Essendon’s Round 1 performance was one of the hardest to read of any club, making them a tough team to get a read on ahead of the AFL’s June 11 restart.
This weekend, we look back at the high-scoring match that kick-started Geelong’s era of dominance, the greatest comeback in AFL history, grand final victories by Carlton, Sydney and Port Adelaide, and the most recent drawn match.
New to this series, I will also tell you who won the Brownlow votes in the matches (or, in the case of grand finals, who won the Norm Smith or was best on ground), and what the number one song on the Australian music charts was at the time of the match.
To the current state of affairs first, and momentum continues to grow towards the resumption of competition, with reports that a match between Collingwood and either Richmond or Melbourne could kick off Round 2.
In the meantime, the series of throwback matches will continue indefinitely, until the weekend when matches are scheduled to recommence. So, sit back and enjoy reading some of the past matches between the would-be Round 9 opponents.
Round 6, 2007: Geelong Cats 35.12 (222) defeated Richmond 9.11 (65) at Telstra Dome
Brownlow Medal votes: 3. Gary Ablett Jr, 2. Joel Corey, 1. Andrew Mackie
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne
After unexpectedly missing the finals in 2006, the Cats started 2007 slowly, losing three of their first five matches, the latest a shock 16-point loss to the Kangaroos at home (in which Joel Selwood won a Rising Star nomination).
Following this defeat, a week of soul searching began, during which Paul Chapman expressed his frustration at the club’s culture and what had been a prolonged period of underachieving, and urged the club as a whole to change things for the better.
A group discussion between the playing and coaching staff took place, during which the players discussed their eagerness to regain the hunger and form that saw them reach a preliminary final in 2004.
What unfolded at the Telstra Dome the following Sunday will forever go down as a turning point in the club’s recent history, and it was Richmond who were made to bear the brunt of an angry Cats outfit.
In a stunning first quarter, the Cats kicked ten goals to one to all but have the match under lock and key.
They did not let up in the second quarter, kicking another ten goals to one to lead by a whopping 107 points at halftime.
By that point, Chapman and Andrew Mackie had kicked four goals each, while the Ablett brothers (Gary Jr and Nathan) had kicked five goals between them.
At halftime, security were sent to guard the Richmond race in the anticipation that they would be subjected to an abusive tongue-lashing from angry supporters.
Not even the long break could slow the Cats’ momentum, as they kicked nine goals to three in the third quarter to extend their lead to 144 points.
Six goals to four in a rather even final quarter completed the carnage. The rest, as they say, is history.
The final margin of 157 points was, at the time, the Cats’ third-biggest winning margin, and the highest by any team at Docklands Stadium. Their score of 35.12 (222) was also, at the time, their third-highest.
Both records got bumped down to fourth after the Cats kicked 37.11 (233) in a 186-point thrashing of Melbourne in 2011.
The win was the first of fifteen consecutive, a streak that would see them wrap up the minor premiership with five rounds still to play. The streak came to an end with a narrow loss to Port Adelaide in Round 21, their second at home that season.
On the Richmond side of things, it was both their worst losing margin and the biggest score they have conceded in club history. The club board and management later apologised to fans for what was beyond an insipid performance by their team.
Indeed, the Cats went on to smash a 44-year premiership drought while the Tigers were left to wallow in a second wooden spoon in four years.
Round 16, 2001: Essendon 27.9 (171) defeated Kangaroos 25.9 (159) at the MCG
Brownlow Medal votes: 3. Jason Johnson, 2. Matthew Lloyd, 1. Corey McKernan
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “Angel” by Shaggy
Another historic match that is often discussed is the one between Essendon and the Kangaroos at the MCG in 2001.
When the teams went head-to-head on a cold Sunday afternoon in July, the Bombers, the defending premiers, were cruising at the top of the ladder while the Kangaroos sat outside the eight having won just eight of their 15 matches.
Additionally, the Bombers had won their past two matches against the Kangaroos by sizeable margins – 125 points in the previous year’s qualifying final, and 85 points in Round 1 – and went into the match as heavy favourites.
But the Bombers would not know what was to hit them, as the Kangaroos kicked twelve goals to two in the first quarter to lead by 58 points. The Roos’ score of 12.1 (73) remains the highest score ever kicked against the Bombers in a first quarter.
When Shannon Grant goalled at the ten-minute mark of the second quarter, the Roos led by 69 points, and the Bombers were heading towards a potentially humiliating defeat.
But, rather than throw in the towel, Kevin Sheedy’s side would start eating away at the margin, kicking the next nine goals (of which Matthew Lloyd kicked four) to cut the margin back to 15 points, before a goal to David Teague saw the Roos lead by 21 points at halftime.
By the eight-minute mark of the third quarter, Lloyd had kicked seven goals, and the margin was just six points.
Twenty minutes and seven goals later (four to the Bombers and three to the Roos), the margin was back to just a solitary point. However, the Kangaroos would kick three of the next four goals to lead by 14 points at three-quarter-time.
Goals to Lloyd (his ninth) and Adam Ramanauskas reduced the margin to three points, but the Roos would pull ahead again, thanks to Brent Harvey.
The Bombers then kicked the next five goals to lead by 19 points at the 20-minute mark of the final quarter. There was one final twist to come, as the Kangaroos kicked the next three after that to cut the margin to six points.
Blake Caracella then kicked the final goal of the match to complete a 12-point victory for Essendon, and cap off the greatest comeback in the history of the game.
Following this match, the Bombers limped to the finish line, winning only three of their final six games, though it was enough for them to finish on top of the standings for a third consecutive year. The Roos, meantime, won only one game for the rest of the season to finish 13th.
However, the Kangaroos would win their next six matches against the Bombers, and it wasn’t until Kevin Sheedy left the club that they would again taste victory, breaking the drought in Round 1, 2008.
In fact, Sheedy would end his coaching career without ever beating the Kangaroos again; as coach of the Greater Western Sydney Giants in 2012-13, he would oversee another three losses, including a 129-point thrashing in Round 2, 2012.
Round 11, 2017: Gold Coast Suns 11.14 (80) defeated West Coast Eagles 11.11 (77) at Metricon Stadium
Brownlow Medal votes: 3. Jarryd Lyons, 2. Pearce Hanley, 1. Dom Sheed
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee
Going into this match, the Suns had ticked off fourteen teams on the list of teams to beat since they entered the competition in 2011.
The three teams missing on that list were the West Coast Eagles, Sydney Swans and Adelaide Crows.
The Suns had come close to beating the Eagles once before, when a Tom Lynch goal at the death in Round 18, 2015 forced a draw against the eventual runners-up.
They would’ve fancied their chances this time around, given the Eagles were missing full-forward Josh Kennedy and had only won two matches away from Subiaco Oval to that point in the season.
Lynch kicked the first goal of the match, but the depleted Eagles would kick three of the next four to lead by four points at quarter-time.
The Suns then kicked three of the five second quarter goals to lead by five points at halftime, but it would have been larger if it wasn’t for their inaccuracy in front of goal.
They then kicked four goals to two in the third quarter to lead by 14 points at three-quarter-time, and the Eagles’ road woes looked as if they would continue on the holiday strip.
However, Adam Simpson’s side would dominate the early part of the final quarter, kicking four goals unabated to take a ten-point lead by the 21-minute mark.
Brandon Matera would peg back a goal for the Suns to cut the margin back to four points, before Peter Wright, nicknamed “two-metre Peter” – stepped up to kick the match-winning goal at the death to give his side a two-point lead.
Wright later missed with another shot at goal, but it would not matter as the Suns held on for a three-point win. To date, it remains their only win against the Eagles.
Round 5, 2018: St Kilda 10.13 (73) drew with GWS Giants 9.19 (73) at Etihad Stadium
Brownlow Medal votes: 3. Brett Deledio, 2. Jack Steven, 1. Dylan Shiel
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “God’s Plan” by Drake
After consecutive seasons ended in preliminary final failure, many questioned whether the Giants could go one better in 2018.
They started the season impressively, winning three of their first four matches, including beating Collingwood at the MCG in their second win at the home of football.
Round 5 saw them fly south to face a St Kilda side which, on the flipside, had lost three straight after starting the year with a win over Brisbane.
The Saints’ poor start to the season, plus the Giants’ lack of support in Melbourne, saw a crowd of just under 15,000 turn up at Etihad Stadium for what would turn out to be a thrilling match under the roof.
Both sides kicked two goals in the first quarter, though it was the Giants who led by three points.
The Giants then extended their lead to eight points through Ryan Griffen, but Paddy McCartin, for so long a target of criticism since being drafted number one in 2014, would kick consecutive goals to give his side the lead.
Luke Dunstan then goalled to give the Saints a ten-point lead, before Jeremy Cameron pegged one back to leave the halftime margin five points in St Kilda’s favour.
GWS then kicked the first three goals to take a 15-point lead, but Jack Steven would peg one back – the Saints’ only goal of the quarter – to cut the margin to nine points at three-quarter-time.
Goals to Jonathan Patton and Brett Deledio either side of a goal to Jack Billings saw the Giants restore their 15-point lead, three consecutive misses then put the visitors up by three goals halfway through the final quarter.
However, as the Giants were looking to kill the clock, the Saints pegged back two goals to cut the margin to six points, before a Toby Greene miss saw the visitors get some breathing space with a seven-point lead.
McCartin added a third goal to his tally to reduce the margin to a solitary point, before Jade Gresham missed a shot at goal on the run to level the scores.
The Saints had one final chance for victory, but Giants fullback Phil Davis would spoil Jake Carlisle’s attempted mark right at the death, and the match finished drawn at 73-apiece.
It marked the Giants’ third drawn match within a ten-month period, having also drawn back-to-back matches against Geelong and Hawthorn the previous season. For the Saints, this was their fifth drawn match since the start of 2010, and first since 2015.
2012 AFL grand final: Sydney Swans 14.7 (91) defeated Hawthorn 11.15 (81) at the MCG
Norm Smith Medal: Ryan O’Keefe
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “Battle Scars” by Guy Sebastian and Lupe Fiasco
After smashing a record 72-year premiership drought by beating West Coast to the 2005 flag, it took only seven years for the Swans to return to the premiership dais.
The 2012 grand final saw the Swans, who finished the regular season in third with the best defensive record in the competition, face minor premiers Hawthorn, who had the best attack – scoring 251 points more than the next-best Crows.
Thus, the potential was there for a classic, and that’s exactly what unfolded at the MCG in front of 99,683 fans.
The Hawks got off to a fast start, with Lance Franklin missing the first shot at goal for the afternoon but then managing to get the first major on the board thanks to a snap from Xavier Ellis.
The Swans hit back through Nick Malceski, before Buddy nailed his first to give the Hawks a nine-point lead. Then came the real grand final sprint, when Lewis Jetta out-ran Cyril Rioli down the southern wing, evoking memories of the Yohan Blake versus Usain Bolt sprint at the London Olympics a month earlier.
Another two majors to the Hawks saw them lead by 19 points at quarter-time.
However, the Swans would turn the match on its head in the second quarter, kicking six goals unabated to turn a 19-point deficit into a 16-point lead. The Hawks had only one scoring shot – a behind to David Hale – while Franklin and Clinton Young both put shots out on the full.
Another two goals to the Swans after the halftime break – by which point they had kicked the last eight goals – saw them lead by 28 points minutes into the third quarter, and they appeared to be well and truly on their way.
However, the Hawks would hit back with the next five goals, before a 50-metre penalty against Sam Mitchell saw the Swans regain the lead through captain Jarrad McVeigh. At three-quarter-time, the Swans led by a point – the first one-point three-quarter-time margin in a grand final.
Back-to-back goals to the Hawks saw them claim a 12-point lead early in the final quarter but, after Shane Mumford was substituted for Luke Parker, the Swans would peg one back through Dan Hannebery, and it was game on again.
A goal to Kieren Jack would level the scores at 78-all and, after a rushed behind, Adam Goodes, who was struggling with a knee injury, goalled to put his side seven points up.
The Hawks would continue to press forward, but would only muster three minor scores – reducing the margin to four points as the match entered its climax.
With less than two minutes remaining, Lewis Jetta’s shot at goal from outside the 50 fell short, but the Swans were able to force a stoppage from which Nick Malceski would kick the final goal of the match – putting the Swans ten points to the good and ensuring they wouldn’t be beaten.
A minute later, the siren sounded to confirm the Swans’ victory – giving them their first flag since 2005 but just their second in nearly 80 years.
Ryan O’Keefe, Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Jude Bolton and Adam Goodes – the only four survivors from the 2005 premiership team – joined Vic Belcher as the only players to have won two premierships with South Melbourne or the Sydney Swans.
O’Keefe claimed the Norm Smith Medal as the best player on ground, becoming the first Swan to win the award.
The Swans’ score of 14.7 (91) was also their highest in a grand final, surpassing the 13.10 (88) they scored in the 1996 loss to North Melbourne.
Two things in common also arose between their 2005 and 2012 flags – in both years, they won their first match of the season by 63 points, and the turning point came after a loss to St Kilda at Docklands on the last Saturday of May.
The Swans and Hawks would face off in the grand final two years later, with the Hawks gaining revenge with a thumping 63-point victory.
2004 AFL grand final: Port Adelaide 17.11 (113) defeated Brisbane Lions 10.13 (73) at the MCG
Norm Smith Medal: Byron Pickett
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5
For the Brisbane Lions, winning a fourth straight premiership would complete the AFL’s equivalent of conquering Mount Everest.
They had won the previous three premierships, at the expense of Essendon (2001) and Collingwood (2002-03), and were attempting to match the Pies’ long-standing record of four consecutive flags between 1927-30.
But standing in their way was Port Adelaide, who had overcome years of September flops to reach the big dance for the first time in their AFL history after entering the competition in 1997.
The Power had beaten St Kilda by just six points to qualify for the grand final, while the Lions beat Geelong by nine points to reach the summit match for the fourth straight year, but not before having their home ground advantage removed from them.
Under the MCG finals contract that was in effect at the time, if two non-Victorian teams were to host finals in either weeks two or three, only the higher-ranked team would be permitted to host their final (in this case, Port Adelaide).
The Lions had previously been the beneficiary of this rule, twice being allowed to keep their home ground advantage for week-two finals after finishing higher than the West Coast Eagles in 1996 and 1999.
But because they finished lower than the Power, it meant their preliminary final against the Cats was to be relocated to the MCG, which many argue conspired against the Lions in their bid for a four-peat.
It was the first grand final to pit two out-of-towners against each other, which guaranteed that the flag would leave Victorian borders for a fourth straight year.
The first quarter was marred by scuffles between several players – not least between Darryl Wakelin and Alastair Lynch, which saw the latter cop a mammoth ten-match suspension arising from seven separate offences.
Jonathan Brown (five matches) and 2003 Norm Smith Medallist Simon Black (three) also copped suspensions for their roles in the brawl, delaying their starts to 2005 until rounds six and four, respectively.
After Brisbane had led by six points in the third quarter, four straight goals to the Power saw them lead by 17 points at three-quarter-time.
The Power would keep their foot on the pedal in the final quarter, kicking five goals to one to win by 40 points and deny the Lions their fourth straight premiership, leaving the Pies’ record of four straight flags between 1927-30 intact, and still unmatched as of 2020.
Coach Mark Williams famously let out his emotions after the match, pretending to “choke” himself as he entered the arena, a reference to the Power’s reputation as chokers in previous September campaigns.
Then, after his post-match speech on the podium, he uttered out the words – “Allan Scott, you were wrong” – after Scott had said earlier that season that the club wouldn’t win the premiership under his coaching.
The grand final crowd of 77,671 was the lowest since 1991, and the lowest at the MCG since 1948, as the ground was undergoing significant redevelopment works ahead of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. This, in turn, affected attendances at the ground in the 2003, 2004 and 2005 seasons.
The Lions’ grand final loss was the beginning of a chain of events both for the good and bad of the competition.
The controversial MCG finals contract was abolished, allowing all interstate teams to host their finals in the first three weeks at home, so long that there are a total of ten finals (plus grand finals) played at the MCG every five years, beginning in 2005.
Free-to-air coverage of the AFL continued to go from strength to strength in Queensland, with all Saturday night matches televised live on Network Ten in the sunshine state, including those not featuring either the Lions or Gold Coast Suns (in 2011).
In light of the violence that marred the 2004 decider, the AFL introduced the “double penalty” with regard to grand final incidents, meaning a player who would normally cop a two-match suspension would have his sentence doubled to four matches, to be served at the start of the following season.
On the field, the Lions fell from perennial finalists to 11th after suffering a record 139-point defeat to St Kilda in the final round of the 2005 season, and have only made two finals series since, falling in the semi-final stage both times.
1970 VFL grand final: Carlton 17.9 (111) defeated Collingwood 14.17 (101) at the MCG
Best on ground: Brent Crosswell
Number one song in Australia: “In the Summertime” by The Mixtures
According to Carlton’s Ted Hopkins, the 1970 VFL grand final heralded “the birth of modern football”.
Many would agree with him, given it was one of the greatest grand finals in history, which saw Carlton come from 44 points down at halftime to defeat Collingwood by ten points in front of an Australian sporting record crowd of 121,696.
The Pies got off to a strong start, scoring the first 17 points before the Blues even got on the board, and led by 29 points at quarter-time after the Blues failed to kick a goal.
The Blues would fare better in the second quarter, kicking four goals, but the Pies would boot six to lead by 44 at the long break.
It was during the second quarter in which Alex Jesaulenko took what Blues fans dubbed to be the Mark of the Century, leading to commentator Mike Williamson to proclaim “Jesaulenko, you beauty!”.
During the halftime break, Blues coach Ron Barassi instructed his players to handball and play on at all costs, in an attempt to nullify the Pies’ long-kicking game which had proven successful in the first half.
The Blues emerged from the sheds a completely different team, kicking eight goals to three in the second half, but were still 17 points in arrears when the siren for three-quarter-time sounded.
They would then kick five goals to one in the final quarter, with the final goal coming from Jesaulenko, ensuring the Blues won by ten points.
The fact the Pies had beaten the Blues three times during the season (twice in the regular season and once in the semi-final) and lost the grand final from the position they were at, led to the birth of the term “Colliwobbles”.
The Pies would lose a further three grand finals – the 1977 replay against North Melbourne, plus the 1979 and 1981 deciders against Carlton – before ending their drought with a 48-point thrashing of Essendon in 1990.
In recent times, the “Colliwobbles” term has arisen from the dead, used to describe upset losses by the Pies – not least the 2018 grand final against West Coast (after they had kicked the first five goals of the match) and the 2019 preliminary final against GWS, both lost by less than a kick.
Round 7, 2014: Melbourne 11.4 (70) defeated Adelaide Crows 9.13 (67) at Adelaide Oval
Brownlow Medal votes: 3. Patrick Dangerfield, 2. Chris Dawes, 1. Jeremy Howe
Number one song on the ARIA Charts: “Geronimo” by Sheppard
When Melbourne descended onto the Adelaide Oval, there was one large monkey they were desperate to shake off their back.
The Dees hadn’t won in the City of Churches since Round 2, 2001 (also against the Crows), and their dreadful form in recent years did little to suggest that they could even mount a challenge against the Crows on enemy soil.
When Patrick Dangerfield kicked the first goal only one minute into the match, a long day in the office loomed for the Dees.
However, they would silence the usually unforgiving crowd by kicking the next four goals to take a shock 17-point lead into quarter-time.
The opening quarter wasn’t without incident, as Jack Viney applied a contentious bump on Tom Lynch – breaking his jaw.
Two goals to Chris Dawes and one to Viney saw the Dees skip out to a lead of 36 points, before ex-Dee Scott Thompson pegged back a goal to reduce the margin to 27 points at halftime.
The home side started to eat into the Dees’ lead after halftime, with Matt Crouch and Josh Jenkins kicking their three goals of the term before the Dawes nailed his third goal to see the visitors lead by 12 points at three-quarter-time.
The Crows would then draw to within four points early in the final quarter thanks to James Podsiadly, but Nathan Jones would kick a goal to put his side up by ten points.
A goal to Dangerfield again reduced the deficit to four, before a pair of Demon goals saw them 16 points to the good going into the final minutes of the match.
The home side would peg back two goals – one to Jared Petrenko and another to Podsiadly – to set up a grandstand finish, but ultimately the Dees would hang on to win by three points and put an end to a long, miserable drought in Adelaide.
Paul Roos was understandably proud of his players, stating that they had turned a corner after years of unrelenting disappointment, but deviated from expectations given they had finished second-last in 2013 with just two wins and a percentage of 54.1.
Days after the match, Viney was sent straight to the judiciary for his bump on Tom Lynch, where he copped a two-match ban. However, following a successful appeal – just the second since the revamp of the AFL Tribunal system in 2005 – his suspension was thrown out.
Round 2, 2013: Fremantle 16.10 (106) defeated Western Bulldogs 11.12 (78) at Etihad Stadium
Brownlow Medal votes: 3. Tom Liberatore, 2. Nat Fyfe, 1. Ryan Crowley
Number one song on the ARIA Charts: “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton
While not a match that really reached any heights, this match will be best known for the sickening knee injury suffered by goal umpire Courtney Lai.
The Dockers – in Ross Lyon’s second season as coach – had beaten West Coast in Round 1, while the Bulldogs were coming off an impressive win over pre-season premiers Brisbane in their opening round match.
Freo started the stronger of the two sides and kicked the opening five goals before anyone could blink to take a 31-point lead into quarter-time.
The Dogs then kicked four goals to three in an even second quarter, during which they employed some counter-attacking tactics to quell the Dockers’ defensive game plan, akin to that of St Kilda when Ross Lyon was their coach. At halftime, the Dockers led by 25 points.
Six-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter, the match took an ugly turn when Liam Picken collided with Lai in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent a Michael Walters goal.
Play was held up when it was realised Lai had suffered a sickening knee injury, and a stretcher was deployed to carry him off the field.
WARNING: Video contains graphic content
At the time of impact, the Dockers led by 43 points but, while they went on to win comfortably, the Bulldogs would actually win the final quarter to reduce the final margin to 28 points.
While Tom Liberatore was best-on-ground with 28 disposals, his teammate Adam Cooney actually earned three more disposals, finishing with a game-high 31 touches.