The Greater Western Sydney Giants made the 2019 AFL grand final, but were unfortunately smashed by the Richmond Tigers.
This weekend, we look back at a thrilling semi-final from 2005, while we also revisit the controversial “Sirengate” match from 2006, as well as the farewell of Kevin Sheedy and James Hird at Essendon, the first ever QClash and a VFL grand final replay.
To the current state of affairs first, and after weeks in lockdown, the AFL finally announced that it would be resuming its season on June 11, with results and points from the opening round, which was played before the season was suspended nearly two months ago, to count.
Though no fixtures have been confirmed yet, it is likely a Collingwood vs Richmond blockbuster at the MCG will be the match that kicks off the rebooted season.
CEO Gillon McLachlan has all but conceded that fans will not be permitted to attend matches this year, including the grand final, with an effective vaccine for COVID-19 unlikely for at least another twelve months.
This means that fans could also face being locked out of matches in 2021, and maybe even longer, with the recovery from the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic expected to take up to several years.
In the meantime, sit back and enjoy while we guide you through past match-ups between the would-be Round 10 opponents.
2005 Second Semi-Final: Sydney Swans 7.14 (56) defeated Geelong Cats 7.11 (53) at the SCG
Best on ground: Nick Davis (four goals)
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “Don’t Cha” by The Pussycat Dolls
As per the contract at the time, any home finals that the Sydney Swans were entitled to host were to be held at the larger Telstra Stadium, which had hosted the Sydney Olympics only five years earlier.
However, as the Olympic stadium was booked out due to an NRL qualifying final between the Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys, this meant the Swans were instead able to host its semi-final against the Geelong Cats at the SCG.
It was to be the first AFL final played at Moore Park since 1998, when the Swans lost to the Adelaide Crows in the semi-final.
After finishing third on the ladder, the Swans suffered a gut-wrenching four-point loss to the West Coast Eagles in the qualifying final at Domain Stadium, while the Cats (sixth at season’s end) had thrashed Melbourne by 55 points in its elimination final.
The first quarter was a war of attrition, with Michael O’Loughlin kicking the first goal of the match three minutes into the first quarter.
However, back to back goals to the Cats – through Charlie Gardiner and James Kelly – saw the visitors gain a lead they wouldn’t relinquish for the majority of the night.
And when David Johnson kicked the Cats’ seventh goal three minutes into the final quarter to give them a 23-point lead, they appeared to be on their way to a second consecutive preliminary final.
Enter Nick Davis.
With the Swans facing a straight-sets exit from September, the much-maligned forward then booted the next three goals of the game – two snaps and a set-shot conversion – to reduce the margin to just three points going into red time.
As the match reached its climax, and with the capacity SCG crowd praying for a miracle, the Swans then forced a stoppage in its forward 50.
Jason Ball then won the ruck contest, and roved it to Davis who kicked his fourth goal – a miracle snap – right at the death to give the Swans the lead – their first since early in the first quarter.
Just seconds later, after the centre bounce to restart play, the final siren sounded to signal a Sydney Swans victory by three points, after which commentator Michael Christian exclaimed: “What a game of Australian rules football! The Sydney Swans, something, from nothing! They were no chance in this game!”.
The Swans then proceeded to beat St Kilda by 31 points in the preliminary final before ending its 72-year premiership drought in the big dance against the West Coast Eagles at the MCG.
If it weren’t for Davis’ heroics on that September night 15 years ago, then the Swans may not have been the successful team they have become to be this century.
Round 5, 2006: Fremantle 14.10 (94) defeated St Kilda 13.15 (93) at Aurora Stadium
Brownlow Medal votes: 3. Matthew Pavlich, 2. Josh Carr, 1. Brett Voss
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “SOS” by Rihanna
Without doubt this is one of the most controversial matches ever played this century.
St Kilda and Fremantle entered their Round 5, 2006 match with two wins and two losses each for the season, with the Saints defeating Richmond and the Brisbane Lions in between interstate losses to the West Coast Eagles and Port Adelaide.
The Dockers, on the other hand, were playing in Launceston for the second time in a month, having gone down to Hawthorn by 22 points four weeks earlier. Their two wins came against Carlton and Port Adelaide, while their other loss was against Adelaide the previous week.
Including the loss to Hawthorn earlier in the month and the loss to the Saints in the corresponding match the previous year, the Dockers had lost all five of their previous matches in Tasmania dating back to 2002.
However, they would defy their horror record in the Apple Isle to take a 15-point lead into quarter-time, by which point four players (Fraser Gehrig, Max Hudghton, Lenny Hayes and Jeff Farmer) were reported in a spiteful first quarter.
They then extended their lead to 22 points at halftime, and an upset appeared on the cards.
The turning point midway through the third quarter, when St Kilda full-forward Fraser Gehrig gave away three consecutive 50-metre penalties, resulting in his direct opponent, Michael Johnson, kicking a goal that would give the Dockers a 33-point lead.
Just when it was thought Fremantle were heading for a comfortable victory, the Saints would storm back into the contest, with coach Grant Thomas replacing Gehrig and Nick Riewoldt in the forward line with smaller targets in Stephen Milne and Brett Voss.
The Saints would kick seven of the next nine goals and when Leigh Montagna kicked a goal with less than 40 seconds remaining, the margin was one point.
As the clock ticked down towards zero, the Dockers were attempting to defend their lead against a Saints side that had possessed the AFL’s best attack in 2005.
This is when the chaos started.
During a television broadcast, when the clock hits 0:00 at the end of the fourth quarter, you’d expect to hear the final siren. However, the umpires didn’t appear to hear it, and play continued for a couple of seconds afterwards despite the protests of Fremantle players who claimed to have heard the siren.
In this period, Saints defender Steven Baker took a running shot at goal but missed to the left, being illegally bumped off the ball by Daniel Gilmore in the process. While this was happening, Dockers coach Chris Connolly and CEO Cameron Schwab stormed onto the ground, demanding answers.
While the discussion between the umpires and Fremantle players was going on, Saints midfielder Lenny Hayes told Connolly to get off the ground.
Baker then decided to take another shot at goal, cancelling the initial point he scored a few minutes earlier, but again missed, leaving the scores tied.
The match thus ended in a draw and Connolly expressed his disappointment at the game continuing when the siren had supposedly sounded. He then said that he hoped the AFL would investigate the dramatic conclusion to the match, which Fremantle had dominated from start to finish.
Later, his St Kilda counterpart, Grant Thomas, acknowledged that his team had played poorly and were lucky to escape with the draw.
The AFL Commission then launched an investigation on the Wednesday following the match, and after much deliberation, they would award the victory and the four premiership points to Fremantle, stripping Steven Baker of the “point” he had scored after the final siren was supposed to have sounded.
The amended result proved crucial to the final ladder standings after Round 22. Fremantle eventually finished third on the ladder and went on to make the preliminary final for the first time, losing to the Sydney Swans, while St Kilda finished sixth and lost their elimination final to Melbourne.
Thomas was later sacked as Saints coach after the club stated that they wanted to move in a different direction, and was subsequently replaced by Swans assistant coach Ross Lyon, who beat the heavily-favoured John Longmire to the post.
2014 Second preliminary final: Hawthorn 15.7 (97) defeated Port Adelaide 13.16 (94) at the MCG
Best on ground: Jarryd Roughead (six goals)
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift
After the Sydney Swans had won through to the grand final the previous night, it was up to Hawthorn to hold up its end of the bargain if they were to set up a grudge match against their 2012 premiership nemesis and Lance “Buddy” Franklin, who had defected north at the end of 2013.
Standing in the way of the Hawks and a third consecutive grand final appearance was Port Adelaide, which had won two consecutive finals against Richmond and Fremantle to qualify for its first preliminary final since 2007.
The Power had become an emerging force under Ken Hinkley, who took over as coach during its darkest hour at the end of the 2012 season, by which point they hadn’t made finals for five consecutive years.
The last time they played the Hawks at the MCG, they had suffered a record 165-point defeat. Also, the last time they played a third or fourth week final at the ground, they’d suffered a record 119-point grand final defeat at the hands of the Geelong Cats in 2007.
Yet by quarter-time of the preliminary final against the Hawks, they led by 12 points at quarter-time, though the margin could have been significantly larger had they not been so inaccurate in front of goal.
However, the Hawks would make their move in the second quarter, kicking six goals to two to take an 11-point lead into halftime.
A goal to Robbie Gray four minutes into the third quarter reduced the margin to just five points, but the Hawks would kick five of the next seven goals to lead by 23 points at three-quarter-time.
Then, halfway through the final quarter, the Hawks led by as much as 29 points before the Power mounted a late comeback, kicking the next four goals to cut the margin to just less than a kick going into the final two-and-a-half minutes of the game.
With less than 90 seconds remaining, Andrew Moore took a mark inside forward 50 and had the chance to put the Power in front, which, according to Channel Seven commentator Brian Taylor, would’ve “blown the season wide open”.
His shot missed to the left, going through for a rushed behind, and the Hawks held on to win by three points, setting up a grand final against the Sydney Swans, which they would go on to win by 63 points.
Round 11, 2004: Carlton 14.7 (91) defeated Adelaide Crows 12.15 (87) at AAMI Stadium
Brownlow Medal votes: 3. Brendan Fevola, 2. Mark Ricciuto, 1. Scott Camporeale
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “Black Betty” by Spiderbait
By the time Carlton hit the halfway mark of the 2004 season, the club had been in disarray, being decimated by salary cap breaches which prevented the club from rebuilding in the short term.
Still, they weren’t without any quality on its playing list, with Brendan Fevola starting to reach the peak of his powers and Andrew Walker having been drafted to the club with a priority draft pick the Blues were permitted to keep.
They arrived in Adelaide having won only three of their first ten matches, and were coming off an embarrassing 108-point loss to St Kilda at the Dome in what was Scott Camporeale’s 200th AFL game.
The Blues looked set for another thrashing when they trailed the Adelaide Crows by 29 points at quarter-time.
But then whatever coach Denis Pagan said to them during the quarter-time break seemed to work, as the Blues started to work their way back into the match, kicking four goals (two of them to Fevola) to one to trail by only eight points at halftime.
The Crows regained their first-quarter form after halftime, kicking four goals to two to establish a 25-point lead at three-quarter-time, and looked to be well on their way.
However, the Blues would wipe out the deficit with a seven goal to two final quarter, the last of them a stunner from the pocket when Fevola marked with one hand and then stepped up to kick the match-winner with less than five minutes remaining.
This gave the Blues a four-point win, and at the time, an extremely rare interstate victory. Between Round 13, 2001 and Round 6, 2008 inclusive, it would be their only win away from Victoria.
Apart from Fevola’s seven goals, acting captain Scott Camporeale, who would later coach the Crows in the interim after the sudden death of Phil Walsh in mid-2015, gathering 29 possessions.
Round 21, 2007: Richmond 17.17 (119) defeated Essendon 13.14 (92) at the MCG
Brownlow Medal votes: 3. Matthew Richardson, 2. Kayne Pettifer, 1. Kane Johnson
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie
Arguably the biggest regular season game outside of marquee matches was the one between Essendon and Richmond in the penultimate round of the 2007 season.
Why, you ask? Because it was to be the final appearance at the MCG for legendary Bombers coach Kevin Sheedy, who was informed by the club that his services was no longer required beyond 2007, and former captain James Hird, who was to retire after 16 seasons at the top level.
Sheedy took over as coach in 1981, when the club hadn’t won a final for over a decade, and in over a quarter-of-a-century at the helm delivered four premierships to Windy Hill: in 1984, 1985, 1993 and most recently 2000.
Hird, meantime, became captain in 1998 and won the Norm Smith Medal in the 2000 grand final, before handing the captaincy to Matthew Lloyd at the end of the 2005 season as he entered the twilight of his playing career.
The Bombers had to win if they were to keep alive their chances of playing in September, while the Tigers were fighting to avoid the wooden spoon having won only two-and-a-half games for the season, their previous win being against Collingwood in Round 19.
All went to script when the Bombers led by 12 points at quarter-time, with Lloyd kicking two goals and Hird one.
But the Tigers, who were only playing for pride, flipped the script thereafter, winning each of the final three quarters to register a 27-point victory and destroy not only the Bombers’ party, but also their chances of playing in September.
The margin was only ten points in the Tigers’ favour at three-quarter-time, but the eventual wooden spooners would blow the Bombers out of the water in the final quarter, kicking seven goals to four.
Despite only kicking one goal, Matthew Richardson claimed the three Brownlow Medal votes; down the other end, Lloyd ended up with four majors for the match.
Afterwards, the Bomber faithful stayed back to farewell Sheedy and Hird (though the club had one more match to play in 2007, which was against West Coast at Domain Stadium), bringing a long and successful chapter in the history of the club to its inevitable end.
Round 7, 2011: Gold Coast Suns 18.16 (124) defeated Brisbane Lions 17.14 (116) at the Gabba
Brownlow Medal votes: 3. Jared Brennan, 2. Zac Smith, 1. Ashley McGrath
Marcus Ashcroft Medal: Jared Brennan (Gold Coast Suns)
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett and GoonRock
With the entry of the Gold Coast Suns into the AFL in 2011, came the establishment of the third interstate derby in the game, known as the QClash.
The first QClash took place in Round 7 of the 2011 season, but as Metricon Stadium was unavailable due to it being in the final stages of construction, this meant the Suns were forced to host the Lions at the Gabba instead.
The Suns had won their first AFL game against Port Adelaide a fortnight earlier, but had suffered a humiliating 139-point loss to Essendon the previous week, while the Lions had started the season having lost their first five games (they had the bye in Round 4).
Accordingly, the Lions started favourites, and 2003 Norm Smith Medallist Simon Black lit the fuse for the match by labelling Jared Brennan and Michael Rischitelli, two former Lions who had moved down the M1 to the Gold Coast, “mercenaries”.
Brennan responded by winning the inaugural Marcus Ashcroft Medal (awarded to the best-on-ground in the QClash) with 30 disposals, as the Suns won the first ever QClash by eight points, giving them a second AFL victory and leaving their bigger brothers still winless.
After being held goalless in the first quarter against the Bombers the previous week, the Suns kicked six of the nine goals in the first quarter, and extended their lead to 27 points by halftime after kicking four goals to three in the second quarter.
Tempers flared in the third quarter when Andrew Raines was concussed from an accidental elbow by the Suns’ number one draft pick David Swallow, as the Lions outscored the Suns to go into three-quarter-time 18 points in arrears.
The Lions would fight back in the final quarter, kicking six goals to five, but would be left to rue their inaccuracy in front of goal as the Suns went on to win by eight points, with a go-ahead goal to Brandon Matera giving them a lead they would hold to the final siren.
The Suns’ joy in south-east Queensland would be short-lived, though, with the Lions winning the return QClash at the Gabba by 62 points. Both clubs would finish in the bottom three at the end of the season, the Lions in 15th and the Suns claiming the wooden spoon.
Round 14, 2013: Melbourne 15.13 (103) defeated Western Bulldogs 15.10 (100) at the MCG
Brownlow Medal votes: 3. Jack Watts, 2. Ryan Griffen, 1. Tom Liberatore
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke feat. T.I. + Pharrell
While season 2013 was anything beyond a bitterly disappointing season for Melbourne, there is one highlight that is worth looking back at.
After several heavy defeats to start the season, as expected, second-year coach Mark Neeld copped the axe, replaced by former Adelaide Crows head coach Neil Craig in the interim prior to Paul Roos’ arrival at the club.
Craig had instructed the Demons to play with newfound freedom now that Neeld was gone, with the hard-line tactics employed by the ex-Collingwood assistant coach in the 2012 and 2013 seasons backfiring badly.
And that’s what they did against the Western Bulldogs, dominating the first three quarters to lead by 39 points at three-quarter-time.
That lead extended to 44 points halfway through the final quarter when Jeremy Howe kicked his second goal of the match. By that point, Melbourne were in a strong position, but there was one final twist to come.
The Bulldogs would kick the next seven goals of the game without a miss to suddenly reduce the margin to just two points with less than two minutes remaining.
But as the Dogs went forward, Jack Watts, who earned the three Brownlow Medal votes for his four goals, would take a mark deep in defence, and then set off a chain of play which ended in Colin Sylvia missing a running shot at goal to the right.
That would prove to be the final score of the game, and the Dees held on for the second of their two wins in season 2013.
Prior to this match, to celebrate the AFL Women’s Round, the first sanctioned women’s match was contested between the same two teams, with the likes of Daisy Pearce, Alicia Eva, Jasmine Garner and Kaitlyn Ashmore featuring. The Dees won this match by 32 points.
1977 VFL grand final Replay: North Melbourne 21.25 (151) defeated Collingwood 19.10 (124) at the MCG
Best on ground: Unknown
Number one song in Australia: “You’re Moving Out Today” by Carole Bayer Sager
The 1977 VFL grand final between North Melbourne and Collingwood ended in a draw, which meant that a replay was required to decide the premier the following week.
Collingwood had led by 27 points at three-quarter-time, but the Kangaroos would kick five goals to one in the final quarter to tie the scores at 9.22 (76) – 10.16 (76) apiece.
North coach Ron Barassi said after the match that “We should have won the game. I know that is a brave statement, but we did have five more scoring shots than Collingwood.”
Indeed, had the Roos been more accurate in front of goal, they almost certainly would have won this match instead of having to play the following week.
It was the first time since 1948 that the season’s summit match ended in a stalemate, and on that occasion, Melbourne overwhelmed Essendon by 39 points in the replay to win their sixth flag.
North would dominate the replay, winning by 27 points, and again their lead could have been so much bigger had they been more accurate in front of goal – their final total was 21.25 (151).
One highlight for the Pies, however, was a running goal from Phil Manassa down the wing from halfback which left Brownlow Medallist Malcolm Blight in his wake.
In honour of this memorable goal, the Phil Manassa Medal is awarded to the player who kicks the Goal of the Year during the regular season. The medal has been won four times by Eddie Betts, the most by any player.
The Pies’ 27-point defeat was their fifth in a grand final since 1958, continuing a curse famously known as the “Colliwobbles”. It would not be until 1990 that they would end their premiership drought, beating Essendon in the grand final to bury the Colliwobbles once and for all.
Coincidentally, the Pies would be involved in the next grand final to end in a draw, when they finished tied with St Kilda 68-apiece in 2010. They would dominate the replay that year, winning by 56 points to claim its 15th flag, and first since 1990.
Round 10, 2017: GWS Giants 14.14 (98) defeated West Coast Eagles 14.6 (90) at Domain Stadium
Brownlow Medal votes: 3. Callan Ward, 2. Zac Williams, 1. Dylan Shiel
Number one song on ARIA Charts: “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi feat. Daddy Yankee
Finally, we look back at one of the GWS Giants’ most courageous victories in recent AFL history.
When the Giants flew west to face the West Coast Eagles midway through the 2017 season, history was against them, as they hadn’t beaten the Eagles in five previous attempts, with the average losing margin being 76 points.
Leon Cameron’s side also had up to half of their best 22 on the sidelines, among them Tom Scully, Stephen Coniglio, Nick Haynes and Steve Johnson.
The Eagles and Collingwood were the two teams they had yet to beat prior to the start of the season, though they had ticked off on beating the Pies for the first time a fortnight before their clash against the Eagles.
They had come close in their previous meeting against the westerners, losing by a solitary point after Nic Naitanui had kicked the match winning goal at the death for the Eagles.
The home side started accurately, kicking five goals without miss to the Giants’ 2.4 (16) to lead by 14 points at quarter-time.
The Eagles would stay ahead in the second quarter, but would find their quarter-time lead halved as the Giants settled into the contest.
A goal to Jeremy Cameron two minutes into the third quarter saw the Giants draw to within a solitary point, and two misses to Josh Kelly and Jonathan Patton saw the visitors take the lead, also by the barest of margins.
However, the Eagles would kick the next three goals – two of them to two-time reigning Coleman Medallist Josh Kennedy – to reclaim a 15-point lead.
The Giants would hit back with the next three goals to take a three-point lead into three-quarter-time, and they could smell a historic victory looming.
Kennedy then kicked his third goal two minutes into the final quarter to give the Eagles back the lead, but his day would end early when he suffered a lower right leg injury, leaving his side a man down for the rest of the match.
The two sides then traded goals for the next fifteen minutes before Toby Greene stepped up to kick back-to-back goals, four minutes apart, to give the Giants a lead of more than two goals with less than three-and-a-half minutes remaining.
Though Lewis Jetta would peg back a goal for the Eagles, it was all too late as the Giants completed their Grand Slam of beating each of the other 17 clubs in the AFL with an eight-point win.
The Giants would finish 2017 having beaten the Eagles four times during the course of the year – once in the pre-season, twice in the regular season and then again during the finals series, during which they recorded their largest ever win over them – 67 points.