again for another tilt and other sides such as Carlton and the Giants press for 2024 Grand Final contention.
For now, fans of the game will watch eagerly to see who gets traded into their AFL side, cheer on their AFLW sides and count down the days until the start of the 2024 AFL season.
How many sleeps is it ... ?