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Footy fans divided over grand final parade

·2-min read

Cats fan Emily Welch booked her flight to Melbourne weeks ago, quietly confident her team would make the AFL grand final.

The Brisbane woman wasn't expecting to get to the ground on Saturday but in a lucky break, she won two tickets to the blockbuster game.

"I haven't been to the MCG before so I'm really excited," she told AAP on Friday.

"I went to the 2020 grand final in Brisbane and that was a really good atmosphere but I'm expecting it to be 10 times better tomorrow."

Ms Welch was among thousands of people to line the Yarra River for the revamped grand final parade.

Leanne Deahl caught two trains from Geelong for the occasion.

"We just want to soak up the atmosphere," she said.

"It's a really good spectacle on the river."

The parade usually winds through city streets but this year players floated on barges along the Yarra en route to the MCG.

Many fans were left disappointed by a decision to turn the flotilla around before it reached a key vantage point on the Princes Bridge.

Geelong supporter Daniel Paproth said "vibes were flat as hell" and questioned whether the flotilla would happen again.

"To see the players up close was really awesome," he told AAP.

"The boat part ... I'm not sure they will be in a rush to do that again.

"You would have been pretty disappointed to not get a good view (at the Yarra) and then have to walk twice as far to get back to the 'G."

Coffs Harbour resident Tom Smith flew from Sydney to watch the parade and go to the game.

"I don't even want to tell you how much I spent on flights and accommodation but we made it," he said.

"You wouldn't want to miss this for the world."

Debbie Walker and Michael Hogan also made the interstate journey and said they were feeling excited and nervous ahead of Saturday's game.

"I'm feeling confident," Mr Hogan said of his Swans.

"I wouldn't just say that. We beat them earlier in the year and we've won nine games in a row so you have to be confident."

Naman Shah, who watched the parade with his wife and three young daughters, said his Cats were in with a chance after the heartbreak of the 2020 grand final.

"The last couple of years, there was no fun parade so it is really great that this year we can come out and do this," Mr Shah said.

The grand final has drawn thousands of people with 75 per cent of Melbourne's hotels, motels and serviced apartments booked.

Victorian Sport Minister Steve Dimopoulos said the event was a boon for the city, adding allegations of racism at the Hawthorn Football Club would not tarnish the celebrations.