For a little bit of fun in grand final week, I decided to do a top five ‘what if’ grand final moments.
Apologies to the St Kilda fans if I open up old wounds.
5. 2011 grand final: What if Stevie J didn’t call for the handball?
The 2011 grand final goes largely underrated. For three quarters the game ebbed and flowed. The start of the last quarter Geelong led by seven points. Tom Hawkins looked like the player who was going to win Geelong the game. However, he’d had two shots at goal and missed them both. There have been countless examples of teams not converting when they’ve got the momentum and it comes back to hurt them. Hawkins took yet another mark 15 metres out from goal. Steve Johnson, sensing the moment, called for the handball and snapped the goal. Geelong great Sam Newman speaks very highly of this act as it ensured Geelong would win their third flag in five years.
4. 2009 grand final: What if Zac Dawson was the hero?
Out of the two grand finals 2009 and 2010, the 2009 grand final was the one St Kilda were a better chance of winning. They dominated the game for long periods of time, particularly in the second quarter. The game came down to one passage of play when Stevie Johnson spied Gary Ablett Jr alone in the middle of the ground. The sometimes maligned Zac Dawson made up ground very quickly and got the spoil in. However, cue the Matthew Scarlett toe poke, which led to the Paul Chapman game winner.
3. 2010 drawn grand final: What if the bounce of the ball had gone straight?
I know everybody’s minds straight away go to the ball bouncing away from Stephen Milne. I’m going back exactly six minutes previously. Collingwood led St Kilda by one point. Nick Riewoldt grabbed the ball from the congestion and snapped it towards goal. It looked for certain it was going through before it sat up for a split second, allowing Nick Maxwell to touch it. The disclaimer is from the resulting kick-in Brendon Goddard took a spectacular mark and kicked the goal. Due to the fact I’m dealing in ‘what ifs’ I’m saying Riewoldt scores the goal and Goddard takes that awesome mark, thus giving St Kilda an 11-point lead.
2. 2005 grand final: What if Ashley Sampi had a shot on goal to win the grand final?
This is the one that intrigues me the most out of all the ‘what ifs’. The ending of the 2005 grand final was very special with Leo Barry taking the match-saving mark to end a 72-year premiership drought. However, if Ashley Sampi had taken the mark, he would have had the shot to win the game from 15 metres out. I get it. He’s expected to kick the goal, which makes Leo Barry’s mark all the more special. Although the fact that it’s only 15 metres out would only add to the pressure of the occasion.
1. 2018 grand final: What if you’ve just dropped the premiership?
The 2018 grand final had a great ending: a shot from the boundary to win the game. The greatest ‘what if’ moment followed it immediately. Dom Sheed, after kicking that go-ahead goal, got the handball out to Luke Shuey, who saw a wide-open Jack Darling at the top of the goal square only for Darling to fumble the mark. Collingwood had 58 seconds to get the ball from one end to the other. However, it didn’t eventuate, which I’m glad for, as Darling had a massive impact in the third quarter particularly, helping West Coast get the win.