Melbourne win by 2 points
With Carlton and Collingwood playing in front of a sell-out crowd at the MCG, it was the match at Waverley which was a break from footy tradition. The Eagles had never played a final, and had only played night games at Waverley.
Before the match Northey had used Perth press clippings featuring Eagles coach John Todd labelling his opponents as "ordinary", "not very skilfull" and had "made the finals by default" as a motivational tool. With the Eagles playing their first VFL final he was hoping to catch a psychological advantage for his side which had struggled in recent weeks. It didn't work.
On a wet day the Eagles were red hot in the first quarter, and it was only the defensive performances of Danny Hughes and Johnson that allowed them to escape the first half just 22 points behind. It could have been more had Wally Matera not missed running into an open goal.
Sean Wight, after a forgettable first half in defence, was thrown to full-forward and responded by sparking his side with two early goals. Six goals for the quarter were aptly topped off by Johnson booting one from fifty.
Steven Stretch moved onto Karl Langdon, who had beaten Rod Grinter comprehensively, and helped stem the tide while the return to form of Greg Healy after some lean weeks was a cause for celebration in the Demon camp.
Garry Lyon snapped a goal to put the Demons in front before Eagle Murray Wrensted had the chance to win the game for his side, but his kick to an open square in the last few minutes bounced the wrong way.
John Northey broke from coaching cliche convention and openly described Alan Johnson's performance as "magnificent". Referring to the press clippings he had displayed earlier Northey said "For ordinary players they did a magnificent job".
Best were Johnson, Stretch and Healy.
Football Record Semi Final 1988
"With space to spread wings Eagles could surprise" - The Age 01/09/1988
The Age 05/09/1988