Melbourne win by 29 points
In a season where the league was ravaged by players being called up for military service, the Demons missed a number of first choice players on Grand Final day. They also had their issues with injuries and were without 12 players. The Bombers, on the other hand, were nearly at full strength which was why it was such a shock that the Demons blew them away so easily in the first term. Much of Essendon's troubles stemmed from poor kicking by their defenders in the first half.
On an unnaturally warm day the Bombers opened with the first goal in 15 seconds but from then they were beaten solidly. Melbourne dominated the ruck and Essendon's skills let them down. Melbourne were out to 35 points in front. With the use of the wind Essendon expected to recapture some of the deficit but the second quarter was an even more lopsided affair. After conceding the first the Demons booted 10 straight before Essendon got a consolation just before half time.
By half-time it was 57 points, and despite a short rally by the Bombers in the third term (and a 52 to 20 free kick count) the Demons went on to win the game handily. The margin was back to 47 points at the last break and Melbourne weren't going to let that go.
Inspired by captain-coach Dick Reynolds the Bombers fought it out with seven goals in the last term to reduce the margin to a more respectable 29 points. It was the Demons fifth premiership triumph from five Grand Finals. Even a 52-23 free kick count couldn't stop the Demons from earning their third consecutive premiership.
Best were Beames, Lock and Heal. Stan Heal returned to Western Australia the next week to play in a WAFL premiership for West Perth.
B: Richie Emselle, Shane McGrath, Don Cordner
HB: Col McLean, Ted Cordner, Wally Lock
C: Sid Anderson, Allan La Fontaine (c), Stan Heal
HF: Maurie Gibb, Jack Baggott, Ray Wartman
F: O'Keefe, Norm Smith, Gerry Daly
R: Jack Mueller, Adrian Dullard, Percy Beames
19th: Warren Lewis
COACH: Frank "Checker" Hughes
Sporting Globe gives the crowd as 77,746.
demons.com.au - 2003