Straight off the top, this one would have to be the most well-known Australian sporting coincidence… Followed by the second.
The Centenary Test
In the first official Test match at the MCG in March 1877, Australia defeated England by 45 runs.
100 years later, the Centenary Test was held at the MCG between the Aussies and the Poms… and the Aussies won by 45 runs.
No matter how hard anyone tries, nothing will top that coincidence for sheer hilarity and peculiarity.
Follow-On defeats in Test Cricket
Only 3 times in the history of Test cricket has a team lost after enforcing the follow-on.
Australia was the loser on all 3 occasions.
Sydney in December 1894 (England won by 10 runs defending 177)
Headingley in 1981 (Botham & Willis grabbing the Aussies by the ankles)
And of course…..
Kolkata in 2001 (Laxman and Dravid batting all the live long day).
Those 3 days at Eden Gardens are Steve Waugh’s lasting legacy to Australian cricket – Convincing every captain to never enforce the follow-on.
The Big Bash falling off a cliff after Cricket Australia expanded the schedule
An incredible coincidence, don’t you think.
Bobby Simpson and Tied Tests
Only two matches in the history of Test cricket have ended in Ties – Both involved Australia, and one individual in particular – Simmo.
During the First in 1960 against the West Indies at The Gabba, Simpson opened alongside Colin McDonald, and scored 92 in Australia’s First Innings, but was then dismissed for a 14-ball duck by Sir Wes Hall in the chase of 233.
In the memorable final over of Day 5 (In the good old days of 8-ball overs), Australia needed 6 to win with 3 wickets in hand – They lost 2 wickets (One being skipper Richie Benaud) and scored 5 runs, before tailenders Lindsay Kline and Ian Meckiff took off for the winning single, but Meckiff was run out by inches thanks to a bullet throw from Joe Solomon.
Then in 1986, Simmo was the coach/manager of Australia in Madras, in the extremely hot and humid conditions, which saw Dean Jones (In his first Test for over 2 years) belt out a superb 210 until he collapsed from heat exhaustion.
India were eventually set 348 to win, Sunny Gavaskar dragged them there with 90, and as the final over arrived, Greg Matthews had the ball, and Ravi Shastri and Maninder Singh were at the crease.
You obviously know the rest.
Deano later detailed the moments after the match in an interview with Cricinfo.
“There were two scoreboards in the stadium, so when Greg Matthews got Maninder Singh lbw, I was at mid-on or midwicket, and looked up at the first of them, which had us in front by one.”
“So we’d won! I started running away in elation, but then someone told me to look at the other one, and I said: “Oh, is that a draw then?”
“Simmo replied: “No, you idiot, it’s a tie!”
1977 Grand Finals
A drawn Grand Final is rare enough, but in 1977, both the NSWRL Grand Final and VFL Grand Final ended in draws.
In First Grade, St George and Parramatta drew 9-9 at the SCG, after John Chapman and Mick Cronin both missed kicks at goal to win the game.
At the MCG a week later, in the first-ever live telecast of a Grand Final, North Melbourne drew with Collingwood 9.22-76 to 10.16- 76, after Twiggy Dunne’s late goal stopped the Roos from completing a 27 point comeback at the last change.
St George won the First Grade Replay 22-0 on the same day as the Roos-Magpies draw.
For the record, North won the VFL Replay easily the week after.
2012 Grand Finals = Same Margin
AFL: Sydney Swans 14.7 – 91 defeated Hawthorn 11.15 – 81
NRL: Melbourne 14 defeated Canterbury 4
If my mathematics are correct, outside of the draws of ’77, this is the only time both our ‘major’ Grand Finals have had the same margin.
There’s at least half a dozen examples throughout history of the margins being a point apart.
For example, in 1979, Carlton won by 5 points, St George won by 4, and in 1989, Hawthorn won by 6 points, Canberra won by 5.
First Goal = You Lose
There’s an amazing pattern with the AFL Grand Final.
2014 – Sydney kick the first goal, lose
2015 – West Coast kick the first goal, lose
2016 – Sydney kick the first goal, lose
2017 – Adelaide kick the first goal, lose
2018 – Collingwood kick the first goal, lose
2019 – GWS kick the first goal, lose
Hawthorn in 2013 were the last team to kick the first goal and win the Grand Final – They’re also the last minor premier to win the flag.
The Hawks and Hawke
In 1983, Bob Hawke is elected Prime Minister – Hawthorn win the VFL/AFL Premiership.
In 1991, Hawkie is usurped by Paul Keating – Hawthorn win the VFL/AFL Premiership.
I’ll drink to that.
The Brick With Eyes
Before his time as Clive Palmer’s prisoner, Glenn Lazarus had a reasonable First Grade career, littered with New South Wales appearances and Kangaroo Tours, and he also played in five winning premierships for his three different clubs – Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne.
The coincidence in those clubs?
The Brick With Eyes played in each club’s maiden premiership wins – The ’89 Raiders, the ’92 Broncos, and his last First Grade game was captaining the Storm’s 1999 Premiership win against St George-Illawarra.
The only other example I can think of a player playing in multiple maiden premierships is Matt Prior.
St George-Illawarra in 2010, and Cronulla in 2016.
The Stewart Brothers
Here’s one for a big fan of the Sporting Reviews (And a diehard Silvertails man), Reg.
Glenn & Brett Stewart scored at least a try in the same game for Manly on 11 occasions.
The Silvertails won EVERY SINGLE GAME.
The best Brett & Glenn combination since Lee & McGrath.
The Knights defending a Premiership
1998: Newcastle finish 2nd on the ladder, missing out on top spot thanks to their inferior points differential.
They lose both their finals, and crash out in straight sets.
2002: After the Dogs get rubbed out for the salary cap ‘irregularities’, Newcastle finish 2nd on the ladder, but miss out on top spot thanks to their inferior points differential.
They lose both their finals, and crash out in straight sets.
Proof of just how much the Storm and Dragons hate each other
The biggest defeat in the history of both clubs (The Dragons being in the St Merge era) was inflicted by the other.
Adding to the coincidence, both games occurred in the year 2000.
In the ’99 Grand Final Rematch during Round 5, at the MCG of all places (The first-ever First Grade game The ‘G), The Storm demolished the Dragons 70-10, after Choc Mundine called the champions pretenders.
In the rematch in Wollongong during Round 18, the Dragons whipped out a 50-4 win over the defending premiers, which remains the equal-biggest defeat in the Storm’s history.
Oddly enough, despite the margins of victory, neither game is the biggest win in the history of the Dragons or Storm.
Saints recorded a 54-0 win over the Warriors a month before that win, and the Storm have since won twice in their history by 64 points (versus Wests Tigers in 2001, and Canberra in 2013).
The Socceroos and the Witch Doctor
A tale as old as time itself.
In 1969, Australia was in glorious Mozambique to play Rhodesia in the second round of 1970 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, having drawn the first two matches, necessitating a playoff (Penalty shootouts weren’t introduced until the next year).
The story goes that Johnny Warren and several teammates hired a local witch doctor to curse the Rhodesians – According to legend, he buried bones behind the goals – It apparently worked, because the Aussies won 3-1 and moved on to play Israel for a place in the 1970 Finals.
The doctor ordered a payment of 1000 pounds, which the Aussies didn’t have, so the curse began – 3 players fell sick on the morning of the first leg in Tel Aviv, the Aussies lost thanks to deflected goal, they drew the 2nd leg, and missed out on qualifying for Mexico.
Of course, the quirk is that in 1974, the Aussies actually qualified for the World Cup in West Germany… and failed to score a goal.
From there, it took off – They subsequently fell short of qualifying for World Cups no fewer than 7 times over the next 32 years, each time more agonising than the last.
Iran, Melbourne, 1997 – Enough said.
In 2004, comedian John Safran found out about the curse from Warren in his show John Safran vs God, so he travelled to Mozambique, and had a different witch doctor channel the original deceased doctor, by killing a chicken and having Safran smear himself in it’s blood, on the same pitch where Australia played Rhodesia 35 years earlier.
Safran then reunited with Warren in Sydney, and completed the final part of the ritual at the SFS, by dousing themselves with clay and water, supposedly washing the Socceroos of the curse.
And wouldn’t you know it….
Australia finally qualified for the World Cup the next year, and have qualified for every edition since.
Of course, the other coincidence – The 2006 World Cup was also in Germany.
The other sad facet to it all was that Warren wasn’t around to see it – He died of lung cancer in November 2004, a month after the episode went to air.
Occy and Lonhro farewell racing by finishing 2nd in the Queen Elizabeth
During the mid-1990s, Octagonal was right up the pointy end as the most popular racehorse in Australia.
After some 10 Group 1 victories in his three season career, The Big O was all set to end his career with a win in the 1997 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Despite jumping a short favourite, it wasn’t to be, running 2nd to the giant-killing 3YO Intergaze, who simply went home the better.
7 years later, Occy’s little boy Lonhro, after a glittering career, celebrated his last race in the 2004 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at a packed Randwick.
But, history repeated for the Ingham family – Danny Beasley took Grand Armee to the front, got an easy time down the back straight, and crashed the party with a 6 length win, with the Black Flash running a clear 2nd at the grand old odds of $1.30.
Part 2 of the Octagonal bloodline running 2nd in their last race
Lonhro’s most successful progeny was/is Golden Slipper winner Pierro, who carried on the bloodline by running 2nd in his last race – The 2013 Doncaster Mile.
To date, Pierro’s most successful progeny is Pierata, who recently had his last race in the All-Aged Stakes.
Thanks to his family’s hereditary genes, he farewelled racing by running 2nd by a lip to Tofane.
Australia 20 years after hosting the Summer Olympics
In 1956, Melbourne hosted the Summer Olympics.
In 1976, Australia didn’t win a gold medal in Montreal.
In 2000, Sydney hosted the Summer Olympics.
In 2020, Australia won’t win a gold medal in Tokyo.
That said, they might win one in 2021.