Fans have begun to arrive at The Gabba for the AFL Grand Final as severe thunderstorms bear down on the Queensland capital.
The clash between the Richmond Tigers and the Geelong Cats could be postponed as wild weather batters Australia’s east coast on Saturday evening.
Hours ahead of the 7.30pm first bounce, The Gabba – which is hosting this year’s final because of Victoria’s deadly second wave of coronavirus – was already swamped with torrential rain.
Eager AFL lovers began to arrive at the Brisbane venue from 5pm in preparation for the historic event.
Saturday’s end of season clash marks the first time the Grand Final has been played outside of Victoria.
A Richmond Tigers fan in a black face mask and team jersey holds her scarf up in pride ahead of the AFL Grand Final
A young Geelong Cats fan waves a flag for her team as she arrives at The Gabba during a wet Saturday evening in Brisbane
A Richmond Tigers fan in yellow and black face paint and a top hat poses for the camera ahead of the end of season clash
Two Geelong Cats fans dressed for the occasion with rain ponchos over their blue and white stripped jerseys
Two friends supporting opposite teams display their scarves ahead of the AFL season decider on Saturday
A man smiles as he shows off his tiger face paint ahead of the AFL Grand Final in Queensland on Saturday
A Geelong fan in blue face paint poses ahead of the Grand Final in Brisbane, Queensland on Saturday
‘Tiger Time’: Two female Richmond fans cheer for their team ahead of the 2020 AFL Granf Final in Brisbane
Tigers fans decorated their faces with black and yellow paint for the match, while Cats supporters waved blue and white flags with pride.
Some savvy Grand Final attendees dressed for the miserable weather, opting to wear a rain poncho over their team’s kit.
Others chose to follow health recommendations during the coronavirus pandemic by wearing a face mask.
Richmond Tigers star Dustin Martin arrives at The Gabba for the Grand Final on Saturday
Tigers and Cats fans celebrate in Melbourne, Victoria ahead of the 2020 AFL Grand Final in Brisbane, Queensland
AFL fans enjoy a picnic outside the usually bustling Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Victoria
AFL fans walk towards The Gabba for the 2020 AFL Grand Final. Saturday’s match is the first time the end of season clash has been played outside of Victoria
Victoria Police watch on as Melburnians try and celebrate a very different AFL Grand Final this year
Melburnians were forced to mark the Grand Final differently this year, after their state suffered through a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections.
The 2020 AFL season was forced to relocate to Queensland due to the pandemic. Players and officials were part of a COVID-safe bubble to ensure the league could continue through the health crisis.
Tigers fans gathered on the street outside a pub in Richmond, Melbourne, to mark the annual sporting event.
Other AFL lovers enjoyed a celebratory picnic out the front of the usually bustling Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The usual North Melbourne Grand Final breakfast was transformed into a virtual event this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fans paid for a breakfast hamper and received pre-recorded video messages from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, AFL head Gillon McLachlan McLachlan and comedian Dave Thornton, cooking tips featuring Kangaroos player Luke McDonald and a footy panel featuring former AFL stars David King and Nick Dal Santo.
A trio of friends join together for a picture ahead of the Grand Final clash between the Tigers and the Cats
Tigers players Shane Edwards and Tom J. Lynch arrive before the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final match on Saturday
A fan sits in the rain while waiting for the first bounce of the AFL Grand Final in Brisbane on Saturday
In a nod to well-inked Richmond star Dustin Martin, McLachlan also joked if the Tigers beat Geelong on Saturday night, the Victorian government should open all tattoo parlours for 48 hours.
‘It would turn the Victorian economy around immediately, they would be in surplus by Tuesday,’ he said.
He also paid tribute to Cats great Gary Ablett, who will retire after the match.
‘It’s still not certain you’re the best player in your family,’ he said, referring to Gary Ablett Snr.
The prime minister paid tribute to the AFL and the power of sport during the global crisis.
‘In this tough year, particularly down there in Victoria, we count and celebrate the wins wherever we find them,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘I am so proud of what your code, the AFL, has achieved.
‘Today is happening because an entire code stepped up.’
This year is is the first time the grand final has been played outside Victoria, something Mr Morrison called ‘unimaginable’.
‘I know there are some real mixed feelings down there in Melbourne – our traditions have been turned on their head,’ he said.
‘The Grand Final is part of Melbourne’s soul. Every Australian understands that.’
The Gabba is seen at 3.30pm on Saturday, just four hours before the AFL Grand Final between the Richmond Tigers and the Geelong Cats is due to start
Heavy rain is soaking the east coast on Saturday, with rain battering Brisbane – where the AFL Grand Final is due to start at 7.30pm
Under a rule brought in in 2015, the game could be called off if thunder strikes within 10km of the match (pictured, the Gabba getting a soaking around 3.30pm on Saturday)
A severe thunderstorm warning is in place for Queensland, with the weather bureau warning of a ‘multi-state thunderstorm outbreak’.
If thunder hits within 10km of the stadium, the game could be stopped thanks to a rule introduced in 2015.
Under the AFL’s Extreme Weather Policy, if there are thunderstorms within 10km of the field, then the players must seek cover inside and play should be stopped.
‘Under the lightning rule they can delay the match by up to an hour,’ an AFL spokesperson told 7News.
‘It has happened before, but it’s very rare.’
The game can only resume if there is no lightning within 10km of the field for 30 minutes.
The rule came in during the Swans and Giants clash in 2015, when lightning struck and the game stopped for 25 minutes.
But a Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson said it is more likely that the match will go ahead, albeit in heavy rain.
They said that there was only a 20 per cent chance that thunderstorms would occur within 10km of the stadium.
The ‘multi-state thunderstorm outbreak’ and will target Queensland, New South Wales, north-east Victoria, parts of South Australia and northern parts of the Northern Territory
The huge storm will spread across Australia from the south-east coast, heading north throughout the weekend
The Gabba seen on Saturday morning ahead of the AFL Grand Final. There are fears the game could be postponed due to severe weather, with rain beginning around 3pm
FIVE DAY WEATHER IN YOUR CITY
SATURDAY: Min 19. Max 29. Shower or two. Possible storm.
SUNDAY: Min 14. Max 19. Showers.
MONDAY: Min 14. Max 19. Showers.
TUESDAY: Min 13. Max 21. Shower or two.
WEDNESDAY: Min 15. Max 21. Shower or two.
SATURDAY: Min 19. Max 29. Partly cloudy
SUNDAY: Min 19. Max 30. Shower or two. Storm likely.
MONDAY: Min 19. Max 29. Shower or two. Possible storm.
TUESDAY: Min 18. Max 27. Shower or two.
WEDNESDAY: Min 17. Max 28. Shower or two.
SATURDAY: Min 12. Max 18. Shower or two.
SUNDAY: Min 9. Max 17. Cloudy.
MONDAY: Min 9. Max 18. Cloudy.
TUESDAY: Min 9. Max 20. Cloudy.
WEDNESDAY: Min 10. Max 21. Mostly sunny.
SATURDAY: Min 15. Max 22. Showers. Possible storm.
SUNDAY: Min 8. Max 14. Showers.
MONDAY: Min 6. Max 11. Showers.
TUESDAY: Min 7. Max 16. Shower or two.
WEDNESDAY: Min 8. Max 17. Shower or two.
SATURDAY: Min 12. Max 16. Rain then showers. Windy.
SUNDAY: Min 9. Max 14. Showers.
MONDAY: Min 9. Max 17. Partly cloudy.
TUESDAY: Min 9. Max 18. Cloudy.
WEDNESDAY: Min 10. Max 19. Possible shower.
SATURDAY: Min 12. Max 29. Mostly sunny.
SUNDAY: Min 17. Max 34. Sunny.
MONDAY: Min 19. Max 29. Partly cloudy.
TUESDAY: Min 13. Max 26. Partly cloudy.
WEDNESDAY: Min 15. Max 24. Partly cloudy.
SATURDAY: Min 11. Max 16. Shower or two.
SUNDAY: Min 5. Max 13. Possible shower.
MONDAY: Min 6. Max 15. Cloudy.
TUESDAY: Min 7. Max 15. Shower or two.
WEDNESDAY: Min 9. Max 15. Shower or two.
SATURDAY: Min 26. Max 34. Partly cloudy.
SUNDAY: Min 26. Max 33. Partly cloudy.
MONDAY: Min 26. Max 33. Shower or two. Possible storm.
TUESDAY: Min 25. Max 32. Shower or two. Possible storm.
WEDNESDAY: Min 25. Max 32. Shower or two. Possible storm.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology
Source: Daily Mail AU