The regular season is over and the AFL Finals series is around the corner. Eight teams are about to give everything they have left in the tank and a little more in an attempt at premiership glory… Well, in a couple of weeks.
Here at Flack Sports, we are using the bye to look back at our great game. We reached out ten experts of the AFL print, radio, television, and podcasting worlds and look back at the AFL finals’ moments that are still etched away in our memories.
The winners: The three best moment from the AFL finals
- Everything 1989. Ablett’s performance. The infamous opening bump. The game itself. The 1989 Grand Final still ranks high in the memory of a lot of people. A true classic.
- 2010 drawn Grand Final. A match riddled with heart-stopping moments, the drawn grand final was one for the ages. So good, they had to play it twice.
- The Bulldogs 2016 finals run and premiership. Call it recency bias, call it the rise of the underdog (no pun intended), or call it everybody’s second favourite side coming good. The Western Bulldogs premiership last season was an instant AFL finals classic.
Read on check out the opinions of our experts.
Rohan Connolly is one of Australia’s most respected footy journalists and regularly featured on 1116 SEN, Marngrook Footy Show. Connolly has recently launched Footyology a back-to-basics AFL site that offers quality stories around our game
1. Leon Baker’s blind turn and goal, 1984 grand final
Hawthorn had been Essendon’s nemesis. In a last-quarter deluge of nine goals which brought the Bombers their first flag in 19 years, this sublime bit of play put the Dons in front and was the moment the tables finally turned.
2. Nick Malceski’s snap, 2012 grand final
The 2012 grand final I think is close to the greatest of all time as Sydney and Hawthorn grappled for ascendancy, each side surging twice. With the Swans four points up and just 40 seconds left on the clock, Malceski’s snap over his right shoulder floated up, up and over the goal line to hand the Swans victory.
3. Alex Jesaulenko’s mark, 1970 grand final
It is perhaps the most iconic image from the most iconic grand final of all time. Jesaulenko’s screamer before half-time in the epic Carlton-Collingwood clash came just before the Blues went into half-time 44 points down. They would lift in a stunning second-half comeback for an epic 10-point win.
Trying to narrow down the top three AFL finals moments is nigh on an impossible task. It’s also a very subjective thing and, for me, it’s about those moments that have left an indelible mark on my memory bank. At number three, I’m going with
At number three, I’m going with 2010’s drawn Grand Final between Collingwood and St Kilda. It was a herculean performance from the Saints to pull themselves off the canvas after facing a 24-point half time deficit. The last quarter saw a high-flying mark from Brendon Goddard before the harshest of bounces potentially denied the Saints their first flag in 44 years. As the final siren sounded, players, coaches and fans alike looked at each other in sheer disbelief at what had unfolded.
For number two it’s difficult to go past leaping Leo Barry’s mark in the 2005 Grand Final, breaking the Swans’ 72-year premiership drought. It was a mark for the ages and was captured beautifully by the words of commentator Stephen Quartermain when he said, “Leo Barry, you star!”
At number one, while I’m sure it’ll feature regularly, I can’t go past the Western Bulldogs’ 2016 premiership success as my favourite finals moment. It may be very recent, but the character and spirit the team displayed in its performances throughout the AFL finals series followed by the stirring scenes that followed are something that will be hard to eclipse in the future.
1. 1997. After the Crows had stormed back to defeat the Dogs a week earlier, all of Victoria expected revenge to come from the Saints in the big one. It looked good when St. Kilda led comfortably at halftime. Then for the second time in two weeks, the Crows did the unthinkable and roared to victory led by Darren Jarman and Andrew McLeod. To this day, McLeod’s Norm Smith is probably my favourite GF performance ever.
2. 1989 In a losing effort, Gary Ablett’s nine goals against Hawthorn was a masterful performance to almost single handily win the GF for the Cats.
3. 1991. The highly fancied Eagles were about to steal what Victorians considered sacred. It was more than Hawthorn vs. West Coast, it was state vs. state and we were worried. It started off poorly for the Hawks when the Eagles kicked the first four goals, but as the Hawks settled, their experience took over. It was tight until the final quarter when Hawthorn pulled away and kept the Premiership within Victorian borders for at least one more year.
Shane McInnes is a sports broadcaster for 3AW693 & Macquarie Media.
Grand Final Draw:
The 2010 Grand Final Draw was one of the more surreal moments I’ve felt at a game a footy. It was remarkable how many people in the crowd at the time had no idea what happened next. Was it extra time? A shoot out? Then word filtered through- we come back next week! The sheer disbelief of players and the stunned silence of the crowd is unforgettable.
Growing up an Essendon fan, the 1993 flag is the first I can clearly remember. And, out of that day, Michael Long’s run. Receiving the ball on the wing, four bounces, goal… Pure brilliance from an Essendon champion. Making it all the better, Stephen Silvagni was adamant he touched it.
Dogs Make GF:
The 2016 Preliminary Final; the young GWS Giants are aiming for a Grand Final appearance in just their fifth year, up against a Bulldogs team that hadn’t made a Grand Final in more than five decades. The emotion at the ground, and at homes and pubs across Melbourne epitomised the passion AFL footy evokes. For Doggies fans and neutral fans alike, this was a win the little guy and brought about one of the greatest Grand Final triumphs in history.
Martin is a veteran footy writer with over thirty years’ experience. He is an analyst for SEN, along with working as co-author on both Dane Swan’s and Bomber Thompson’s autobiographies. Keep up to date with his blog and other work at www.martinblake.com.au
The Sanctum Podcast – Nicole Hayes, Alicia Sometimes, Emma Race, Lucy Race, Felicity Race, Kate Seear
The Outer Sanctum Podcast is a podcast hosted by four passionate Hawthorn fans (but don’t hold that against them). The all-female podcast has become a cult hit around the country and has been featured in various newspapers and television networks. Give them a listen!
Junk Time AFL podcast – Adam Rozenbachs and Michael Chamberlin
Comedians, Michael Chamberlin and Adam Rozembachs, give their takes on the AFL every week on the Junktime podcast. Listen in for Chicken Salt and Footbridge related news.
ONE: 1989 GRAND FINAL
The bloke behind us calls out after Yates has hit his target.
Spoiler alert: it worked out fine and hundreds of thousands of dollars in sportsmans’ night cashies was made.
TWO: 2008 GRAND FINAL
Cyril’s tackle in the 2008 Grand Final.
In the words of Bruce McAvaney: ‘Kicks it long and hard. Wanting the boundary line initially. Enright and Rioli, Rioli brilliant here. Absolutely brilliant, Rioli.’
And so a great love affair was born.
THREE: 87 PRELIM
I spotted Jim Stynes run through the mark. I appealed to the umpire, ‘That’s 15!’
Cut to a few moments later, my mild mannered mother is standing on her chair, fists in the air shouting, ‘Buuucccckkkkkyyyyy!’
Christopher Tyler is the local friendly neighbourhood American sports guy at SEN, where he writes for SEN America, and co-hosts their NBA podcast.
Even though it was witnessed through the eyes of an almost nine-year-old, the 1999 Preliminary Final between Carlton and Essendon feels like it took place only last week. I remember exactly where I was, who I was with, and I remember that unrivalled joy that came with hearing the final siren and watching Justin Murphy lift that ball up into the air in celebration. Since then, there hasn’t been much cause for celebration for Carlton supporters. That is, apart from the 2013 Elimination Final against the Tigers.
Coming back from a 32-point deficit, Chris Judd did his best Anthony Koutoufides impression and led the Blues to a win that should never have been. These two games may have been the best AFL finals moments in recent memory from a Carlton perspective, but my most memorable football moment took place last year at Spotless Stadium; the weekend following the death of my cousin, a passionate Bulldogs fan. Finishing the season 7th on the ladder, the Dogs were able to pull off the unthinkable and make their first Grand Final in 55 years. Surrounded by my family, that moment meant more to me than any Grand Final the Blues could ever win.
Ricky Nixon made his name in the AFL initially as a player, before becoming a leading player agent. Since then, Nixon has published the autobiography, My Side.
The AFL finals moment that lives on in my memory forever will be the drawn grand final in 2010 between Collingwood and St.Kilda. Just so many things seemed to stop St.Kilda from achieving ultimate glory. In the last quarter Nick Riewoldt’s kick on goal bouncing straight up in the air on the goal line instead of through the big sticks. Then off course the bounce that Stephen Milne got running into an open goal. My mate who had followed St.Kilda all his life was still sitting in his seat at 8.30pm crying when security said you have to leave now.
Hawthorn V Geelong 1989 when Mark Yeats ironed out Dermott Brereton at the first bounce then Dermott’s incredible comeback and triumph.
Michael Voss’ last 5 minutes of the 2002 Grand Final. Amazing.
Draft Central – Peter Williams
SuperCoach Talk – Motts
As one of the head honchos at SuperCoach Talk, Motts is one of the go-to guys for most things AFL related.
The Fraser Brown Tackle on Dean Wallis
With 40 seconds left in a game that Carlton led by a point, the ball gets hacked out of Carlton’s defence into the outstretched arms of Dean Wallis in the centre of the ground. Wallis realizes he’s in the clear and immediately begins streaming towards the 50m line. Standing between him and the arc is Fraser Brown. Wallis’ attempted Don’t Argue fails to deter Brown’s ferocious tackle that brings Wallis down and causes the ball to spill free. Justin Murphy runs through to snaffle it. Carlton win by a point in a game no-one expected them to win.
Kouta’s Last Quarter
Independent observers call it the greatest quarter any footballer ever played. Anthony Koutoufides was everywhere. In the final quarter alone he had ten touches, six marks, and two goals. For those that like their SuperCoach scores, he scored 218 points that day – 127 of those points came in that rampaging fourth quarter. Absolutely unstoppable.
Chris Judd in the 2013 Elimination Final
Carlton had no business playing AFL finals in 2013 after finishing ninth. The penalty handed to Essendon for drug cheating, however, saw The Blues gifted an AFL finals berth. They were to face a Tigers outfit that had won 15 games. At half time, with the Blues trailing by 26 all looked
lost. Soon after the main break, that margin was out to 33. Enter C Judd. On his 30th birthday, he hoisted the Bluebaggers onto his bandaged shoulders and willed them toward victory. With Judd at his damaging best, the Blues reduced the margin to one in eight scintillating minutes. On an injured knee, he won crucial touches forward of the ball and dominated the centre square. He won 11 touches for the quarter but wasn’t done there. His final term produced another five touches and a goal to see Carlton run out victors by 20
Vince Massara – Flack Sports
Vince is the editor, and content writer for Flack Sports.
Twitter – @vincemassara
My favourite AFL finals moments are etched heavily into my memory. These are still games where I remember exactly what I was doing, who I was with, and the feel of the room at the time.
The drawn Grand Final: We had a little grand final party at our university share house for this one. Nobody there supported any of the sides so we just wanted a good game. Fair to say the match delivered.
The Bulldogs’ 2016 Grand Final. The game was as unbelievable as the efforts we went to watch it. At the time I was working out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (another story for another time). With an upcoming half-day in New York City, we went to every length to watch it. To cut an extremely long story short, what followed was a weekend without contact with anybody from Australia, running around Manhatten trying to find a bar that would play it for us, almost getting stranded in New York without passports, and getting fired.
Needless to say, it was worth the effort. The Western Bulldogs defied all odds and despite all watching thinking it was a matter of time before the Swans took over, the Dogs held strong. Amazing match by everybody’s second team.
The Leo Barry mark: It may be a little lost in the telling, but that mark came after Leo Barry shanked the ball trying to clear his defensive fifty. I remember watching the game at home and being in utter disbelief when Barry turned the ball in the final seconds. However, Barry definitely made up for his error with the premiership-winning saving. I think I used every possible adjective (positive and negative) to describe Barry in the space of about thirty seconds.
A huge thank you to everybody who contributed to this piece. You all did it out of the goodness of your hearts and we are overwhelmed with the support.