AFL Grand Final Brunch – Before the Bounce

The biggest day of the Aussie Rules calendar and one of the biggest days on the local social calendar the annual T.L.C. A.F.L. Grand Final Brunch returns again in 2017. With over 3 million television viewers in Australia and almost 100,000 people in attendance at the M.C.G. the A.F.L Grand Final is, per capita, one the most watched sporting events annually. And for those in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday the 30th of September, 2017, there is no need to miss out on the atmosphere and enjoyment of the big game,

The Saigon Australian Rules Football Club (Saigon Saints) has been holding the Grand Final brunch in Ho Chi Minh City since 1998 and this year will again be hosting the event at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers.

The brunch is now an institution among both Aussie Rules followers and party goers in HCMC and is now the longest running and one of the best attended of the cities social gatherings. It has become a ritual among long term ex-pats who soak up the atmosphere of the pre-match build up to the Grand Final and then watch the big game itself.

Each year a guest speaker, a former great of the game, has attended the event and delivers words of wisdom about the Grand Final and also regales those in attendance with stories from their illustrious careers. Past guests include David Rhys-Jones, Gary Ablett, Terry Daniher and Sydney pair, Leo Barry and Michael O’Loughlin. This year the Saints welcome former Richmond player and captain, Chris Newman. Chris was drafted at pick number 55 in the 2000 draft from the Dandenong Stingrays. “Newy” went on to play 268 games for the Richmond Football Club and was skipper between 2009 and 2012 before hanging his boots up at the end of 2015 season. He played his 268th and final match in a losing elimination final against North Melbourne at the MCG. Playing mainly in defence, Chris still managed to sneak down forward on occasions and slotted 56 goals including a monster 80 metre roost for a major against Fremantle. He is the current coach of the Box Hill Hawks in the V.F.L. competition and as part of this role is an assistant coach at the most successful club of the last decade, Hawthorn.

Organiser Darren Cotter is always surprised by the makeup of the crowd that attends each year. “We have people who have attended every brunch we have held and most of these are the long term ex-pats who were around in the clubs playing days”, “there are both individuals and groups who make the day part of their annual holiday and visit to Ho Chi Minh City”. “But the most surprising is the number of Vietnamese people and people of other nationalities who come back and enjoy the event each year and don’t worry if you do not know the rules or other technicalities of the game, every Australian in attendance will be an expert”.

Unfortunately, this could be the final year that the function is held in its current format. As Cotter explains the powers to be at A.F.L Headquarters seem determined to reschedule the Grand Final as a twilight game. “the 11.30 a.m. Saigon time match start fits the day perfectly, we start at a reasonable hour (10.00 a.m.), not too early for those commencing celebrations the night before, a brunch covers two meals allowing a good graze for the patrons and the game is over, celebrations had and we are out the door by 4.00 p.m., pushing everything back 2 hours throws the whole mojo out”.

Whatever happens in the future, the 2017 brunch will again be a day of great food and beverages among terrific company celebrating what Australian will tell you is the greatest game of all.

The 2017 T.L.C. A.F.L. Grand Final Brunch will be held at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers on Saturday the 30th September from 10.00 a.m. until 4.00 p.m. Tickets are 2.3 million VND each and available by contacting Darren on 09138 03517