HASSA Mann knows a thing or two about playing in grand finals.
The Melbourne great was part of the momentous match on three occasions, his first being as a youngster with just 16 games to his name.
It’s a day he remembers fondly, with a pre-match pep talk from his coach Norm Smith so vivid in his mind.
“My first Grand Final, sitting there doing my boots up, [I remember] the coach coming to me,” Mann told Melbourne Media.
“He put the hand on the shoulder and said, ‘Son, you may never, ever get to play in another Grand Final.’”
Mann’s three premierships (1959, 1960 and 1964) came across a 10-year career at the Dees, where he pulled on the red and blue guernsey 178 times and kicked 193 goals.
The much-loved character epitomised the Demon spirit, playing with heart every time he had the honour of wearing the No.29 on his back.
For Mann, the support of his beloved Dees hasn’t wavered in the years since.
And seeing others embrace it is humbling for the now 80-year-old.
“There’s no doubt there’s a feeling of pride within the Melbourne supporters that I’m speaking to,” Mann said.
“Even a lot of people that are not Melbourne supporters. They’re getting on the bandwagon.”
With just one day to go before the Demons and the Dogs do battle in the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final, the excitement is building.
It’s an occasion that Mann, and the Melbourne faithful, have been waiting for.
And while he admits there will be some nerves, he has faith that the current crop can achieve something truly special.
“I’m feeling very excited at the moment and thinking of the players a lot,” Mann said.
“Having been there, done that, it’s a very, very exciting time for the team.
“These guys are going to play the game of their lives and they may never get the opportunity again.
“I’m really hoping that they’re lucky enough to experience what we were lucky enough to do.”