Guy Hansen: Good evening! This gathering of the faithful, thank you for coming tonight. My name is Guy Hansen. I'm Director of Exhibitions here at the Library. Thank you for attending this event, The Greatest Grand Final Ever, coming to you live from the National Library building on beautiful Ngunnawal and Ngambri country.
This event is part of the programme of events supporting our current exhibition, Grit and Gold: Tales From a Sporting Nation, and that's on the ground floor and I'd encourage you to come back and visit it if you get a chance. Some great sporting memorabilia on display there.
Let me begin by acknowledging Australia's First Nations people, the first Australians, as traditional owners and custodians on the land, and give my respect to their elders, past and present, and through them all, to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Now, I'm proud to say that I was born in Parramatta, or in the land of the Dharug people, Burramattagal, which means the place where eels lie down. Now, I grew up in walking distance from Cumberland Oval, the old post-war stadium next to the Parramatta River, which predates the very modern stadium that Parramatta has today, and it was only natural that I would become a lifelong member of the Blue and Gold Army. I spent much of my childhood watching the mighty Eels clash with enemies from across Sydney. I can assure you that the Eels did not lie down, though they were sometimes soundly beaten. All too many times, unfortunately.
So, to our topic tonight, the greatest grand final, and what a good time to have this discussion. Whether you call it the big dance, the granny, the GF or the major premiership, it's the most important game of the year in many sports. But what makes a great grand final? Is it a fairytale story? Is it amazing individual performances? Or is it a close scoreline? Is it even possible to rank grand finals ahead of this weekend, lovingly described by Roy and HG as the Festival of the Boot? We thought we'd have a go tonight.
So, joining me are two other sports fanatics. Nick Richardson is a writer and journalist. He's published widely on sport and sport history, including his 2021 book, "Chadwick: A Man of Many Parts", the first biography of Sir Albert Chadwick, Melbourne Cricket Club president and Melbourne Football Club's first premiership captain coach. Nick has confessed to me beforehand that he is a Collingwood supporter and comes from a family of Collingwood supporters, so his definition of what constitutes a great AFL Grand Final may be coloured black and white.
Melanie Dinjaski is an experienced sports journalist at "The Canberra Times", with a genuine love of all sports. She's covered every code from NRL to NFL, and has experience in print, digital, podcasting, TV and video journalism. She has spent time working in newsrooms at Nine, Fox and Seven, and I'm hoping that Melanie can bring some cool objectivity to this question of the greatest grand final ever, because I suspect Nick and I will not be able to do that.
Before I begin the conversation with our guests, I'll invoke my home ground advantage and get my two bob's worth in about what makes a great grand final. I'll be looking at rugby league grand finals, but don't worry, Nick will be giving AFL its full due in just a moment. So, from a fan's perspective, the short answer to the question of the greatest grand final is the time your team won the competition for the first time. I think that's often how people feel about grand finals. There is something unique about the validation that fans get from their team winning an elite sporting competition. In my case, that game was in 1981, when Parramatta defeated Newtown, 20-11. Parramatta fans went bananas, descended on Cumberland Oval and burnt the grandstand down in an unusually destructive celebration. Supercoach Jack Gibson famously told the adoring crowd at the Leagues Club, "Ding, dong, the witch is dead," referring to Parramatta's habit in the 1970s of coming close to premiership glory, but not quite getting there.
If I'm honest, however, and remove my blue and gold goggles, I have to admit that the 1981 grand final is not one of the greatest. A great victory for Eels fans, but not one of the greatest games. A much better example of a great grand final, where a team wins for the first time, and I'm sure this is gonna be popular here, is the 1989 grand final when the Canberra Raiders defeated the Balmain Tigers, 19-14. Now, this was a very close match, decided in extra time. It had more twists and turns than a Hollywood blockbuster. The Raiders dominated in the first half, but were not rewarded on the scoreboard. That went to halftime with Balmain leading 12-2, and the Tigers had made the most of their scoring opportunities. The second half is where the tension began to build. The Raiders drew closer to the Tigers with a try from their fullback, Gary Belcher. The try was converted, bringing the score, 12-8. Balmain seemed to be close to cementing their lead when their halfback, Mick Neil, sprinted towards the try line only to be ankle-tapped by captain Mal Meninga. Canberra's captain, Mal Meninga. Perhaps the most famous ankle-tap in rugby league history. Balmain missed an opportunity to take control of the game when their hooker, Benny Elias, took a shot at field goal, only to see it bounce off the post. The closing minutes of the second half saw both sides desperately trying to score and getting very tired. The game was finally forced into extra time when a late try from Canberra's veteran winger, John Chicka Ferguson, went over to score, making it go into extra time. To add to the drama, Balmain coach, Warren Ryan replaced two of their star players, Paul Sironen and Steve Roach, just prior to Canberra's comeback try. Siro and Blocker were forced to sit out extra time on the benches. The Raiders edged ahead with a field goal to Chris O'Sullivan, and then with only minutes left in the match, a Balmain error saw Canberra reserves' Steve Jackson crash through five Balmain defenders to put the game beyond doubt, and Canberra were victorious, 19-14.
I'm happy to say the Canberran fans were a bit more responsible than the Parramatta fans. After the game, Canberra celebrated for days. At an event in Civic Square, Mal Meninga, the Raiders captain, presents the Winfield Cup to the team's loyal fans. Over 5,000 screaming Canberrans watched as Meninga hoisted the Winfield Cup above his shoulders. The bottom of the trophy was swathed in a towel, concealing damage done the night before, when the cup was dropped from the back of a car, en route from Queanbeyan to Canberra. Even those who looked askance at rugby league as a code of football took pleasure in a local team excelling in a national competition. This success on the sporting field added a new dimension to Canberra's identity and changed how the city was seen beyond its borders.
It's worth noting that it was not just Canberra Raiders fans who think that the 1989 grand final was one of the greatest. Rex ‘the Moose’ Mossop speculated that it was the best grand final he'd ever called, leading rugby league experts, including Ray Chesterton, Ian Heads and David Middleton also rate the 1989 match highly. And a poll conducted by the Men of League Foundation also suggests that players see the 1989 match as the best. Thomas Keneally, Manly fan and author of the epic rugby league poem, "Blow that Whistle, Ref," noted at the time that the game had the quality of a film script.
So, why is this match rated so highly? As Keneally suggested, I think it had all the elements of a really great story. The back and forth on the scoreboard provided a great plot. Both sides had great heroes, adored by their fans. Obviously for the Raiders, Mal Meninga. For Balmain, Wayne Junior Pearce. Also, the 1989 game was the first occasion that a team from outside Sydney won the premiership. The implications of the national expansion of the game, which had begun earlier in the '80s, was suddenly very real. The competition no longer belonged to Sydney. The Raiders' victory was a harbinger of things to come, as the competition continued to expand and other interstate teams would come to dominate. Canberra would win more grand finals, as would Brisbane and eventually Melbourne. Sydney had to learn to share.
So, for me, I see that the thing that makes a great grand final is the capacity of the game to generate a great story. That's what I think makes a great grand final, but let's hear what the other panellists think, so I'm gonna wander over here and sit down. And Nick, 1989 was a big year for AFL as well, wasn't it?
Nick RIchadson: It was, Guy. Thanks, yes. Can I just say before we move on to AFL, I actually remember watching that Canberra Raiders-Balmain grand final. We had the sound turned down and we were listening to Roy and HG's call. And I think it was, that's what's made it memorable for me. So, yeah, thank you for sharing that with us.
So, 1989 in the AFL. Now, in the same way that Guy's identified a whole selection of experts who have objectively assessed that particular rugby league grand final as the best, there are an equal number of experts who have picked the 1989 VFL Grand Final as their great grand final. Now, in a poll on "Fox Footy" in 2020, the 1989 grand final was rated the third best game of all time, which is a kind of extraordinary endorsement, but in terms of putting it up there, in terms of grand finals, you can then understand why it would inevitably take prime position. So, why did it? What was it about that contest that had people so enamoured?
Now, I'm not sure how many of you actually remember it, watched it or have heard about it, but it was, I suppose, in the words of one of the players, it was the Woodstock of grand finals, he said. Now, what that kinda gives you a sense of, it was pretty rough and ready and there was some particularly fine football on display. It was played between Hawthorn and Geelong. Hawthorn was in its seventh consecutive grand final and trying to go back-to-back. Geelong was coached by a fellow who was perhaps one of the most creative minds in football and one of the most gifted of his generation, Malcolm Blight, and it was a fine, sunny day in Melbourne, not always guaranteed on grand final day, and the two teams came together in what was the last grand final under the auspices of the VFL. The next year, it would become the AFL and the national competition, and it gives me great pleasure to say that the first premiership winner in the AFL was indeed Collingwood. Just to get that in early.
But harking back to 1989, so you may remember this, because it's the kind of moment that crystallises the kinds of storytelling, but also the emotion and that drama that we'd look to grand finals to have. There was a Geelong footballer called Mark Yeates, and there was a Hawthorn footballer, who I'm sure you've heard of, called Dermott Brereton. Now, Demott Brereton was kind of the bad boy, the gunslinger, the kind of, occasionally, pretty boy of the Hawthorn footy club. Enormously gifted, incredibly talented. And Mark Yeates was a journeyman who served Geelong honourably for many years. Brereton had come to blows with Yeates earlier in the season, and Yeates was given permission by his coach for an evener-upper. And so, in the opening minutes, Yeates ran through Demott Brereton to the point where Brereton broke a couple of ribs, and there was a split in his kidney. The footage of Brereton at the moment where he's helped to his feet is one of the most dramatic images in VFL/AFL history. And, of course, in those days, doctors weren't out there kind of tending to injured players. And Brereton, in this moment, has to make a decision. Is he too sick to continue? 'Cause if he comes off, he's off for good. Or does he stay out there and make a statement? He stays out there. And within a few minutes, although he's taken refuge deep in the forward pocket, the ball comes to him, wobbly on his feet, he kicks this inspirational goal, which sets off a Hawthorn rampage of a 40-point lead.
So, there's automatically this sense of drama, this kind of heroic element to the game, which continues through the four quarters. Hawthorn seemed to be dominating all the time until the last quarter, and then Geelong mount this extraordinary comeback and they kick eight goals, five in the last quarter. Gary Ablett Sr., one of the freaks of modern Australian rules football kicks nine goals. By the end of the game, Hawthorn only has 13 fit players. Robert DiPierdomenico has got a punctured lung and actually doesn't hang around for the presentations at the end because there's an ambulance waiting to take him to the hospital. John Platten has been concussed before the end of the first quarter and has no memory of what occurred after quarter time. There are 42 goals kicked, and in the end, Hawthorn just hang on.
Now, when you kinda look back at those ingredients, it's kind of understandable why people objectively assess it as being the best grand final of the era. It's got great performances, it's high-scoring, it's close, and it's got that vigour and physical quality that was, you know, Aussie rules was known for. But of course, the reason, in some ways, that it now has this reverential place is because we don't play like that anymore. John Platten would not, you know, the concussion that occurred to John Platten would be considered a reprehensible act these days. The attack on Demott Brereton would be considered a reportable offence. Gary Ablett's nine goals would be equally lauded, but it would be seen in quite a different context. When, you know, former Hawthorn tough man, Don Scott, who's taken the long steps up to the commentary box, says halfway through a game, "I don't think it's safe out there at the moment," you know that the level of danger is high. So, it's that physicality, it's the heroics under fire, it's the extraordinary nature of grown men putting themselves through this kind of exquisite torture for what becomes a kind of glorious finale, is the thing that makes 1989 so wonderful.
Guy Hansen: And many of those elements are also, I think, when I think of Mal Meninga, I think of his broken arms and the physical struggles he had to go through, and some of those things you're talking about, I think, hold true in rugby league as well.
Nick Richadson: Oh, absolutely, they have to. And I think it's that thing that we kind of admire those people who kind of go, oh, well, and you know, come Sunday and Monday, we'll hear about those stories about so-and-so who played with, you know, a bung leg or who hadn't been right for six weeks and, you know, it was miraculous that he got up for the grand final and, you know, there are all those kinds of stories which become part of the fabric of defining great grand finals.
Guy Hansen: So, Melanie, where do you sit on this question of greatest grand finals?
Melanie Dinjaski: I think you guys have brought up some very good points on what exactly defines a great grand final, but for me, it always comes back to moments, that there has to be, whether it's a highlight, a showstopping highlight or a moment of heroism, whether that being, you know, playing through pain, whether it's a bit of a tight tussle, I suppose, and there's one moment that wins the game, things like that. I think that's what defines a great grand final.
You're thinking Darren Albert's game-winning try and the celebration. As a kid, next day at school, everyone was reenacting that moment. You think Benji Marshall's flick pass. Again, I don't think there's anyone who hasn't tried that since. You got Sam Burgess famously playing with, you know, a broken face. A very classic rugby league story, that. And so, those sort of things, I think, really make a normal grand final, a decider, just elevate that next level.
Guy Hansen: Are there any, I'm gonna go a slightly different tangent here, but do you think the pre-match entertainment, I was listening to radio today, Kiss, Kiss in the AFL, and I think we've got "Simply the Best" in the NRL with the musical-
Melanie Dinjaski: Tina Turner.
Guy Hansen: Tina Turner musical there, are there favourite moments in great grand finals with the pre-match entertainment? The 1989 grand final, I think they had "Rip Rip Woodchip", was the song which they had, but-
Nick Richardson: Is that right?
Guy Hansen: Yes. Yeah.
Nick Richadson: Oh.
Guy Hansen: So, do you have favourite moments in pre-match entertainment? Sorry if I've thrown you here.
Melanie Dinjaski: No, no, I've got one ready.
Nick Richadson: You go, then.
Melanie Dinjaski: Okay, well, I think it was 2002, was the Billy Idol, famously.
Guy Hansen: Ah, yes.
Melanie Dinjaski: "We've got some technical difficulties," I think was the line that he said, and then it had to be cut short, just didn't happen, didn't finish. An extraordinary moment, train wreck moment. I feel so sorry for everyone who would've organised that, but that was also coincidentally my favourite grand final too, so, in NRL. So, it was quite a day.
Guy Hansen: And Nick, are Kiss obviously big AFL fans?
Nick Richardson: Yeah, yeah, no, a 74-year-old man with a very long tongue, wearing facial makeup. Where else would he be on grand final day?
Melanie Dinjaski: On a hot day too. I actually feel sorry for them.
Nick Richardson: Yeah. Yeah, no, he's gonna find that a little taxing. So, look, you know, AFL has a terrible track record, in many ways. We had Rolf Harris one year.
Melanie Dinjaski: Oh, my gosh.
Nick Richardson: But no, there were a couple of rippers, and one of them was at the old Waverley ground where Angry Anderson appeared in a faux Batmobile, accompanied by, of all people, Rob de Castella. Now, why was Rob there? Well, he was apparently there to spruik the Commonwealth Games. And he spoke, he spoke about it afterwards, about, there were 95,000 at Waverley in that day, and Angry was doing a version of, oh, "Road to Glory", or not quite sure which Rose Tattoo song, but Rob actually had this delay with his words, 'cause, you know, it was kind of, Waverley was a concrete bowl and the audio was awful, so Rob couldn't actually quite hear what he was saying and it was kinda coming back to him and he didn't know when Angry was gonna finish and it was all terrible, and the Batmobile itself became an icon of the whole thing and, in fact, was put up for auction a couple of years ago and was bought by a consortia of sports fans led by Matt, an ABC commentator, Matt Collins? Paid 20 odd thousand for it. But the other horror-
Melanie Dinjaski: Be nice in the backyard, wouldn't it?
Nick Richardson: Yeah, it would look good in the backyard. He doesn't get Angry to come along to help him out with it. The other, of course, atrocity was Meat Loaf.
Guy Hansen: Yes.
Melanie Dinjaski: Oh, famously, yeah.
Nick Richardson: Which we all remember. And the AFL CEO, Gill McLachlan, who took over in that role shortly afterwards, said, we paid him half a million dollars and that was about $499,999 too much.
Guy Hansen: Listening to both of your responses, it occurred to me too that great grand finals are very much generational. So, like, if you're in a particular generation, and I know you've done some research on the earlier history of the AFL, do you think there's great grand finals in different periods? And, of course, you can go back. In the rugby league, for example, there's a period where there aren't grand finals as well, so it's very interesting about generational grand finals.
Nick Richardson: Yeah, and I think one of the interesting things about that is it's about what those, quite often, that generational thing is about what it coincides with in a broader context. Like, one of the more infamous grand finals in VFL was what was called the Bloodbath Grand Final of 1945 between Carlton and South Melbourne, as they then were. And I mean, that was in the immediate aftermath of the end of the war, so there was a kind of a whole different set of expectations around what that would look like and who would go and what state, importantly, the club lists were in, because so many of them were denuded by war service. So, that became a kind of a grinding, difficult, physically confronting kind of game, so for that generation of football followers, that was considered a particular kind of grand final. But, you know, as you move through and you get to now, it's why I think, in some ways, 1989 is recognised by a generation, whereas people who are just that little bit older, like me, have a different kind of perspective on that.
Guy Hansen: And it's so interesting that the dates line up like that, '89 grand final in both codes being so important, and of course, the '77 grand final was interesting 'cause it was drawn in both the rugby league and in, I believe the '77 grand final was a draw in AFL.
Nick Richardson: Yes, you had to go there, didn't you?
Guy Hansen: Yes. Sorry about that. It's a painful one for me as well, 'cause-
Nick Richardson: Oh, okay, all right. Well, we can share that pain.
Guy Hansen: Parramatta drew, and then were defeated by St George, and I think there was a fair bit of going the biff, was one of the reasons why Parramatta ended up losing. So, I wonder, the two codes, while they are very different and often the fans of both codes don't like the other code, not always, some people are bi-codal, but the interesting thing is, though-
Nick Richardson: Very contemporary word.
Melanie Dinjaski: I like that.
Guy Hansen: If you actually take the rules of the game away and you just talk about the kind of events and the drama and the feel of it, the two codes sound quite similar when you, if you're not, just in terms of the big personalities and the closeness of the game, there's a sort of, it's the same kind of masculinity being celebrated and I think the storylines can be quite similar if you just can change the focus a little bit and it's not just AFL v. rugby league.
Nick Richardson Yeah, I think that's true. I also think there is a kind of an inherent rhythm that is similar to both games, that kind of, that ebb and that flow and that sense of how dominance can be established and how dominance can be surrendered. I think those sorts of things, in a general sense, are equally applicable to both codes.
Guy Hansen: Let's zoom out, Melanie, 'cause you've got experience, I think, of going to see all sorts of things, so I wonder if you've got some other examples of grand finals, which you can compare, 'cause I think you went to one of the great Super Bowl matches, didn't you?
Melanie Dinjaski: I did, I was very lucky. Sports journalism, it takes you lots of places and I'm very grateful I got to go to the greatest Super Bowl of all time, the only Super Bowl to go into overtime, the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. That was Super Bowl LI. The New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons. I was in the stands in Houston, and the score was 28-3, Atlanta were leading. And there were some journalists to my left, obviously with a Atlanta tilt, and it came to the fourth quarter, and because obviously these stadiums are massive, massive arenas, they'd already headed downstairs to get ready for the press conference. It was a done deal as far as they were concerned, Atlanta had won it. But they didn't. The greatest comeback of all time happened. And about a few minutes into overtime, they had already come back up, and I think I looked at 'em and said, well, you made a mistake, didn't you? Because they missed one of the greatest sections of sport I think that I've ever seen live, and it was just thrilling and no one saw it coming. So, yeah, I think that was, I guess, America's version of a grand final, and yeah, certainly one I'll never forget.
Guy Hansen: So, sometimes people ask me, are Australians the most sports-crazy people in the world? 'Cause sometimes we think we are, but I think when you're overseas at an event like that, you realise, actually, other places take their sport pretty seriously too.
Melanie Dinjaski: They do, but I think Australia is quite unique in that, you know, I can say that I am bi-codal, I do like both codes of football, and maybe it's my job as well, I do like multiple different sports. We are a sport-mad nation. A lot of the time, overseas, you have people who are just into soccer or just into American football, and they can't really go between the two or three different codes they might follow, whether it's, I don't know, swimming or lacrosse or badminton or tennis, whereas Australia, I think we get on board with whatever's on, and we love the theatre of it, we love the entertainment that comes with it, and I think we cover it really well too, in these storylines that we're talking about. You know, the drama. We do a good job of it, and I think that sucks people in. A great example, I think, is the Australian Open. Most people, I don't know if you guys watch tennis year in, year out in the WTA and the ATP tour, but I think it's one of the most, like, biggest events in Australia that really captivates everyone. You don't have to be a tennis fan, but you'll watch the Australian Open. And I think that's a really good example of, yeah, I do think we are a sport-mad nation, which is a great thing.
Nick Richardson: I suppose the Matildas, as well, is-
Melanie Dinjaski: A great example.
Nick Richardson: The most recent example of how that works.
Melanie Dinjaski: That was a wild, exciting ride to go on too.
Guy Hansen: So, have you been to any soccer, football grand finals as well?
Melanie Dinjaski: Yeah. Yes, so I went to, back when I was just starting out my journalism career, I was at the Brisbane Roar's second championship win in the A-League. That was Ange Postecoglou, who we now know is at Tottenham, doing a wonderful job, and an amazing rise he's gone on as a coach. They had back-to-back championships, and under Ange, they had the longest undefeated streak in Australian football history, of any code, so quite a remarkable achievement he did with them. I was at the 2019 grand final, obviously not great memories for Canberra Raiders fans, that one, in NRL. But-
Guy Hansen: It's not so much a great grand final, but a painful grand final.
Melanie Dinjaski: Yeah. Certainly a dramatic one. And there's lots of stories, fun stories that come up when you get to go to these sort of events, like, you know, Cooper Cronk losing his premiership ring in front of me, I thought that was quite riveting to follow in the change rooms after the game.
Guy Hansen: So, what, he lost it in the esky, did he?
Melanie Dinjaski: Yeah, so we were just, you know, you go down into the sheds afterwards, we did our interviews with the Raiders players, they're all just mulling about, having a beer, you know, commiserating with family and friends and things, and media just pop up and interview 'em, went to the Roosters' sheds, and same thing, and Cooper's there with Tara and it's sort of the end of his media duties, and I've just sort of tagged on and I hadn't spoken to him yet, so I thought I'd have a chat and I noticed he had said to a trainer, "Did you see it anywhere? Like, if you find it, can you just, I'm sure it was in the esky or something on the field earlier," and I said, Cooper, “what have you lost?” And he said, "The ring." And I was, like, stunned. This is one of the biggest games in his career, at the tail end of his career, and he's lost his premiership ring, so I started asking him about it. Naturally, the journalism instinct kicked in. And another journalist joined me, and as we were talking to him, a trainer came up, handed him his ring and he had it and he had a big smile on his face of relief, I'd imagine.
Guy Hansen: Of course, that's interesting too, 'cause the ring, sort of not so much part of Australian sport, but they've obviously picked that up from American football, where they have their premiership rings.
Melanie Dinjaski: I don't know when, but it seems to be all the rage. I've noticed, the NRL have had, like, obviously it's become a marketing thing, and every year now, they get to show what the ring looks like and how many diamonds are in it and all this sort of thing. It's quite an event.
Guy Hansen: Yes. Nick, being a Collingwood fan, I wonder what you think a team like Collingwood means for that part of Melbourne? Like, and what it means for the community and identification with that team, 'cause I get the impression from up here that Collingwood fans are a particular group of people in Melbourne and I don't know quite how to put it.
Nick Richardson: Not just in Melbourne. Well, look, you know, I mean, it's that thing about where they come from originally, and you know, in the same way that the old New South Wales Rugby League, you know, those pockets, the suburban pockets, they had their own character and their own identity, and Collingwood was, you know, to be fair, it was one of the impoverished areas of inner Melbourne. Life was hard for many people in Collingwood, and the football club became a vehicle for transporting them from their circumstance. And it kind of bred this kind of very deep sense of loyalty, and also perhaps, dare I say it, chip on their shoulder?
And it kind of, you know, even now, Collingwood supporters, you know, when we greet each other, there's a kind of understanding of the shared burden, but also the fact that, you know, those of us who aren't predisposed to toughness suddenly find some from the spirit of the club itself. And, you know, there are lots of jokes about the quality or shortage of our teeth, which, you know, I'm happy to embrace. But, you know, the thing is that, like, my wife and I have been married for 30 years in November, she says she's almost become a Collingwood supporter. She's wearing the colours, but she still feels like an outsider. So, you know, it's that kind of deep, deep support.
Guy Hansen: And Melanie, how do you, you obviously get to see the fans quite a lot and how seriously they take it and how so obsessed some people come, what's it like dealing with the fans going out to these games?
Melanie Dinjaski: I'd say the modern experience is more, what's it like dealing with the fans online?
Guy Hansen: Online, of course. Yeah.
Melanie Dinjaski: Because, obviously, everything that we produce, you get the feedback, instant feedback online, which I actually quite like, you know? 'Cause that gives you a real finger on the pulse of what the fans are thinking and feeling, and often, that's where you get some really good stories too. I love to see the fandom. Just here in Canberra, there's some wonderful Raiders fans. We got our famous drummer as well, who's at every game, as Raiders fans would know. But the fandom is something that I think we're all guilty of as well, 'cause while we, I'm a journalist and we all love and cover sports, we're also fans of the game too, so, you know, away from cameras and away from the desk, I'll certainly tune into my fandom sometimes too.
Guy Hansen: I remember the famous fan in Parramatta in the early 2000s was somebody who they called the Parramatta Jesus.
Melanie Dinjaski: Oh, good.
Guy Hansen: Who was a young man with a beard, who just used to stand there like this when Parramatta scored, and I don't know whatever happened to the Parramatta Jesus, but he seemed to disappear, but-
Guy Hansen: We need him to come back, I tell you.
Nick Richardson Yeah, that's right. The second coming.
Guy Hansen: Yeah, the second coming. Absolutely. Look, we might open it up for a few questions, or if people wanna share their memories of grand finals as well. So, Ben over here, who is a Newcastle fan and wanted me to mention that today is the, what anniversary, Ben?
Guy Hansen: 26th anniversary of when Newcastle defeated Manly in the height of the Super League wars, and traditional rugby league established its credentials with old-fashioned fans, so that was a great grand final too, but Ben will kindly, if you're a Newcastle fan, Ben will kindly bring you the microphone.
Ben: Or even if you're not.
Guy Hansen: Even if you're not. So, does anybody want to put their bid in for what is a great grand final?
Audience member 1: Being a Sandgroper, I have to go for 1992, because it was the first time a interstate team beat a Victorian team on the hallowed MCG, so that's a watershed event, even though I'm not an Eagles fan, I'm a Dockers fan, but I really appreciated the vivid description of the 1989 grand final, that makes me wanna go back and watch it again. I didn't think it was so violent, but wow. Split kidneys and punctured lungs, wow. I'm just wondering if anyone on the panel's also been to the most watched event in the world, is the men's World Cup final, soccer final? Has anyone been to one of those? And how about a Cricket World Cup final? There's so many finals around, it's not just football codes.
Melanie Dinjaski: I was lucky to be at the Women's World Cup, Matildas matches.
Audience member 1: Thank you.
Melanie Dinjaski: That have just obviously come through Australia and New Zealand, and that was a sensational experience. There's nothing like a World Cup. It brings so much, it's like an Olympics. It brings all of the world together, and it's such a joyous event. There's fandom, but even when you lose, no one's unhappy. It's a really, really great experience. And the Matildas' run, as we know, was, I think everyone jumped on board that, and it was nothing that we'd quite seen, maybe since the Olympics, in terms of everybody tuning in and getting on board, so that's the closest I can say. One day, a World Cup for the men. Hopefully, it might even come to Australia one day if we can get the right sort of facilities for that. But yeah, that's sort of my experience there. I don't know about you guys.
Nick Richardson: No, I've been to a few early rounds of the World Cup cricket, and men's and women's, but not to the finals. Excuse me, interestingly though, I suppose, Olympics, team sports in the Olympics, you know, I remember going to watch baseball, I think I saw the baseball final at the Sydney Olympics. So, those kind of finals are kind of strangely different in a way, because it's about a medal playoff. And the dynamic feels kinda somewhat different, I think.
Melanie Dinjaski: In what way?
Nick Richardson: It feels like the stakes are kind of, there isn't that element of fandom in that way, because quite often, those teams will not have the following behind them. So, and it's, you know, like, Japan wins the baseball gold medal or whatever and people in Sydney are like, oh, good. You know, so there's those kinds of things. So, you're there for the sport itself, rather than who's playing. So, I think that significantly changes the dynamic in that place, in that situation.
Audience member 2: Nick, I was wondering whether you're actually going to the grand final on Saturday, mainly because one of the criticisms of the AFL Grand Final is a lot of the real supporters actually don't get to go, whereas I think in rugby league, you do have a better opportunity of watching your team. So, have you got any commentary about that? Because I feel like it possibly lacks the passion of the other finals, where if you wanna go, you can go to support your team.
Nick Richardson: Thank you, yeah, that's a really good question, and it goes to, actually, a conversation Guy and I had earlier in the week, and that is about, are the games leading into the grand final perhaps better examples of the kind of game itself? And I was at the MCG on Friday night, among 97,000 people, and those of you who support the Giants, I'm not at all sorry. No, but the thing was, of course, that we could all get, well, most of us could get tickets and we were there and, you know, there were 95 and a half thousand Collingwood supporters. You know, we have 106,000 members, so, you know, yeah.
Melanie Dinjaski: You're waiting for that allocation, aren't you?
Nick RIchardson: Yeah, that's right. That's right. So, the consequences for the grand final, where there are so many corporate tickets, where there are so, you know, and the AFL's defence in all this, of course, is, well, you know, if we don't acknowledge the corporate support, then, you know, we don't have a game. Well, but if you don't acknowledge the fans, you don't have a game either. So, my view is that, for atmosphere, you go to a preliminary final and, you know, I think in the last 10 years in particular, the best games of the final series have largely been the preliminary finals, and there's two of those in AFL, so we get to see, I think, probably the best four teams battle it out. And for pure footy, I think they're the pinnacle of the season. So, it means that Saturday will, in some ways, be full of spectacle and be full of pageantry and pomp, but it might lack that lustre of the game at its highest.
Guy Hansen: Yes-
Audience member: Are you going to the game?
Nick Richardson: Still waiting for my ticket.
Guy Hansen: I can see we've got a 2016 Sharks supporter there. I don't know if you want to reminisce about Gallen asking you to leave your porch light on. But if you did leave your porch light on.
Audience member 3: I was at the game.
Guy Hansen: Oh, here, microphone coming.
Audience member 3: Thanks. I was lucky enough to be at the game. I'd been to a couple of grand finals before, and my boys were 10 and 12-year-old and I said to my wife, we're gonna take the kids to a grand final, I don't care who's playing, so we got tickets in June, and it just turned out that the Sharks were playing. But I take back to Guy's point about, it's validation for the fans when you've been a Sharks supporter for 50 years and they finally win it, it's some sort of validation.
Guy Hansen: Well, the Parramatta fans understand what the Cronulla fans felt, 'cause it, well, it took a long time for Parramatta to win. So, yeah, I think the, I would've liked to see the Warriors get up this year and see what happened in New Zealand if they'd won, but obviously that was not to be. Anymore reminiscences or questions? Got, oh, one there, and then just in front. Good, thank you.
Audience member 4: It's not exactly a reminiscence, but the 2015 grand final, the rugby league grand final hasn't been mentioned. You know, North Queensland beating Brisbane, and the parallels between that and the league and the '89 grand final are phenomenal, but the issue was that both those went to extra time, right? And I think there's that factor there, and I think it's ironic now that the AFL do go to extra time and it's just, I suppose, that's just a comment that, and I think a lot of the, I can't remember all the replayed grand finals, but they've been a letdown, and the importance of getting a result on the day, have you got any comments on that, you know?
Guy Hansen: I think that's a great point. And actually, interestingly enough, more recent polls of grand finals, the '89 grand final, rugby league grand final has dropped down and been replaced by the Broncos-Cowboys one that has gone up. But I think that's the generational thing, that just more people can remember it now. But that was an amazing thing with JT kicking the field goal right at the end, and in the exhibition upstairs, we've got a photograph of him kicking that field goal, so it is a very memorable grand final and very important for Townsville, for North Queensland to win that grand final. And similar to, I mean, actually, two great grand finals next to each other with 2015 and 2016, I think, really exceptional grand finals. I don't know if you guys wanted to say anything on that one?
Melanie Dinjaski: Yeah, no, that is a great point. It is up there on my list as one of them, because again, it had those moments that really frame how we remember it. You talk about JT and his match-winning moment, and also the tragedy, it was Ben Hunt as well, who, you know, unfortunately knocked it on, which set them up for that game winner. And Ben Hunt was crucified in the aftermath of that, and it's hard to watch because he's gotta have a go, and he is having a go and he's made a simplest little mistake, and so while there's this ecstasy for one team, there's this absolute devastation for the other. And again, it's just wonderful drama, I think, which makes it a great grand final.
Nick Richardson: Can I just address that point about extra time? 'Cause I can speak with some knowledge of the effect of the drawn grand finals. So, we drew with North Melbourne in 1977, and the replay the following week, we were humbled. And then, in 2010, we drew with St Kilda and then won the replay, thankfully. But the interesting issue was, particularly in 2010, was the players themselves. I mean, Nick Maxwell, who was captain of Collingwood, was immediately outraged. You know, why can't we just keep playing? And I think, nowadays, that, you know, 13 years ago, you know, it feels like, why didn't we have it back then anyway? It should've been the case. And as you say, the kind of the drama goes out of it in that week, like a car with its tyres half down. I don't know how the players get up for it. I think it's a really hard thing.
Melanie Dinjaski: It almost needed to happen though, in order for them to change it, didn't it?
Nick Richardson: Yeah, no, true enough. Absolutely.
Guy Hansen: I think rugby league changed a bit earlier than AFL, but I can't remember exactly when, but I think, for me, it's about the sudden death, sort of extra time, really adds to the storytelling and the drama of the game. And so, if you think, well, why is sport so compelling? It's the stories. It is a bit of a damp squib to say, oh, see you next week. That's great, see you next week. And, you know, all the fans having to troop out again. It clearly has improved it, though of course, I think it's quite dangerous for the players, when you see the fatigue at the end of the matches, I think it's incredible, and I always like looking at the field, I know I'll do this this weekend, the field after the match is over and you see these crumpled bodies, particularly of the team who've lost, they're just drained of energy, you know, in tears, just lying, like they've been shot.
Melanie Dinjaski: It's remarkable, I find, even when a game goes into golden point these days, and it's almost like you go a couple of minutes over and guys are on their knees and haunches and they can't stand up and you think, are they really not trained for five, 10 more minutes? Like, it seems really hard to understand as fans watching the game as viewers, but I'm certain there's something about the repetition of playing 80 minutes, 80 minutes, 80 minutes, that that little bit of push actually does hurt a lot.
Guy Hansen: I think also, when it's the emotion of when they know it's over, then their body stops fighting and it all just comes out at that point. I think we had a couple more questions up here.
Audience member 5: Just following up on that comment about drawn grand finals, the 2010 grand final actually did work out well for Collingwood supporters, because the replay, you don't have all the corporates there, and so Collingwood supporters got to go to the replay. One of my brothers, who I forgive for being a Collingwood supporter and member, paid $900 for standing room tickets the first week, and paid the normal going rate the second week, so there was some advantage for supporters in that the Collingwood faithful got to actually enjoy the victory.
Just more generally, I agree with the assessment that your judgement of greatness, like many things in life, is either, it can be subjective and objective. And in that vein, and being from outside Victoria, we had a Western Australian, I'm a South Australian, although I left 30 odd years ago, football did exist outside Victoria before the AFL.
Nick Richardson: Hold page one.
Audience member 5: And I'm just gonna put in a plug that tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the greatest football grand final that I've seen, VFL, AFL or otherwise, which was the 1973 South Australian Grand Final, if people would care to go away and look at it, but it did it for all of the, both the subjective and objective reasons. The team that won, won its first premiership, and only its second premiership, but its first premiership in 39 years, defeating the team that had won the two previous grand finals and were actually the defending champions of Australia, North Adelaide. So, there was a lot of emotion tied up in it, but objectively, it stood up as well, because of the day, the teams, the players. It was over 30 degrees on the day. There were 40 goals scored. It ebbed and flowed all day. One team didn't get out to a big lead, it ebbed and flowed and it was decided in time on in the final quarter. And there were heroes on both sides, including one player from Glenelg who wound up only playing, and this is another thing about grand finals, you can throw up heroes who may not have long careers as well, and I'm sure that's the same in rugby league and in AFL. Collingwood supporters unfortunately will remember one from the 1970 grand final.
Nick Richardson: Yes, yes, please, please stop, stop, please.
Audience member 5: And this fellow, he wound up playing, I think, 52 games for Glenelg. He had to ruck the entire game on his own, because the lead ruckman went off injured in the first quarter, and at the end of the game, he literally couldn't stand up. When the game ended, they had to bring a chair out for him to sit on, and he couldn't attend the celebrations that night, he was so violently ill. They kept on having to stop going down Anzac Highway, apparently, so he could get out of the bus and vomit up the contents of his stomach, so I'm just putting in a plug for that as a non-Victorian. And Nick, are you from Tasmania originally?
Nick Richardson: Mm, mm.
Audience member 5: So, you might have a Tasmanian grand final?
Nick Richardson: Oh. Oh, look, there were any number of ones from Tassie, some of which I did actually cover as a young journalist, but I struggle to remember them in any clear detail, unlike yours, very vivid recollection of that particular grand final.
Audience 6: Yeah, I attended 12 VFL/AFL grand finals between 1975 and 2011. I'm sorry, I could talk for probably a couple of hours.
Nick Richardson: I reckon.
Audience member 6: I'll try to keep it to a couple of minutes. Pre-game entertainment, the best was The Seekers. 1994. It was also the worst game. West Coast and Geelong. Of those 12, the last seven of those have been Geelong games. I've seen them, three wins and four losses in that time, so I haven't quite balanced the books. But I wanna just give a quick insight. My favourite grand final, of course, is 2007. And I had to fly in from New Zealand, where I was working that year. And I was sitting next to a guy, turned out his name was John Beveridge. You might recognise the name Beveridge. John Beveridge's son, Luke Beveridge, coached the Western Bulldogs to their first premiership in 60 years about nine years after I was sitting next to John Beveridge. John was, and I believe still is, a recruiting agent for St Kilda. John actually left the AFL Grand Final in 2007 at halftime, because he was flying over to Adelaide to watch the SANFL Grand Final, which was the following day. And, of course, he could get a cheap air ticket because all the Port Adelaide fans had flown over that day, from Adelaide, there was empty planes going back to Adelaide, you'd get very cheap tickets. But it was just interesting to know, to learn that little bit about the business of football from an agent who was at the game, but wasn't even staying at the game, left at halftime to fly off into state to see players that his club, St Kilda could then recruit for following years in the draught. And I think the draught is a terrifically interesting concept that has grown in the last 10, 15, 20 years, and I'm wondering whether perhaps any of our experts would like to talk about their experience with the draught and how important that is?
Nick Richardson: I think you and I can probably agree about this. I think draught, it prolongs the opportunity for journos to write about sport?
Melanie Dinjaski: Oh, yeah, and content is king, isn't it? We love to have something to talk about.
Nick Richardson: Yeah, yeah.
Melanie Dinjaski: It means there's less, you know, days not talking about footy, which is a dream.
Nick Richardson: Yeah, yeah, exactly, yeah.
Melanie Dinjaski: Yeah, no, so the NRL obviously doesn't have that right now, but I think there's been many different conversations about maybe having it, but it's never really become a genuine thing, it seems. I think the AFL has the best road on that one.
Nick Richardson: Yeah, no, it generates so much copy, because it feeds into that fan's sense of optimism, you know, that we'll be better next year, especially if we get this bloke. You know, it's that kind of-
Melanie Dinjaski: And they're teenagers.
Nick Richardson Yeah.
Melanie Dinjaski: They're teenagers, but it's so exciting, isn't it? And then, you see them grow as well, in the game.
Nick Richardson: Yeah.
Melanie Dinjaski: Some of the players that we'll see on the weekend, obviously they came as pretty highly touted draught picks as well, and their muscles get bigger and they get a bit taller and you've been along for the ride from that very beginning when they were just, you know, scrawny teens coming into the league, so.
Nick Richardson: Yeah, they stop going to nightclubs and stuff like that.
Audience member 7: Yeah, look, that's probably a pretty good segue for what I've been thinking. I think about great teams and great players, and I grew up in the country and I found that, in country football on that, many of the great teams that play are made up of a local, a really good combination of locals and a few imports, and it tends to be where you get more of that local content, you know, the grannies turn up because it's their next door neighbor's grandson playing. And also, it then moves into great teams, like that Raiders great team, because when you looked at the local content that was actually running around on the paddocks, when you looked at the great, probably Brumbies team that virtually went running around there, they were Canberra lads running around or local Queanbeyan blokes running around. Have you got any comments relating to great teams that have won grand finals, based a little bit on how that combination works?
Guy Hansen: I think I'd just say, Penrith, we're watching Penrith on the weekend and there is a team which has, of course, Penrith is, they call it the nursery of rugby league, with most of the people who play rugby league are out past Parramatta, heading out towards Penrith. And you can see that there's so much support for Penrith because so many of the people have come through the Penrith system, and of course, they go and populate all the other clubs as well, but Penrith has a particularly strong, and it had that earlier side when Penrith had their, in the '90s. That was very much a local team as well. And I think the investment in the Penrith community in that side was because it did have so many Penrith players. And when teams get very good, the players don't necessarily take the offers to go elsewhere. And, of course, Brisbane is like this as well, where they'll take less money because they grew up in that area and they wanna play for that team. And also, because that team has got a good chance of winning the grand final.
Melanie Dinjaski: And your Kings in Brisbane.
Guy Hansen: Your Kings in Brisbane.
Melanie Dinjaski: Redcliffe have just come along, but jeez, yeah, they run that town. Broncos, like, yeah, what did they call Ben Cousins back in the day at West Coast, the Prince of Perth or something like that? Basically every Broncos player, I think, is like that in Brisbane.
Nick Richardson: It's an interesting question from the point of view, in the old days, in the VFL in particular, they would all have, each club would have its zone, which would draw heavily, you know, Victoria was carved up into suburbs and regions, so you would get this constellation of talent from a particular section of rural or regional Victoria, which would find its way to a particular metro club. You know, Richmond, Collingwood, Carlton, Melbourne, whatever. And they would be considered, you know, in any particular generation, a very ripe, fertile recruiting ground, so there'd be all these kinds of things now, which are, in fact, nullified by the draught process. So, a lot of those things that you're referring to, from an AFL point of view, are in many ways nowhere near as organically part of the game as they used to be.
Melanie Dinjaski: It's also easier to do it in places like Canberra or Penrith or Brisbane, because there's that amount of, little bit of separation from the other team areas, so you've got more ability to have a stronghold of talent, whereas it's obviously gonna be very tough when you got, you know, Randwick in one area, South Sydney and Sydney Roosters overlapping each other and things like that. Which club do you go to? You can also just go down the road to Cronulla if you feel like, it's a lot harder, I think, to have that real crux of talent in one area.
Guy Hansen: So, we've got one here.
Ben: Got a question in the middle here.
Guy Hansen: And then, one up there and then we're getting, I think, close to the end.
Audience member 8: Hi, guys. I thought about the first grand final I went to. I was 10 years old, this was back in '96, and my dad took me to see Randwick play against, I think it was Warringah in the Shute Shield final. And the thing I remember from it was it was David Campese's last game, and that's what made it sort of memorable for me. So, I suppose the question that I wanted to ask the panel was, is there a particular final that stands out to you that is, like, a swan song for a particular player?
Guy Hansen: Oh, I've got a good one. Paramatta's, I think the last time Paramatta won, which is, I think, '86, and that's the final game for two of my absolute favourite players, Mick Cronin and Ray Price, particularly Ray Price, and to see those guys go out like that was just fantastic. It was a little bit sad, but Brett Kenny kept on playing in what was a very diminished Parramatta side and he was one of the greats of rugby league, but his final part of the career was holding up a team which was fading. If you go upstairs, you can see the State of Origin shield and you can see Brett Kenny arm-wrestling with Wally Lewis. I really love the old New South Wales State of Origin, but that's my favourite swan song. I don't know if you guys have one.
Nick Richardson: So, two for me, I suppose, one of them last year. Joel Selwood at Geelong. Storied career for Geelong, four-time premiership, and just a massive part of that Geelong success. The other one, a far more tragic and sombre memory, which wouldn't have occurred in normal circumstances. Collingwood breaking its 32-year premiership drought in 1990, a key player, Darren Millane, somewhat a bit of a character, was killed in a car accident several weeks after the grand final, and never, obviously, so his career came to a premature end. So, there are all manner of those kinds of stories.
Melanie Dinjaski: Mine would probably be, well, I can give you a memorable one, the 2002 NRL Grand Final, I think I mentioned it earlier. That was Ivan Cleary's last game and Brett Mullins' last game, so one was on the losing end, one was on the winning end. That was the Sydney Roosters versus the New Zealand Warriors, or Auckland Warriors, I think they were at the time. And for me, the memory is, maybe it wasn't the last game of his career, but Brad Fittler, he'd obviously won a premiership early in his career with Penrith, but this was a way after a long time with the Roosters, being able to win a premiership with them was hugely memorable, and that was another great grand final that had the physicality, I think, that we were talking about earlier, where he got his head clocked off and he looked pretty dazed. I think in these days, he'd definitely be off for a HIA, but he played through it and had the nice, you know, head tape for the photos afterwards, but I don't think he would've minded. Yeah, so that was probably a good one for Brad Fittler, but interestingly, Ivan Cleary and Brett Mullins' also, last game.
Guy Hansen: And our last question.
Audience member 9: Thank you. In the couple of weeks since the passing of Ron Barassi, I wonder if the panel has a comment on Ron Barassi's role in grand finals in the AFL, as player, as captain-coach and as coach over a long period of time?
Nick Richardson: Well, I think Ronald Dale was, you know, if you look at the statistics, 17 grand finals, 10 wins. It's an extraordinary record. No one kinda really gets close to it. I think he was integral to some of the mythology around grand finals, but he was also integral to the practical changes in the game. We were talking about it earlier. 1970 in particular, this sense of playing on at all costs. The message with Carlton 44 points down against Collingwood at halftime, and Barassi telling the Carlton team, you know, not literally handball, handball, handball, but to actually just keep playing on. And, you know, I think, in many ways, that style of footy in that pressure cooker of a match helped shift the way footy was played. It kind of ushered in perhaps a modern approach to footy, rather than the kick mark that had been kind of distinctive characteristics of footy up until that stage. And of course, when he got to North Melbourne in 1974, he piloted them to their first two grand finals. That's regardless of the impact he had at Melbourne, both as a player and later when he went back to Melbourne and to the Swans. I think, you know, in terms of the modern day figures in Australian rules football, Barassi is streets ahead of pretty much everyone.
Melanie Dinjaski: I think it's not just the success on the field, I think of Ron Barassi and, to me, it is the legacy and the way that he's impacted so many different clubs from the early days in Melbourne to the Sydney Swans and, you know, how important that was. Growing up in Sydney, there's been a shift from the days that Ron Barassi was there to Paul Roos' era to now Longmire, and it's been a gradual growth, but it has to start somewhere. And so, Ron was obviously part of that, building that viewership and that fandom in Sydney, in a place where maybe AFL was not always the number one sport, and now look at where it is. It's, like, got one of the biggest membership bases, and so I think of Ron Barassi as someone who's just given a lot to the game, and to multiple different areas as well.
Guy Hansen: Well, thank you. I'm gonna ask one, just our experts, just one last question, and then we'll wrap up, but of course you're here, can you gimme your picks for the weekend?
Nick Richardson: Yeah.
Guy Hansen: Surprise me.
Melanie Dinjaski: You're not gonna take the Collingwood hat off.
Nick Richardson: This is only with my head, because my heart would give you a different result, but I think Brisbane Lions by four to five goals against us.
Melanie Dinjaski: Really?
Nick Richardson: Yeah, yeah, I do, yeah.
Melanie Dinjaski: Wow.
Guy Hansen: You're managing your own expectations.
Nick Richardson: Yeah, quite right. Quite right, thank you. But I do think Penrith, and Craig Bellamy's comment, I thought was really interesting, when he said, "Penrith are getting better at playing the way Penrith play." I reckon that's a really interesting observation. And if he's right about that, then I think they'll probably win.
Melanie Dinjaski: My head says Collingwood. My heart, I love an underdog, sorry, I would like the Brisbane Lions to win, but I think if the Brisbane Lions win, it has to be a fairly, there'll be a couple or several, like, maybe four goals or something that they'll win by. If Collingwood wins, I think it'll be very close. And on the other side of it, and again, I love an underdog, and so funny to think that the Broncos are the underdog, but in this case, Penrith going for a three-peat, it's gonna be a hell of a game. There's Origin bad Blood with Luai and Reece Walsh, and you've got a dominant team like Penrith, and then attacking prowess of the Broncos. I think it's just gonna be fireworks. Reece Walsh is someone I think I've heard described as a fidget spinner, a human fidget spinner, and that's a great way, I think, to call him, and the way that the Broncos play is just electric. So, yeah, I'm thinking the Broncos. If there's anyone to get over the Penrith team that's been this dominant, it's them.
Guy Hansen: I will point out that Parramatta beat Penrith twice this year, but.
Melanie Dinjaski: There you go, they're vulnerable.
Nick Richardson: So, who are you thinking?
Guy Hansen: Oh, look. I must admit, I would describe myself as AFL-curious, so I don't know quite enough, but because my boss goes for Collingwood, I'm gonna say Collingwood. And then, in rugby league, I find it particularly difficult this year because I think you've got two sides who play what they play extremely well, but they're kinda like, each could possibly overcome the others, so I think it could be a cracker, but perhaps I'll say Brisbane, 'cause that way, Parramatta's record of their three-peat will stay in play.
Melanie Dinjaski: That's right, Parramatta's record, yeah.
Guy Hansen: That's a fairly selfish way of looking at it. I'm gonna finish on that point. That was fantastic, and thank you so much for sharing your reminiscences and your insights as well, I really enjoyed that. And if you enjoyed tonight's discussion, you might be interested in next week's event on Tuesday, the 3rd of October, which is Michael Winkler will be here to speak about "Grimmish", his 2022 Miles Franklin-shortlisted novel, which is the story of an Italian-American boxer, Joe Grim, who toured Australia in 1908 and 1909. And the book, Grim, interestingly enough, was a sparring partner both for Jack Johnson and Tommy Burns prior to the Fight of the Century, which was held in Sydney in 1908, and there's a big photograph of that fight up in the exhibition, which you might be interested to look at. So, I encourage you again to go and see Grit and Gold if you haven't already, and could you join me in thanking our panel tonight? Thank you. Ta.
Hear from Dr Guy Hansen, National Library Director of Exhibitions, as he discusses memorable AFL and NRL finals, and what makes a great grand final, with special guests Nick Richardson and Melanie Dinjaski.
About Dr Guy Hansen
Dr Guy Hansen is Director of Exhibitions at the National Library of Australia. Guy studied history at Sydney University and the University of Technology, Sydney. He has curated numerous exhibitions on a wide range of topics including political history, sport, cartooning and national symbols. He is the co-curator of Grit & Gold: Tales From a Sporting Nation alongside other Library staff.
About Nick Richardson
Nick was born in Tasmania but has spent most of his working life on the big island. He started his journalism at The Examiner in Launceston, worked on newspapers in England and had a range of reporting roles at The (Melbourne) Herald, The Australian and The Bulletin. He later became an associate editor of The Herald Sun, then Group News Editor of Leader Community Newspapers and later News Corps’ national editorial training manager. He has taught journalism at RMIT University, Monash University and LaTrobe University, where he is adjunct professor of journalism. Nick has a PhD in history from the University of Melbourne. He has been a Margaret George Fellow at the National Archives of Australia and a Fellow at Australian Prime Ministers’ Centre at the Museum of Australian Democracy. He lives in Melbourne.
About Melanie Dinjaski
Melanie Dinjaski is an experienced sports journalist at the Canberra Times with a genuine love of all sports. She's covered every code from NRL to NFL, and has experience in print, digital, podcasting, TV and video journalism, having spent time working in newsrooms at Nine, Fox Sports and Seven before moving to the capital. Melanie aims to bring Canberrans all the sports news they need to know.