1981 Revisited – Round 21: ‘De do do do, De da da da’

Truly this week was the lull before the storm.


Round 21 was a dull round of predictably one-sided matches that preceded a blockbuster last round that would decide all top positions on the ladder.  The only hope of excitement was the faint possibility of an upset.  After all, every game theoretically had some bearing on the makeup of the Five.  There were a couple of early signs that this might happen but the favourites regained their poise pretty quickly.


In the season-long battle for top place between Collingwood and Carlton, the main interest was in Hawthorn’s trip to Victoria Park.  Would the Hawks’ desperate need for a win to remain in the finals race spirit them to an upset over Collingwood, unbeaten at home all year?  For a quarter it looked possible as the Hawks shot out of the gates to lead by four goals at the first break.  Thereafter it was all Collingwood – 20 goals to five from thereon – the Magpies’ best win for weeks.  Williams, Shaw and Kink all had over 30 possessions.  Carlton remained ready to pounce despite a patchy performance at Waverley against North Melbourne.  The Blues set up the win in the second quarter, withstood a North fightback, and ground its way to a slogging victory.  Last week’s 10-goal hero, Kerry Good, was kept goalless this week by the miserly Blues’ defence.





Weighing into the calculations for top spot at the 11th hour was Essendon.  A 111-point obliteration of South Melbourne – their 15th consecutive win – saw the Bombers draw to within 0.5% of Carlton.  The consummate team performance overshadowed the early loss of Neale Daniher with a knee injury, the effects of which would later reveal themselves to be devastating both to the individual and the team.





At Kardinia Park, Geelong slammed on a lazy 10 goals by quarter time before cruising to a 69-point thumping of Footscray.  Ruckman Rod Blake was evidently camped in the goalsquare on this occasion, kicking a round-high tally of seven goals.  The Cats’ strong defence ensured that they would enter the crucial last round with the best percentage of any team, an important advantage as will be seen.


At the sparsely populated MCG, I started the day with the hope that Richmond would crush bottom-placed Melbourne and leap-frog Fitzroy into fifth place on percentage.  By half-time, the Tigers had made little ground, battling to a three-goal lead, but the prospect of an upset was looming at the Junction Oval with St Kilda 19 points up on the Lions. By three-quarter time, Fitzroy had effortlessly put paid to St Kilda’s challenge, but Richmond had kicked clear of Melbourne.  Frustratingly, the Tigers couldn’t press home their advantage, conceding late goals and recording a limp 17-point win.  The Lions would enter Round 22 in fifth place.


So the stage was set for the most open final round in VFL history. All of the top seven positions could have a change of occupant. The combinations were almost unlimited – three sides had a chance of top place; there were six possible combinations for the Qualifying Final and nine for the Elimination Final. Even the non-statisticians had their calculators at the ready!





Carlton 2.2 9.6 10.8 12.12(84)
North Melbourne 2.4 2.9 7.13 8.14 (62)

Goals —
Harmes 4, Bosustow 3, Ashman 2, Buckley, Marchesani, Howell.
NORTH MELB.: Demetrlou 2, D. Schimmelbusch, Kelly, McCann, Hodgeman, Dempsey, Wilson.

Best —
Hunter, Harmes, Maclure, Ashman, English, Bosustow.
NORTH MELB.: Byrne, Demetriou, Glendinning, Dench, Reeves, Smith.

Umpires: James, Morgan.

Attendance at VFL Park: 25,544.

Receipts: $51,262.



Fitzroy 3.3 4.6 10.15 14.18 (102)
St. Kilda 2.0 7.7 7.8 9.10 (64)

Goals —
Conlan 4, Rendell 3, Harris 3, Francis, Poynton, McMahon, Herbert.
ST KILDA: Kellett 2, Faletic 2, Gorozidis 2, Cox, Thomas, Brown.

Best —
Smith, Francis, Alexander, Carlson, McMahon, Conlan.
ST KILDA: Thomas, Burns, Elphinstone, Nettlefold.

Umpires: Bryant, Nash.

Attendance at Junction Oval: 12,130.

Receipts: $19,862.



Essendon 5.7 15.10 21.19 26.23 (179)
South Melbourne 3.0 6.4 7.5 10.8(68)

Goals —
S. Madden 4, Van Der Haar 4, Foulds 4, Schultz 3, Buhagiar 3, Heard 2, Fowler 2, Watson 2, Stoneham, Fields.
SOUTH MELB.: James 5, Browning 3, I.Roberts, Teasdale.

Best —
Buhagiar, Van Der Haar, Foulds, J. Madden, Hawker, Neagle, Heard, Fowler.
SOUTH MELBOURNE: James, Browning.

Umpires: Cameron, Dargavel.

Attendance at Windy Hill: 18,773.

Receipts: $26,442.



Geelong 10.5 13.7 15.16 18.20 (128)
Footscray 1.1 5.5 7.7 8.11 (59)

Goals —
Blake 7, Reynoldson 3, Featherby 2, Bruns 2, Mossop, Yeates, Bos, Neal.
FOOTSCRAY: Knight 3, Whitten, Cordy, Templeton, Dunstan, Sait.

Best –
Featherby, Blake, Yeates, Bruns, Mossop, Neal, Hawkins.
FOOTSCRAY: Dunstan, Knight, Whitten, Hampshire, Hawkins, Burton.

Umpires: Smith, Sutcliffe.

Attendance at Kardinia Park: 17,573.

Receipts: $21,930.



Collingwood 2.5 8.11 14.12 22.17 (149)
Hawthorn 6.3 7.6 9.8 11.9 (75)

Goals –
Stewart 5, Davis 3, Daicos 3, Kink 3, Weideman 2, Williams 2, Smith 2, R. Shaw, Magro.
HAWTHORN: Davies 3, Moncrieff 2, Ablett 2, Russo, Tuck, Matthews, Dipierdomenico.

Best –
Williams, Kink, Davies, Stewart, Dalcos, Smith, A. Shaw, R. Shaw, Irwin.
HAWTHORN: Moore, Davies, Tuck.

Umpires: Robinson, Sawers.

Attendance at Victoria Park: 26,680.

Receipts: $33,023.



Richmond 5.2 9.4 15.9 17.14 (116)
Melbourne 2.3 6.5 8.8 15.9 (99)

Goals —
Roach 4, Sarah 4, Welsh 4, Cloke 2, Raines 2, Martin.
MELBOURNE: Jackson 5, Tossol 3, Clayton, Whitford, Moir, Seddon, O’Donnell, Elshaug, Healy.

Best —
Raines, Welsh, Lee, Wood, Strachan, Sarah, Martin, Smith.
MELBOURNE: Gaunt, Flower, Young, O’Donnell, Smith, Jackson.

Umpires: Dye, Marcy.

Attendance at MCG: 19,567.

Receipts: $35,960.






W L D F A % P
COLLINGWOOD 17 4 0 2366 1898 124.7 68
CARLTON 16 5 0 2236 1728 129.4 64
ESSENDON 16 5 0 2276 1765 128.9 64
GEELONG 15 6 0 2169 1667 130.1 60
FITZROY 13 8 0 2354 2119 111.1 52
Richmond 13 8 0 2283 2140 106.7 52
Hawthorn 12 9 0 2202 2057 107.0 48
North Melbourne 9 12 0 2279 2219 102.7 36
South Melbourne 8 13 0 2091 2415 86.6 32
St Kilda 4 17 0 1843 2228 82.7 16
Footscray 2 19 0 1726 2593 66.6 8
Melbourne 1 20 0 1767 2763 63.9 4




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About Sam Steele

50 years a Richmond supporter. Enjoying a bounteous time after 37 years of drought. Should've been a farmer!


  1. G’day Stainless, i was there when Rod Blake got amongst the goals that day. I recall getting the train to Kardinia Park, being very seedy. I’d been @ Bombay Rock the night prior, though i can’t recall who i saw, but i hadn’t got up well that Saturday.

    After Larry Donohue moved on Geelong struggled for key forwards so ruckmen like Rod Blake & John Mossop found themselves in the goal square. I’ll talk more about John Mossop in a few weeks. Anyhow Geelong and Footscray that day played as befitting their positions on the ladder.

    As i said last week about Kerry Good …….


  2. Hi Glen – good effort in making the trip for such a one-sided game. Bombay Rock, eh? There’s a blast from the past!
    Geelong’s problems in attack during this era were much talked about at the time – not surprising given that it was the most high scoring period of the game’s history. Ironically a decade later, the Malcolm Blight-coached Geelong sides were criticized for too little focus on defence. It took until 2007 for them to get the balance right!

  3. Stainless, Bombay Rock was a bit of a haunt, late 70’s, early 80’s. Now who did i see in August 1981? It wasn’t Swanee, or Rose Tattoo, as they didn’t play there in 1981. Possibly it was the Angels, who i saw a few times @ Bombay Rock.

    Geelong had a bit of a problem finding a key forward after ‘Big Laz’ moved on. Both Rod Blake & John Mossop found themselves in the goal square, Sammy Newman played a bit @ centre half forward and whilst he was a good mark, didn’t get too many goals. Peter Johnston played a bit in the goal square, fantastic mark but his kicking for goal was another issue. Terry Bright was a wonderful half forward flanker who often had to play as key forward in this time.

    The in 1984 Geelong’s forward stocks were bolstered as ‘GOD’ & ‘Jacko’ pulled on the blue and white hoops . The following years saw more good forwards at Kardinia Park including Bruce Lindner, Billy Brownless, David Cameron, and Gavin Exell among others.

    Keep it up Stainless, it’s been a good time reminiscing.


  4. It might have been The Angels, Glen. They’d been the warm-up for AC/DC at the Bowl earlier that year so they were very much in their prime. Clearly the Dogs weren’t talking at Kardinia Park that day haha!

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