MAGIC GRAND FINAL MOMENTS FROM THE TELEVISED ERA 1966-2021
THERE have been drought-breaking flags, two drawn Grand Finals, pulsating physical contests, edge-of-the-seat last quarters, ice cool matchwinning goals, mesmerising ball skills, massive match-defining marks, a toe-poke like no other, screaming marks, never-to-be-forgotten individual brilliance and, of course, heartache.
So many moments have shaped the game’s Grand Final finals history, some were specific passages of play, characterised by individual brilliance and uncanny skills, bravery, and anticipation, others were inspired by cumulative team performances at critical moments in a game, when absolute physical commitment was not negotiable. There are 36 players on the ground at anytime in a game, they are fit, fast, and the adrenaline is pumping, close engagement and physical intimidation makes Aussie Rules a game like no other, and once that notoriously fickle oval ball is bounced, chaos rules. 4TR has chosen those GF moments of sheer match-defining brilliance, everyone will have their favourite, let me know what you think.
Breen’s behind, 1966 Grand Final
Teenager Barry Breen’s hurried, bouncing kick sneaked in for the point that lifted St Kilda to its first – and only – premiership.
“Jesaulenko, you beauty!”, 1970 Grand Final
Before Carlton’s famous comeback, Alex Jesaulenko soared above Graeme ‘Jerker’ Jenkin to take an iconic screamer that was enhanced by Mike Williamson’s iconic line, the Blues would rebound from 44 pts down at half-time to deny Collingwood yet again in a GF.
Twiggy’s big moment, 1977 Grand Final
Ross ‘Twiggy’ Dunne showed nerves of steel to claim a pack mark and slot the goal that sent the ’77 play-off to a replay.
Manassa’s run, 1977 Grand Final replay
On a dark day for the Pies, Phil Manassa provided a rare highlight with a sensational goal after a four-bounce bolt down the ground.
Long bomb goals to Snake, 1978 Grand Final
In the second term, Phil ‘Snake’ Baker kicked four goals and took six marks, including a sensational hanger that caused an ear-splitting roar that brought the house down, but the Hawks won the flag by 18 pts.
Harmes’ knockback, 1979 Grand Final
Wayne Harmes chased down his own kick and thumped the ball back from the boundary – Pies fans insist the ball was out – to teammate Ken Sheldon for the matchwinner, Carlton had prevailed over a never-say-die Collingwood.
KB mesmerises Magro, 1980 Grand Final
Stan Magro spoiled Kevin Bartlett’s marking attempt, but the Tiger champ then turned the Magpie inside out and drilled his seventh goal.
Baker’s blind turn, 1984 Grand Final
Leon Baker put Essendon in front early in the last quarter after a brilliant act of evasion and his fourth goal.
The Kid’s courage, 1989 Grand Final
The 1989 Grand Final is widely considered the greatest of them all. How Gary Ablett kicked nine goals in a losing team was the stuff of legends. Though the defining moment of the match happened in the first few seconds when Hawthorn champion Dermott “The KId” Brereton was cleaned up off the ball by Mark Yeates as payback for a hit earlier in the season. The result? Two broken ribs and a ruptured kidney, but Brereton played on, and against the odds booted three goals in a remarkable six-point win, in arguably the greatest game of all.
Matera magic, 1992 Grand Final
Peter Matera bagged five goals from a wing, including a long bomb on the run from near the boundary. he was unstoppable and won the Norm Smith Medal for BOG on the day.
The Long way home, 1993 Grand Final
In the ’93 finals series Michael Long seemed untouchable, and this was best exemplified by his weaving, four-bounce run and goal in the quarter.
Jarman genius, 1997 Grand Final
No player has enjoyed a more dominant quarter in Grand Final history than Darren Jarman for Adelaide in 1997. Leading by 10 points over St Kilda at three-quarter-time, Jarman put on a clinic, kicking five goals in 25 mesmerising minutes, leading the Crows to their first AFL flag and lifting when it mattered most. Amid his matchwinning five-goal last quarter, Darren Jarman produced an exquisite snap off one step that sent Crows fans wild.
Voss the boss, 2002 Grand Final
Lions skipper Michael Voss was crunched by Scott Burns but bounced up to dish off to Simon Black for an inspirational early goal, and the Lions second flag, Voss told Burns all about it, and they would achieve the threepeat the next year.
Aker’s cracker, 2002 Grand Final
Limited by a torn right groin, Jason Akermanis roved the pack and snapped the sealer over his shoulder with his left foot.
Bouncing Byron, 2004 Grand Final
Byron Pickett took two bounces before steadying and goaling from just inside 50 on his way to the Norm Smith Medal.
Wanganeen’s dream finish, 2004 Grand Final
Fittingly, Port Adelaide’s first flag was sealed by the much-loved Gavin Wanganeen, who, from a standing start, snapped powerfully from 45m, coach Mark Williams put to rest the choker tag that had been the Power’s curse until that day.
“Leo Barry, you star!”, 2005 Grand Final
‘Leaping Leo’ ensured the Swans broke their 72-year premiership drought by clinging to a courageous pack mark on the game’s final play, Swans by 4 points over the Eagles.
Chick’s smother, 2006 Grand Final
Daniel Chick’s multi-effort suite of team acts – tackle, smother, handball and shepherd – created the goal for Adam Hunter, that won West Coast the flag, by a solitary point.
Scarlett’s toe poke, 2009 Grand Final
With scores level late, Matthew Scarlett toe-tapped a disputed ball to Gary Ablett, who went long where Paul Chapman snapped the go-ahead goal.
Goddard’s grab, 2010 Grand Final
The scores were level with seven minutes remaining when Brendon Goddard took a classic speccy to momentarily break the deadlock, but the game ended in a nail-biting draw.
Heater’s smother, 2010 Grand Final Replay
Heath Shaw laid his self-acclaimed “smother of the millennium”, sneaking up on Nick Riewoldt to stop him from kicking an easy goal, and Collingwood went on to win the flag.
Varcoe’s gut-running goal, 2011 Grand Final
Travis Varcoe made a gutsy marking attempt in defence and kicked off the ground on the wing before snapping a crucial left-footer to send the Cats on the way to a premiership flag.
Jetta turns on the jets, 2012 Grand Final
In a race that wouldn’t have been out of place at the Olympics, Lewis Jetta burnt off Richmond’s Cyril Rioli with a four-bounce dash.
Malceski seals the deal for Sydney Swans , 2012 Grand Final
Nick Malceski slotted the first and last goals, and both were gems. The last came inside the final minute, icing the premiership.
Boyd’s sealer, 2016 Grand Final
The Western Bulldogs 2016 Premiership triumph was a true fairytale, the Bulldogs came from 7th position (which hasn’t been done in the modern era) to make the 2016 AFL Grand Final. Few but the most one-eyed Dogs fans gave them a chance against an experienced Swans outfit who’d won the minor Premiership. But the game is remembered best for a moment of pure brilliance from Tom Boyd, after Swans Lance Franklin was tackled, Boyd gathered the loose ball and launched a bomb from inside the centre square, drilling his third major for the day and putting the Western Bulldogs 15 points ahead with five minutes left to play, the goal sealed the Dogs second AFL Premiership, 62 years after their first.
Dom Sheed Iced an Eagles Win in Dying Minutes – 2018 Grand Final
There were just two minutes remaining in this pulsating encounter, when Jeremy McGovern gathered the ball at half-back, passed to Vardy, who kicked to Ryan who took a screamer, and passed to Dom Sheed deep in the forward pocket, against the boundary, in front of thousands of screaming Magpie fans. His team trailed by two points, but the left-footer calmly went back and threaded the ball from an impossible angle, with the eyes of the nation upon him. If there was a photo next to the word “clutch” in the dictionary, it would be of Sheed, this was truly a special GF moment.
Marlion Pickett Debuts and Stars as Tigers Win the Flag- Grand Final 2019
In 2019, Marlion Pickett became the first player to debut on Grand Final Day since 1952. Not only that, but in mid-May, he wasn’t even on Richmond’s list. At 27 years of age, his first AFL game was in front of 100,000 fans on the biggest day of them all, and he didn’t disappoint, finishing third in best afield honours and kicking a goal in the third quarter.
THE WIT OF DENNIS COMMETTI
Dennis Cometti’s 49-year broadcasting career drew to its big-game conclusion on the occassion of the 2016 Grand Final, Commetti regularly delighted footy fans with his erudite wit, accurate commentary, and a collection of some of the greatest one-liners ever. Current commentators such Brian Taylor, James Brayshaw, and Wayne Carey are pedestrian at best, and often inaccurate, colourless, and repetitious at worst, compared to Dennis, of the current crop of callers Matthew Richardson, Jonathon Brown, Gerard Healy, Leigh Matthews, Luke Hodge, Nick Reiwoldt, and Daisy Pearce are the standouts, but Commetti was in a league of his own. Below L-R -Dennis as coach of West Perth FC, Commetti and co-commentator Bruce McAvaney, Dennis and wife Velia.
In an article by Russell Jackson (@rustyjacko in 2016) Commetti revealed that his humour was derived from his days trying to entertain listeners on FM radio broadcasts early in his career, as well as teenage afternoons firing off wisecracks from the hill at Perth’s Leederville Oval. Through it all, he learned that half the battle for commentators is finding the right time to introduce humour into the broadcast.
“What you find with football matches, is that they tend to be very similar. They’re sort of like lamingtons in a way,” he says. “They’re made to a formula. There’s stoppages, ball-ups, there are boundary throw-ins. What I found over the years sitting and watching is that you can see where you can say things and where you can’t say things.”
“Obviously if a bloke is running down the wing bouncing the ball it’s not necessarily the time to offer an opinion about something else. But there are no surprises in football games, so it gives you a blank canvas to sort of inject yourself where you know you can do it, and that’s at stoppages and boundary throw-ins and missed goals. There’s an opportunity to get in there and show your personality.”
Nobody in Australian sports broadcasting has produced such a quotable collection of one liners, and the gags that Cometti dreamt up on all those long-haul flights between Perth and the east coast over the years, have gone down in football folklore. This list kicks off with Cometti’s personal favourite.
On Melbourne midfielder Adam Yze:
Remember the name: Y-Z-E – terrific young player, bad Scrabble hand.
On the bullocking work of Bulldogs star Tony Liberatore as he burrowed into a pack:
Liberatore went into that last pack optimistically and came out misty optically.
On former Melbourne, Sydney and Collingwood ruckman Darren Jolly:
Jolly gets it to Green. Where’s the giant?
On a Carlton champion:
There’s Koutoufides – more vowels than possessions today.
Closely assessing the team list in his Football Record:
Barlow to Bateman…The Hawks are attacking alphabetically.
On the cliches of sport:
So it’s back to the old drawing board. Obviously a luxury that the guy who invented the drawing board didn’t have – Cometti on the struggles of coaches.
On Brisbane midfiedler Simon Black:
He’s like Diogenes or O.J. Simpson – he’s always searching.
On an errant shot at goal by former Richmond star Darren Gasper:
Ahh, Gasper the unfriendly post.
Upon seeing Port Adelaide’s Josh Carr approached by a tackler:
Carr – covered by a third party.
On a collision between Carr’s brother Matthew and former Docker Trent Croad:
Carr was just poleaxed by his own team-mate. Does that qualify as Croad rage?
On the eternal struggles of the tall defender:
Right now Shannon Watt looks like a man in a darkened room trying to discover where all the furniture is.
On Collingwood’s burly full-forward of the 2000s:
When Anthony Rocca backs into a pack, he beeps.
Harking back to his FM radio days with another 1960s music reference:
The Dockers’ defence is in disarray. Everybody wants to be Gladys Knight, nobody wants to be the Pips.
On the unfortunate lot of a lumbering Adelaide ruckman:
Shaun Rehn has been terrific again today but look at him, he’s paid a price. Like a Saint Bernard in a heatwave.
On a Brownlow medal-winning former Bulldogs and Bears star:
Hardie decides to have a bounce. Look at him go. Amazing. Not bad for a guy who’s built like a pirate’s lunch table.
On St Kilda’s premiership drought:
The Saints have had more five-year plans than Fidel Castro.
On the one-dimensional kicking skills of Essendon forward Scott Lucas:
I think it’s safe to say Lucas takes his right leg out there purely for balance.
On his former colleague Robert DiPierdomenico:
That’s the latest from the huddles. For those of you who don’t know, Dipper is a graduate of the Don Corleone school of elocution.
On a former Adelaide and Geelong livewire’s unpredictable moves:
I swear if Ronnie Burns were building a house he’d start with the roof.
On football tactics:
Some people might say that was a set play, but if it was, the Swans must have copied it off a Portuguese bus timetable.
On Simon Black, again:
A lot of talk these days is about ‘inside players’. Well, as we saw there, if Simon Black was any more inside he’d be a pancreas.
On a clash between Essendon and Hawthorn great Paul Salmon and the more slimline St Kilda star Nicky ‘Elvis’ Winmar:
Just as Winmar landed, big Salmon came crashing down on top of him. They’re slowly getting up and now I can report the building has left the Elvis.