After 13 Rounds of the 2009 AFL season, St Kilda were a perfect 13-0.
After 13 Rounds of the 2009 AFL season, Geelong were a perfect 13-0.
Guess which two teams were playing each other in Round 14.
You guessed it, Collingwood and Essendon!
And also St Kilda and Geelong, that Sunday at Etihad Stadium!
It was the latest match-up of two unbeaten teams in the history of the league, with the winner likely to assume premiership favouritism, and feeding off the enormous hype generated by the mere fact the Saints & Cats were 13-0, Channel Seven moved the game to 3:10 in the afternoon, so that they could televise the game live into Melbourne- And for some reason, everywhere not named Sydney.
And yet, in front of a Docklands AFL record crowd of 54,444, what we got was something that shattered the stratosphere of expectation.
I’ll cut to the chase.
Thanks to the Saints kicking the opening 5 goals, the Cats spent the entire afternoon playing catch-up, and the Saints kicked the opening two goals of the final quarter to lead by 23 points.
But that Cats team were harder to kill than Rasputin, and in an epic burst, they would kick 5 out of 6 goals in 12 minutes to tie the scores at 85 with 5 minutes to go.
With 90 seconds left, Luke Ball surged a kick forward to a massive pack, seemingly set to end up being spoiled in any direction.
But which giant should come crashing through, but a former West Coast badman on his 30th Birthday to take the mark, and also knock out poor old Harry Taylor in the process- Michael Gardiner.
“Goes to Luke Ball, dropping back is Riewoldt, it’s in his ballpark- GARDINER!! THE GIANT FROM THE WEST!“
He kicked his 4th goal of the afternoon, the Saints led 91-85 with a minute to go, and that was how it stayed.
Facts about the game:
The attendance of 54,444 still stands as a Docklands record.
St Kilda kicked the first 5 goals of the game in 17 minutes.
Despite tying the scores, Geelong never led at any point during the game.
Gardiner finished with 13 disposals, 20 hitouts, and 4 goals, including the game winner with a minute to go, earning him the 3 Brownlow Votes from the umpires.
The Saints’ winning streak would eventually end at 19, when Nick Riewoldt missed a shot after the siren against Essendon in Round 20, although they still ultimately won the minor premiership with a game in hand.
Of course it wasn’t all bad for Cats fans, who quite happily remember how the season ended.