Welcome to another edition of my weekly article where I take trip down memory lane and revisit some of the classic AFL matches that correspond with the upcoming round.
Let’s take a look at the ten best games from Round 9 in the past ten years.
10. Carlton 14.13.97 v Fremantle 14.4.88 (2008)
Kicking off the top ten are two teams who will meet this Sunday at Domain Stadium, but we are winding the clock back to 2008 when they met under an open roof at Etihad Stadium on a Saturday afternoon.
With both sides stuck in the bottom reaches of the ladder, not many would have anticipated a memorable contest, but that is what it turned out to be. With Fremantle kicking a goal before the first bounce thanks to a free kick, the Blues were immediately behind the eight ball, but they managed to bounce back and lead by as much as 20 points in the second quarter on the back of some magic from Brendan Fevola, who kicked a remarkable soccer goal that Lionel Messi would be proud of.
The Dockers responded and looked set to take a ten point advantage into the final break before a late goal on the siren to Steven Browne gave Carlton some momentum. The Blues hit the front with a goal to Nick Stevens before Darren Pfeiffer sealed it with a clever snap from the boundary line.
9. Port Adelaide 14.10.94 v Sydney 16.9.105 (2008)
Happening at the same time in a different state, the Power hosted the Sydney Swans at AAMI Stadium looking to keep in touch with the top eight. The Swans were chasing a top-four spot, and the first quarter was incredibly entertaining, with both teams combining for 14 goals.
The goalscoring slowed down considerably after that, but Sydney would manage to stay in front for much of the contest. That was until the final term, when the Power edged ahead thanks to a goal to Daniel Motlop. Much to the chagrin of the home crowd, Sydney booted the final three goals of the match to claim an 11 point win.
8. Melbourne 17.9.111 v Port Adelaide 16.14.110 (2010)
Not only is this one of the best Round 9 matches of the past ten years, but it is arguably the greatest game of AFL ever played up in Darwin. Going in as heavy favourites, the Power were considerably outplayed by the Demons for the most of the night, trailing by as much as 34 points early in the final quarter.
In a fourth term fightback, Port Adelaide slammed on eight goals to dramatically take the lead for the very first time on the night. A late goal to Brad Green tied the scores, and it took a rushed behind forced by the Demons for them to grab back the advantage. More drama ensued when Alipate Carlile gave up Port Adelaide’s kick-in from the resultant behind when he stepped over the goalsquare line, with the Power unable to force another score in the final minute.
7. St Kilda 15.11.101 v Western Bulldogs 17.8.110 (2013)
After several years spent at the top end of the ladder highlighted by a couple of memorable preliminary final clashes these two sides fell quickly down to the bottom of the table before starting their current resurgence. In 2013, with the two teams sitting in the bottom four, they played a highly intense match under the roof at Etihad Stadium.
It was a fairly even contest for most of the evening, with St Kilda getting out to an 18-point lead halfway through the final quarter and looked likely to take the points. However, the Dogs answered with nine of the next 13 goals to claim a nine-point victory in a high-scoring and entertaining game.
6. Adelaide 7.15.57 v Fremantle 10.8.68 (2015)
Stakes were incredibly high when Adelaide played host to the unbeaten Fremantle on a Saturday night in front of a crowd of over 45,000. In a low-scoring but highly entertaining contest the lead at the quarter breaks never went beyond a goal, with the Dockers clinging to a four-point advantage going into the last term.
During the fourth quarter standoff only Fremantle managed to score a goal through Michael Barlow, allowing them to hold on for an important 11-point win to improve their record to 9-0.
The game is most memorable for the match-up between stars Patrick Dangerfield and Nat Fyfe, who spent most of the match playing on each other. Dangerfield amassed 38 possessions and kicked a goal, while Fyfe racked up 40 disposals and also booted a major.
5. Richmond 12.12.84 v Essendon 12.20.92 (2007)
Anchored to the bottom of the ladder and without a win after eight games, Richmond supporters were growing impatient for their first taste of victory in 2007 going into their Dreamtime at the ‘G match against the Bombers. Essendon, who held a 4-4 record, were just one win from going into the top eight.
However, it was the Tigers who had the better of the Bombers for the majority of the night, leading by 12 points as the infamous five-minute warning in the last quarter flashed onto the TV screens of those watching on Network Ten at home. Essendon rallied, kicking two quick goals thanks to Scott Lucas and Adam McPhee to tie the scores.
Moments later Richmond champion Matthew Richardson took a solid contested mark on Mal Michael at half forward, immediately playing on and drilling the goal to the rapturous applause of the yellow and black army. As he celebrated with teammates, however, the umpire deemed his mark a push in the back and subsequently paid a 50-metre penalty for taking the shot at goal.
The Bombers controlled the ball for the remainder of the match, managing to edge their way back in front with two behinds before Matthew Lloyd kicked a long goal after the final siren to rub salt into the wounds of all Richmond supporters.
4. Western Bulldogs 16.14.110 v North Melbourne 16.17.113 (2008)
With the Western Bulldogs sitting half a game from the top of the ladder, the challenge was always going to be a tough one for North Melbourne, who were celebrating Brent Harvey’s 250-game milestone at Etihad Stadium.
Things didn’t get off to a great start for Boomer, who suffered a knock to the head that left him very groggy in the first term, but he miraculously came back onto the ground and kicked an inspiring running goal before quarter time. Unfortunately for his side the Dogs were proving too slick for the Roos, leading by four goals at half time.
A strong third term from the Kangaroos got them right back into the game, and it was Harvey who put his side back in front with a goal in the last quarter. With goals to Drew Petrie and Ed Lower, North had opened up a handy ten-point advantage late in the game.
Enter Brad Johnson. The Bulldogs superstar kicked a timely goal to cut the deficit to four points before taking a mark inside 50 as the final siren sounded. As the crowd of just under 35,000 watched on, Johnson’s kick sailed across the face of goal, handing the Roos a sensational victory.
3. North Melbourne 19.10.124 v Adelaide 18.17.125 (2013)
Another week, another bad memory brought up for North Melbourne fans. Desperately needing a win to stay in touch with the top eight after a 0-3 start to the season, the Roos hosted Adelaide under the roof at Etihad Stadium.
The Crows, also searching for a win to step into the top half of the ladder, were thereabouts for most of the afternoon, but the Roos always managed to answer Adelaide’s advances. Halfway through the final term North led by 30 points and looked set to record an important win – until Adelaide awoke.
With a four-goal blitzkrieg the Crows stormed back into the game as the Roos went back into their shells. A behind to Jared Petrenko cut the margin to under a kick, and it was that man who was the hero for the visiting side, getting goalside of his opponent to kick the matchwinner out of mid-air.
The siren sounded after the resultant centre bounce, stamping one of the greatest wins in Adelaide’s history. Playing his seventh game, young Crow Sam Kerridge was vitally important, kicking six goals.
2. Carlton 14.16.100 v Geelong 15.12.102 (2011)
With a 5-1-1 record, the Blues hosted the unbeaten Geelong in a heavyweight Friday night blockbuster at Etihad Stadium in front of a bumper crowd of 48,429. The fixturing of the match was poignant, with Geelong honouring the memory of club legend Bob Davis after the former premiership player and coach passed away just days before the game.
It was Carlton who made the fast start, kicking four of the first five goals, but the Cats managed to tie the scores at the main break. The game remained incredibly tight for the rest of the night, the Blues edging their way back in front thanks to some Chris Judd brilliance in the final term. With three goals in a row, Geelong broke out to a ten point lead before Jarrad Waite cut the deficit to under a goal.
In the final two minutes the Blues’ Robbie Warnock was awarded a free kick right in front of goal and just 15 metres out. Needing a straight kick to put Carlton back in front, Warnock shanked it to the dismay of the navy blue in the crowd. Geelong managed to stop the Blues from scoring again, holding on for an impressive two-point win. As Bruce McAvaney called in the dying moments, the match was ‘fair dinkum unbelievable’.
1. Geelong 17.14.116 v Western Bulldogs 17.12.114 (2009)
With Geelong and St Kilda streets ahead of the competition and unbeaten at the top of the ladder, the closest challenger in the Western Bulldogs took it up to the Cats on a Friday night at Etihad Stadium. Sitting in third position but three wins behind Geelong, the Dogs celebrated Jason Akermanis’ 300th game in front of nearly 45,000 fans.
The Cats got off to a fast start, leading by as much as 26 points in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs rallied superbly to get their noses in front in the second term. Their lead would be short lived, however, with Geelong kicking seven of the next eight goals. Holding a 37-point advantage, the question was: how far the Cats?
That was until the Dogs tightened the game up and slowly worked their way back into it. A 22-point deficit at three-quarter time all of a sudden became three points after Akermanis kicked his fourth, but a goal to Travis Varcoe gave Geelong some much-needed breathing space. Liam Picken replied for the Dogs, and one final charge forward landed in the arms of Brad Johnson on the boundary line next to the point post.
With the siren sounding as he came in to take his shot, Johnson’s checkside attempt slammed into the goal post, letting Geelong off the hook for their ninth win from nine attempts. These sides would later meet in a qualifying final at the MCG in front of 74,007 fans, with the Cats prevailing again.
Thanks again for reading, and make sure to tune in to my team of the week article at the conclusion of Round 9!