Garlick and her friend were chatting with other fans and enjoying the atmosphere, expecting the fleet to get much closer to the bridge.
But the boats turned over at least half a mile from people waiting on the bridge, she estimated. She said it looked like the boats would get much closer to the bridge according to a map of the parade route released by the AFL.
The Cats fan called the AFL after it happened to share her disappointment, but said she still favored the concept of a parade along the Yarra.
“The idea was really great and if it had just been done right, it would have been something,” said Garlick.
Although his team is not in the final, Fremantle Dockers fan Tony Totaro arrived in Melbourne this week from Perth and was looking forward to enjoying the parade from Princes Bridge.
But he was also disappointed when the pontoons turned around earlier than expected.
“It’s not on,” he said.
“It was a big day out for us, you know, and I’m disappointed. I couldn’t really see them and we thought they would get a lot closer.”
Southbank resident Janine Byrne stood on the riverbank behind a group of people in wheelchairs, who told her they had come from Werribee.
She said the group would have had the perfect view—if the parade had actually reached them.
“They didn’t see anything damned,” she said.
“They had to get up early, get dressed and come down and they saw nothing, nothing at all.”
Byrne said everyone looked at each other in disbelief as the boats sailed in the distance.
“They couldn’t quite believe it,” she said.
It marks the first time in three years that the grand finals parade will be held in Melbourne after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the AFL to move the grand finals interstate in 2020 and 2021.
The renewed parade featured a flotilla for the first time, with players aboard boats and pontoons.
Not everyone was disappointed, however. Sydney Swans fans, the Brewer family, have been supporting the club since they were based in South Melbourne.
David Brewer said he couldn’t have a better team to support.
“Look at us now, we’re an army,” he said.
He said he believed his beloved Swans could be victorious on Saturday.
“Well, it’s going to be a tight, tight match. I think we’ve got the Cats stuff,” he said.
Cats fan Sally Mills is originally from Queensland, but her husband Michael White is a lifelong Geelong fan.
“I feel like I would have been thrown out of the family if I hadn’t.” [support the Cats]Mills said.
The couple departed Gippsland at 6:30 AM with their family to arrive in time for the parade.