Preliminary Final 1987

Preliminary Final, 1987
Hawthorn vs Melbourne
Saturday 19 September
Venue: Waverley
Attendance: 71,298

Match Statistics

Hawthorn win by 2 points

Goalkickers: Ricky Jackson 3, Rod Grinter 2, Brian Wilson 2, Warren Dean 1, Jim Stynes 1, Todd Viney 1

Last game
Robert Flower

After narrowly qualifying for their first finals series since 1964, Melbourne found themselves one game from a Grand Final after massive wins over North Melbourne and Sydney. After playing the first two games at the MCG, they had to travel to Waverley and beat a side who had dominated them in recent years. Since 1973, Hawthorn had only lost two games to the Demons, but crucially one of them was their last meeting in Round 13. If it wasn't for Hawthorn's thrilling win over Geelong in Round 22, Melbourne wouldn't have made finals, now they were the only side in the way of a fairytale appearance on the last Saturday in September.

Against a team with years of finals experience, John Northey tried to motivate his squad by allowing fans to visit the rooms before the game. On-field, his big tactical move was play Rod Grinter in attack. Grinter helped add pressure to the forward line, and he flattened Hawthorn defender Chris Mew with a bump.

Melbourne kicked with the wind in the first quarter, but only turned their advantage into a five point lead. Then the wind swung around again, giving them a second chance. They stretched the lead to over three goals during the term, but lost Robert Flower after a bump from Robert Dipierdomenico. He was forced to leave the ground with a damaged shoulder, but though he later reappeared, it left him in doubt of playing in the Grand Final if Melbourne made it. By half time the lead was 22 points, and when the sides broke even in the third quarter, if left Melbourne with a handy lead, kicking with the wind, and on the verge of a Grand Final appearance. They had winners all over the ground. Sean Wight beat Dermott Brereton handily, while taggers Bret Bailey and Dean Chiron blanketed their opponents. Todd Viney and Ricky Jackson were also prominent.

Robert Flower returned to the ground during the last quarter when Jackson went down with cramp and played at full-forward. He was matched up against Chris Mew who was dazed after feeling the full force of the Rod Grinter shirtfront. He may not have been able to play the Grand Final, but Brian Wilson would certainly have missed with a broken collarbone.

Wight's domination of Brereton ironically played a part in Melbourne's downfall. After a failed move to full forward, Brereton was thrown into defence where he helped turn the tide for his team. Both Ricky Jackson and Brian Wilson left the ground injured, and Hawthorn got to within nine points. Three times in the frantic last quarter the Demons could have sealed the match. Simon Eishold missed an absolute sitter, Ricky Jackson set up Graeme Yeats 30m out from goal and watched him miss, and Tony Campbell did likewise with seconds left after Greg Healy had pounced on a centre clearance. Initially, Hawthorn missed chances to take advantage, but drew within a goal with 30 seconds left.

Melbourne only had six behinds in the last quarter. The kick-in after Campbell's miss saw Michael Tuck kick to Peter Schwab, who handballed to Chris Langford. He kicked towards Buckenara who became entangled with Rod Grinter. A free kick was paid outside 50, but in the chaos of the last few moments Jim Stynes chased his opponent across the mark. Buckenera received a 15m penalty and, unaware that the siren had sounded, goalled to put the Demons out in the most heartbreaking circumstances. He admitted after the game that he thought he was too far out to goal and his first instinct was to handball to a teammate. Even DiPierdomenico admitted his side were lucky, saying "We're thieves". As he left the ground Buckenara asked teammate Jason Dunstall, "What was the 15 for?” He later admitted he was nervous when lining up but “I just concentrated on the kick, and thank god it went through”.

Image After the game John Northey was in shock, saying "Now we've got to go through the trauma of 12 months to get back where we are now". He was famously pictured pointing at Stynes in the rooms, saying "Don't you ever do that again, Jim".

As President Stuart Spencer angrily confronted umpires, tears flowed in the dressing room as talk turned to 1988. Northey wasn't having any praise for his side. "It's the biggest disappointment of my life" he said. "It's the chance of a lifetime - who knows whether we'll get another opportunity. They might say we've done well over the season. That's a lot of bullshit. We have let everybody down. The players will suffer today, they've got to".

Best were Jackson, Wight and Viney.

After The Siren


Canberra Times - 20/09/1987, 20/09/1987
Age - 21/09/1987
Sun - 21/09/1987
Inside Football - 23/09/1987

Created by Supermercado. Last Modification: Wednesday 19 June 2024 13:54:32 AEST by Supermercado. (Version 27)

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