Australian Rules Football (AFL) has witnessed countless exhilarating contests over the years, but only a select few have transcended time to become eternally celebrated in the annals of the sport. These matches embody the essence of what makes AFL such a beloved and captivating spectacle. Let’s delve deeper into the unforgettable moments and stories behind the 10 greatest AFL matches of all time:
1. 1970 Grand Final – Carlton vs. Collingwood: “The Greatest Grand Final”
The 1970 Grand Final between Carlton and Collingwood is a testament to the heart-stopping drama of Australian Rules Football. The match culminated in a thrilling draw, with Alex Jesaulenko’s iconic mark during the last quarter often cited as one of the greatest moments in AFL history. Carlton ultimately clinched the premiership in the replay, securing their eighth title and etching their names in football folklore.
2. 1989 Grand Final – Hawthorn vs. Geelong: “The Grand Final that had Everything”
The 1989 Grand Final stands as an epic battle between Hawthorn and Geelong. Played with ferocious intensity, this match featured sublime skills and unforgettable moments. Gary Ablett’s heroic performance for Geelong remains etched in memory, even though his side fell short by just six points in one of the greatest grand finals ever.
3. 2005 Grand Final – Sydney vs. West Coast: “The Great Escape”
The 2005 Grand Final between Sydney and West Coast is synonymous with last-minute heroics. Leo Barry’s iconic mark in the dying seconds secured Sydney’s first premiership in 72 years. This match remains a textbook example of tension, drama, and the sheer unpredictability of AFL.
4. 1972 Grand Final – Carlton vs. Richmond: “The Famous Siren”
The 1972 Grand Final is celebrated for the infamous siren controversy. Carlton’s Alex Jesaulenko kicked a goal just as the siren sounded, sparking a legendary debate about the precision of the final siren. Carlton’s victory in this match became part of football folklore.
5. 1984 Qualifying Final – Hawthorn vs. Essendon: “The Comeback of the Century”
The 1984 Qualifying Final witnessed one of the most extraordinary comebacks in AFL history. Essendon, trailing by 23 points with minutes left, staged a miraculous recovery to win by four points, stunning Hawthorn and leaving fans in awe of their resilience and determination.
6. 2006 Preliminary Final – Sydney vs. Fremantle: “Leo Barry, You Star!”
The 2006 Preliminary Final between Sydney and Fremantle is forever associated with Leo Barry’s game-saving mark. With Fremantle on the brink of victory, Barry’s courageous mark in the goal square secured Sydney’s passage to the Grand Final and immortalized his name in AFL history.
7. 1966 Grand Final – St Kilda vs. Collingwood: “The One-Point Thriller”
The 1966 Grand Final is celebrated for being one of the closest and most gripping contests in AFL history. St Kilda secured their first-ever premiership, defeating Collingwood by just one point. The sheer intensity of this match is still fondly recalled by fans of both clubs.
8. 1999 Preliminary Final – Essendon vs. Carlton: “The Super Goal”
The 1999 Preliminary Final between Essendon and Carlton produced one of the most extraordinary moments in AFL history. With Essendon trailing late in the game, Darren Bewick’s super goal from outside 50 meters completed a stunning comeback win that showcased the unpredictability of Australian Rules Football.
9. 2018 Preliminary Final – Collingwood vs. Richmond: “The Tense Battle”
The 2018 Preliminary Final between Collingwood and Richmond was a high-stakes encounter that had fans on the edge of their seats. Collingwood managed to hold off Richmond’s late charge and secure a 39-point victory, earning them a coveted spot in the Grand Final against West Coast.
10. 1993 Grand Final – Essendon vs. Carlton: “The Baby Bombers”
The 1993 Grand Final witnessed the rise of Essendon’s “Baby Bombers.” Despite being underdogs, Essendon stunned Carlton to win the premiership. Gavin Wanganeen’s brilliant performance earned him the Norm Smith Medal as best on ground, and the victory showcased the spirit of resilience and determination that is quintessential to AFL.
These 10 AFL matches represent the pinnacle of Australian Rules Football, each etching its unique story into the collective memory of the sport. The thrilling contests, iconic plays, and unforgettable moments continue to captivate fans and serve as a testament to the enduring allure of AFL.