’77 revisited

by Darren Dawson

Last Saturday’s epic draw brought the memories flooding back. I had not revisited the 1977 game either via my old VHS tape in the cupboard or the fuzzy images in my mind for some time. But as an impartial supporter watching the confused reactions as the siren blared to signal the 2010 tie, I suddenly found myself reaching into the past, attempting to remember how I actually felt at the end of the drawn grand final thirty-three years ago.

I was nine days shy of my twelfth birthday. It was my third grand final in a row. My great-uncle Roger always received four tickets from North, but only three of them were together for this game. Dad had found a parking spot near St. Patrick’s Cathedral and, as I had volunteered to sit in the seat away from my family, it was arranged that we would meet back at the car after the game. I must have been a mature eleven-year-old!

My seat was in the bowels of the old Western Stand, on the first level behind the goals. It was my least favourite position at the ‘G, because for some reason I always felt claustrophobic there, especially towards the rear. Luckily there was the comfort of being surrounded by North supporters.

Some of my enduring memories of the game have faded with time, but others remain vivid: the woeful goal-kicking efforts of Arnold Briedis, the versatility of Darryl Sutton, the courage of Barry Cable, the heroics of Phil Baker and Brent Crosswell, who seemed to thrive in the grand final atmosphere. And the unpredictability of “Crazy Horse” Cowton. Despite being out of it at three-quarter time, I believed we had it won when Phil Baker kicked a couple in the final term to put the Roos in front. But the game wasn’t over.

I still wonder if Frank Gumbleton asks himself why he did not punch the ball rather than attempting to mark it from behind; and in doing so allowing Ross Dunne to take one of the most famous marks in all Magpie history. All I could say to myself was “No, no, no, no….” as Twiggy lined up for the shot and kicked truly.

The crowd was huge (approximately 108,000), but extremely subdued after the siren. I remember shuffling out in silence. As I walked through Fitzroy Gardens to meet up with my family, all I could think of was whether Uncle Roger could get me a ticket for next week. (As it turned out, he could!) My dad was especially disappointed with Gumbleton, whom he always called “foolproof”. Roger and mum were scathing in their criticism of Briedis. I was just looking forward to the following week, thinking that a North victory would be a wonderful twelfth birthday present.

And although many of my memories from thirty-three years ago are fading, one thing I am damned sure of is that there was not one mention of extra time.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Absolutely no extra time. It means more football and I’m happy for that. Is your friend from LA staying or coming back?


  2. David Downer says

    You’ve got the wrong DD on the front link guys, I was only 13 MONTHS old in September 1977!

  3. Great piece Smokey

    Interesting point about the lack of clamour for extra time.

    We seem in such a rush nowadays.

  4. Smokey – what a terrific trip down memory lane. I must revisit “The Coach” after reading your post.

    I’ve attached a link to The Age 26 Sept 1977.


    Chief football writer Ron Carter front page article suggested the replay/rematch could net the League another $500,000. They’ll take a bit more than that on Saturday I assume.


  5. Rod Davies says

    I too had vivid memories flooding back after last week. I remember taking an old foam esky into the “G” and smashing it up after the siren. I could only afford Standing room tickets back then.
    I thought it was going to be Deja Vue this week.
    Another Grand Final blown.


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