WITH two teams that arguably are remarkably well matched, with a sold out crowd at a famous traditional venue in Fremantle Community Bank Oval and all signs are for a classic WAFL Grand Final between South Fremantle and Claremont on Sunday.
For the first time since 1935 the WAFL Grand Final won't be held at Western Australia's premier football venue whether it be Subiaco Oval or more recently Optus Stadium, and the sense of excitement and anticipation around the City of Fremantle as a result can't be ignored.
It's a real carnival atmosphere around Fremantle this week leading into Sunday's Grand Final and the feeling throughout the entire city and then as the afternoon unfolds inside Fremantle Community Bank Oval is going to be exciting to be part of.
With tickets hotly sought after, the nearly 11,000 of them made available have quickly been snapped up this week so a sold out crowd is going to be there to witness a first premiership in the WAFL being won at the Fremantle venue since 1910.
But all that would count for little if the main event on the field didn’t live up to the build up and there's every sign that South Fremantle and Claremont will more than hold up their end of the bargain in the WAFL Grand Final.
The Bulldogs are looking to win their first premiership since 2009 and their team contains just the one player who has played in a WAFL flag while the Tigers are looking for their first triumph since 2012 with just two players who have WAFL premiership medallions.
The game will bouncedown at Fremantle Community Bank Oval from 3.10pm and will be broadcast live on Channel 7.
Meanwhile, it's a big day of Grand Finals to be held at Fremantle Community Bank Oval and it all gets underway from 9.15am in the Reserves Grand Final between East Perth and Claremont.
East Perth won its way straight into the Grand Final by defeating Subiaco in the second semi-final before Claremont knocked the Lions out with a preliminary final win last Sunday also at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
The Royals will be captained by former league fairest and best winner Julian Ameduri and with quality players in their team including Nathan Eaton, Tom Gorter, Christian Ameduri, Mitch Dobson, Ben McGuire, Nathan Arbon and Shaquille McKenzie, they'll like their chances.
But the Tigers have the chance to set up a historic day for their football club by winning the reserves premiership and their side includes several players desperately unlucky not to be playing later including Tom Curren, Ed McGinty, Bailey Bennett, Tom Ledger, Jeremy Goddard, Tom Lee and Isaac Barton.
That all leads into the Simply Energy Colts Grand Final for 2020 which will get underway from 12.10pm with Claremont playing Subiaco. The game will also be broadcast live from midday on Channel 7.
Claremont advanced straight into the Grand Final having beaten Subiaco in the second semi-final two weeks ago at Fremantle Community Bank Oval. The Lions then set up a remartch with a big win in the preliminary final against East Fremantle last Sunday.
Claremont and South Fremantle then do battle in the main event of the Optus WAFL Grand Final for 2020 and it feels like a fitting premiership decider between the teams who finished in the top spots after the nine rounds.
That set up a second semi-final battle that also took place at Fremantle Community Bank Oval with Claremont ending up prevailing that afternoon by 47 points to move straight into the Grand Final.
That left South Fremantle needing to beat West Perth in the preliminary final also held at their home ground, and the Bulldogs responded well to win by 21 points to set up this Sunday's decider against the Tigers.
While Claremont did win that second semi-final impressively and emphatically, South Fremantle had won the previous four meetings between the two teams including in the qualifying and preliminary finals last year both held at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
South Fremantle is playing in its second straight Grand Final and looking to make amends for last year's 96-point defeat at the hands of Subiaco at Optus Stadium.
The Bulldogs last won a premiership in 2009 and their selected 22 for Sunday's Grand Final features just one player who has won a WAFL flag before, and that's Nick Suban who is a triple premiership player after playing at Claremont in 2012 and then with Peel Thunder in both 2016 and 2017.
But getting to the Grand Final is a signal of South Fremantle remarkable consistency now for five consecutive seasons.
After a finals drought of four years, the Bulldogs went on to finish in second spot at the end of the home and away season in each of the last four campaigns, and then improved to claim the minor premiership in 2020.
South Fremantle has played in each of the last five preliminary finals now as well and are about to play in a second straight Grand Final with 15 of the 22 backing up from last year against Subiaco.
Claremont, meanwhile, has qualified for its first WAFL Grand Final since 2012 after building in recent years to return to the finals and win one in 2018, and then reach the preliminary final in 2019.
The Tigers won that 2012 Grand Final against East Fremantle to make it back-to-back premierships but current captain Kane Mitchell is the only player remaining from that team that will play on Sunday at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
Sunday will just be the fifth time that South Fremantle and Claremont have played one another in a Grand Final, and the first time since 2005 and the first time ever at a venue other than Subiaco Oval.
South Fremantle won that Grand Final in 2005 but Claremont had won the previous three back in 1989, 1981 and 1940.
Overall, South Fremantle is playing in its 31st Grand Final and looking for a 14th premiership while Claremont is searching for flag No. 12 in its 26th Grand Final appearance.
This will be the first Grand Final not held at either Subiaco Oval or Optus Stadium since Subiaco lost to West Perth at Perth Oval in 1935.
It will be the first Grand Final played at the famous Fremantle Oval as well since 1910 and on that occasion it was East Fremantle defeating East Perth.
South Fremantle nor Claremont has ever played in a Grand Final at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
Both teams had some big calls to make at the selection table ahead of the Grand Final as well.
At South Fremantle, it was all about who would come in to replace gun midfielder Jake Florenca who devastatingly ruptured his Achilles tendon late in the preliminary final win last Sunday against West Perth.
In the end it was three-gamer Jarrad Doney who got the nod at the Bulldogs for the spot in the Grand Final team with emergencies Travis Abbott, Kyle Hamersley, John Levien and Seaton Thompson all having played good football at times in 2020.
There was some massive calls to be made at Claremont too and the biggest was to recall key forward turned defender turned forward again Anton Hamp from injury to replace premiership player Tom Lee.
The other big call was the recall of defender Dylan Smallwood for Anthony Davis while the Tigers will continue to back in Oliver Eastland in the ruck at the expense of Jeremy Goddard.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – GRAND FINAL
CLAREMONT v SOUTH FREMANTLE – FREMANTLE COMMUNITY BANK OVAL, SUNDAY 3.10PM
Live scores, stats
Broadcast – Channel 7, 720 ABC Perth, 91.3 SportFM, 882 6PR