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by Johnson Leung reporting for AFANA in Melbourne with contributions by Rob de Santos

Powderfinger to rock the MCG

(Ed. note:  The match day timeline is here).

The AFL has revealed the pre-match entertainers and award presenters at the 2008 Grand Final pre-match entertainment at the MCG on September 27. Brisbane band Powderfinger will headline the pre-match entertainment at the MCG, and then join Pete Murray for the post-match entertainment in front of 4300 corporate guests at Centre Square, the corporate hospitality village located on Punt Road Oval.

The two leading stars of the Australian version of Broadway stage production Wicked, Amanda Harrison and Lucy Durack, will sing the Australia national anthem before the coin toss. The league has also chosen four-time premiership coach Ron Barassi to present the Jock McHale Medal to the winning coach, while Tony Shaw will present the Norm Smith Medal to the player judged best afield. A legend of the winning club will present the premiership cup to team captain and coach with those names to be announced shortly since the two competing teams are now known.

Players from the winning team will be presented with premiership medals from 22 NAB AFL Auskick participants, chosen from the 94 children aged between 5 and 12 who have won an Auskick competition to travel with a guardian to Melbourne to participate in Grand Final week activities, which commence on Thursday September 25. This will include the Grand Final Parade through the streets of Melbourne City on September 26, and the pre-match entertainment, as well as playing in the Auskick half-time game during the Grand Final.

AFL Chief Operating Officer Gillon McLachlan said he was thrilled to have secured the world-class act for football’s biggest day, adding the league had taken significant steps in recent years to build the entertainment in the lead-up to the match, as well as the post-game celebrations. Powderfinger frontman Bernard Fanning said it was a tremendous honor to get the chance to perform on one of the country's biggest stages, and the band was now working on a few ideas to make it "a really special performance". He admitted he and his band members were rugby league fans, but said he developed a passion for AFL when his team, the Brisbane Lions, won three flags from 2001 to 2003.  "Our thanks go to Carlton Draught, our entertainment partner, for their support of the Grand Final musical act in Powderfinger," Mr McLachlan added.  Group Marketing Manager at Carlton Draught Vincent Ruiu said: "We’re excited Carlton Draught can bring Powderfinger to the MCG this Saturday, we’ve been the beer behind footy for over a century and are proud to be Entertainment Partner for the big day. As entertainment partner, Carlton Draught is also staging the world’s first Aussie Rules game at 10,000ft – watch out for it on Channel Seven’s broadcast," added Ruiu.

The AFL also announced that singer Mike Brady, whose classic songs Up There Cazaly and One Day in September are Grand Final anthems, has released his latest song, How Australian’s That.  AFL Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Demetriou, said the song was a great tribute to our national game which is celebrating 150 Years.  “Our 150th year has been a great year to celebrate all the volunteers, the players, the officials and the supporters who have contributed to the game. We have celebrated it in books, such as our The Australian Game of Football since 1858, in film through the Melbourne International Film Festival, in painting form with Jamie Cooper's great tribute to the game, and now through song. with Mike Brady’s How Australian’s That ," Mr Demetriou said.  “We hope that footy fans everywhere will embrace the song over these next few weeks as leagues throughout the country play out their finals matches,” Mr Demetriou said.  How Australian’s That is the promotional single from Brady’s new album How Australian’s That! Mike Brady Classic Australian Sports Songs

If Geelong win the Premiership, the cup will be presented by Bob Davis. Bob played 189 games for Geelong between 1948-58, kicking 149 goals. He was a member of the 1951 and 1952 premiership sides, captained the club from 1955-58 and was best and fairest in 1957. He was coach from 1960-65, leading the club to the 1963 premiership. He was named in the Geelong team of the century and was inducted to the Australian Football Hall of Fame in the inaugural year of 1996.

If Hawthorn win, the cup will be presented by Graham Arthur. Graham played 232 games for Hawthorn between 1955-68, kicking 201 goals. He was captain of the club's inaugural premiership in 1961 and was best and fairest in 1955, 1958 and 1962. He captained the Hawks in a club record 153 games and was named in the Hawthorn team of the century. He was inducted to the Australian Football Hall of Fame in the inaugural year of 1996.

The Norm Smith Medal will be decided by a panel of six judges this year with Leigh Matthews (now with Channel 7) as Chairman.  The rest of the panel will be Luke Darcy (SEN 1116), Gilbert McAdam (NIRS), Emma Quayle (The Age), Brian Taylor (Triple M), Mark Williams (Port Adelaide FC).  Voting is on a 3-2-1 basis with each judge voting for 3 players in preferred order.  There can be no ties with the tiebreakers begin the most first place, 2nd place, and 3rd place votes, and finally the Chairman's vote.  AFL Football Operations Manager Adrian Anderson said that the inclusion of a current coach and recently retired coach were designed to provide current-day coaching persectives in the voting alongside media and retired players. 

Brief profiles of pre-match and post-match entertainment performers:

POWDERFINGER
Powderfinger have won 15 Australian Record Industry Association Awards (the Aussie equivalent of the Grammys) since the band was formed in 1989. The band shot to fame with their third studio album Internationalist in 1998, and continued their success with Odyssey Number Five in 2000 and Vulture Street in 2003. Following a hiatus in 2005, the band released their sixth studio album, Dream Days at the Hotel Existence, last year.

PETE MURRAY
Murray is an Australian singer-songwriter who has been nominated several times at the ARIA Awards and has had several songs reach the top ten in Australia. His first album Feeler reached No.1 in the Australian charts a few months after its mid-2003 release, and his follow-up record See The Sun reached a similar level of success, with all of the singles receiving widespread airplay. His third studio album, Summer At Eureka, was released in May 2008 and reached No.1 in just over a week. A talented sportsman in his own right, Murray has found a place in the Australian music scene with his unique mix of blues and rock.

AMANDA HARRISON
Harrison, who stars as Elphaba the Witch in Wicked, most recently played the role of Ellen in the Brisbane and Sydney seasons of Miss Saigon. Her other Australian theatrical credits include Jenny in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love, Betty Schaefer in Sunset Boulevard opposite Hugh Jackman; Les Misérables (10th Anniversary Production); Annie in Anthony Crowley's The Journey Girl; and Liza Minnelli in The Boy From Oz with Todd McKenney. Harrison was an original cast member of the London production of We Will Rock You and returned to Australia in 2003 for the musical's local tour, for which she was awarded the 2004 Helpmann Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Oz. In 2005 she received a Green Room nomination for her performance as Ado Annie in Oklahoma!.

LUCY DURACK

Durack, who plays Galinda (later Glinda the Good) in Wicked, graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) with a Bachelor of Arts (Music Theatre) and prior to graduating was cast in the Brisbane and Sydney seasons of Mamma Mia! in which she understudied and performed the role of Sophie. She has several major roles to her credit including Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street, Miss Dorothy in the Australian Premiere of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Lois Lane/Bianca in Kiss Me Kate, Rikki Rose in Respect and Laurey in Oklahoma!. Durack, who has also regularly performed in cabaret performances and concerts with various orchestras throughout Australia, has a firm commitment to workshopping and performing new Australian work, having created roles for Mel Morrow and David Mitchell’s The Palace wh*re, Nick Enright and David King’s The Good Fight, John Shand’s Rainbow’s End (including the subsequent SBS recording), Guy Noble’s Karaoke The Musical and Matthew Robinson’s Pratt Prize-winning musical Metro Street.

Sources: Herald Sun, AFL media releases, petemurray.com, wickedthemusical.com.au

Article last changed on Friday, September 26, 2008 - 10:22 AM EDT


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