The top 8 AFL pre-game performances

the mcg in melbourne

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted September 21, 2021

AFL entertainment can be hit or miss. So what rates as the best of all time? 

Ah, that last Saturday in September. A chance to cheer (or boo, depending on your team and style) for our teams, don our colours, enjoy a feast, and watch the biggest game on the Victorian calendar year. That’s right - it’s time for the AFL Grand Final!

The game always starts with some pre-match entertainment, with varying degrees of success.

While we are somewhat biased and feel the Aussie performers deliver what we are always craving (legend status, songs we know, and high energy), let’s look back at some of the best AFL pre-match entertainment (in no particular order) ahead of this year’s big game.

Best AFL pre-match entertainment


2017 - The Killers 

Adelaide vs Richmond

It almost feels like Mr. Brightside is the unofficial anthem of the AFL after this tremendous performance from rock favourites, The Killers. Featuring the aforementioned hit (which got Richmond supporters flooding the streets belting it out afterward…) as well as fan favourites like When You Were Young and Somebody Told Me, it’s fair to say the band became honorary Aussies after this revved-up performance on the grand MCG stage - not to mention their iconic duet with Jack Riewoldt! 

1996 - AFL all stars

North Melbourne vs Sydney Swans

In the 70s and 80s, the pre-match entertainment was usually a top Australian singer’s rendition of Waltzing Matilda. To celebrate 100 years of the game, many of these performers came together to sing the unofficial Aussie anthem, including Daryl Somers, Slim Dusty, John Farnham, Glenn Shorrock, Diana Trask, Barry Crocker, Lindsey Fields, Maroochy Barambah, Lisa Edwards, Noel Watson, Normie Rowe and Venetta Fields for a performance full of legends. Would love to see that again!

2013 - Hunters and Collectors

Hawthorn vs Fremantle

Ticking off everything we want to get our spirits up, Hunters and Collectors did not disappoint. Aussie – check. Rock – check. Entertaining – you got it. Performing crowd favourites including Holy Grail and Do You See What I See, the Aussie rock legends showed why they belong on the main stage. 

Mark Seymour performing at the afl grand final mcg

Mark Seymour rocking the 'G. Image: Getty. 


2009 – John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes and Mark Seymour 

Geelong vs St Kilda

Need we say more? The trio of Aussie greats got together to perform the songs we sing along to at every party and sporting event and were later joined by the Qantas Choir for a heartfelt rendition of I Still Call Australia Home. We'd be happy for this every year, if we're honest...

2008 - Powderfinger 

Geelong vs Hawthorn

The Aussie rock legends gave a performance of hits, including Baby I’ve Got You On My Mind and a cover of AC/DC’s Long Way To The Top in this legendary set that brought the rock, fun and high energy we're craving right before the big game. Hopefully a reunion sometime soon?

2016 - Vance Joy, The Living End, Sting 

Sydney Swans vs Western Bulldogs

The 2016 entertainment had a little bit for everyone. The AFL pre-show entertainment started with everyone’s new favourite rocker Vance Joy with a nod to his VFL roots, performing hits including Riptide, followed by Melbourne locals The Living End who whipped out rock hits including Prisoner of Society. For the big finish, out came Sting, who put in crowd favourites like Message In A Bottle and Every Step You Take to bring it home. 

optus stadium afl grand final 2021 perth

This year's entertainers will be performing at Perth's Optus Stadium in WA for the AFL Grand Final. Image: Getty. 


1994 - The Seekers

Geelong vs West Coast Eagles

Judith Durham and The Seekers delivered an all-time Aussie great with I Am Australian that continues to pull at heartstrings nationwide. Add in a rendition of Waltzing Matilda with back-up by the Australian Youth Choir, and it’s easy to see how this performance has stood the test of time.

2014 - Ed Sheeran and Tom Jones 

Sydney Swans vs Hawthorn

Looking to please both young and old, in 2014, the AFL had "newcomer" Ed Sheeran open with an acoustic version of Prince’s Kiss before he was joined by the legendary Tom Jones, who put on a medley of hits including Mama Told Me Not To Come, Delilah and If I Only Knew. It was a gamble but paid off in the most spectacular of ways to make the top of our list. 

Do we think the 1991 blue batmobile will make an appearance? Image: Getty. 


Honourable mention: Loveable larrikin Paul Kelly at the 2019 AFL Grand Final.

Whether you are in it for the entertainment, the game, or maybe just for the great footy food, we wish you a happy Grand Final Day. May the best team win! 

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