In This Round…Grand Final

By Tom Briglia

On the Thursday of each week of St Kilda’s season, we take a stroll down memory lane and take a look at memorable clash in St Kilda history from the corresponding round.

In this week’s In This Round, we’ll take a look at all six Grand Finals that the St Kilda Football Club has made since the first VFL season in 1897 – keep in mind before this, the Saints weren’t ever close to being crowned champions since their establishment in 1873; this year’s Grand Final marks just the seventh time St Kilda has made in a Grand Final since establishment 137 years ago.

1913 – Fitzroy vs St Kilda
Fitzroy 3.6, 4.8, 5.11, 7.14 (56)
St Kilda 0.1, 0.5, 1.10, 5.13 (43)
Crowd: 59,479, Saturday, September 27, 2.50pm

St Kilda had defeated Fitzroy in the Final a week earlier, but as minor premiers the Lions had the right to challenge. The Saints had brilliantly led by Roy Cazaly and George Morrissey up forward in the Final, with both kicking three goals. At three quarter-time of the Grand Final, however, the Saints had a paltry 1.10 on the board, and were down by a seemingly terminal 25 points. Unexpectedly, the final term yielded a thrilling finish, as a then-record crowd watched Morrissey’s two goals bring the Saints to within a single point. Silly mistakes cost them, however, and a free kick deep in attack resulted in a goal to Fitzroy at the other end. Another Lions goal on the siren saw the margin out to 13 points, and St Kilda were left to rue a horrid start and missed opportunities late in the game for another 53 years.

1965 – St Kilda vs Essendon
St Kilda 1.6, 4.8, 5.11, 9.16 (70)
Essendon 2.7, 5.10, 10.18, 14.21 (105)
Crowd: 104,846 at the MCG, Saturday, September 25, 2.50pm

Essendon would take out its second premiership in four years, coming from fourth spot to topple the favourites St Kilda. The Saints had finished on top of the ladder for the first time in their 98-year history, and progressed to the big one via the direct route after defeating Collingwood by one point in the Second Semi-Final. Essendon, under the legendary John Coleman, comprehensively defeated all comers in September, with St Kilda’s players and coaching staff heavily distracted by the pre-game build up giving the successful Essendon club an advantage in the Grand Final. So many at Moorabbin – with no previous experience of the week – had their focus shifted from what they had to do on the Saturday by organising flights, tickets and accommodation from friends and family. Trailing throughout, and with ruckman Alan Morrow suffering an early knee injury, the Saints had their hopes dashed in the third term as the Bombers kicked 5.8 to 1.3 to take a 37-point lead into the final change.

1966 – Collingwood vs St Kilda
Collingwood 2.1, 5.7, 7.11, 10.13 (73)
St Kilda 2.5, 5.6, 8.9, 10.14 (74)
Crowd: 101,655 at the MCG, Saturday, September 24, 2.50pm

What else needs to be said about this game? To date, still the only premiership St Kilda can claim since establishment 137 years ago. Collingwood had beaten the second-placed Saints in the Second Semi-Final this year, winning by 10 points in a classic. The Saints belted the Bombers in the Preliminary Final to book another date with Collingwood, and a find themselves with a chance for redemption – not only for the last season, but for every one since 1873, and for every one of their supporters. We all know about about Barry Breen’s famous point that ultimately gave the Saints the victory; about 21 year-old “Cowboy” Neale’s five goals, about Bob Murray’s match-saving mark after Des Tuddenham found himself on the break and with space heading towards Collingwood’s attack in the final seconds of the game. Perhaps the only regrets for St Kilda fans from this day is that captain Darrel Baldock held aloft the premiership cup in the black and white of Collingwood, having exchanged jumpers (along with the rest of his charges) with their opponents; it would be the last time the league allowed this to happen. Regardless, this remains the one magical day of St Kilda’s beleaguered history.

1971 – Hawthorn vs St Kilda
Hawthorn 2.2, 4.4, 5.7, 12.10 (82)
St Kilda 2.1, 4.6, 8.9, 11.9 (75)
Crowd: 118,192 at the MCG, Saturday, September 25, 2.50pm

All eyes were on Peter Hudson on this day, as he looked to break Bob Pratt’s record of 150 goals in a single VFL season. Hudson needed just four goals after kicking seven in the Hawks’ two point win over the Saints in the Second Semi-Final. Some cheeky plotting from Kevin Neale saw Hudson – amongst many others – the target of a few hard hits in one of the toughest Grand Finals played. Despite losing Bob Murray, the Saints pulled away in the third term to take a handy 20-point lead into the final change. Hawthorn’s unheralded Bob Keddie bobbed up in the final term however, and finished with four goals as the Saints faded into oblivion. Hudson, held well by Barry Lawrence, had to make do with equalling Pratt’s record after a comedy of errors in the final term denied him holding it outright. But it mattered little to neither him, nor the victorious Hawks.

1997 – Adelaide Crows vs St Kilda
Adelaide Crows 3.8, 5.10, 11.11, 19.11 (125)
St Kilda 3.6, 7.11, 9.13, 13.16 (94)
Crowd: 98,828 at the MCG, Saturday, September 27, 2.45pm

It was all happening at Moorabbin in 1997. The “Fab Four” of Stewart Loewe, Robert Harvey, Nathan Burke and Nick Winmar were playing at their peak and had been joined by the dangerous ruckman Peter Everitt, full-forward Jason Heatley and a fleet of exciting youngsters in Austinn Jones, Tony Brown, Joel Smith and Matthew Lappin. Harvey powered his way to the first of back-to-back Brownlow Medals as the Saints, having improved immensely on their 1996 season, strung together nine wins in a row late in the season to take out the club’s second-ever minor premiership and book a spot in their first Grand Final in 26 years. They would start warm favourites against the Crows, who had upset the Bulldogs in their Preliminary Final by two points and come from fourth spot on the ladder. Jones would kick one of the great Grand Final goals in the first quarter, after running out of half-back, before a young Barry Hall looked set to take the game apart, kicking three goals in a thrilling second-quarter burst. A 13-point lead at half-time was quickly reversed by the bratty Crows, with Shane Ellen playing a Bob Keddie-esque role, kicking five goals, and Darren Jarman came to life to run rings around the Saints defence. Jarman would finish with six goals of his own as the Crows swooped to their first premiership, kicking 14.1 to 6.5 in the second half.

2009 – St Kilda vs Geelong
St Kilda 3.2, 7.7, 9.11, 9.14 (68)
Geelong 3.0, 7.1, 9.4, 12.8 (80)
Crowd: 99,251 at the MCG, Saturday, September 26, 2.30pm

One of the great Grand Finals was ultimately determined by St Kilda’s wastefulness in front of goal and the already legendary “toepoke” from Matthew Scarlett in the dying minutes that led to Paul Chapman’s deadlock-breaking goal. The two sides had promised the football world a Grand Final of this sort earlier in the decade as they both emerged as teams of young superstars-to-be, punctuated by a spiteful 2004 Wizard Cup Final. Although beaten, the Cats’ Paul Chapman declared his side as the better team. The Saints appeared to be more likely to win a premiership before the Cats did, coming close to Grand Final berths in 2004 and 2005, but Geelong would take all before them in 2007. Two years later, they would be looking to atone for losing the 2008 Grand Final, and they did so in amazing fashion. Though the Saints laid a record number of tackles and had more scoring shots in the dour conditions, the class of the Cats would see them through when the going got the toughest, and St Kilda hearts were broken again.

Stats and figures
St Kilda making the Grand Final:
– Aside from the years 1965/66 and 2009/10, St Kilda has made just three Grand Finals in 110 seasons of the VFL/AFL (2010 being the 114th season).

– All Grand Finals the Saints have played (to date) but the premiership year of 1966 have been in “odd” seasons: 1913, 1965, 1971, 1997 and 2009.

– Collingwood is the first club St Kilda is to play more than once in a Grand Final, the other obviously in 1966. In chronological order, they have also played off against Fitzroy (1913), Essendon (1965), Hawthorn (1971), Adelaide (1997) and Geelong (2009).

The all-important scoreboard:
– St Kilda has had intriguingly similar scores in each of their Grand Finals:
1913 – 5.13 (43) vs 7.14 (56) (in the Final they scored 10.10 (70) against Fitzroy’s 6.9 (45))
1965 – 9.16 (70) vs 14.21 (105)
1966 – 10.14 (74) vs 10.13 (73)
1971 – 11.9 (75) vs 12.10 (82)
1997 – 13.16 (94) vs 19.11 (125)
2009 – 9.14 (68) vs 12.8 (80)

– St Kilda’s average 9.5 goals, 13.66 behinds and 70.66 points in Grand Finals.

– Their opponents average 12.33 goals, 12.83 behinds and 86.5 points in Grand Finals.

– St Kilda’s average winning margin in Grand Finals is obviously one point; the average losing margin is 19.6 points.

– Four of the six Grand Finals St Kilda has been involved in have been decided by 13 points or less (taking away Fitzroy’s and Geelong’s respective goals on and after the siren in the 1913 and 2009 Grand Finals, it brings it down to seven points or less).

– St Kilda has led at half-time in their last three Grand Finals (and lost all three).

– St Kilda has led at three-quarter time in three of their last four Grand Finals, leading and winning in 1966.

– Best quarters:
First – 3.6 (24) vs Adelaide, 1997
Second – 4.5 (29) vs Adelaide, 1997 and Geelong, 2009
Third – 4.3 (27) vs Hawthorn, 1971
Final – 4.5 (29) vs Essendon, 1965, thus telling us St Kilda has never scored 5 goals or more in a quarter, or 30 points or more in a quarter in a Grand Final

– Worst quarters:
First – 0.1 vs Fitzroy, 1913
Second – 0.4 vs Fitzroy, 1913
Third – 1.3 vs Essendon, 1965
Final – 0.3 vs Geelong, 2009

– Average for each quarter:
First – 1.83 goals, 3.5 behinds
Second – 2.66 goals, 3.66 behinds
Third – 2.16 goals, 3.16 behinds
Final – 2.83 goals, 3.16 behinds

Other installments of “In This Round”:
Preliminary Final – St Kilda vs North Melbourne, MCG, 1997
Qualifying Final – St Kilda vs Brisbane Lions, Waverley, 1997
Round 22 – Essendon vs St Kilda, Telstra Dome, 2008
Round 21 – St Kilda vs Adelaide Crows, Telstra Dome, 2008
Round 20 – Essendon vs St Kilda, Etihad Stadium, 2009
Round 19 – Sydney Swans vs St Kilda, SCG, 1997
Round 18 – Sydney Swans vs St Kilda, SCG, 2009
Round 17 – St Kilda vs Brisbane Lions, Waverley, 1997/St Kilda vs Geelong, Colonial Stadium, 2000/St Kilda vs Collingwood, Telstra Dome, 2005
Round 16 – St Kilda vs Kangaroos, Telstra Dome, 2003
Round 15 – St Kilda vs Adelaide Crows, Colonial Stadium, 2001
Round 14 – St Kilda vs Western Bulldogs, Waverley, 1998
Round 13 – St Kilda vs Fremantle, Telstra Dome, 2008
Round 12 – St Kilda vs Collingwood, MCG, 1992
Round 11 – St Kilda vs Richmond, Waverley, 1998
Round 10 – Carlton vs St Kilda, Telstra Dome, 2004
Round 9 – Western Bulldogs vs St Kilda, Colonial Stadium, 2000
Round 8 – Essendon vs St Kilda, MCG, 1997
Round 7 – Sydney Swans vs St Kilda, SCG, 1994
Round 6 – West Coast vs St Kilda, Subiaco, 1998
Round 5 – St Kilda vs North Melbourne, Junction Oval, 1933
Round 4 – Collingwood vs St Kilda, Victoria Park, 1993
Round 3 – St Kilda vs Collingwood, Waverley, 1997
Round 2 – St Kilda vs Carlton, Moorabbin, 1989
Round 1 – St Kilda vs Geelong, Telstra Dome, 2004
NAB Cup Grand Final – St Kilda vs Carlton, Waverley, 1996
NAB Cup Semi-Final – Essendon vs St Kilda, Telstra Dome, 2008
NAB Cup Round 2 – St Kilda vs Carlton, Waverley, 1995
NAB Cup Round 1 – Collingwood vs St Kilda, Telstra Dome, 2006

  • Patrick

    To Rich and Tom,

    I’m glad the Saints still have a chance next week! On the other hand there is an extra week of AFL news coverage that we will be subjected to that no one was expecting. Not including this fine blog of course, you can carry on all year. But enough is enough I say! You would think nothing happens in this world the way The Age bangs on about football on it’s front page every single day (online, anyway)

    Extra time should be introduced! Lest this saga carry on for eternity. But it kind of does anyway, if you think about it.

    This ramblin’ fool is going to sleep.