This is it gents. We’ve all sat in the pub on a Sunday, amazed as Nathan Friend passed the ball while doing a back flip to set up that amazing try for Tuimoala Lolohea, watching Greg Inglis’ triumphant return only to see him carried off the field yet again, and we all witnessed Wayne Bennet’s signature excitement as the Broncos took out the Roosters, securing their place in this Sunday’s NRL Grand Final against the North Queensland Cowboys.
Now the time has come to watch these elite sportsmen battle it out for the 2015 NRL premiership. For those of us who won’t be part of the deafening crowd at ANZ Stadium, this guide to throwing your own NRL grand final party will bring all the excitement of the match into your living room.
The first step to throwing every party is knowing who to invite. This can be quiet a challenging task when it comes to having a mix of die-hard fans in a confined space. If your mate from work has a Broncos tattoo on his back, its probably best not to lump him in with your friend from the pub sporting an equally as large Cowboys tattoo.
Knowing the general vibe of the party you want to throw will also help determine the guest list. If you’ve emptied the fridge, oven and laundry sink to store all the beer you bought, then you’ll probably want to throw a boy’s afternoon without too many kids running back and forth in front of the TV. However, if you’re a family man, why not host a BBQ party with plenty of activities for the kids, enough food to feed a small country and endless amount of excitement and anticipation for the big game.
Screens & sound
As much as your friend’s and family love hanging out with you, they didn’t RSVP to your grand final party to stare dreamily into your eyes. Your guests will want a clear, uninterrupted viewing of the match, and as host, it’s your role to provide.
If your TV is a vintage timber veneer relic, you should consider hiring a portable projector screen that will make your guest feel like they have front row seats. Hiring a screen as opposed to watching the match on TV makes it feel like more of an occasion rather than a Sunday afternoon at home. The portability of the screen also allows you to set up the party in any room of the house, so opt for a room with great acoustics, minimal screen glare and plenty of room for fans who will jumping out of their seats.
Surround sound speakers are a great way to create a sense of atmosphere. Placing speakers strategically around the room will have Ray Warrens excited voice echoing off the walls, exciting your guests and creating a great grand final vibe.
You’ve promised your guests that you’re bringing ANZ Stadium to them, so the least you can do is take your underwear off the clothesline and plump the cushions on the lounge. But if you want to make a really good impression and make them feel like they’re in the commentary box with Ray Warren and Phil Gould, then pop down to your local bargain stores and grab some decorations.
You don’t have to spend weeks making a papier-mâché Bronco or Cowboy, simply dress the walls with team colours, flags, bring out your team jersey (unless you’re a Knights fan, you can carry around a wooden spoon in that case) and create a visual atmosphere to match the excitement of the match.
Think of the finer details when it comes to decoration. Clad your esky in maroon or navy to represent both teams, or grab a bunch of stubby holders that reflect the Broncos or the Cowboys aesthetic.
Food & drink
Without overpriced fast food vendors to keep the fans watered and fed, the responsibility falls on you. The type of food and drink you provide depends on the guest list. If you’re having a family afternoon with friends, partners and children, opt for a BBQ, asking everyone to bring their own meat, nibblies or a plate of food. This ensures that everyone’s food needs are catered too and that you won’t blow the budget catering to an assortment of palettes.
An afternoon with the boys will require man-approved finger food. Mini blue cheese quiches are delicious, and they taste great with beer, but they aren’t overly suitable for grand final rowdiness. Nor do you want to dump a pack of frozen pies onto a tray and call them hors d’oeuvre. Serving sliders, mini tacos, mini gourmet sausages (think lamb, beef and rosemary or chicken flavoured) are great man-approved food ideas that are the next step above sausage rolls and frankfurts.
Let’s be honest, it’s not a grand final party without a beer or two. Catering to all your guests needs is imperative in hosting a party that will be talked about for weeks, so make sure you have an assortment of juices and soft drinks as well as alcohol. Supplying a case of beer (think of lager and other palatable brews) is the perfect host offering. If your guests are the type who only drink Hendricks gin with a twist of lime and cubed cucumber, you may have to ask them to supply their own alcohol unless you’re running a bar on the side.
You’ve cheered, cried and yelled your way through the match now you’re either feeling ecstatic or mildly depressed. Whether your team wins or loses, your hosting duties aren’t over until the last guest has said goodbye. You’re guests aren’t likely to leave as soon as the final whilst blows, so prepare the post-match atmosphere by having a chilled playlist ready to go, encouraging post-game debriefs and generally winding down the party.
Now is the time to bring out all the extra food you bought, offering cheese, dips, chips and food that can be easily prepared, like frozen pasties. You also have a responsibility to ensure your guest get home safely without being to much for a menace to society. If you’re still serving alcohol, ensure that it’s light to mild beer. Have plenty of water on hand to offer around, order taxis for guests that got a little too over excited during the half time drinking break or prepare bedding for your friends who are crashing from all the grand final excitement.