It’s the parade tradition that at first glance appears to be little more than an innocuous piece of publicity for the AFL grand final.
But two premiership captains have now pulled back the curtain on the secret mind games played by skippers when they lift the cup together on the day before the decider.
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Richmond great Trent Cotchin had the honour of being involved three times – in 2017, 2019 and 2020 – and it was on the first occasion when he learned the truth about his role.
He was pulled aside before the 2017 parade by then Tigers assistants Craig McRae and Justin Leppitsch for some advice stemming from their time as Brisbane premiership players under skipper Michael Voss.
“They were always the last captain to let go of the premiership cup when they held it up to the crowd at the end of the grand final parade,” Cotchin told Channel 7’s Talking Finals.
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The retired star recalls suddenly being much more aware of his movements alongside Adelaide counterpart Taylor Walker.
“I felt this insane pressure going into this. The boys behind us are just laughing about how awkward Tex (Walker) and I were going to be. I managed to win that one,” Cotchin said.
“Then I knew what was coming in 2019. I knew that to shake (GWS Giants captain) Phil Davis’s hand, he would have to let go of the Cup, so I probably cheated in that scenario.”
Taylor Walker and Trent Cotchin lift the premiership cup at the 2017 grand final parade. Credit: Getty
The situation changed when he shared the moment with Geelong skipper Joel Selwood in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.
“But I think the photographer’s actually asked for me to have a photo first,” Cotchin said.
“So I managed to just steal that one as well.”
He clearly buys into the superstition, having won all three of his grand finals as captain, while Selwood joked that they can’t remember battling to get the last touch in the “crazy year” that was the COVID season.
“Bit of a blur, 2020,” Cotchin added.
It now looks like Collingwood captain Darcy Moore will follow in Cotchin’s footsteps, given McRae is Collingwood’s senior coach and Leppitsch is one of his key assistants.
“I don’t know if they’ve had the same conversation this week!” Cotchin laughed.
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Tim Watson only won premierships when he skipped the grand final parade. Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images
Essendon legend Tim Watson had his own myths around the parade after playing in the grand final in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1990 and 1993.
The Bombers won through to the first of those five deciders by winning three finals from fourth on the ladder.
“Back in 1983 it was an amazing week, week after week we played, it just got bigger, more exciting,” he told Talking Finals.
“We all had to go to the grand final parade, which I wanted to participate in. We lost the grand final by a record margin in 1983.
“We got back (into the grand final) in ‘84 – I said I’m not going back there (to the parade), I’m superstitious.
“We won in ‘84, I didn’t go in the grand final parade in ‘85, we won (the premiership).
“I was captain in 1990, so I had to go in the grand final parade. I tried to get out of it. They said no you’ve got to be there.
“We lost again, so I backed up in 1993. I said there is no way known I’m going to the grand final parade – and we won the grand final again in 1993!”
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