Melbourne win by 4 points
Last MFC Game
The Demons had finished top of the ladder, but it was one of the closest final fours ever - with 5th placed Hawthorn just a game behind the minor premiers. Pitched into a Semi Final against second placed Collingwood, Melbourne destroyed them by 89 points to win straight through to the decider. The Pies were forced into a preliminary final against Geelong where they triumphed by under a goal.
Melbourne went into the Grand Final as red hot favourite, but despite being undermanned the Pies were ferocious at the ball and matched them. Melbourne's defence was expected to get on top of the Pies, but there was a danger this if Graham Wise was beaten in the ruck then the Demons had nobody else to take up the slack.
Melbourne won the toss and kicked with a slight breeze, but the Pies were on top in the opening minutes and goalled first. Both teams were showing Grand Final nerves and the play early was scrappy. John Lord equalised for the Demons, and his side soon took the lead. All the goals were kicked by the eight minute mark of the quarter and the rest of the term was spent with the sides arm wrestling. Melbourne by a point.
When Barrie Vagg booted a point early in the second term it was the 12th consecutive point of the match. Melbourne were suddenly playing better football but it took until the ten minute mark for them to finally break the drought. After battling so hard for the breakthrough, the Demons capitalised almost immediately with a second goal for the term. That was the cue for the Pies to spark and they poured on three goals to the end of the term to take a narrow two point lead in the second half.
An early goal in the third settled the Demons, then like the first quarter the game degenerated into a tense struggle. There were no more goals kicked until the 22 minute mark when Barry Bourke goalled on the run. Melbourne took an eleven point lead into the final term and the Magpies were visibly tiring.
Three behinds in a row to open the quarter extended the lead to 14 points and it looked like only a matter of time before the Demons put the match beyond doubt. It was the Pies, though, who got their first goal since the second term five minutes in. Two more behinds to Melbourne were further wasted opportunities to put the game away, the Pies kept coming and when Ray Gabelich took the ball from a boundary throw in and goalled the margin was back to three.
It was then that Gabelich's second goal put the Magpies in front. The 193cm ruckman took the ball and had four bounces, nearly losing the ball before goalling from the square to put his side in front. It was too early to shut up shop, but the Pies suddenly had all the momentum. Straight from the bounce Barry Bourke found Hassa Mann 20m out almost directly in front but amazingly Mann missed - the Pies led by two.
23 minutes into the term Brian Dixon - guilty of many turnovers throughout the day - found himself with the ball at left half-forward. He roosted it towards the goals, and as the ball was thumped from the pack it landed in the arms of back pocket Neil Crompton who threw it onto his boot. The kick somehow managed to float through and put the Demons back in front. Had he followed the instructions of Norm Smith, Crompton would never have been there - he had followed his opponent up the ground.
The Pies still had time to win it. Ian Graham managed to miss everything when well in range, and was then denied what Collingwood fans thought was a sure free kick near goal. Melbourne held on to win, with the ball 30 yards from their defensive goal when the siren sounded. Hassa Mann breathed a sigh of relief that he hadn't cost his side a premiership and Melbourne went on to 45+ years of flag wilderness.
Norm Smith described the final term as "the most agonising I have ever experienced in football".
Best were Dixon, Adams and Tassie Johnson. Emselle replaced Kenneally in the last quarter, with McLean an unused reserve.
B: Neil Crompton, Bernie Massey, Tassie Johnson
HB: Tony Anderson, Brian Roet, Frank Davis
C: Brian Dixon, Don Williams, Frank Adams
HF: Bryan Kenneally, Graeme Jacobs, Barrie Vagg
F: John Lord, Barry Bourke, John Townsend
R: Graham Wise, Ron Barassi (c), Hassa Mann
S: Peter McLean, Ken Emselle
Coach: Norm Smith