The sky didn’t fall in over the MCG when the AFL grand final was a Victorian club-free zone for three straight years from 2004-06.
Now AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan is excited by the potential next step for the indigenous code as it becomes a truly national one – a derby decider between two sides from beyond the Victorian border.
By finishing in the top two spots on the ladder after the home and away season, minor premiers Fremantle and West Coast could make it all the way to the October 3 decider without having to leave the comforts of Domain Stadium.
The Dockers will start as red-hot favourites in Saturday’s qualifying final against Sydney, although the Eagles could well have a much tougher time finding a way past flag favourites Hawthorn on Friday night.
“Any result is a good result as there are eight great teams in the finals this year,” McLachlan said on Monday at the official launch of the finals series.
“But when you have got the two Western Australian teams finishing one-two you have to contemplate an all-West Australian final.
“I think it would be an amazing thing to see 40,000 people coming across the Nullarbor, descending on Melbourne and bringing that West Australian passion to Melbourne.
“It hasn’t happened before and there’s no certainty that it will happen.
“But on contemplation, I think it would be an amazing result for the game.”
Robert Walls – who won flags as a player with Carlton in 1968, 1970 and 1972 and again as Blues coach in 1987 – has been given the honour of presenting the Jock McHale Medal to the winning coach on grand final day.
He agreed with the bookmakers that the Hawks deserved to be favourites as they chased what would be a history-making third straight premiership.
“You need everything to go right, but I think Hawthorn, if they click on the day, they are pretty much unbeatable,” said Walls.
“But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.”
Walls was also looking forward to watching the Western Bulldogs and Richmond try and snap long premiership droughts.
And like McLachlan, he acknowledged the appeal of the two WA clubs.
“The West Coast Eagles have surprised us all with the attacking strengths they have got,” said Walls.
“And you look at Fremantle – they’ve been knocking on the door for a while and would be very worthy winners.”
Walls has a special link with Dockers mentor Ross Lyon, having coached him as a teenager at Fitzroy and again at the tail-end of his career at the Brisbane Bears in 1995.
The Eagles have won flags in 1992, 1994 and 2006, while Fremantle are still chasing their maiden premiership, having joined the competition in 1995.
ALL NON-VICTORIAN AFL GRAND FINALS
2004: Port Adelaide 17.11 (113) bt Brisbane Lions 10.13 (73)
2005: Sydney 8.10 (58) bt West Coast 7.12 (54)
2006: West Coast 12.13 (85) bt Sydney 12.12 (84)