Some random facts for the 2020 AFL Grand Final

Richmond vs Geelong at the Gabba, Saturday 6:30pm AEST/7:30 AEDT

First interstate Grand Final, first night Grand Final, first Grand Final between two teams who lost in Week One, first all-Victorian Grand Final since 2011, first Grand Final between 3rd vs 4th on the ladder, Yada Yada Yada…..

For the third time in league history, Geelong and Richmond meet in a Grand Final – 1931, which was Geelong’s second VFL Premiership, and 1967, Richmond’s first in 23 years.

The teams will meet for the 12th time in the Finals, with Richmond rather overwhelmingly leading the count 9-2 after last year’s Preliminary Final…

Besides the ’31 Premiership, Geelong’s only other finals win against Richmond is the 1995 Preliminary Final at Waverley by a lazy 89 points.

Reclaiming the record

Geelong will appear in their 8th Grand Final in the AFL era (1992, 1994-95, 2007-08-09, 2011), breaking a tie with West Coast and Collingwood for the most appearances in the Big Dance since the National competition officially became a ‘thing’ in 1990.

The Coveted List Of Grand Final Venues

Melbourne Cricket Ground

Junction Oval (1898-99, 1944)

East Melbourne Cricket Ground (1900)

Lake Oval (1901)

Princes Park (1942-43, 1945)

Waverley Park (1991)

The Gabba (2020)

October Grand Finals

October 24 will officially become the latest date in the year for a VFL/AFL Grand Final, overtaking the 1923 Grand Final (Or the Challenge Final as it was) between Essendon and Fitzroy, which was played on October 20 because the MCG grass became waterlogged by heavy rain, delaying the game by a week.

Typical Melbourne Spring weather.

Richmond last appeared in an October Grand Final in 1934, when they defeated South Melbourne, while Geelong’s 2011 Premiership was won on October 1.

Funnily enough, both teams won their first VFL Premierships in October – Richmond in 1920 (October 2), and Geelong in 1925 (October 10).

Grand Finals without a Top 2 team

This is only the 3rd VFL/AFL Grand Final in history without a Top 2 team, and the other 2 make for good reading for the Tiger Army:

1980, when 3rd-placed Richmond defeated 5th-placed Collingwood by a then-record 81 points.

2019, when 3rd-placed Richmond defeated 6th-placed GWS by 89 points.

The Channel 7 Curse

Geelong hasn’t won a Grand Final broadcast by the Seven Network since 1963 (When Colour TV was wishful thinking), having won all 3 of their more recent premierships in 2007-09-11 on Channel 10.

For whatever reason, the Cats took a disliking to Mike Williamson and Dennis Cometti, because if you look at their Channel 7 Grand Final appearances since then:

1967 – Lost to Richmond by 9 points

1989 – Lost to Hawthorn by 6 points

1992 – Lost to West Coast by 28 points

1994 – Lost to West Coast by 80 points

1995 – Lost to Carlton by 61 points

2008 – Lost to Hawthorn by 26 points

When you look at those games, 1967 was one of the best Grand Finals ever played (So they say) and the Cats kicked 2.8 in the last quarter, those 4 defeats in 6 years were all against some of the best teams of the modern era, and 2008 was the perfect storm of bad kicking, rushed behinds and Stuart Dew turning into the unlikely bulky hero.

We’ll see if Dennis’ retirement makes a difference to their fortunes.

300-gamers retiring after Grand Finals

Of the 91 players to play 300 games in VFL/AFL History, Gary Ablett Jnr, in his 357th game, can become the 5th 300-game player to end his career with a Grand Final win.

Russell Greene (Hawthorn 1988), Michael Tuck (Hawthorn 1991), Marcus Ashcroft (Brisbane 2003), and Shane Crawford (Hawthorn 2008) all went out in blaze of glory, but conversely, 5 300-gamers have ended their careers playing in a losing Grand Final.

Gordon Coventry for Collingwood in 1937, Dick Reynolds for Essendon in 1951 (He had retired after the 1950 win, but came back to cover missing players), Leigh Matthews for Hawthorn in 1985, Bruce Doull for Carlton in 1986, and Alastair Lynch for Brisbane in 2004.

Ah, who could forget an injured Lynch deciding to try and take Darryl Wakelin down with him with a swinging performance Fighting Harada would’ve scoffed at, earning Lynchy a low-key 10 game suspension.

Here’s the Triple M commentary, featuring Brian Taylor in his element.

Audio: Southern Cross Austereo

4-time Premiership Players

In his 200th game as Geelong captain (The 6th player to captain 200 VFL/AFL games), Joel Selwood can become the first Cat in history to play in 4 Premierships for the old Pivotonians, and the 9th player in the AFL era to play in 4 premierships.

The elite 8 in the last 30 years are Martin Pike, Shaun Burgoyne, Grant Birchall, Sam Mitchell, Luke Hodge, Jordan Lewis, Jarryd Roughead and Cyril Rioli.

Selwood would obviously be unique among those names in that he didn’t a play in a ‘3peat’ team – Pike for the Brisbane Lions, and the other 7 for Hawthorn.

Two Premierships as Player & Coach

If Geelong win, Chris Scott will join his opposing coach Damien Hardwick in the club (Not including playing coaches) of legendary individuals to play in and then coach multiple premierships:

Norman Clark, Frank ‘Checker’ Hughes, Norm Smith, Phonse Kyne, John Coleman, Ron Barassi, Kevin Sheedy, Leigh Matthews, Malcolm Blight and Mark Thompson.

The only other coach who could attempt to join this club in 2021 is Adam Simpson.

Played in and coached a Grand Final against one another

Scott and Hardwick also played against each other in the 2004 Grand Final between Port Adelaide and Brisbane, as Dimma retired a Grand Final winner with Port and denied Scotty’s Lions the Fourpeat.

The last instance of two individuals playing and then coaching against each other in Grand Finals (That I know of) is the fabled 1970 Grand Final between Carlton and Collingwood, when Ron Barassi coached Carlton to victory against Bob Rose’s Magpies, having previously played against each other when Melbourne defeated the Pies in 1955, which was also Bobby’s last game as a player.

Some other examples include Barassi playing and coaching against Jack Clarke of Essendon (1957 & ’59, then 1968), and Norm Smith playing for and coaching Melbourne against Phonse Kyne for Collingwood (1938, then coached in 1955-56, 1958 and 1960).

The Irish Experiment

Geelong’s Zach Tuohy and Mark O’Connor will join Jim Stynes, Sean Wight and Tadhg Kennelly as the only Irish players to play in VFL/AFL Grand Finals since Ron Barassi and Barry Richardson kickstarted the Irish experiment in 1982.

Wight and Stynes both played in Melbourne’s defeat to Hawthorn in 1988, while Kennelly remains the only Irish player to win an AFL Premiership, which he accomplished with the Sydney Swans in 2005.

Photo from Fairfax

The Patrick Keane Section

The bloke is a font of knowledge and we’re all the better for him.

The first Gryan to play in a Grand Final

Congratulations Gryan Miers, for proving it is possible to get halfway between Gary and Ryan and still make it in life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s