Why The MCG Erupted In Chants Of "U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A"
Was that Yankee Stadium or the MCG?
You could have been excused for thinking you were in America at the preliminary final between the Collingwood Magpies and the Richmond Tigers at the MCG on Friday night.
As The Magpies swooped on the reigning premiers, winning 15.7 (97) to 8.10 (58), no man stood taller in every possible sense of the word than their 27-year-old US import Mason Cox.
Five years ago, the Texan former basketball player had never so much as heard of the game of Australian Rules football.
On Friday night, it was like he'd played it his whole life.
As Cox took mark after mark on his way to a near best-on-ground performance that included three goals, the Collingwood army warmed to the giant American -- chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A".
Cox attended an AFL talent identification program in America about five years ago. He started off learning pretty much everything he knew about the game with this helpful book.
He debuted in the Anzac Day game in 2016, at which point he was regarded as a bit of an experimental project. Within two minutes, he had kicked his first goal. Experiment successful.
Cox has since gone on to become a key forward for the Magpies. But how would he hold up in just his second game of finals footy?
The real question was how Richmond would respond to his giraffe-like frame, and the answer is: not well. Not well at all.
They say that whoever controls the air controls a game of footy, and there were people in the control tower out at Tullamarine who had less influence on Melbourne airspace than Mason Cox on Friday night.
And boy, did the Collingwood faithful love it.
Cox's parents were in the crowd, having flown out from the USA, and they enjoyed their son's performance as much as anyone.
"He was awesome today," his dad Phil said in the dressing room afterwards, with a big goofy grin on his face.
"He destroyed them. He was all over it."
"Someone said that his first kick was a fairy tale, but it just keeps evolving."
The MCG grand final next week now promises to be bigger than Texas in all sorts of ways.